Regulation of the Day 193: Cleaning Up After Riots

Rioters and looters have run loose in London over the last three nights. During the day, civilized folk have tried to clean up after them. In a heartening display of spontaneous order, many people are organizing group cleanup efforts using Twitter. Following hashtags like #londoncleanup and #riotcleanup lets people know where they’re needed the most. Facebook groups are serving the same purpose.

Health and safety regulators are trying to stop this spontaneous show of goodwill. The Telegraph reports:

[O]fficers told the volunteers that the decision had been made for the clean-up to be done by the council.

Asked why, an officer said: “Health and safety mainly. There’s lots of broken glass around.”

Many storefronts have broken windows, you see. Broken glass can be dangerous. Better to leave the cleanup to professionals. Someone could get hurt.

This is a different broken window fallacy than the kind one usually sees.