Is Free-Market Anarchism Unworkable? Not in Americaís Roofing Industry
by Mark R. Crovelli
by Mark R. Crovelli: Patriotism
Is the Last Refuge of an†Idiot
Maybe it is
the fact that most Americans are educated in socialistic quasi-prisons
today. Whatever the reason, it seems to be virtually impossible
for Americans to conceive of an economy devoid of invasive government
regulations and manipulations. The idea of completely freeing the
economy of these burdensome government contrivances, which is precisely
what free-market anarchism means, is thus completely incomprehensible
to them. A totally free market for anything is assumed from the
outset to be impossible, unworkable, and dangerous.
And yet, there
is at least one sector of the American economy that is already
about as anarchistic as could possibly be imagined. I am talking
about the thousands of businesses that install roofs and rain gutters
in this country. It is an industry that is exciting, dynamic and
thrillingly free. The industry offers an important economic lesson
for unimaginative Americans who blithely assume that free-market
anarchism is impossible, unworkable, and dangerous.
That the roofing
industry could be as anarchistic as I claim may seem absurd at first
glance, since there are layers upon layers of laws "regulating"
it. There are licensing laws in some jurisdictions governing who
may or may not install roofs and gutters. There are myriad federal
and state laws governing worker safety and workersí compensation.
There are laws governing the minimum wage and restricting the hiring
"illegal" immigrants. And finally, there are laws and
"codes" governing the installation of the roofing system
How can an
industry be considered virtually anarchistic when there exist thousands
of federal, state and local laws "regulating" it?
quite frankly, is that the vast majority of roofing companies donít
give a ratís ass about the governmentsí laws. Most donít care a
whit whether the rich scumbags in congress donít want them to hire
Mexicans. They hire them in droves in order to drive down their
prices. Most donít care one iota whether fat OSHA office workers
want them to wear unwieldy and dangerous harnesses. They simply
donít force their workers to wear them, as if the law were voluntary.
Most donít give a damn what the federal minimum wage laws say. They
pay their workers as little as the workers will accept in this bad
economy and the workers are fantastically happy to have the job.
And most donít give even a momentís notice to the licensing laws
for roofers in certain jurisdictions. They simply have licensed
people pull permits for them as quickly as they please. Call me
if you need one pulled!
care at all about these laws because they know the trump card is
in their hands: bankruptcy. If the jackasses down at OSHA try to
go after one of them for not wearing harnesses, the company will
miraculously go under that day only to reemerge two days later with
a new name and a new proprietor. If the immigration bureaucrats
come after them for hiring so-called "illegals," the remaining
"legals" will hang out drinking beer for a few weeks until
their other guys are able to get back over the border to get back
to work. No big deal. (I once worked with a Mexican in California
who was deported early one morning and made it back to work before
lunchtime!) Whatís the worst the bureaucrats can do to you as a
roofing business owner? Take your compressor or stick you with some
fines? Ha! See you in two days!
rebellious attitude toward the governmentsí asinine laws does not
mean that roofers do not care about the quality of their work, however.
The key to staying in business and making money in the roofing industry
is installing quality roofs and having zero leaks. Either
that, or you run from state to state putting up bad roofs for suckers
and then get out of town as quickly as possible. (If you ever wondered
what kind of person is falling for those ridiculous Nigerian email
scams, itís the same idiot whoís hiring a cheap, out-of-town roofing
company. He no doubt wonders how he keeps getting scammed).
about putting up good roofs because much of their business comes
from word-of-mouth. If you put up a bad roof, you can be sure to
have lost that entire neighborhood for once and for all. Also, since
any decent roofer has liability insurance against leaks (it is in
fact required to do work for insurance companies), he cares passionately
about not having to make claims against his insurance. Nothing will
put you out of business quicker than making claims against your
insurance that will either astronomically elevate your premiums
or even cause insurers to refuse you coverage. The free market is
thus virtually the only reason why roofers put up good roofs that
Hey, wait a
second! What about those building codes and roofing inspections
that states and cities have instituted in order to make sure that
roofers put up decent roofs? Arenít these regulations a major reason
why roofers do a good job?
I am terribly
sorry to have to burst your bubble if these objections are running
through your naïve little head, but city roofing inspections
and building codes are a complete and utter joke. In the first place,
as far as building codes and roofing codes are concerned, cities
basically lift the codes from manufacturer instructions or from
non-profit organizations, like the ICC. Most commonly the "codes"
are simply awkward bureaucratic rehashes of what roofers can read
for themselves on the felt rolls or shingle bundles. In other words,
the cities basically tell roofers to follow the instructions on
the package. If you think that telling roofers to follow instructions
is the reason you are getting a good roof, then I have a bridge
Iíd like to sell to you!
The city roofing
inspection racket is no less of a joke. Hereís an example. I was
recently doing some carpentry work at a house when the roofing inspector
showed up, so I offered to let him use my ladder in order to get
up to inspect the roof. He declined, saying "I can tell that
itís ok from here." I have seen that occur more times than
I can count. I have also seen roofing inspectors being bribed, as
if that should surprise anyone.
importantly, city roofing inspections are completely unnecessary
when the roofer has liability insurance (and anyone stupid enough
to hire a roofer, or anyone else for that matter, without liability
insurance deserves whatever disaster befalls him). If the roof is
installed incorrectly and leaks as a result, the homeowner can make
a claim against the rooferís insurance. The roofing inspector and
the city, by contrast, will give the homeowner absolutely
nothing if the roof leaks. Of what use, then, is the roofing
inspector? This is all the more true since the homeownerís insurance
company will often inspect the roof itself in order to assure that
it is installed correctly. Also, some roofing manufacturers, like
Genflex for example, will inspect, certify, and guarantee the roof
themselves. Given this, why on Earth are these nosy and lazy bureaucrats
necessary? The cost of the roof is higher than it otherwise would
be without them, and they do nothing that is not already being done
better by the insurance companies.
The good news
is that it has probably never been easier to get a fantastic and
affordable roof in this country. This is due to the rebellious and
sunburned anarchists in the roofing industry itself, not to the
politicians and bureaucrats who have bankrupted this country.
Crovelli [send him mail]
writes from Denver, Colorado.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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