Rules Too Cool for the Pools
Today’s Post-Dispatch has a big story on pool safety and regulation in the St. Louis area. I’ll stipulate right off the bat that I think public health is a perfectly legitimate function of government, and has been so for a long time (controlling communicable diseases, especially). However, as with so many other things, there are countless examples in which the government has expanded that role to increase its part in our daily lives. And those rules may make us safer by bits and pieces, but they also make us less free in the same manner. I think most people have, and will continue, to accept that trade-off. I think that is unfortunate. But back to the pools.
I can’t imagine most people would have any objection — I certainly don’t — to the government monitoring the water quality and safety rules of truly public pools. But the government also defines “public” to include apartment buildings, private clubs, and more. In St. Louis County:
As of Wednesday, 248 pools had not been approved to open for summer, although many were awaiting final inspections this week. The county expects that some of those pools will remain closed, particularly at apartment complexes.
Assuming that most of these apartment complexes with pools are somewhat large complexes, we can reasonably say that thousands of people in St. Louis will now be denied the use of a pool this summer — and millions of dollars will be spent across the country on pool improvements — because of drain issues that have killed an average of one person per year across the entire nation. I am certain I sound like a jerk, but this immediately brings a classic Onion article to mind.
The Post-Dispatch article points out that Jefferson County does not have any pool inspectors. I think this is supposed to be a criticism of good ol’ JeffCo, but something important is lacking from the article — any evidence at all that there are problems with the pools in Jefferson County! Instead, believe it or not, the people of the county seem to be doing a perfectly good job of maintaining their own pools even without the threat of inspections to close them down.
Without a county, state or federal ordinance on sanitation, public pool owners in Jefferson County can make their own rules.
“We don’t care if we get checked or not. We keep a clean pool,” said Beverly Sweet, the superintendent of the Crystal City public pool. She said the water is tested several times a day and that chlorine tablets are automatically fed into the pool, which opens Saturday.
I’ll end with quoting the famous playwright David Mamet about how people (the vast majority, at least) tend do the right thing and work things out even if the government is not there to compel them:
But if the government is not to intervene, how will we, mere human beings, work it all out?
I wondered and read, and it occurred to me that I knew the answer, and here it is: We just seem to. How do I know? From experience. I referred to my own—take away the director from the staged play and what do you get? Usually a diminution of strife, a shorter rehearsal period, and a better production.
The director, generally, does not cause strife, but his or her presence impels the actors to direct (and manufacture) claims designed to appeal to Authority—that is, to set aside the original goal (staging a play for the audience) and indulge in politics, the purpose of which may be to gain status and influence outside the ostensible goal of the endeavor.
Strand unacquainted bus travelers in the middle of the night, and what do you get? A lot of bad drama, and a shake-and-bake Mayflower Compact. Each, instantly, adds what he or she can to the solution. Why? Each wants, and in fact needs, to contribute—to throw into the pot what gifts each has in order to achieve the overall goal, as well as status in the new-formed community. And so they work it out.
Enjoy the pool this summer. Have a great Memorial Day weekend.