The Code of the Free Market

Over at the sunnier climes of Professor Mondo, the great professor was highlighting how the President’s speech on Friday has been offending just about everybody given that it was a blatant ripoff of the already debunked and derided Professor Warren speech summarized as “Anything you like must have come from the government.”

Actually, he’d be shocked to learn how little the government improves our lives.

So it will strike some readers as odd when the Czar has decided to talk today about electrical safety. You might actually want to read this.

Electrical safety basically started here in the United States in 1896 through the formation of the National Fire Protection Association (or the NFPA). They wrote the National Electrical Code, or the NEC, which covers just about every aspect of electrical installation, from wiring and grounding to residential, commercial, and industrial wiring. Want to know the safest way to wire up a neon sign? The NEC has it in there.

The NEC, in turn, is used as the basis for all state and local codes—pretty much without exception. Moreover, it is used in many other countries as well: for example, Canada’s fairly close version is the Canadian Electrical Code. The point is, these guys literally wrote the book on electrical safety. When you are building your own home—assuming anyone is still doing that today—and the “inspector” comes out to look at the electrical rough-in work, it’s the NEC he or she will be quoting from. Your local municipality may have what they call “local amendments” (basically, small variations on the national version based on things that happened in the past), but these variations are usually very small and subtle; it’s the NEC that the inspector will ultimately quote from, article and section.

But the NFPA does more than that: they write other code books, too, regarding how and where to use smoke detectors, how gas appliances need to be connected, and more. Basically, if it burns or explodes, the NFPA has a book on how to prevent that from happening—and these too are treated as bibles by the electrical industry.

And your electrician has to know this stuff, too, if he or she wants to keep working in this town. When your sparky wants to add an outlet in your kitchen, he or she needs to know how close to a sink an outlet can be placed, how high off the floor, and so on. And then the electrician goes off to the hardware store or electrical distributors, where he or she will happily by conduit, backboxes, wiring, and an outlet in confidence—because your electrician knows that no matter what products are purchased, they will work together.

This is because of a group called the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (or NEMA). NEMA ensures that when you buy a conduit fitting from one company, it will attach to a backbox made by a second company and conduit from a third company. They set the standards for sizes, shapes, types of fasteners, wiring gauges, what they can be made of, and how they all fit together—so that there is no doubt your electrical work will safely flow.

So what does this have to do with President Obama’s speech that All Good Things From the Government Grow? Everything.

Because the NFPA and NEMA—whose products safeguard our lives all across the world and are incorporated into municipal codes—are not governmental entities.

They are the result of the free market: organizations made up of many businesses, who got together, agreed on standards, and then elect officers to pull all this stuff together. All volunteers.

When an inspector tells you that a bedroom requires arc fault circuit interruptors for each outlet, that’s capitalism talking—not President Obama, Elizabeth Warren, or anyone else attempting to grab credit. When a fire happens at a warehouse and the nearest sprinkler puts it out in minutes while smoke detectors warn everyone out of the building while a fire control panel dials the fire department—that’s right, that isn’t President Obama, either. That’s free market capitalism at its best.

Because the industry—like countless other industries—got together and said the government is not at all needed for this. It should be a simple matter for us to agree on basic safety so that people get what they want. And whether it’s assurance that your USB cable will work with your new laptop, or that P R N D L make sense to you in your new car, or that the left faucet should be giving you hot water, these are all things brought to you by the market place, and not democratic socialists and their never-ending regulations.

That these codes and standards have been adopted by federal, state, county, municipal, and foreign governments is a reflection on how backward President Obama sees things. He won’t admit to himself that ugly truth—that when a six-year-old girl plugs in her pencil sharpener, it will work without a terrible shock, orange flash, and blue smoke—and the President knows if the government were responsible for her safety, it wouldn’t end at all well.

About The Czar of Muscovy

Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia by upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.