JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2010/10/moral-outrage-and-rights.html (37 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1286511191-253  nemesis443 at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 04:13:12 +0000

 I live  in Knox County, TN, and I have to pay Rural Metro through my homeowners association for fire protection. My sister lives nearby and she also has to pay. I have absolutely no sympathy for Mr. Cranick. In the first news video he says he didn't pay but he thought they would come anyway. He doesn't claim he is indigent and he doesn't claim he forgot to pay. He specifically said he didn't pay! He thougth he could freeload off the taxpayers of South Pittsburgh.
 All of the people who have said the city should have put out the fire and then billed him, if neccesary suing him and filing a lien, are just ignorant. Lawyers and lawsuits cost money! This is just a small town, not a large metropolis. The residents of Obion county are quite capable of forming their own professional or volunteer fire department and paying for the equipment and training.
The rock band Rush once released a song called Something For Nothing. Part of the lyrics are:
"You don't get something for nothing, you can't have freedom for free". I expect adults to take responsibility for their decisions. My bet is that a lot of people in Obion county will now start paying the 75.00 because it is cheaper than starting their own fire department.

jsid-1286514130-590  Jay21 at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 05:02:10 +0000

Depending where you are depends on the contracts. Ours i do NOT pay, but have signed a waiver with my insurance company and rural metro that my insurance WILL cover their costs. My increased insurance cost 2/3 of the rural metro fees. While i oppose all income tax, i do not oppose all taxes, public service/safety for profit is a wonky line i do not like.

jsid-1286514394-768  khbaker at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 05:06:34 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286514130-590

Imagine that!  A free market option!

jsid-1286523106-274  Doom at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 07:31:46 +0000

It is a frustrating thing, to see a house on fire, people and equipment there and able to put it out, and... to watch it burn.  It pits feeling against reason, short term versus sustainable, opportunity against wisdom, and really socialism against the free market.  The perfect thing about this example is it will, in hard core fashion, ferrit out the "liberal" from conservative in a very real situation.  Unfortunately, from what I am seeing, most people are of the left.  Being a little left is like being a little pregnant.

If you want to know what someone is, deep down, ask them what they believe about this.  Yeah, scary.

jsid-1286628192-311  Jeroen Wenting at Sat, 09 Oct 2010 12:43:12 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286523106-274

they're there to protect surrounding property owned by neighbours who did pay their taxes, thus as a precautionary measure (which in this case was needed, as it often is).

I'd guess the fire department and the neighbours have a good lawsuit now, sueing the owner of the burnt out property for damages resulting from his house burning down which caused damage to their properties and caused them to have to spend money.
Double whammy!

jsid-1286524575-335  Mastiff at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 07:56:15 +0000

One might wish that the fire department could have had a credit-card reader on-board the engine, so they could present the good homeowner with a bill of, say, $1,000 to be paid before the hoses start to run. That might have saved a lot of teeth-gnashing.

Generally, the homeowner should have had some recourse even if he didn't pay in advance. A truly free-market institution would have such options as a matter of course, as it would be more interested in securing a sale than in punishing those who will not buy.

jsid-1286541052-868  Ach at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 12:30:53 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286524575-335


I personal believe that the homeowner should have been provided an option to (agree to) pay at the time of need - something sufficient to cover the cost of mobilization, water restocking, pay & benefits, anything else relevant, and a "you f'd up" fee.  And if that ran to $20k+ and he didn't want to pay...maybe provide some complimentary marshmellows to show no hard feelings.  I see no reason a contract for payment couldn't be arranged before-hand.  Maybe even offer financing with interest?  (If you don't pay the $75 fee, then if you have a fire and you want us to put it out, you can expect to pay between $12k and $20k depending on the size of the fire, distance from station, etc.  Payment options may include...)

jsid-1286544287-581  GrumpyOldFart at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 13:24:47 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286541052-868

That might result in the fire dept. having a collections dept. bigger than the fire dept.

jsid-1286545537-561  Doom at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 13:45:37 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286544287-581

Either that, or require laws to be crafted which would make any lein created through such a payment scheme to supercede any other claims.  Which... could get really ugly and messy.

jsid-1286628244-93  Jeroen Wenting at Sat, 09 Oct 2010 12:44:06 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286544287-581

they have that already, it's called the IRS...

jsid-1286643395-937  nemesis443 at Sat, 09 Oct 2010 16:56:36 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286628244-93

Tax liens don't supercede other liens. First come, first served. If somebody goes belly up , the mortgage financer gets the house, not the IRS, unless the IRS had a lien down before the mortgage was signed. Any financial institution with half a brain wouldn't give out a mortgage with a tax lien sitting out there....., wait, I forgot Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Barney Frank! Oh, never mind!

jsid-1286556075-762  Laughingdog at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 16:41:16 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286524575-335

"Generally, the homeowner should have had some recourse even if he didn't pay in advance"

No matter how much it goes against some peoples' concept of "fairness", not everything in life allows for a do-over.

jsid-1286541209-264  geekwitha45 at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 12:33:29 +0000

I think that case turns on two factors, not merely whether the homeowner paid the fee.

