Fire Safety is Typical Big Government Overreach: Your Regular Reminder That Scott Walker Hates Wisconsin


Look, this is just the way the market works, ok? 1967 painting of the Peshtigo Fire by Luanne Harff-Burchinal, from the Peshtigo fire museum.

In which Scott Walker gets some pushback for wanting the people of his state to fry up.

Here at Shooting Irrelevance, we like to kid around with our Republican friends about their absolute lack of concern for human life (after birth, that is), except for its capacity to be transformed into capital for the benefit of the plutocracy. But sometimes, there are things that surprise even us. Yes, the Fake King obviously never disappoints when what you are looking for is the head-spinning naseau that accompanies institutional threats on liberal democracy, but if you really want to get to the dark heart of contemporary Republicanism, man, you gotta get to the states.

More specifically, you have to get to Wisconsin.

For years, Scott Walker and his legislative cronies have turned this once-great bastion of progressive politics into the laboratory of endgame Republicanism. Voter suppression, the destruction of unions, deep-seated corruption, the wholesale selling of the state’s natural beauty to private interests, the demonization of teachers: that’s Walker’s Wisconsin. It’s about destroying anything the opposition can use (especially unions and the vote) to establish a regime based entirely on helping the rich profit. And it is somewhat amazing to see it at work.

But this might take the cake, in terms of flagrantly unnecessary cruelty. It’s the logic of Walkerism taken to its illogical conclusion. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

MADISON – Gov. Scott Walker’s administration abruptly backed off Wednesday on plans to roll back a requirement for fire sprinklers, but the state might not adopt other safety standards that firefighters say would save lives.

That’s right: over the objection of firefighters, the Walker administration decided to roll back regulations about sprinkler installation, because the sloughing of flesh from the body is an inhibitor to the invisible hand, I guess.

Let’s get some background here. Last year, Walker’s Department of Safety and Professional Services convened a panel of 10 experts to talk about fire safety. They voted 9-1 on a package of recommendations, including the sprinkler systems, but also to expand the use of circuit interrupters in homes, which can prevent fires and electrocution.

They were told the department rejected their suggestions, on the basis of: screw you, “experts”.

Now, there are reasons, I guess. The head of the Wisconsin Builders Association, which backs the administrations lack of backing for more safety, said that it would add $500-$600 to the cost of building a new house, which he described as “real dollars”.  And that’s true! Those are real dollars.

Now, some quick math puts a 2500 sq foot house, with an average cost per square foot in Wisconsin of $173 (numbers come from google, but still) at $432,500. So while these are “real dollars”, they seem like a bit of a rounding error, to me.

So let’s recap: in order to save a fraction of the cost of home-building, the government of Wisconsin rejects the advice of firefighters, safety experts, and burn victim advocates, so that the builders have a few more dollars. I’m all in favor of good building jobs, but that’s the slavering devotion to the boss class taken to the limits.

It’s the perfect distillation of modern Republicanism, really. People can die, sure. And they can die pointlessly and stupidly in ways that can be easily prevented. But we can’t require their prevention, because that would be government overreach, and anyway, the advice of the people who profit from not doing so is worth more than the experts, and certainly worth more than the people whose lives are at risk, including firefighters.

It gets even meaner and more direct: the sprinkler rule was for apartment buildings with three to twenty units. Because the non-landed class can burn. It’s ok: I’m sure the landlord and building owner have insurance, so no one will really be hurt. No one who counts.

The good news is that the outcry over that made them change the sprinkler rule. The bad news is that, knowing Walker, the rest will go through. But there are still areas to fight.

We bring up Wisconsin not just because it is a state near and dear to our heart, but because it is the testing ground. Trump’s personality mutates everything, but the way he (and Reince) have assembled his cabinet shows that they want to bring Wisconsin to the rest of the nation. They want to bring back the Gilded Age with even more power. It’s important to fight Trump, and in doing so, to fight the Wisconsinization of America.

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