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The Boston Globe



Making sense of big government

A ‘nanny-state’ regulation that makes surprising sense.

WHEN I ARRIVED FOR A SWIM at Tufts University’s Hamilton Pool in Medford one recent fall afternoon, the usually translucent roof was hidden by a ceiling of thick lumber planks atop floor-to-roof scaffolding. I asked someone what was up and almost dropped my goggles when I learned that the staging was for workers to install an automatic sprinkler system to prevent fire. In a masonry building. Above a swimming pool.

I am far from reflexively anti-regulation. I began my newspaper career in eastern Kentucky, reporting on coal miners who were dying from preventable accidents and black lung disease enabled by weak mine health and safety regulations (and even weaker enforcement). As for the state of the regulatory scene today, think two words: compounding pharmacy. But mandating sprinklers in a swimming pool seems precisely the kind of case seized on by the we-hate-big-government crowd to make the claim of bureaucratic overreach and nanny-state nonsense.

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