Ta-Nehisi Coates points to this dystopian report of a fire department standing around while a family’s house burns to the ground because its owner didn’t pay the $75 fire protection fee. This is pretty obviously bad policy. Letting things burn can lead to other things burning. It can lead to people getting killed.
A number of communities avoid running full fire departments by employing volunteer fire fighters. Others contract out with private fire-truck operators. There are many, many ways to avoid staffing a full, expensive fire department and saving those tax dollars for other more essential services (a lot of places only staff full fire departments during the summer months, for instance, and use more volunteers in the off season). Paying on a fee-for-service model just doesn’t make sense. These people are now without a home, and will probably require other, more expensive services from the local (and state, and federal) government. This is ludicrous. It is ideology taken to the brink of stupidity and then shoved headfirst into the roiling pit.
Ta-Nehisi also links to this piece by Jon Cohn who uses the opportunity to stress the importance of mandates and particularly healthcare mandates like the ones we’ll all face soon if we happen to not have health insurance already:
To me this is a classic case for requiring payment up front–that is, an individual mandate. People shouldn’t have the option to decline fire protection if protection is available. If they refuse to pay the fees, assuming they are reasonable relative to their means, they should be subject to financial penalties. The same goes for health insurance. Don’t let people go without basic coverage, but make them pay for it, to whatever extent their income allows.
Does that make me a little paternalistic? You bet. And I’m ok with that. We all make really poor decisions sometimes. And while I think suffering the consequences of those decisions is generally a good thing, or at least a necessary thing, some consequences strike me as too extreme.
Losing your life savings (or your life!) because you declined health insurance is one such consequence. Losing your house because you declined fire protection is another.
Call me old-fashioned, but to me this is a case where you simply include the fire protection in the tax bill. If someone wants to own property in Obion county, they should pay a little bit on their taxes in order to get basic fire services. No need to mess around with mandates and penalties. I can see the argument when it comes to healthcare. Healthcare is a much more complicated issue than fire protection. With fire, you basically just assume that if something catches on fire, your tax dollars will help put it out, plain and simple. Also, this isn’t the same as something like snow removal or needing water tanked in. Rural residents often have to pay for those services, and that’s fine. You choose that out of town lifestyle for a reason and at a price. Fire protection, however, is something that can affect a lot more than just your own house. It can have an impact on your neighbors and the wildlife, and public infrastructure and all sorts of other things.
Daniel Foster has more on this, and I think his arguments are all pretty strong. But again, what I think gets lost in this debate is the question of simplicity. It’s just way simpler to tax county residents and then transfer that money from the county to the city fire department than to have this sort of opt-in program. Or tax county residents and have a fire-pool that pays out to the city whenever services are rendered. In all honesty, this wouldn’t be very costly at all, unless there were a lot of fires. And then, well, better that there was fire protection in the first place.
Some public services are just better handled by public servants, police and fire chief among these. If governments use some contracting with private providers, employ volunteers, or have seasonal employment to drive down costs when services are need less, great. But requiring people to opt-in to these sorts of things is just bad policy with all sorts of unintended consequences including, ironically, more government spending on the back-end. This is one thing you certainly see with healthcare services as well, though again I think it’s fair to say that area is a lot murkier than basic fire protection which strikes me as an area with very little moral wiggle room.
Also, I wonder: Would the fire department have intervened if, say, a resident of the home was stuck in the blaze? Or is that something county residents have to pay for upfront as well?
The residents of Obion County defeated a measure in 2002 that would provide for county-wide fire protection paid for out of general tax revenues.
What do you do then?
I think it couldn’t be directly included in taxes because it was outside city jurisdiction.
The Fire Chief is on record saying they would have gone in to rescue people regardless of subscription fee status.
@Justin: Who let all this un-American fire into this country in the first place? Where are all the border control police stopping fire migrants from entering?
Not if you fight the fire around the burning house;
Anonymous At Work
The problem with including fire protection in the tax bill was that the residents’ “tax bill” didn’t go to the same place that offered the fire protection, making them free-riders. I view this as an object lesson for glibertarians: if you make public services into fee-for type organizations, this can happen.
Clearly, if Obama had used to bully pulpit…
@Anonymous At Work:
I think they’d be ok with it.
@Nick: This is actually an example of unintended consequences – if they fire dept. was enabled to fight the fire on the first house, the second house would not have caught on fire at all. So the innocent neighbor is now paying for the moronic behavior of his/her neighbor.
Someone on LGF last night asked this question: “But what if there were guns in the house?”
So when to the teabaggers start getting excited about the mayor or fire chief as a running mate for Palin?
The new firebaggers?
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
New York CityJackson, MS burning to the ground before wingers see the problem with this. We have to relive the early 20th century over again.
@DanF: The second house didn’t catch on fire, his yard did. The Fire department responded to a fire in his front yard.
As Reagan said, government is not the solution, government is the problem. See, its true, its a self fulfilling prophecy. Christ, what a fucking tragedy, what a fucking mess. You are witnessing the crumbling of civilization.
@Nick: Yeah, libertarians probably would be. The object lesson here is for low-info swing voters – at some point trying to weasel out of taxes could really bite you in the ass.
@freelancer: Or a fetus?
Stupid, stupid, stupid, frustrating, idiotic, tragic, stupid, and insane. Did I mention stupid?
Wow, just wow. That’s… stupid.
Fire fighters should have to take a version of the Hippocratic oath. Sort out the fees later.
EDIT: BTW, E.D. Welcome back!
For what it is worth this is not a new story. It had to have been 30+ years ago when my grandmother told a similar story. She lived outside of the Hannibal, MO, city limits. She said that if you didn’t pay the fees for fire protection (I don’t know if they were monthly or yearly or what) that the fire department would drive out from town and watch your place burn. My grandfather added that he’d seen it happen.
Overall, I agree with E.D. This is the kind of thing that just needs to be included in your property tax bill for everyone in the county. The mechanism that gets that money back into the fire department’s hands is a detail to be worked out.
You have articulated something I just don’t get.
My small town has an all-volunteer fire department. A very small amount of borough taxes help pay for it. Outlying communities also pay a small amount to opt in. Firefighters often buy their own personal gear. They raise money through fish fries, bingo, spaghetti dinners, booths at community events, etc., etc., etc. No one from my borough or the surrounding communities is asked to pay a fee. The borough manager writes grant proposals to get federal, state, and private funds.
Why is this totally non-controversial and fairly easy to do here in my small Western PA town and seemingly impossible in other places not all that different?
But if you gave fire protection services for free then all the deadbeats would set their houses on fire!
Cranick bet seventy-five bucks that his house (Worth many multiples of seventy-five bucks) wouldn’t catch fire. Good job, Cranick. Kudos, too, to the county pols who decided not to raise taxes for fire services.
“A gang of bikers have set my house and fire and now they’re raping my dog! I need the fire department and the police!”
“My records show that you didn’t pay your $75 fire department fee and your $150 police fee.”
“But, but, I need help!”
“Console yourself with being a martyr for the libertarian cause and that you helped to keep taxes low.”
@Nick: Still – It sucks having your yard catch on fire. Plants aren’t cheap. And if you’re in the middle of a dry-spell (like we are here in southern Indiana), that grass fire could rage out of control in an instant.
well, clearly that’s a lie, cause they didn’t respond immediately to verify there was no life at danger. There was, and has been before, and they have always ignored it.
Oh, woops, they say let animals burn cause they are not gods creatures .. errr,, human or whatever.
Fuck ’em, F’the whole thing, IT’S A STUPID FUCKING IDEA!
I’m in a cruel mood, I guess, but if I was the insurance company and this asshole had his house burn because he didn’t shell out the $75, I’d find a way to say tough shit, buddy, no insurance money for you.
Cranick offered to pay on the spot, the Chief refused to take the money…later one of Cranick’s relatives sucker punched the Chief at the fire station, the Chief was knocked senseless and the relative is in jail. What a story.
In Wake County, NC (Raleigh, Cary, etc.) several years ago the county EMS service wanted a funding boost and the county commissioners did not want to raise property taxes to cover it. Instead they began billing home owners for EMS services, I think it started at $35 or $45 and is now something like $65. If you pay the fee and you need EMS service during the year the service is covered, but it you did not pay the fee and your or your family need the service Wake County will bill you the cost of the service call.
I would much prefer that they include this in property taxes, but if your medical insurance covers EMS maybe it’s a better deal not to pay it. In any case EMS will respond and do what they can. This seems to be what is missing in this fire response service, the pre-payment to the fire dept should be insurance which is spread across the paying community. If you choose not to pay, the fire department should have responded and then billed the home owner actual costs for their services and if necessary put a lien on the property for non-payment if required.
@Dennis SGMM: The county pols tried to raise taxes to pay for fire protection for all. The residents voted it down. It’s not the county pols to blame for this.
