A Septic Inspector Shares His Theories On Government Regulation
Yesterday, I had to take an hour out of my morning (read: writing time) to talk about poop. For me, this would normally be a win, but this was altogether more academic. Since our new home is not privy to township sewer and water, we have our own septic system (big ol’ grass-covered sand mound). Thus, prior to moving in, it was important to procure the eagle eyes of a vigilant septic inspector.
Somewhat unusually, the pump actually went bad, and it seems to have done it only the day before. Unlucky for the seller, lucky for the buyer (read: us). I told the agent and inspector that the night prior I donned ninja garb and descended into the concrete pit to break the pump with my ninja weapons.
They were not amused.
Regardless, everything else was good to go and the lovely seller is fixing it and getting the system pumped and all that. The interesting part of the morning happened after, when we were standing in the driveway.
This inspector, an older gent, had seen the 60s and 70s when building houses and getting them up to code was essentially the Wild West (and our previous inspector told us similarly — they don’t like inspecting houses built in that era because you just never knew what some self-spun “contractor” did to the house — “I ran a plumbing line right to your toilet, so whenever you flush, the water goes right into your washing machine! See? I’m helping! It’s up to code because there is no code! Ha ha ha ha!”).
Now, of course, everybody is host to an unholy host of regulations, and that slows everything down.
The inspector then started in with, paraphrased, “When our Founding Fathers made this country…”
By the way, whenever anybody says this, get worried. People have all sorts of crazy ideas about the Founding Fathers (and true or not are irrelevant to this modern era). “They were Socialists!” “They owned slaves, why can’t we?” “Benjamin Franklin hunted trannies with a speargun from a moving ornithopter!”
Anyway, he said, “When our Founding Fathers made this country, they intended it so that government would stay out of people’s lives, to preserve liberty.”
I almost tuned out. I mean, c’mon. We know where this is going. It’s going to turn into some kind of anti-government pro-GOP chat, which is fine, that’s all good (provided it doesn’t slide suddenly straight into the sewer system, by which I mean into Tea Party territory). So, he continued on:
“And that worked for a while. But eventually, you get people who do bad things, and that’s why you need regulations. If people would build their houses right always, nobody would need to check their work.”
I added, “So, a bad apple spoils the bunch?”
And he said, “Yup. In a perfect world, everybody would do the right thing. But since they don’t, the government has to keep an eye out.”
Blink, blink. Boy. That did not go where I expected it. It turned into an alarmingly practical discussion of the realities of government and liberty. Well-said, Mister Septic Inspector. By the way, this lines up pretty nicely with my own thoughts on regulation: regulations are not an automatic answer, and sure, you can have bad regulations which could do as much harm or worse than no regulations at all. But even still, the “deregulate!” crowd always seems to put trust in some kind of mythical, mystic system of humanity, a trust that frankly hasn’t been earned. It’s like giving a gun to a four-year-old. “Oh, I trust he’ll not shoot me or himself.” And what evidence do you have? “Well, I’ve done it three times before, and nobody’s dead yet! Well. The living room lamp. And the neighbor’s pet sugar glider. But no humans!”
And yes, the government itself needs regulations. Regulations on lobbyists and campaign funding, for instance. Regulations that enforce, not defeat, the balance of power between the branches.
Anywho. Just thought that interesting. I figure he should go down and tell the fine feathered fuckheads of BP this particular theory of regulatory practice. One bad apple spoils the bunch, you oil-vomiting bastards.
Prior to this, we were standing by the sand mound discussing how the seller had removed the “water-saving” feature from the showerhead in the master bath — apparently, it was not a higher-end showerhead, and if you buy a cheaper-side water-saving showerhead your water pressure drops. So, the inspector said to the selling agent, “Water-saving fixtures cut the stress on your sewer system significantly. Why the heck did she remove that feature?”
To which the selling agent replied, “You know women. They just like to get pounded hard in the shower.”
The inspector then said, “Well, as long as you get a good head, pressure shouldn’t be a problem.”
Pounded hard in the shower.
Pounded hard in the shower.
And neither of them said any of this with even an inkling of a smile. Nary a wink. No tongue in cheek. They were not saying any of this to have a randy play on words, oh no. I don’t even think they got it.
Man, I wish my wife was at the inspection with me, because I felt like, “Damn, they’re throwing their own pearls before swine, here. Is nobody getting this? Is nobody enjoying this?”
Hilarious. Nice guys, didn’t mean anything by it, but damn if I didn’t almost lose my shit.