Monday, October 4, 2010

Progressives Burn Down House

Conservatives were just beginning to irritably push back against the liberal message-board argument that any "True Conservative" should move to Somalia to enjoy life in libertarian paradise. There were rumbling asides in blogs, the sorts of things that would reach full throat as soon as National Review could get their shit together and crib something from the Von Mises Institute.

Then some red state citizen had to go and have this happen to him:
Tennessee County’s Subscription-Based Firefighters Watch As Family Home Burns Down

The conservative vision was on full display last week in Obion County, Tennessee. In this rural section of Tennessee, Gene Cranick’s home caught on fire. As the Cranicks fled their home, their neighbors alerted the county’s firefighters, who soon arrived at the scene. Yet when the firefighters arrived, they refused to put out the fire, saying that the family failed to pay the annual subscription fee to the fire department. Because the county’s fire services for rural residences is based on household subscription fees, the firefighters, fully equipped to help the Cranicks, stood by and watched as the home burned to the ground.

The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning. Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay. The mayor said if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck.
Events like this will only perpetuate the disingenuous liberal "Somalia" refrain. But what liberals will desperately hope you don't see is that, as was the case with home mortgages in the last decade, it was oppressive over-regulation that burned down this house.

As is obvious from the text, the Mayor and firefighters' hands were tied; they were bound by inefficient government-mandated standards that required them to take an annual fee instead of operating on a case-by-case basis, wherein citizens could make a decision in their rational self-interest. Moreover, progressivism's know-it-all attitude toward fire management precluded the firefighters from taking an emergency fee, perhaps at a graduated rate, to begin immediate firefighting.

If this last idea sounds hopelessly radical and confusing to you, it shouldn't: this form of proactive fire engagement was practiced in ancient Rome, 2000 years ago. Surely this is another entry in a litany of examples of the perils of abandoning the principles our founders intended when they established our own great republic.

Further, the items lost in the blaze were not limited to the home or possessions of the people in question, whoever they are. We must not forget the opportunity costs lost to an inability to take an increased emergency fee. That extra revenue could go toward alleviating local budgetary shortfalls and help stimulate local commerce. For example: using it to offset the punitive bulldozing fees faced by developers who merely want to fill in a wetland or raze a blight on the local landscape — a library, say, or a post office.

What was lost here was not just a home: it was an argument. One need only point to an incident such as this to show a liberal just how regrettably far off Somalia still is.