@DanF: I used to live in prairie fire country, where a good wind and dry grass can get a fire moving faster than a speeding car. Fires are an unpredictable, dangerous common disaster. Perhaps someone who doesn’t buy fire coverage from the county is indeed a moron, but the county that decides that the provision of fire protection can be parceled out into little units of individual responsibility is both moronic and irresponsible.
Actually, it’s not. It only seems complicated because we have a private and often for-profit economy that runs headlong against the problem. Fire protection had the same problem a century+ ago. They got past it.
How’s this for simplifying it:
All hospitals are now run by the government, using a framework similar to the VA. Everyone pays into and receives the equivalent to Medicare Part A at whatever rate is needed to make it viable.
Done. Now it looks just like fire protection.
Critical care is provided, everyone pays in. Additional protection (medical insurance) and care is available from the private sector, just as it is for fire protection.
It’s not politically easy to bring about, but it doesn’t need to be complicated once its in place.
Folks around the internets are good and steamed over this story. The way I see it, the people involved were fine with this setup of pay for service, and deserve to get it good and hard, particularly the dumbass homeowner who bet poorly that he wouldn’t have to pay his fireman tax.
I agree with you, but unfortunately we’ve reached a point in this country where taxes have become a fetish item and the idea that you pay taxes to receive services no longer exists in most people’s minds. They really think at this point that the Public Services Fairy waves her magic wand to make fire stations appear with no need for those nasty payments. Even here in California, where the disastrous results of our refusal to pay taxes are staring us in the face, Meg Whitman is running on a platform of lowering taxes.
People are unable to be rational about the word “taxes” anymore.
@Eric S.: But states get federal funding and states often give localities funding for public safety. Everyone’s taxes, in one way or another, go to fund this stuff. If this family pays federal and state taxes, chances are some of that money went to this fire department.
After natural disasters, such as forest fires, and other disasters like plane crashes or terrorist attacks, people don’t ask these questions. Fire departments from New Jersey didn’t stop at the Holland Tunnel on 9/11 and say “I’d totally come help you out New York, but you don’t pay the taxes that fund us”
If you want to bill them a fee after the fact, do it and let’s figure out how to fix that issue later, but don’t let the fucking house burn down.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent): Early 19th century.
usual policy is the fire dept. will water down neighbors’ houses if they have paid, while letting non-member property burn!
Presumably if Crannick had said on the phone “My wife is trapped inside!”, they’d have rushed out.
Even the story about Crannick’s pets being trapped inside didn’t come out until three days later, when Crannick was on Olbermann trying to look sympathetic.
So if they were a volunteer fire department, could individual firefighters not have volunteered to put out the fire?
Suck It Up!
I could never allow this to happen. He didn’t pay the $75.00? Okay, we’re on our way but you’ll be charged double or triple. This was a despicable act and I don’t care if people were in the house or not.
Seriously, right wing ideology has become so extreme it’s surrealistic. Conservatives and liberals used to agree there were some things that were best delivered by the government and just disagreed where the boundaries were, but it’s beginning to seem the only acceptable role for government among most conservatives is to start wars.
Anyway there’s an interesting post about all this on Southern Beale’s blog. It explained that to understand what happened, you have to know this neighborhood was way out in the middle of nowhere, where there wasn’t the tax base to support this. Towards the end, she writes:
Stop soshulist fire departments! also, too.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@Jager: Wasn’t that in Atlas Shrugged? You get to slug people who decide against your self interest?
We’re going down this road again?
To me it’s completely obvious that this should be paid for out of general taxes and not some sort of user fee. To repeat myself, any sort of user fee is going to have some people who don’t pay it. Maybe they are just freeloaders, or maybe they get behind on their bills, or maybe they have happen what happened to me once with the cable company — I mistyped a number from my checking account routing number and the payment was of course rejected, and they chose not to let me know that but instead cut off my internet (cable was fine!) and I had to spend two hours on the phone doing freakin’ tech support before someone could identify it as a payment problem — and they fail to let the person know the payment didn’t go through, or they fail to send the bill or it gets misdelivered.
So since it is a given that you will not get 100% participation and that fires will continue to happen, one of two things is going to result: houses, possibly near you and/or near that house you’re trying to sell, will burn down; or fires will continue to be put out and eventually the fees will be paid by an ever-shrinking number of good citizens whose fees will naturally continue to grow. It’s just flat stupid.
On the other thread, some folks tried to defend this system primarily out of an animus toward the guy who didn’t pay the fee as a freeloader and a hypocrite. And, hey, maybe he was. But it’s silly to assume that there’s nothing wrong with that structure because of that. It’s the same thing right-wingers do when they blame the housing and mortgage crisis on people who took on too much debt: miss the boat. People are going to behave in their own self-interest and take dumb chances. Society’s job is to determine when those actions impose too much of a burden on the rest of us to allow that to happen. If you have a vehicle with no liens on it and you don’t want to insure it against damage, fine. That’s your risk assessment that affects only you. If you have a vehicle and you don’t want to insure against the possibility of injuring someone else (assuming you’re not in a no-fault insurance state or the lawless frontier known as Tennessee), then that is a problem because there is a cost shifted to the rest of us.
I can’t imagine that it doesn’t drive up the cost of everyone’s homeowner/renter insurance to have preventable fires allowed to continue, and it certainly isn’t in the public’s interest safety-wise.
Ah, a Randian paradise! Have they shut off public water and sewer service, too?
I see this kind of thinking as a Taken For Granted; of civilization and all its bounty. People skip along, free riding, and then assuming, like this homeowner did, that they would be taken care of anyway.
Because of the stupid libs. Who would.
What a time for irony to rear its head and come into the Obion county airspace.
@mistermix: Exactly right. I wonder what the county liability would be if a good wind suddenly whipped-up and the grass fire turned into something truly frightening. There’s a lot of pine trees in Tennessee which are part of a fire ecology. They can burn very fast.
@geg6: Because it would require some people to recognize that there are social goods that cannot simply be commodified and sold. Because some people are Randian assholes. Because there are people who believe what Margeret Thatcher once said, “There is no such thing as society.”. I could go on.
Since when did people in San Jose or San Diego become like Tennessee’s Gene Cranick…
People in CA are stark raving mad; for proof, Arnold is out two term Governor. Meg Whitman is a serious candidate. Need any more proof?
CA is going to be in a world of hurt when the big one hits; our water mains break with regularity as it is (and companies like PG&E let San Bruno happen before they act). When the 7+ hits near downtown LA, well, who the fuck knows how bad it will be (which explains why I don’t live in LA any longer)…
That’s even more pathetic. The idiots who voted down the measure probably figured that they’d save themselves a whole seventy-five bucks per year because the fire department wouldn’t just let their house burn.
Do none of these people understand that after you’ve drowned the government in a bathtub it’s unlikely that it will be there to put out a fire?
I don’t think anyone in the thread was defending the system. We did feel it necessary to point out that this was the natural and foreseeable end result of having a fee-for-service system, which is why we shouldn’t have them.
Saying, “This was a foreseeable result to this decision,” isn’t the same thing as, “This was the right decision.”
According to a commenter over at TNC’s place, there were animals in the house who died. If this is true, then I am really pissed. How about save the house and then make the guy pay the fee retroactively? I know, it’s kinda like pay-as-you-go, which is not ideal, but in this situation, I think it would have been reasonable.
At best, they assume it will never happen to them so there’s no need to pay the fee/have the government service.
Scott de B.
This is all very interesting, but why don’t we have a thread about that TN homeowner whose house the local fire dept. allowed to burn down because he didn’t pay the $75 fee?
Crannick refused to pay the equivalent of $1.50 a week to have fire protection on his house…hard to feel sorry for him at this point. I’m sure he thought that all the other folks who paid were fools.
E.D. Kain said:
“These people are now without a home, and will probably require other, more expensive services from the local (and state, and federal) government. This is ludicrous. It is ideology taken to the brink of stupidity and then shoved headfirst into the roiling pit.”
No, the roiling pit will include completely removing the safety net — “other, more expensive services from the local (and state and federal government) — .
We’ll hear soon from the crazy zombie vermin now infesting the land that these folks burned out of their home by the same crazy vermin now infesting the land had marble countertops but refused to pay the $75 annual fee and thus deserve their plight.
These people made the mistake of building and living in a home residing in Galt’s Gulch.
Galt has title to America now.
I have no idea why it can’t work there. The next city over from mine- it’s literally just across the street- has a volunteer fire department that seems to work just fine*. This is in Los Angeles County, where we’re supposed to be a bunch of Left Coast Liberal Elitists who don’t believe in things like volunteerism. If we can do it, I’d think that a bunch of he man, do it yourself Red State types could manage.
*They also have one of the world’s finest volunteer search and rescue teams.
Here in California, we have the worst whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic since 1955 because too many people decided to be free riders on herd immunity and not get their kids vaccinated. Now we have 8 dead babies thanks to them and their decision that they shouldn’t have to pay any price in order to live in a civilized society.
