Hot Air: Doing The Right Thing

Here’s a perfect example of why a lot of people hate the idea of “regulations.”

An Elgin, Illinois, man, Greg Schiller, set up cots in his basement so homeless people could sleep in a bit of warmth during the area’s current deep freeze. He offered them a little something to eat and drink and even played movies for them.

All so they wouldn’t have to sleep — and quite possibly die — in temps that only reached the single-digits during the day and dipped below zero at night.

What a beautiful, godly gesture, no?

No. Not, at least, acc’d’g to city officials who ordered him to stop letting the poor people camp out in his basement. And here are the reasons why he was told to stop being so beautiful and godly:

  • His basement might not be ventilated well enough
  • The people sleeping there might suffer carbon monoxide poisoning
  • The basement doesn’t have enough exits in case there’s a fire

“Mr. Schiller’s house does not comply with codes and regulations,” says an Elgin spokesperson.

Yeah. Those homeless people ought to be much safer sleeping outdoors while Elgin’s temperatures hit -12, as they were forecast to do last night.

Many government regulations — really, most of them — protect us from real and present dangers like untreated drinking water, tainted food, dangerous machinery in the workplace, Black Lung disease, drunk drivers, polluted streams, fouled air, global warming…, the list goes on ad infinitum. Those regulations are invisible to us, though. Most people become cognizant of regulations when they deal with local inspectors who often are petty tyrants.

Someone caught wind of Schiller’s sleepovers and went to the trouble of shutting him down. That person can sleep well tonight knowing he or she followed the letter of the law.

Unfortunately for a bunch of Elgin homeless people, there’s no law guaranteeing the right to a warm bed.

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