OK, not exactly shocking. Not even surprising to anyone who pays the least amount of attention to our government. Nor is it surprising to anyone who has even the most basic understanding of incentives.
Government Inspector Fired for Allegedly Falsifying Report on Miniature Train Before Crash That Killed Boy
A South Carolina agency says a [government] inspector falsified a report on a miniature train that derailed Saturday at a park, killing a 6-year-old boy, as that and other new details raise questions about the safety of the ride.Should we be surprised? We allow government employees to unionize against the taxpayer so, not only do they receive compensation and pensions more generous than those received by the taxpayers who pay pay their bills, but it's often prohibitively expensive to fire them. Government employees are fired on occasion but with comparative rarity that it lacks the similar motivation of the private sector. So what real incentive do government workers have to actually do their jobs? Are we to believe that government workers are somehow more angelic than the rest of us and will simply do the right thing?
The crash, which happened in Spartanburg County's Cleveland Park, left 6-year-old Benjamin Samuel Easler dead and sent a dozen people to the hospital. About 20 people were riding the train when it derailed.
Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation chief Catherine Templeton told reporters that the inspector, Donnie Carrigan, could not have tested the ride March 16 because a battery in the train was dead, making it inoperable. Carrigan marked the train's operation at proper speed as "satisfactory," according to the agency's report.
"Unfortunately the inspector did not complete his job," Templeton said.
Government worker Donnie Carrigan lied and a boy died.
On balance, the government licensing and "inspection" of this ride made things worse, not better. The owner (and ticket purchasers and taxpayers) are forced to pay for the privilege of outsourcing the inspections to the government. But all the government is peddling is a false hope of safety. As a result, the owner now has a completely legitimate defense that his ride passed government inspection. We can't blame him for trusting the government when they said it was safe, can we? In this regard, the owner is a victim as well.
Consider the free market alternative: Make the owner of the train ride completely responsible for his ride. What if we removed the government from this process? The owner would not be allowed to hide behind the false hope of phony government inspections and would instead have the very real financial incentive to actually inspect the ride, if for no other reason to avoid losing customers. Hopefully he'd have a moral incentive to inspect the ride but -- here's the key -- even if he didn't, the financial incentive is still there.
I can hear the statists' solution now: We need additional inspectors to inspect the inspectors and probably another layer of inspectors to inspect those inspectors just to be safe.
I trust the train ride owner more. At least he has an incentive to do his job.
UPDATE from a reader: "You complain but this worker did get fired." ...Really, that's the best you've got? Yes, he was fired. But clearly the possibility of being fired was so low in this worker's mind that it didn't provide enough incentive for him beforehand to, you know, do his job. Government workers are notoriously difficult to fire and I wouldn't be surprised if this worker's union -- assuming he's in one -- files suit. Furthermore, if government workers require such incentives to do their jobs even when it comes to protecting children -- that was Carrigan's job after all -- what makes them such angels that the rest of us mere mortals should put our unquestioned faith in them?