Why should something like this come up for public referendum? I remember growing up that the government could raise/lower taxes all on its own. As soon as “the people” gained the ability, the obvious response occurred, taxes went down and so did the services.
I don’t think this example will change the direction. We’ve pretty much lost California to this, and yet a large section of our country thinks its swell and should be done federally.
Actually, if insurance companies were smart (yeah, I know), they would be able to flag addresses where such an arrangement is in place, charge their customer the $75 or whatever, and then pay the fire company as part of their plan.
But I’m just the 800 pound guerrilla in the room.
Someone — DecidedFenceSitter, I believe — cited something in the previous discussion about this, in which the writer observed that this was an instance of the system working exactly as it should have worked, and yet it yielded a destructive outcome, thereby demonstrating that the system itself was intrinsically bad. This hit the nail on the head.
People need to stop seeing taxes as intrinsically bad, and need to start realizing that when the government provides services, 1) those services lead to a higher overall standard of living for everyone, and 2) those services need to be paid for through tax revenue. We can argue culpability till the cows come home, but the fact will always remain that a shitty system is going to yield shitty results.
Kain, you really are a Liberal now, aren’t you?
@evinfuilt: Welcome to county politics. Raise their taxes because you know it’s good and proper for them, then get voted out in the next election by a guy who promises to lower the taxes and cancel the contract with the fire department so they can switch to a fee-based service. And then does.
Wile E. Quixote
I wonder what home insurance rates are like in Obion county. If I were underwriting home insurance there I’d jack the rates up through the roof since there isn’t any effective fire protection. And if the people in Obion county didn’t like that, well, free market bitches.
According to the Obion county website, this is a response to the fact that over 60% of all fire calls are to rural areas that refuse to support the fire departments financially (their taxes do not go to the fire department). They used to accept a service fee on the spot, but their collection ratio (because what they really got on the spot is an IOU) was less than 50%.
It sounds like there is a lot of bad blood between city and rural, and this is the unfortunate result of it coming to its head.
Of course its going to raise insurance rates in that area. Just a couple burglaries in my area caused insurance to go up slightly (not as much as the hurricanes caused previously.) It will also depress housing value for the area (nothing says prime real estate like a burned out husk of a home and scorched earth,) which in turn will depress property taxes, starving the community even further.
Norquist wanted to drown government in the bathtub, but it seems he also gets to burn the house down around said tub.
There’s a proposition on the November ballot to put “fees” under the same rules as taxes ie require a 2/3rds majority to approve them so, believe it or not, things could get even worse in California if that proposition passes.
the guy should have just had to pay the ACTUAL cost of the fire protection (likely more than the $75 fee)
this would have been the correct way to handle it in the admittedly terrible situation of pay-for-service fire protection.
edit: and i mean the cost of the call to his house.
Actually, if insurance companies were smart (yeah, I know), they would be able to flag addresses where such an arrangement is in place, charge their customer the $75 or whatever, and then pay the fire company as part of their plan.
That would work for me. Not paying the money is about one step removed from arson – and we all know arson cancels the coverage.
Now of course, there will be instances when the homeowner intended to pay his fire protection fee, but his bill was lost in the mail or the twits at the courthouse misrecorded his payment. So then he has to stand there and argue with the firemen while his house is burning down.
I am sorry the man’s house burned down. But I am also sick of people bitching about taxes being too high but not suffering the consequences of their decisions to fight them. I am dead-tired of Democrats being villified for supporting taxes for BASIC NECESSITIES. Don’t want to pay a tax? Fine. Drive on wrecked roads, lay off teachers, and watch your house burn down. Then we’ll see if the f-ing market “corrects itself.”
Live by the Rand, die by the Rand.
I posted this in a previous thread, it was from another forum, and another poster who gave permission to repost:
I think I’ll keep this story in mind, and trot it out as the perfect example of why I feel laissez-faire government doesn’t work, and why I favor greatly expanded government services in this country, good little communist that I am.
No one got hurt here, no one was a villain, hell you can argue that no one acted irrationally. Logically, I can’t find fault with the way the system runs. There are absolutely zero logical flaws here. The coverage is optional. This guy, who by all accounts is just an ordinary farmer, chose not to have this coverage. He gambled, and lost and didn’t recieve what he chose not to pay for. Simple.
And yet a man’s house got burned down because he didn’t want to pay a yearly cost that’s worth less than a family dinner at a good restaurant.
That’s not to mention the hordes of other problems that go along with this system- that someone too poor to pay, or going through financial hardships, might be denied emergency services. That this guy’s failure to pay hurt the fire department’s ability to cover other houses. That a clerical error might result in your house burning down. Or any hundreds of other problems I could come up with.
There were no villains, the system worked the way it was supposed to, and still, ultimately, evil won. Which means to me that the system is evil, and needs to be changed. /end quote
Which basically sums this up – there’s a document titled regarding a study of firefighting in Obion county. The pertinent and interesting parts are in the first section, though it is a quick read:
Now common arguments for intervention I’ve seen are the following:
1. They were there anyways. They were there because of the neighbor who had paid.
2. The poor animals. From what I’ve been told firefighters will not risk life and limb under standard procedures for pets.
3. They could have paid after the fact. Apparently, this had already happened at this farm and they were already allowed to do this. Instead of learning their lesson, they apparently, IMO, learned the rules could be bent. (Note I haven’t gotten this full substantiated, so could be incorrect)
4. They should have done it to be good people. Moral judgment that I can’t argue against as it is a statement of opinion.
Wile E. Quixote
Oh, and can we get the same kind of opt-out for national defense? Really. I’ll take my risks with the Chinese or Canadians invading Washington and save lots of money on my income taxes.
Dude, he’s homeless and his pets burned to death. He’s a bleeding moron, but I do have sympathy for him.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said that he liked paying taxes because they “are the price we pay for civilization. Of course, he was an over-educated, East Coast, liberal elitist, so his opinion has no value.
Paying double or triple wouldn’t be enough. The idea would never work if no one paid the yearly? $75 and only paid if their houses were burning. The money wouldn’t enough. He would have had to pay the full cost to put out the fire, which I guess still would be a lot cheaper than losing the home and belongings.
This doesn’t mean that I approve the idea, it’s a fucking stupid idea.
I see what you’re saying, its just Idiocracy in action. This country has been programmed that all taxes are always evil all the time. Education is key, but of course that’s “hard” and costs money, so I guess we’re just screwed. This whole thing is getting way out of hand, its spiraling faster and faster. The recession just exasperates this problem by pinching what remains of our Government even further, so I expect more and more stories like this (such as Colorado Springs budget cuts to public safety.)
@Wile E. Quixote: That’s a good one; how much would the Republicans like to have their wars when their voters are going to look at Peace as something that plumps up their checks?
Wile E. Quixote
Actually if insurance companies were smart they’d flag communities where such an arrangement is in place and say “Fuck all, y’all. We’re not insuring you stupid bitches.”
If his policy doesn’t already having a clause saying exactly that, the insurance company should fire its lawyers. Insurance companies routinely require policy holders to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of the damage they’re insuring against. Encouraging/forcing people to adopt best practice for damage prevention is one of the best things that insurance companies do. If “pay your local fire prevention district” isn’t on the list, it’s a gross oversight.
Another issue with this is, what if he had paid and faulty record keeping did not show that he had? They let his place burn unless he goes inside and comes out with a receipt marked paid in full?
@Wile E. Quixote:
Actually, that’s the approach I expect insurance companies to take now that these arrangements have been publicized.
The problem with this is that there’s little incentive to pay the $75 yearly tax. Which means no fire dept at all. Additionally, what if they get stiffed? Which seems to happen according to Walker.
I hope this serves as an example to all the other Galts in that area.
As for the insurance angle, it is likely he had none. This was probably on old farm home in the family. With no mortgage, there us no requirement to insure.
And if he was insured, I guarantee that he will never collect.
@Wile E. Quixote: Recission, bitches!
@Omnes Omnibus: Except Omnes, that didn’t happen. The system worked exactly as intended, expected, and request to work.
And that’s the true tragedy of this accident.
“We had to destroy the house to save it from soshulism.”
I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as some glibertarians would like to make it.
People lose their jobs and go on assistance. Landlords forget or refuse to pay. Some people are new in town and don’t know about the fee and a fire starts before they find out, and the previous owner has decided not to pay a fee for a house they don’t intend to live in anymore. And of course, some folks just take off and move without telling anyone, leaving a vacant house. All of these are examples of why a fee-based system makes no sense.
If he was insured, I suspect it was only on the presumption that he pays his fireman tax. His negligence, I suspect, will mean his insurance company will tell him to take a hike.
I can’t believe no one has noticed this, but – is the Meg222 that sounds like a complete idiot in the comments thread of TNC’s post McMegan?
