Saturday, April 14, 2012

Liberals and their tenuous hold on reality

Simon Schama is a University Professor of History and Art History and Columbia University.  In (Newsweek) The Daily Beast, he writes about the Titanic disaster:
Chillingly, the shortage of lifeboats was due to shipboard aesthetics, the concern not to clutter the promenade deck of first class.
Where did Dr. Schama get that little historical tidbit?  The eminent liberal (he admired Obama and despised Bush) historian appears to have difficulty distinguishing reality and fiction: his source for that claim appears to have been James Cameron's 1997 (fictional) film "Titanic."  Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Chris Berg investigated the issue:
Recall in James Cameron's 1997 film, "Titanic," the fictionalized Thomas Andrews character claims to have wanted to install extra lifeboats but  "it was thought by some that the deck would look too cluttered." . . . .
In the Board of Trade's post-accident inquiry, [the shipyard's managing director Alexander] Carlisle was very clear as to why White Star declined to install extra lifeboats: The firm wanted to see whether regulators required it. As Carlisle told the  inquiry, "I was authorized then to go ahead and get out full plans and  designs, so that if the Board of Trade did call upon us to fit anything  more we would have no extra trouble or extra expense."
So the issue was not cost, per se, or aesthetics, but whether the  regulator felt it necessary to increase the lifeboat requirements for  White Star's new, larger, class of ship.
This undercuts the convenient morality tale about safety being  sacrificed for commercial success that sneaks into most accounts of the  Titanic disaster.
The responsibility for lifeboats came "entirely practically under the Board of Trade," as Carlisle described the industry's thinking at the  time. Nobody seriously thought to second-guess the board's judgment.

Apparently, the belief was that, with the advent two-way radio, rescue ships would likely arrive soon and that the purpose of lifeboats would be merely to ferry passengers from the distressed ship to the rescue ship.  That was the judgment of the Britain's governmental regulatory board.

Government regulations can be quite complex and, in my observations, after figuring out how to comply with them, a business often has little energy left for second-guessing them.  For that matter, I have seen confused regulators punish a business that exceeded government safety regulations.  Such is the corrosive effect of turning over what should be private decisions to a government bureaucracy.

Of course, the movie script better matches liberal preconceptions.

Hat tip: Greg.

PREVIOUSLY on liberals and their fantasy worlds:
Obama's rich fantasy life
Liberal talk show hosts and their paranoid fantasies
Rep. Pete Stark fantasizes about Pres. Bush's motives
Hate crime fantasies
Real or fantasy: Obama's core value is "unity"?
Salon Magazine and its sexual fantasies involving Sarah Palin
Michelle Obama fantasizes that she is the first White House resident to care about military families
Feminist imagines that all men are pro-rape and pro-domestic violence
Rep. Barney Frank's fantasies: the mortgage crisis was caused by "conservatives"
How reporters avoid addressing reality
If only hate could change false to true

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