Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Firefighters Getting Burned?!?!

Well, I was going to blog about the new findings I've had in my research regarding Ron Johnson's ill-advised testimony against an anti-pedophilia bill, but it seems that will have to wait. What everybody's talking about at the water cooler is a bombshell of a news story regarding Firefighters who recently allowed a man's home to burn down because he hadn't paid the $75 fee for fire protection from his municipality. The fire department finally did show up, but only because his neighbor's property began to burn, and that neighbor had paid the fee. When the man begged and pleaded, saying he'd pay any price for the firemen to put out the fire, he was told he was too late.

This has gotten all kinds of press from all kinds of, well, press. People are weighing in on it from all sides, and everybody's got an opinion. So how can I resist?

Seriously, firefighters not putting out fires? What next? Dogs not fighting with cats? Lawyers not chasing ambulances? Politicians not accepting bribes? Sheesh, next thing you know, Lindsey Lohan is going to stay off drugs!

What blows my mind about this story is this: some folks are actually defending this municipal rule, saying that because he didn't pay his meesley $75, he's S.O.L.

Okay, before I rip into this, let's settle a fundamental question: What is the purpose of a fire department? Seriously, why does a municipality even have firefighters? At it's very heart, the purpose of a firefighting unit is to contain the fire so that if, heaven forbid, a fire breaks out, it does not spread.

Here, in this instance, is a case where a municipal rule thwarted the very purpose of why we have firefighters at all: It allowed the fire to spread. And what happened? The man's neighbor paid the price. His property caught fire.

Seriously, this neighbor should sue! He has a legitimate gripe. The only reason his property burned at all is because the firefighters were derelict in their duty. In court, the municipality and the firehouse will both say that this rule barred them from action. In response, I hope the court gives an injunction ordering them to change this rule. Because that's the way it should be. This rule sucks. And, as many have pointed out, this rule is very similar to paying an insurance fee in order to get healthcare.

Now, there's a fundamental difference between doctors providing healthcare and firefighters putting out blazes. Namely, that firefighters don't have anything like a Hypocratic oath requiring them to act. (Why don't they, by the way?) But paying a fee to receive the service is the common thread. Many people have been pointing out that this man, by not paying his $75, was effectively mooching off his neighbors in hoping the fire department wouldn't actually be the pricks that the law required them to be. They therefore conclude that this guy got what he deserved. They also say that those who aren't willing to pay for their insurance coverage shouldn't be asking the government to do so, because that's every bit as unfair.

Hang on, WHAT?! After drawing the analogy between healthcare and this firefighting fiasco, do people really think that both systems are fair? Isn't it far more reasonable to conclude that both systems are patently unfair?

Of course it is. Government-mandated fire insurance is wrong. Dead wrong. Every bit as wrong as government mandated healthcare insurance. But that's the insanity we have. Viruses and bacteria, much like fire, will spread wherever they can, and they don't give a damn who's paid or not. So when you, much like the neighbor in the example above, get sick because the poor incubated the disease you got infected with, you will have every bit as similar a gripe as he does. And if you're unlucky enough to be too poor to buy the insurance your government has forced you to buy into (which is the same thing as a tax, by the way), and you suffer or die as a result (especially if you're unlucky enough to meet a doctor who's unethical enough to be dictated to by an insurance company), then just remember, WE wanted this. We, the silly, stupid people of the world, didn't want government running things because we're afraid of the government. And now we'll all suffer at the hands of the even more evil insurance companies going forward.

Maybe, instead of us being afraid of the government, the government should be afraid of us! Then we'll have few qualms about letting it run healthcare.

Eric

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