@DecidedFenceSitter: I understand that is what did happen. I am just pointing out a situation that could cause even those who approve of what happened in this instance to question the wisdom of this system.
We’re arguing now over whether fire protection is some sort of basic right you expect as a taxpayer.
There’s a tremendous measure of fail here.
I cant wait to demand entrance to Disneyworld, despite the fact that I didn’t buy a ticket. Just seems the right thing for them to do.
It’s not really “fee for service”. That would be if only the people who had fire calls paid. (That’s what the non-paying homeowner *wanted* to do, apparently, offering to pay the $75 when the fire happened.)
But for fee-for-service to work, the entire yearly budget of maintenance and supplies and training and everything else would have to be divided among the relatively few homeowners or business owners needing fire department response.
That would likely be a very big bill for each call. Even if the fire department got called out every day of the year. Far greater than the $75/year subscription fee in this case. It’d likely be well over a thousand dollars.
This homeowner didn’t want to pay the subscription fee required to maintain the fire department’s equipment, replenish supplies, and pay the firefighters (or at least their insurance?). But I’m sure he expected the help of well-maintained equipment, sufficient supplies, and an adequate supply of firefighters.
@Zandar: I don’t think we, here on this thread, are arguing that. I think we all agree that it should be one of the basic services provided to residents and that it should be funded by taxpayers.
@Wile E. Quixote:
I’ll pay for the 10% or so of the military budget that would be sufficient to guard our borders, and the vicariously bloodthirsty/neocons/chickenhawks can chip in their own cash if they think elective wars for oil companies and politicians’ grudges, and stealth bomber flyovers at NASCAR races, is really worth $2000 per person per year.
And Another Thing...
@Wile E. Quixote: It’s time to get out the fire insurance policy. The last time I read mine – abt 10 years ago – it asked specific questions about fire department coverage and the distance and location of fire hydrants. Mr. Cranick may have another bad shock coming when he chats with the insurance company. His grandson started the fire and lost control of it and Grandpa’s house doesn’t have fireman coverage.
I’m sorry, but do our taxes pay for Disney world? Cause if they do, you damn right I want in despite no ticket.
I would put it differently. I think people figure their taxes–which are always too high–buy them basic services. But they keep hearing that there are all these people out there getting free goodies from the government. “Why should my taxes go to helping out some lazy moocher?” they think. “I’m sure that if they stopped wasting money on them, the rest of us would be just fine.” So taxes are always too high because some of yours are just being thrown away. Lop off the wasted part and you’ll get the basic services you might need in a pinch; it’s just that your lazy, undeserving neighbors, like those people on the wrong side of the tracks, will get cut off, but, cry me a river, pal.
That’s why huge numbers of people think that taxes should always be lower. It’s because they fantasize that someone isn’t paying their fair share, so why don’t you cut off that guy instead? I’m not a drag on the system, That Guy is! Go get the money from him! And then, like in this case, one day you become That Guy.
If the county doesn’t have enough power to enforce taxation to pay for the fire department, then it ought to be handled at the state level or something. The government should provide you with basic services and you should have to pay for them with tax dollars. It shouldn’t be an “option” unless you don’t care about having a society at all.
A century ago, this used to happen all the time. And then the evil government stepped in and now, under the horrors of socialized firefighting, we never get to witness the giant middle finger of the Almighty Invisible Hand.
That’s exactly what I thought: we’re having a serious debate about whether funding basic government services is the right way to go.
As I was reading the comments I wondered if anyone from “Old Europe” was here, and what they were thinking.
I’m just shaking my head.
This is teabagging at its finest! Why should I have to pay for a service I don’t get?
Plus I really have no sympathy for the homeowner – he said he thought they would put out the fire so he admits he was willing to gamble that he could get the service for free while others covered his share. So this also is teabagger thinking.
Is it odd that this idea started to become prevalent in the country around the same time Civil Rights happened?
Is it odd that this idea started to become prevalent in the country around the same time Civil Rights happened?
@FlipYrWhig: I don’t think there’s a tax rate above zero that people wouldn’t complain about. Normally, when I ask glibs and conservatives what the right tax rate would be, and what it would pay for, I get either a blank stare or a rate that’s naively low even to pay for the services that they themselves use, like roads.
If only we were able to hire people to do this for us as their full time occupation, at least for a few years at a time so they don’t get too corrupted.
Rand Paul puts the fire to good use.
Which explains Proposition 13 (I assume all non-Californians get the reference).
I hope Howard Jarvis is roasting on a fucking spit someplace.
@Face: I assume you’re a libertarian so I defer to you as the expert on what Disneyland is like.
First, the fee of $75 per home is a flat tax, just like the teabaggers want. It doesn’t matter if if your home is worth $10,000,000 or $25,000, all you pay is $75. If fire protection was paid by property taxes, those with expensive homes, the well- off, would have to pay their fair share. The people who rule don’t want to pay their fair share. They need to be leeches on the backs of working people.
Second, if fire protection were provided out of property taxes, it would then be deductable on your Federal income tax. The fee based system actually costs more, for most homeowners, because it is NOT deductable from their taxes. These people are screwing themselves. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Sounds like he was familiar with rural Tennessee as well as civilization.
@jibeaux: I’ve defended the fire chief. I don’t think the system is a good one but what do you do when the people won’t vote to include something in taxes, won’t vote for an increase in taxes and do things like not pay a voluntary fee? Cranick was a jerk. He has now paid for it. In one article about the fire, he complained about all the personal things that were lost… so didn’t he consider that when deciding not pay the fee? He was a jerk.
@Wile E. Quixote: I’m sure they’re doing that just now. Insurers are going to start pulling out of these areas because they cannot control whether the fire department responds or not. They’re never going to take on that kind of risk.
No. Most of the people I know who claim that their taxes should be lower but it won’t hurt ‘the government’ in doing what it’s supposed to believe that most of government money goes to black people who don’t work, to Medicare patients who fake their illnesses, to corruption for pet projects for Democrat politicians.
So, there you go. We don’t need to raise taxes to keep important services, we just need to stop giving money to all the, uh, you know, them people.
In addition, the quality and availability oif fire protection is factored into the cost of the casualty insurance.
Today, i was at an event in NYC with the chair of the New York GOP who said the Republicans are very upset that “$500 million was taken from MEDICARE and given to MEDICAID, leaving Seniors in the dust”
the idea there…”the young black President took money from old white people and gave it to lazy black people…did I mention death panels?”
That happens here, with parks. I’m in a small city (9,000 people) surrounded by a rural county. We have great parks. Two beautiful public swimming pools, 4 huge city recreation areas. It’s the single best thing about living here. The park system is funded by a city tax. The rural landowners outside the city limits don’t pay the tax, and a lot of them are not “farmers”. They live in high value subdivisions, where the developer and real estate sales people actually advertise that they won’t have to pay the city tax. Guess who uses the city parks?
There’s resentment. It annoys me. They go on and on about the virtues of low taxes and the joys of rural living, yet they’re more than happy to use a system they refuse to pay for. I don’t want to ban their kids from the swimming pool, or anything, but it’s ridiculous to pretend that this elaborate park system is free. It’s not, and it didn’t just spring from the ground when they arrived. We built it, and it cost.
@El Cid: Yep. Exactly. It’s the cornerstone belief of pretty much all rank-and-file Republicans, and a good swath of the Democrats besides. And for that matter, it’s the view of a hell of a lot of the people who don’t pay attention to politics because, hell, they’re all corrupt and in it for themselves anyway.
Obama did a nice job in the campaign of talking about how the country is “we,” and we look out for one another, and all that. It’s a big theme I always want to hear more in politics; my sense is that both sides in the UK talk in those terms. It’s easy to demonize as socia1ism and what have you, but I’d like to think it’s possible to mount a bold and affirmative defense of it, too.
Howard was unable to find a place to live in the afterlife. The Previously Deceased passed an Initiative that limited housing cost increases for those already in Cloudifornia,
making the place prohibitively expensive for those just starting out in eternity. On the plus side, he may be able to light his joint on the spit if the newest initiative passes.
I would think homeowners’ insurance premiums in that county would be pretty high. Especially after this made the national news.
And Another Thing...
It’s patently unfair to badmouth the fire department in this case. Mr. Cranick lives in a county that voted down universal fire department coverage, and he had the option to be wiser than his county’s voters and pay to cover his property. He didn’t. It would be nanny state to force him and his neighbors to cooperate on financing fire coverage, dontyaknow.
Think you’ll ever convince the citizens of his county that health care reform/universal coverage is the right thing to do? They haven’t figured out how to protect their community from the ravages of fire.
@Nick: Probably should have said “Medicaid”. That’s the one people talk about. Sometimes I forget to make that distinction.
Wile E. Quixote
Nothing is as cut and dried as the glibertarians try to make it.
@El Cid: I figured you meant Medicaid.
