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Re: Tangshen - Response to Frank Lew

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In a message dated 98-05-26 02:29:22 EDT, wish(--nospam--at) write:

>  While you seem to have deftly gotten around the point, let me state it
>  again - 1.3 million homes were identified as having potential structural
>  deficiencies. Regardless of whether or not anything other than disclosure
>  was done is not the point. My point was ecconomics - not life safety.
>  you jump on the "Code only protects life" bandwagon - I'm saying that this
>  is wrong and needs to be changed - period. We need to expand our preamble
>  protect building owners from unnecessary financial devastation.

Economics, indeed!   Let's look at an example from another field that has
awaken to the same economic forces.  I have an acquaintance who is a
urologist.  It doesn't take much to get him to mount his soapbox and rail
against the trends in the health care field that have made life more difficult
for him and diminished his stature in this society.  How dare the HMO
gatekeepers second-guess his expert opinions on what procedures or treatments
his patients need!  Whatever the all-knowing doctor prescribes, whether it's a
'hang the costs - full steam ahead' treatment, or voluminous and redundant
tests to guard against a malpractice suit, that's what should be done.   How
dare the HMOs or Medicare keep squeezing him and not paying him a fair fee!
The guy just can't accept the fact that the medical care delivery system is
undergoing a  paradigm shift.   Those days of doctors being accorded
unquestioned and unchallenged authority and status are rapidly fading.

The parallel is that some engineers like you believe they are the seismic
performance and seismic safety experts who should play the pivotal role on
these issues, writing codes, setting policies and directions, and determining
standards of care.  That is reasonable when the objective is on life satety.
But when you venture into the realm of reducing property damage, you are just
one in a crowd trying to shape public policy, such as building owners.  And
these other players have as much or more legitimacy and credibility than
engineers in arriviing at acceptable balances between costs and benefits.
They also vote, and - horrors - unlike engineers, some of those folks even put
their money where their mouths are!  No surprise that politicos and policy
makers listen.   The medicos' hubris is finally catching up with them.   Folks
who pay the bills, which eventually are borne by the consumers and employers
who pay the premiums, are saying "Enough!"  Yes, the medical folks are
fighting back.  They are parading witnesses before legislative committees to
tell of the horrors they've experienced from their HMOs and gatekeepers.
These poster-child examples, like photos of the Northridge Meadows collapse,
are pointed to as evidence of the need for the 'experts' to be restored to
control of the system, or in the case of SEs, to be given such control.
Wishful thinking.  Most folks are expert economists when it comes to their own
wallets.  They'll settle for leaving it fatter today instead of 'investing'
the money in seismic upgrades or costlier new construction to guard against a
very remote chance of a thinner wallet 'someday'.

NOTE:  I wrote the above but had not sent it until after I read Bob Bossi's
posting and the point he makes about economics and public policy.  In somewhat
different manners, Bob and I said the same thing.  Thanks for the support,
Bob.  And you too, Fred Turner.

Frank Lew, SE
Orinda, CA