October 11, 2010

Ayn Rand Conservatism at Work — Firefighters Let Family’s House Burn Down Because Owner Didn’t Pay $75 Fee

The beauty (and subsequently the horror) of this story is exactly how real it is and how much this is exactly the kind of world the Web-ertarians and their ilk would see us all living in: one where only the privileged or those willing to pay for social services get to benefit from them: a world where every person is somehow an island, where the well-being of their communities is irrelevant when compared to the desire for individual determination.

A world that ignores that the property values of an entire neighborhood goes down when a few homes in the neighborhood are foreclosed on, where an entire city is less desirable to business, development, and people looking for a new place to live when the citizens would rather recoup money in their pockets to spend on their own sundries than collectively share the burden of better schools, roads, and hospitals.

Here’s the story:

hanks to 30 years of right-wing demagoguery about the evils of “collectivism” and the perfidy of “big government” — and a bruising recession that’s devastated state and local budgets — we’re getting a peek at a dystopian nightmare that may be in our not-too-distant future. It’s a picture of a society in which “rugged individualism” run amok means every man for himself.

Call it Ayn Rand’s stark, anti-governmental dream come true, a vision that last week turned into a nightmare for Gene Cranick, a rurual homeowner in Obion County, Tennessee. Cranick hadn’t forked over $75 for the subscription fire protection service offered to the county’s rural residents, so when firefighters came out to the scene, they just stood there, with their equipment on the trucks, while Cranick’s house burned to the ground. According to the local NBC TV affiliate, 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.”

The fire chief could have made an exception on the spot, but refused to do so. Pressed by the local NBC news team for an explanation, Mayor David Crocker said, “if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck.”

How horrifying is that? The worst part is that the firefighters rushed to the scene to help, and then stood there doing nothing because those are “the rules.” What’s that about evil winning when good men do nothing?

Granted, the homeowner in this story hadn’t paid the fee, and I’m sure most libertarians will be quick to blame him for that – but frankly, aren’t taxes and fees essentially the same thing? Money that leaves your pockets to go to government coffers to provide for the common good? Yeah – you can call it whatever you want, but taxes and fees are the same (we’re seeing this debate in the Maryland gubenatorial debate, where the previous Republican governor is trying to claim he never raised taxes when in reality raising taxes would have been more fair: he just raised fees on goods and services that specifically targeted the middle class, and wound up being nothing more than pocket change to his upper-crust friends.) and if the community in Obion county had simply remembered this, Mr. Cranick wouldn’t have had to stand there and beg the firemen to do something about his burning home – something they decided not to do.

Welcome to Libertarian America, ladies and gentlemen: where the privileged have it all and the disenfranchised have nothing.

[ Ayn Rand Conservatism at Work — Firefighters Let Family’s House Burn Down Because Owner Didn’t Pay $75 Fee ]
Source: AlterNet

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