And what about the company that insures this home? I’m sure they are gonna say “tough luck” to the homeowners. This is just so insane. I can’t imagine a firefighter just standing on the sidelines, watching a home burn. My father was a firefighter during the Newark riots. He had bricks thrown at him when he came to put out a fire. But he still put out the fire. I can’t imagine him or any of his buddies not doing anything. If this is the free market, to hell with it.
Where I live, we do exactly that. I live in Lansing, just north of Ithaca in the Finger Lakes. We have a park, provided by our taxes that allows public access to the lake. This park has a gatehouse where you show your driver’s license. Not in Lansing? Then you have to pay $5.
Clearly this is anti-government taxing/spending played out to the extreme. But the mayor and many folks have defended the city–he didn’t pay his $75, too damn bad. These folks would probably vote against a small tax for fire protection today, even after this tragedy. And by this same logic, I guess these states that don’t pay their fair share of federal taxes shouldn’t get any federal services (FBI, ATF, FEMA etc.). I never seem to hear the red states make that argument. when they need help.
I wonder if the rescue squad comes if you call 911 or is there a “list” that gets checked for that too? These people have rejected the basic foundation of living in a civil society.
Just Some Fuckhead
I think this entire situation sucks big hairy dog balls but everyone involved knew the deal going in. Should the fire department have put the fire out? Hell yes, considering fires have a way of spreading. And after they put it out, they should have presented him with an itemized bill of charges.
But on the other hand, I can’t well up a whole lot of sympathy for folks that build a nice big house out in the county so they don’t have to pay for the services offered by the city and then complain when they don’t get the services offered by the city.
This is pretty obviously a gross understatement. It is bad humanity.
Via Think Progress, Obion County likes this and wants to do more.
Surely that’s 0.13 percent or something. I don’t think 1/10th of 1 cent on yearly property taxes would be sufficient.
I guarantee you that by the time this makes it into the wingnut e-mail echo chamber, it will be “union firefighter thugs refuse to help hapless taxpayer unless he gives them an additional fee.”
@Mnemosyne: Good point. Also, they’re racist against this white guy.
That is probably per $1k value; that is traditionally what they mean when taxes are phrased that way.
They don’t have a driver’s license, Walker.
They’re like 9 years old :)
Look, I’ll just pay for it. I don’t want a whole lot of crying and such. Seething with resentment, sure, but I’ll pay the freight.
@Walker: As a renter, I often forget.
Kay, this is why you would never make it as a Randian. Those 9 year olds are parasites, and you are just enabling them.
ETA: Blockquote fail.
Update 2: Blockquote fail fixed. Double underscore does work.
Update 3: I am feeling Greenwaldesque.
Still, that would be like $50.
These people would be willing to pay $75 out of pocket, but would lose their shit if their property taxes went up $50, eliminating the need to pay the $75.
I just don’t understand this country.
When I was growing up, all the pools had membership cards. Just mail ’em out free to residents.
I am not a fan of these right-winger solutions. But this seems like a case that is a lot easier to handle than fire fighting.
@Nick: Well, if ACORN and Jimmy Carter hadn’t a give all them free homes to black people what couldn’t afford ’em, they wouldn’t have to be paying all these property taxes, and also ’cause of Barney Frank.
@Nick: One is a fee and the other is a tax. The amounts don’t matter, just the terminology.
@Omnes Omnibus: What if we call it a “contribution”? Or an “opportunity”? Or “required donation”?
But the fee is more than the tax, unless you’re wealthy and have a million dollar home.
How does whoever holds the mortgage or homeowners insurance allow him to go without fire protection?
Just Some Fuckhead
Anyway, it’s why I always donate to the Policeman’s Benevolent Association. There’s protection and then there’s protection.
I was kidding. A pass would be a fine solution. The thing of it is, public facilities are attractive to people, and make them want to buy property. I was never clear on why conservatives can’t see that rather obvious benefit. I don’t want to live in some smoking, cratered shit hole, quite frankly. I’m not buying there.
I sometimes question their (claimed) prowess on budgetary matters. That may be a tad over-sold.
@El Cid: Exactly, just don’t call it a tax,
These people just hate taxes. It makes no sense to me either, but that is the explanation I keep coming back to. Same thing with low property taxes and then having to pay for private schools to get a halfway decent education for their kids. But let’s not start on that one…
Wile E. Quixote
Yes, I also want to be able to lower my taxes by opting out of the Drug Enforcement Agency (the War on Drugs is over. Drugs won, the DEA lost and civil liberties and minority communities were collateral damage), the CIA (they’re fucking worthless, don’t believe me, Aldrich Ames and 9/11), the TSA, the TVA (why should I care if fucking inbred rednecks in Tennessee are flooded out of their homes), the NASA manned space program (hasn’t accomplished anything of value since Skylab), the Rural Electrification Administration (I live in the city, why do I care if they have electricity out in the sticks?), farm subsidies and price supports (free market bitches!) and any federal program that benefits the racist traitors in South Carolina.
I’m having trouble with the math here. In my rural town of 1600 people I pay close to twok/year in property taxes. If my house burns down, the town loses that twok. Why would the firefighters(literally my next door nieghbors) allow my house to burn down. It’s shit like this that makes me glad I’m 70 and not 17.
Wile E. Quixote
And then these assholes will whine and scream about how they can’t get mortgages any more and can’t afford to buy houses because no bank is willing to lend money to purchase an uninsurable piece of property.
@Just Some Fuckhead: In my home town, the PBA or FOP or whatever they were used to sell these bright yellow trash bags as a fundraiser. Through my, and my brother’s, teens and early 20s, my dad made sure he bought those bags and made sure something in a bright yellow bag was sitting outside on any given weekend. Just in case, you know, the cops came by with me or my brother in the back of a cruiser. Any little thing could be a difference maker.
Because the firefighters are from the city, and the county homes pay no taxes to support them–thus the $75 fee that the FD charges to handle their calls.
The city can’t go after a county resident for repayment of actual costs because the county resident is outside their jurisdiction. Basically, if they put out your fire, and you don’t pay, there’s fuck all they can do.
Someone tell me the glibertarians are talking about moral hazard with this. Just so I know they’re that shameless to go their without having to pick through their s*** myself. Fonzie, don’t fail me now!
Sorry, they’re on to you. Meet Prop 26, which is meant to stop California cities and counties from levying new taxes under the guise of “fees” without a 2/3rds majority.
That may, in fact be a codicil of his insurance.
It almost certainly means his insurance (if he has any) cost him a hell of a lot more than $75 more than it would have.
If he had a mortgage, he may have been in violation of the mortgage agreement as well.
Although I find it hard to feel sorry for this guy I do feel sorry for all of the suckers who have been sold a false Gaultian paradise only to discover it’s streets are not paved with gold.
@Mnemosyne: The heroic principle anti-tax conservative who just agree to sign a budget pact in California are basing their meeting the budget on increased subsidies by the federal government.
You know, because they’re all about small government and matching spending to revenue.
Just Some Fuckhead
Thank you, thank you. I couldn’t have done it without a lot of help from the enablers in my life. Also, a shout out to my dealer who just keeps on keeping on despite multiple busts and at least one moderately long sentence.
Wile E. Quixote
Again, if I ran an insurance company that wrote fire insurance policies I’d be jacking up rates for Obion county and anywhere else that had this kind of fire service and refusing to write new policies for these areas.
@Wile E. Quixote: Why do you hate America?
E.D., someone might have said this already (thread is TL;DR), but you are essentially arguing for a National Health Service like the Europeans do it. And well you should! They pay less than half as much for better outcomes.
Weren’t we supposed to get a conservative blogger?
As I said (I think in the other thread), I have come to realize that “conservatives” and “libertarians” are really freeloaders who want everyone else to pay for nice things like libraries and fire departments so they can use them but not have to pay their fair share. And for years now, they’ve been calling those of us who are willing to pay for those things suckers and rubes.
Their problem is that, as we’ve discovered with vaccines, you can only have so many freeloaders before the system breaks down and stops working for everyone.
They’re not capable of learning this lesson. Their obsession with parceling out all these services down into their smallest units pivots on their certainty that they can decide correctly which they need and which they don’t. They would never for a second believe that they would have chosen unwisely.
so his house worth – let’s say oh , I don’t know ,. 75K…and they let it burn to the ground for 75 dollars.
Now he needs some kind of shelter and food and such , which he will have to get from the community somehow.
Won’t that cost more than 75 bucks?
Maybe if they started teaching math in the schools out there they could see this would be a bad idea – without actually having to let it happen?
I know that if I pay taxes, I expect them to use that money toward things like this.
If they don’t , why do we pay them at all?
Just for the shiny new courthouse and traffic cameras?
pseudonymous in nc
Actuarial number-crunching will kick in, especially for these kinds of rural areas: to what extent does opting out of fire protection equate to, say, having the nearest VFD 20 miles away and being on a low-pressure well?
