The other day it was snowing out, so I decided to light a fire in the fireplace of my living room. It was nice, but the design of the fireplace is such that more heat goes straight up the chimney instead of being radiated into the room. My parents’ fireplace by contrast is a replica of fireplaces built in the 1700’s to match their house from the same era. Because it is shallower with a graduated slope and has a thinner passage up to the chimney, most of the heat from the fire is radiated into the room, instead of wasted going up the chimney. It occurred to me that I needed to look no further than my own living room for proof of government inefficiency.
The many government regulations make it difficult to build a compliant fireplace that also provides a substantial amount of heat for the room or house. The regulations require particular distances to be met from the back of the fireplace, to the end of the hearth, making most fireplaces deep enough so that a large percentage of the heat goes up the chimney. Since there are other regulations about the size and scope of chimneys, you cannot simply extend the hearth and allow for a shallower fireplace that would radiate more heat into the room. There is no difference between the two designs in terms of the possibility of logs rolling out of the fireplace and into the room, nor in terms of proximity of the fire to combustable things like a wooden mantle or walls.
This government regulation forces me to use more wood, releasing more smoke into the air, in order to achieve the same temperature in my living room that my parents can achieve in theirs. So because of the government, I must spend more money and release more CO2 into the air in order to use my fireplace to heat my living room. I suspect that other government building and code regulations impose the same inefficiencies in other areas. This just takes control away from individuals, for a questionable outcome. Why can’t I decide to make my staircase steeper if it means more living space in my kitchen? No one is being forced to walk up those stairs.
I don’t think the government should be in the business of protecting us from ourselves. I think that we should be free to take whatever course of action we believe is best for us personally, and for our families, as long as it does not involve using force on our part.