The other factor is whether the FireCo is a purely private organization, or quasi governmental.

The water gets muddy there. I would submit that if the FireCo is quasi governmental, (meaning: it was created by an act of legislation, or enjoys special benefit or protection of legislation, or recieves any taxpayer's money beyond a straight contract to protect public property) then it probably would have some duty to the taxpayer that a purely private organization wouldn't have.

Either way, to avoid bad press like this, a better policy, which would be consistent with libertarian orientation, would be to put out the fire, and charge the homeowner the *full* cost of doing so.  In all seriousness, a bill could easily look like this:

12 guys @ $100/hr for 3 hours: $$3600
1/2 day heavy equipment truck rental:  $500
20,000 gallons water: $300
Rental, fireman's personal protective equipment: $50 * 12 = $600
Refill, 24 air tanks @ $20 each = $480

Total: $5,480

jsid-1286541357-608  geekwitha45 at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 12:35:57 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286541209-264

Incidentall, this is how the local ambulance service works. They're a purely private organization, and charge $50/year for a membership. If you're not a member, they'll save your ass for a straight fee that *starts* at $300 for a simple ride to the hospital.

jsid-1286544371-799  Unix-Jedi at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 13:26:11 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286541209-264

One thing to note:  The fire department was "out of it's jurisdiction" so to speak.

That means, even being quasi-governmental, it's not the same  as ignoring someone in the tax base who had paid for it. 

jsid-1286545243-419  khbaker at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 13:40:43 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286544371-799

Plus, if you'll follow the links a LeanLeft, you'll see that - as quoted - over half of the people the fire department has billed for their services don't pay anyway.  As GOF said, you're looking at having a collections department larger than the fire department.

jsid-1286547848-791  geekwitha45 at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 14:24:08 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286545243-419

>>over half of the people the fire department has billed for their services don't pay anyway.

Much like medical providers.  In the small practices I worked with in the 90's, it was pretty common for the size of the clerical and billing staff to approach or exceed the size of the medical staff.

The common thread in both cases is that the service providers operate in highly intermediated biz environments, such that the customer's expectation of the necessity of having to directly pay for the services they recieve is diminished.  There was always great certainty that "insurance" and/or "the government" or "their employer" would pay for their care, even when no such insurance/coverage/liability existed.

jsid-1286576613-704  Phelps at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 22:23:33 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286544371-799

Unless the FD accepts federal grants or monies, in which case he has paid for it, at least in part.

Nothing can be simple if government is involved.

jsid-1286545827-383  Ach at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 13:50:27 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286541209-264

You left off the "You f'd up" fee (or maybe the "because we're servicing you, we can't service someone else who ACTUALLY PAID" fee), but otherwise, I agree.

jsid-1286541730-119  Robb Allen at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 12:42:10 +0000

I love how the left would consider a contract at the time of burning as 'coercive' since the firefighters could ask for any amount they wanted. The coercion would only exist if the homeowner had no other options for obtaining the services beforehand.

Now, in this instance, I am perfectly ok with the responding fire department being required to have, up front, a cost in writing what it normally costs to put out a fire so that they could not, at the time of the combustion, triple their price because they didn't like the Obama sticker on the guy's car. Emergencies are the worst time to hash out the appropriate costs for service.

I'm OK with the people voting to tax for services or to require people to pay a fee, and I'm 100% on board with watching the guy's house burn down if he refused to pay the bill. Your actions have consequences and leftists like to believe that those consequences can be mitigated with enough of other people's money while somehow still allowing the same actions to happen.

Why couldn't the guy just pay the $75 right there? Because who then in their right mind would ever pay the $75 annual fee when you know you can just pay it should your house start to burn. Then, all of a sudden, the Fire Dept is making $75 to $150 a day. Think it can run on that?

Is that cold hearted? Absolutely not. In fact, the Libertarian position is more compasionate and more reasonable than that of the left. Allowing free market principles to work does mean that some people will choose poorly and suffer greatly, but the vast majority of the rest will receive a better product at a cheaper price. His neighbor's house, which is still standing because he paid his dues, proves the point. And only for $75. What a bargain.

jsid-1286551965-796  Marja at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 15:32:46 +0000

What about people who just can't pay, for reasons not of their own fault? Somebody too old to work who doesn't have savings or has lost them, or somebody with a disease which prevents him from working? I lean libertarian, but I'm personally somebody who has not been able to keep a job which would allow me to save any money, I have lived hand to mouth most of my life, so that is one question which hits close.

I'm not American, I live in Finland, and my problem is seasonal affective disorder, pretty bad version. Dropped out of university during the 80's because I just couldn't pass the exams anymore no matter how hard I studied, and have worked mostly as a paper carrier after that. Was finally told about ten years ago what the likely reason for the fact that I can't concentrate worth damn, I'm constantly tired no matter how much I sleep and hungry all the time during about half of the year was.