(According to the council minutes, the local insurance agents said that simply having a rural subscription scheme available made the county residents more insurable, whether they subscribed or not.)
Others have pointed to the classic city/county thing here. If you live in the county, you’re probably burning your trash, so it’s no surprise that county residents have more fire emergencies than city residents. At the same time, the city FDs are operating on a threadbare budget with vintage engines.
Just Some Fuckhead
@tony: What is his house worth now? A lot less than $75. So the math works now.
Wile E. Quixote
Ditto. Glibertarians are no more capable of admitting to the faults of their ideology than communists are and they use the same rhetorical technique when you call them on their bullshit Well true [glibertarianism|communism] has never been tried. The example you bring up isn’t relevant because those people weren’t sufficiently [glibertarian|communist]. Glibertarianism, like conservatism or communism or any other utopian ideology can never fail, it can only be failed.
We did. It was a lovely two week run.
Wile E. Quixote
As a case in point consider the Reason Foundation, publishers of that fine magazine Reason. Are the Reason Foundation offices located in a low tax, red-state paradise such as, Little Rock, Arkansas, Anchorage, Alaska or Mobile, Alabama? Why no, they’re located in Los Angeles, California. And then there’s Matt I get my health care in France Welch. “libertarians” are free-loading, parasitic dipshits. The only difference between the average “libertarian” at Reason and the average member of the John Birch society is that the “libertarians” are more open about their dope smoking and pornography collections and less open about their racism.
Why do you think that a county that won’t pay for blanket fire protection will support a homeless shelter?
They could combine the two and put the homeless in a house without fire coverage. And then there would accidentally be some spark somewhere.
the one relative that beat up the fire chief is in jail, so that’s one family member taken care of. And he’s freeloading in the city jail.
Who knows, this incident may have served the greater good. I bet there are a lot of people that want to know where to send their $75 check right now.
They let his fucking pets burn to death in a fire that could have been stopped.
They. Let. His. Pets. Burn.
It really takes a special kind of person to sit by while animals die.
(yes he should have paid the $75, but the Fire Chief should have been willing to take the money he offered when they showed up.)
Odie Hugh Manatee
That’s where I have problems in feeling sorry for the homeowner. He decided that he didn’t want to pay for fire protection to save money and then when his house caught fire he wanted to pay one payment and have his fire put out. He was against spending a penny for protection until he needed it and he made his choice. Maybe the chief would have been more sympathetic if the homeowner had offered to pay a sum that would cover the times in the past when he felt he didn’t need the coverage.
I think the whole situation sucks but then again the idiots there voted to have it this way and this guy refused to get with the program.
Now what is this bitching about public insurance mandated payments rather than having people wait until they are sick and need health care coverage?
This is a bit long but I could imagine it would go something like this:
Our local electric utility made a mess of things when my wife and I changed residences a few years ago. To begin the story, we had an unpaid current bill for the residence (not past due) we were living in. We located a new residence and had the power turned on there and put in our name, so now we have two bills, right? We move into the new place and have the power at the old place cut off. The electric company sends us a final bill but since there is no line on the bill for a separate closing billing they moved the current unpaid bill (not past due!) into the 30-60 day late column and put the closing total on the current bill line.
Our new residence has a different billing cycle and we get another electric bill our first for the new place) about a week after we move. Three days later we get a new “combined for your convenience!” statement for both places on one statement. I note that the current bill for the new place is on the current billing line, the closing billing for the old place is now on the 30-60 days late line and the last unpaid bill but not past due!) from the old place is now on the 60-90 days late line. Another three days pass and I get a ‘pay every penny you owe or else’ disconnect notice from the electric company. A very efficient operation!
I called the electric company and after verbally wrestling with someone for about a half hour, they finally understood the problem and told me that as long as the bills are paid by their due dates then I would be fine. Great!
Ok, not so great. A week later a truck from the electric company shows up on the cutoff date and is ready to cut our power off unless I pay him the whole bill (none of which are past due) plus another $400.00 “fee”. He wouldn’t even look at my bills to understand the problem, telling me that I had to talk to someone at the electric company and they would have to tell him to not cut the power. I called them up and got into a verbal brawl with a lady there (a supervisor since the desk person wanted nothing to do with it) and it took another half hour to get her to see that the screwup was on their end. She finally told their guy to leave our power on and we didn’t have to pay a cent.
Her parting message to me?
Be sure that you pay these bills on time!
We have never had a late payment for our electricity, not a single one. When she said that I told her to look up my payment history and to stuff it up her ass.
Then I hung up.
If this had been a burning house I am sure it would have been long gone before the billing problem had been resolved.
If Rasmussen did a poll “Do you support putting the homeless in a house without fire coverage that could burn down any moment” who wants to take a guess at what the numbers would be?
Some demographics of Obion County:
County population in July 2009: 31,431 (41% urban, 59% rural). 87% white. 13.3% below the poverty line.
The city charges $500 for a fire call to the country but they have no way to force collection and about half remain unpaid.
If there are poor people living in the country in shacks then they would be the most likely to want the $75/year for other things so the current arrangement is consistent with a goal of letting shacks burn. A fixed fee of $75 no matter the property value is highly regressive in this situation.
The farmer, who owns a lot of property and has been in business for 39 years seems stupid if he knew about these rules.
Then again the whole situation is stupid to begin with.
Ah, a commenter in a previous BJ post already put forward the moral hazard nonsense. The Reasonoids aren’t giving me any easy google love.
Vaccine mention by Mnemosyne is related. We’re not looking at a moral hazard problem but a collective action one. You know what’s great for solving those? Government action.
@Wile E. Quixote: No, no, no Wile. We NEED the space program so it can send all the Republicans, Tea Baggers and Libertarians back home.
I’ll be the bitch who says it — I’m a little suspicious of that story from him. If your house catches fire and you realize you can’t put it out with the garden hose and you call the fire department and they say they won’t come and then 30 or 60 minutes later they show up to put out your neighbor’s fire, maybe at some point in that sequence you could think about getting your animals out of the burning house rather than waiting around for a fire truck that you don’t think is going to come, nu?
That's Master of Accountancy to You, Pal (JMN)
@Wile E. Quixote: Insurance company? If I’m one of the cities in Obion County, I’m figuring out how to get out of the business of responding to fires in unincorporated areas altogether. All it does is put the city on the hook for liabilities that the subscription fee doesn’t cover.
Someone way up in the thread asked about the fire department’s (i.e. city’s) liability should this have turned into a spreading wildfire. If I’m the city, I’m asking the same question. Their two choices are to operate once it has become perfectly clear that there is no downside to not paying your subscription fee, or to stop the service. I know which one I’d be opting for. I suspect that there’s some law that says that they are required to offer some sort of service, but I’d be trying to figure out a way to go to court and get that overturned.
And, yes, this would mean that there is no downside to not paying your $75 a year. The maximum the city is allowed to charge you after the fact is $500, which is probably an order of magnitude less than what it costs for them to respond, let alone amortizing the overhead that goes into the fire department.
Get out of the business. If the county residents want fire protection, let them provide it their own damned selves. If they want help from the city, make sure that they pay their fair share.
This family also should not be asked to do without water, gas, electricity, sewage and trash removal; snow removal, paving and repair for the public road leading to and away from their residence, police response in an emergency and any of dozens of other services. If any of them are billed individually, you know, in a “fee for service” arrangement, and they “forget” to remit payment, well, those services should still be provided. Even if they forget for months and months; maybe years on end. Grandma might need electricity for some medical device. Without trash and sewage services the homeowner will suffer unsanitary conditions, exposure to vermin, and fall victim to potentially infectious diseases. If providers insist on this “fee for service” crap people are going to die. Payment or no payment they must continue to give the services.
Do I have the essence of the fire department critics in the above?
@FlipYrWhig: What bothers me most about that line of thinking is the fact that those services would be there for the complainers if they were ever in need of them. (Or, in the case of teabaggers, they’re probably already using something similar to them.)
That's Master of Accountancy to You, Pal (JMN)
I think a lot of the fire department critics don’t understand that the city has no way to enforce collection of any money at all after the fact, and can’t charge even those who do pay the full value of the service.
I’d be fine with their position that the services should be provided, so long as they can collect enough money to cover costs.
The way I’d have it work is this:
1) Figure out the percentage of fires (you can adjust for severity if you like) that occur outside the city’s tax jurisdiction;
2) Multiply the overall fire department budget by that percentage;
3) Divide that result by the number of fires outside the city;
4) Bill each person who had a fire their prorated share of the entire fire department budget;
5) It should include being able to put a lien on the house so that it can be enforced;
6) If there is someone who is financially unable to pay the bill, the county agrees to pay it.
If the subscription plan is continued, the same plan works, except that the percentage of total fires you calculate in step 1 is the number of calls to unsubscribed houses.
