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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Where's the outrage?

Lost in the contemporaneous rows concerning Imus and Lacrosse players, Iraq, Iran, U.S. Attorneys, Anna Nicole, Sanjaya, and who knows what else was this report from the CDC about the number injuries associated with nail guns.

I admit that nail guns are fun and make folks in construction a lot more productive than when swinging a claw hammer all day. Moreover, the nail gun might actually be safer than the old claw hammer, especially when it comes to broken fingers and lost finger nails.

However, the CDC estimates 41,000 people a year go to the hospital because of nail guns, with more than half of those by folks coming from the trades. If nail guns are this dangerous for the average Joe to be slinging around, perhaps we need a licensing program?

Remember kids, you heard it here first.

While I realize you are being facetious, I think a licensing program would be a bad idea. Requiring workers to be licensed would create an inward supply shock in the construction market, which would then be passed on to any developing industry that uses brick and mortar structures to do business. Requiring customers to be licensed would reward irresponsible consumers (in a parental sense) by encouraging them to learn to use nail guns or avoid using one altogether. It would also punish responsible consumers who already know (or who would learn) how to use a nail gun properly. This sort of government preference toward the irresponsible creates very bad incentives within society.
Paul has good points, and of course regulating nail gun usage would be an improper role for the government. However, such compelling arguments have not dissuaded government from regulating such personal behavior in the past.

I still wouldn't be surprised if this CDC report triggered some legislation by a freshman Senator or Representative, or perhaps a more direct approach from one or more of the Executive Branch departments.
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