Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Democracy Dies In McArglebargling

The Post has hired McArdle. Of course they have. Where else can we find such well-researched ideas.

How could anyone react to it all? The easiest way to recover one’s bearings was to look away from Trump for a while. The worst piece of journalism of the year — or as bad a piece as any, and a failure defining our moment — didn’t even have to do with the United States. It was a think piece by Megan McArdle for Bloomberg View, dashed off immediately after the Grenfell Tower fire.

It didn’t really have to do with Grenfell. With less than half the eventual death toll on the books, McArdle felt the urge to warn, in abstract economist terms, against overvaluing the lost lives. “It’s possible that by allowing large residential buildings to operate without sprinkler systems,” McArdle wrote, “the British government has prevented untold thousands of people from being driven into homelessness by higher housing costs.”

The reall issue with Grenfell was the cladding material used on the building, which was not appropriately fireproof and which is banned for such uses in communist countries like the United States. Accepted figure seems to be that the added cost of fireproof cladding would have been about $450,000, or $3750 per unit. Figure a 20 year lifespan (I am making this up) and that's 15 bucks per month per unit (add financing, take away depreciation - I don't know how UK taxes work on this stuff).

Cost benefit analysis is very serious, especially when you don't even make a half-assed attempt to do it as I just did in 5 minutes or understand any of the issues involved. But, hey, the people died because capitalism is always good.