Again, if I’m the city, something like that is the only terms I’d accept to respond to calls from people who are not my taxpayers, at all. Don’t leave your fire department hanging out to dry for criticism because they refused to put out a fire for a freeloader.
Had the exact same thing occurred, except that the fire department didn’t respond at all, because no one said it was their job to respond outside the city, no one would be blaming them. The fire department would be completely out of the loop in the cycle of blame. It would all go to where it belongs: the citizens of the unincorporated parts of the county. As I said above, the lesson I learn from this is that there is negative value to my city to participate in a subscription service at all. It’s not worth it.
@Wile E. Quixote:
Yeah, we haven’t hit Australia with anything near that big in far too long. Fricken’ Aussies!
The Pale Scot
Well the conversation over there was pretty good until McHurle showed up
And Another Thing...
@Jules: I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a fireman to enter a burning building to save pets. Burning buildings are extremely dangerous unpredictable places. Risking one’s life to rescue a human being is enough potential sacrifice for society to expect.
@Mnemosyne: You should check statistics before you spout off about something you clearly know nothing about. I co-authored three papers on this subject (not the most recent outbreak, obviously), and if one thing IS known about pertussis outbreaks, it’s that neither vaccine is 100% effective. One quick example off the top of my head: in the outbreak in Cincinnati in 1993, over 90% of the children who caught pertussis were appropriately vaccinated for their age. Vaccines are not 100% effective. Even when children are vaccinated, they can catch the disease. Adults, whose immunity has worn off, transmit the disease all over the freakin’ place without realising they have anything worse than a bad cough. So it’s not free loaders who cause any kind of communicable disease outbreak. It’s the fact that medicine is not, and never will be, 100% perfect, safe, or effective, and disease vectors added to the unpredictability of the human immune response = less than ideal outcomes.
@Jules: Actually, the loss of those animals pretty much falls squarely on the shoulders of the homeowner.
From the story as I’ve seen it, the fire department showed up on the scene prior to the fire spreading to the guy’s actual house. Which means there was a lengthy period of time where the house was not on fire, leaving plenty of time for the homeowner to do an orderly evacuation of the house.
It’s a shame that the animals died, but the homeowner had absolutely adequate time to save those animals, but simply chose not to. And if the owner can’t be bothered to enter a non-burning house to save his pets, it’s really quite unreasonable to ask a firefighter to enter a burning structure to save them.
The Pale Scot
@Mnemosyne: My understanding from reading coverage of the whooping cough outbreaks (and recent outbreaks of other contagious diseases such as measles) is not that they are a result of rational thought–“oh, enough kids are already vaccinated that I don’t need to have my child go through it”; it is a result of the increasing level of irrational “fear of vaccinations” that parents are succumbing to and thus not getting their kids the shots that they need due to folks like Jenny McCarthy pushing the vaccination is linked to autism crap. Anyways, I haven’t seen anyone laying out the line of thought you are suggesting. Do you have any links I can go to?
As for the main thrust of this thread, I am someone who lived in a rural area for about 2 decades where there was a subscription model for fire protection. Where I lived, when you paid your fee you got a sticker to affix to your front door so the firefighters could tell if you were eligible for service. Over that 20 years there were three or four folks who had their houses burn down, a couple with the fire department standing by to protect their nieghbor’s property. As someone wrote above the situation played out exactly as it should have. The result isn’t the best one for the guy who lost his house, pets, and belongings but in a place where the majority of the citizens have voted against mandatory payments/taxes on themselves to fund fire protection it is the only outcome that might lead to more responsible behavior by individual home owners and/or the general citizenry vis a vis paying for fire protection going forward.
pseudonymous in nc
You mean like firefighters all the time, when rescuing Fluffy means putting one of the crew in danger?
Also, we’re talking about the rural south, where pets aren’t “companion animals”: they’re livestock with occasional indoor privileges.
28% in favor as worded.
More sneakily worded, 60%.
I have to wonder, given that it started as a grass fire, burned a shed, and finally spread to the house… did none of the Cranicks, at any point in this process, think “perhaps we should let the dogs out of the house.”?
Also, per the Cranick’s claim that they paid the tax but just forgot… they had another fire on the property three years ago, where they had again ‘forgotten’ to pay. That time the department came out, put out the fire, and let them pay the $75 the next day.
I suspect the department was a little tired of all the ‘forgetting’.
on the day of the fire, Cranick was quoted as saying he thought they would put the fire out even though he hadn’t paid the fee. The guy has told a number of lies to make himself look better, that’s pretty clear.
Maybe I’m tired, and just can’t see it, but isn’t this how it is supposed to work?
Tax and provide services like civilized humans or this kind of shit will happen.
If you live in a den of libertarians douchebags, pay the effing fee already.
There is some other lesson?
Yes, let’s look at the vaccination rate in California, shall we:
White children: 76%
Hispanic children: 75%
African American children: 72%
Asian children: 81%
Yes, clearly I’m the one here who’s full of shit and doesn’t know anything about vaccination rates in California, or the multiple outbreaks of communicable diseases we have every year that can be traced to people not getting their kids vaccinated.
Of course, most of the people not immunizing their kids in California are upper-class twits who don’t care that they’re endangering themselves and others, so at least they’ll die first.
But you have vaster scientific knowledge than I do, so I’m sure you can assure me that a school where 58% of the kids are not vaccinated is at absolutely no risk of an epidemic of communicable disease, right?
I think this case just underscores the new age we live in. From Industrial to Information to Survival. It is now every man, woman, and child for themselves. You have to be your own farmer, mechanic, surgeon, and yes … your own firefighter. It burns you have to put it out. No one else will come to your aid. Welcome to the new age!
How is arrangement of fire-services not a protection racket?
Maybe the only reason is because things haven’t quite evolved into fire companies setting the fire themselves.
@ornery curmudgeon: You’re blaming the fire department for the choices made by the residents of the county, who consciously refused to participate in a mandatory fee scheme, and many of whom consciously chose to opt out of the voluntary scheme.
would mean she can’t post anything at all.
I believe in the right to free speech, even for ignorant sociopaths like Mnemosyne.
Things like this scheme move dangerously close to being protection rackets.
Odie Hugh Manatee
Which explains why conservatives like it. Maybe it’s an extension of the ‘if they don’t have it and I do then I am better’ taken to the extreme:
‘If they don’t have it and I do then mine will continue to exist and eventually theirs will cease to exist, finally ridding me of their insufferable existence’.
It turns out, though, that the fire department in Tennessee was not a private for-profit fire department. It was a government-run fire department. You read that right: the fire department that refused to show up and refused to name a price at which it would show up was run by the government of South Fulton.
Heartless government bureaucrats … “Death Panels” for homes no less
@kay: I don’t see why not. They should have to pay a subscription if they want to use the pool or the tennis courts or picnic tables. Lots of other cities do that.
“Can’t be bothered” is extreme unless you know something I don’t. For one, having tried to extricate one frightened cat from a house I can tell you that it’s hard to do on a schedule. With a fire progressing? Sometimes our furry children are less than brilliant and it might not have been a simple matter of opening a door.
Second, have you been in a crisis situation where there’s more things to do than time to do them in? If this person really did start with a less threatening fire which needed personal attention while a fire department was saying they wouldn’t come out then I can completely imagine that it’s not a matter of “bother” than a matter of “I am trying to save my home and all my possessions and I am not keeping up with the fire’s progress.” In the moment I doubt there was one obvious second before it was too late where the family realized “we’ve got to get the pets now.”
Hey, remember how proud the GOP was about opening up a fire station or two in Iraq a few years ago? Memories….
This is a microcosm of what’s going on in this country at a national level, with the areas of the country controlled by right-wing shitheels largely freeloading off of the rest of the country, paying as little as they can in taxes while sucking on the Federal teat. Wasn’t there a study on that or something?
Also, as a side note: people really need to lay the fuck off on being judgmental about the guy whose house burned down if you don’t have all the facts. Everyone is assuming that he’s some libertardian freeloader who decided to bet his house against a $75 fee, but every story I’ve read has noted that they’ve been paying the fee consistently in years past and it was simply a mistake that let it lapse. Shit like that happens, and the homeowner is definitely responsible for the mistake and its consequences, but let’s dial back the assumptions a bit. There’s a whole lot of real estate between “I thought you paid that bill, honey” and “Fuck it, I’m not paying $75 for fire protection I’m never going to need”.
I don’t understand all this animosity toward Cranick. I rally don’t. As I understand it, he meant to pay his $75, and paid it in years past, but he forgot. Does that make him an asshole? A hypocrite? I forget things all the time. I’d bet we all do. Sometimes they’re little things, so no harm comes of it: you forget and leave your shopping list at home, and when you get to the store, you have to go back and get it. Sometimes we forget bigger things, and it turns out worse. This is one of those times.
Even if it had been that he knew he had to pay $75 and “chose” not to, that wouldn’t always been the end of the story: Sometimes even when we “choose” things, we aren’t choosing freely. What about people who get laid off and have to balance paying $75 to the firemen against taking their child to the doctor? What about old people who are living on fixed incomes and have lots of other expenses? I can see how somebody whose only income is social security, and have many other expenses might look at their budget for the year, and choose to take a chance that their house wouldn’t burn so they could put the $75 toward whatever more pressing expenses they have. I don’t think that makes them moochers or hypocrites or jerks. I think it makes them poor Americans who often have no good choices and have to choose the least bad from a bunch of crappy ones.
Why is it so hard to have some empathy for Cranick? Chris Hayes last night said something about how conservatives today have nothing but contempt for people who get hammered by life. Jonah Goldberg and some other turd at the National Review heaped contempt on a guy whose house burned down. Conservatives had nothing but contempt for Graeme Frost 2 or 3 years ago, if you’ll recall. I bet there are 5 other cases where something bad befell some poor soul, and Michelle Malkin and Limbaugh and Hannity and Goldberg did nothing but laugh and mock and harass them and call them freeloaders and assholes and idiots; I can’t think of any offhand, but they do this all the time: somebody’s kid gets cancer or something, and they’re lazy, loathesome bastards who got what they deserved. I don’t know about everybody else here, but if I were saying the same kinds of things about Cranick that Jonah Golberg was saying, I’d take a hard look at myself.
I think the city should just stop offering to fight fires in the county. Just stop. That way no one can pretend that it’s somebody else’s job. Let multiple counties get together, or let counties pay a fee to the city for comprehensive service. Not only does it appear that there are more fires in the county (not surprising, given that open air fires are probably not as restricted), but it’s more expensive to provide fire service in an area of low density population and greater distances.
I mean, $75 per household probably doesn’t even begin to cover the cost of providing the service.
And I am still puzzled as to how this is handled for people who are elderly, poor, or for houses that are in foreclosure where the “owner” doesn’t necessarily understand the ins and outs of local fire protection, and the “resident” no longer cares a whole lot.
Just completely crazy.
Also, I mentioned this in the other thread, but it needs saying again: there’s a line that needs to be drawn between Cranick and his family. Even if he was the biggest libertardian douchebag in the world–and right now there’s no evidence that’s true and a whole lot to suggest it’s not–I don’t know how much of a sociopathic asshole one has to be to really think that his family deserved it, or doesn’t deserve any sympathy, et al. Their pets didn’t deserve to burn. Their kids and grandkids didn’t deserve to go through this. There were decades worth of irreplaceable memories in that home, and nobody deserves to lose that. Nobody.
Wile E. Quixote
Fuck ‘im. He’s an asshole in a county full of assholes. You yourself have pointed out that the county is freeloading off of the city. The assholes in Obion county have basically been saying “Fuck it, we’re not paying for our own fire department” and have been freeloading off of the city. Well guess what assholes, actions have consequences. It’s long past time that we stopped having any compassion for assholes who want to live like this and it’s long past time that we stopped subsidizing them.
@Poopyman: They almost certainly were paying more on their homeowners’ policy because they were not in a fire district, or covered by one thanks to paying the fee. I wonder if the difference was in the $75 range. Seems to me it would be more.
@Wile E. Quixote: Congratulations. I’m not sure when the last time was that I saw such a callous, arrogant, sanctimonious pile of bullshit spewed by someone who has demonstrated by writing said bullshit exactly how little they know about a complex subject. Your ignorance and unfounded assumptions about the man in question and the economic dynamics at work here are just staggering in their totality. For example:
Yes. Which does not translate into “everyone who lives in that county is an asshole who deserves to reap the consequences of the actions of a selfish few”. It does not translate into “sorry that you lost your house and your pets burned to death, kid, but that’s what you get for having a freeloading asshole for a father/grandfather”.
Pieces of shit like you are just as bad as the callous indifference of conservative bigots to the fates of children whose only crime was being born of parents who are in the country illegally, or the Nadertards who actually think that helping Republicans get elected and destroy the country will make things bad enough that people will vote Green. Fuck all of you sociopaths.
I am not indifferent to Cranick or his family but I don’t understand what the city was supposed to do as an alternative. Living in a state that is not dissimilar to Tennessee, I am beyond tired with the exurban taxophobes screaming about welfare and others freeloading on the government even as they suck a disproportionate share of revenue for schools and everything else out of the relatively more prosperous and liberal urban jurisdictions that sustain the whole state. Everybody hates free riders, usually for a good reason.
@Wile E. Quixote:
Well, I’m sorry, but I think that’s bullshit. I know the county voted not to have their taxes pay the fire department. I know that. That was a dumb move. But unless you can prove to me that Cranick was one of those who voted no on that question, then you’re just assuming he’s like every other “asshole” in the county. A county, even one that has 30-odd thousand people in it, like Obion County, will have all kinds of people, some good and some awful.
I know sometimes people in other countries lumped Americans all together back when Bush was president. I didn’t like it. Not all of us voted for Bush. I didn’t. And I resented being called an asshole or whatever just because a lot of other Americans did vote for him.
And, really, what do we have to lose by giving him the benefit of the doubt? What do we lose by being charitable? It’s my believe that we should always give others the benefit of the doubt, and assume they’re basically decent people, until they give us reason to believe otherwise. I can’t see that Cranick has done anything to show us that he’s anything but a decent guy who made a mistake that came back to ruin his life. The least we can do is hold back from beating up on him with Jonah Goldberg and the other creeps. Seems to me they’re the real assholes here.
As an aside I’ll say that I guess we should at least be glad that Michelle Malkin won’t have any way to see what kind of counters he had. He might not have a whole lot going for him right now, but that has to count for something…
Putting out the fire that was burning his house down might have been something worth trying.
I like you. Couldn’t have put it better myself, even though I tried to…
But this is far more likely to happen when not enough of a population are vaccinated.
Vaccinations work best when everyone is vaccinated. That un-vaccinated 10% provided an easy means for the disease to take hold and spread and for the remaining 90% to be repeatedly exposed to it.
There’s a tipping point somewhere. When we see outbreaks like that I’d argue that point was reached.
edit: Let me guess: you’re against vaccinations, right?
No, I mean as a POLICY matter — why is a city of maybe 30,000 supposed to fund services for 60,000 without any authority to raise more funds? They aren’t free, they aren’t even cheap. Cranick lives in the county, the county is fucked up, for sure, but it’s not the city’s job to fix it for free.
It gets even better: There are 2600 residents in South Fulton and 32,000 in Obion County. Yes, that’s right, the city is apparently not to impecunious to fight its own fires but a jurisdiction with 10 times the population is supposed to be able to rely, for free, on their neighbor’s generosity. F’ed up beyond belief.
@Justin: Well. That’s one detail I hadn’t seen before — they actually voted against tax-funded fire protection. Already knew that S. Fulton has a populatio of 2600 and Obion County 32,000.
Already knew that Cranick deliberately chose not to pay, thinking that they would put out the fire anyway. Already knew that Cranick actually set the fire through his own gross negligence. Already knew that Cranick’s family had had fires before without paying the fee and had had the fire fought because they said they’d pay “afterwards”. Already knew he could afford the fee. He has some nerve. I think it’s very unlikely such a jackass voted for the fire protection tax.
I have to say, I’m inclined to let the residents of Obion County burn. Help any people who voted for the fire protection to move into the City of South Fulton.
Cut a firebreak around the county to keep the fires from spreading. Maybe rescue the native plants and wildlife, too.
Alternatively, euthanasia for those voters who are too stupid to vote to protect themselves from fires. That would also be fair, and possibly more humane. OK, maybe that’s not reasonable, but I’m not feeling sympathetic to the humans voting against civilization.
@Catsy: Agreed. I feel sorriest for the pets, because they certainly didn’t deserve it.
Unfortunately, it was quite illegal for the city fire department to fight the fire of a non-subscriber. (Not kidding here. That county is more messed up than you think.) Fix the system, don’t blame the city firefighters facing impossible conditions.
@Just Some Fuckhead: A number of people have suggested that the city fire department should have put the fire out and then presented Cranick with a bill.
Turns out this is explicitly illegal in Tennessee. Try again.
The only solution is a taxpayer-funded fire department for the whole county. Given the existing system of Tennessee law, the City fire department had no other options for what to do with Mr. Cranick. The system needs to be fixed.
@El Cid: It may well be 1.3 mils per dollar of property value.
@tkogrumpy: Did you miss the city/county divide here?
@tony: @Wilson Heath:
Moral hazard is real, it’s just that only competent sociopaths make into a serious problem. That’s not your average poor person; that’s your average corporate CEO, or perhaps your average Republican.
Theories based on moral hazard have proved entirely accurate when it comes to the behavior of megabanks, for example — they get one bailout, they expect more.
When it comes to ordinary homeowners? Nope. Mr. Cranick appears to be an exception.