And this is one problem which is not obvious. It would be easy to claim that you suffer from something like that and use it as a reason for freeloading, which makes it all the more frustrating when you really can't do things no matter how hard you try. I do feel guilty because I can't, and I have been told that I'm a slacker, or just plain lazy, and I have spent half of my life starting things, only to fail once again when the winter came. Only during the last couple of years have things started to improve, looks like I finally have a regimen which allows me to function almost normally during the dark months, but I'm also in the late middle age now in a country where it is almost impossible for even well schooled people with plenty of work experience in my age to find work if they lose the one they already have. So looks like I'm going to stay poor.

So yes, I think you should pay if you can, but what if you just can't?

jsid-1286552801-253  khbaker at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 15:46:43 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286551965-796

YOU ASK FOR HELP.  You don't demand it from "the community."

jsid-1286555443-759  Marja at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 16:30:43 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286552801-253

No arguing about that, khbaker. But I have rarely seen any discussion about how it could be actually made to work. Who would decide whether you get that help or not, how would they decide, how could you tell who really needs the help and who is trying to freeload?

I live in pretty socialist country. Most of my friends lean that way, and one thing I can tell is that most of them do that because they are nice people. It's easy to sell socialism to somebody who is likely to think in terms of robber barons and children starving to death in the streets or working 12 hour shifts in a factory when they hear talk about paying for community services, or voting for somebody who might actually work towards cutting the govenment involment in our lives. I do argue with them, but one thing they use against me is the fact that I might be one of the canditates for starving on the streets if it wasn't for government services. I guess I mostly would like for somebody smarter than me to give me some way to argue back.

jsid-1286571193-58  Sarah at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 20:53:13 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286555443-759

Marja, first thing to ask your friends is why there are still homeless people in Finland. No system is perfect. And the truth is you might be a candidate for starving in the streets if not for government services. But it's amazing how people voluntarily help each other in tough times when the government isn't intruding. When is the last time anyone starved on the streets in America? Probably not since the Great Depression. Mieheni told me that he was fed a lot of propaganda in school growing up -- On kuin lottovoitto syntyä Suomessa ("It's like winning the lottery to be born in Finland") -- because the socialist educators didn't want Finns knowing that things are a lot better in the USA than in Finland. We have the fattest poor people in the world -- people ostensibly living in poverty, though they have a house, car, microwave, television, and lots of food. They live like the upper classes in some countries.

There's nothing wrong with choosing socialism if that's what you want. You must recognize, however, that: 1) you cannot design a system that is both free and secure. It's fundamentally impossible. You have to pick one, and if you pick 'secure' you accept that you give up a lot of freedom; 2) even if you choose security over freedom, you can never achieve perfect security. One thing socialists have a hard time with is the idea that there is no such thing as perfection, no Utopia. There is no guarantee that you won't starve or that your house won't burn down or that you won't get terminal cancer or that you won't be murdered or that we won't have an asteroid smash the earth. That's life. The only guarantee is that you will die someday. Some of us are willing to accept the minor risk that we'll die sooner because we want more freedom. Long ago, when most Nordic people were Christian it was a lot easier to accept this reality, because people knew that perfection was in heaven, not on earth.

From what my husband has told me about Finland, there is no hope for Finns to ever turn back from socialism. He says Finns are too brainwashed to ever change. I agree with Kevin that you should move to the USA. Mieheni says you should come here, too. If for nothing else than for the better weather.

jsid-1286619640-316  Marja at Sat, 09 Oct 2010 10:20:40 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286571193-58

I think about moving, often. But I'm pretty much the only family my 88 years old  father has left.

jsid-1286622245-935  Marja at Sat, 09 Oct 2010 11:04:06 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286619640-316

And one more thought about my country - at least there are some dissenting voices coming out now. I don't have any hope for my generation, but maybe the  one coming of age right now might be a bit more inclined to start creeping in the right direction. And I guess the one thing about your country that matters most to the rest of the world is if you can take Hollywood back.

Good luck over there.

jsid-1286801198-749  Stephen R at Mon, 11 Oct 2010 12:46:38 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286622245-935

"And I guess the one thing about your country that matters most to the rest of the world is if you can take Hollywood back."


jsid-1286555304-773  Sarah at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 16:28:28 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286551965-796

That isn't the European way, Kevin. As you know, I'm married to a Finn. He explains that nobody in Europe understands the concept of charity, because the government ostensibly takes care of everything. It simply doesn't occur to Europeans to ask their fellows for help. Plus they'd be unwilling to take the risk that someone would say "no" to their plea (yet they darn well know that the government says "no" all the time). Also, the old Viking attitude wasn't "If I'm in need, I'll ask for help," it was "If I'm in need, it's more honorable to take something by force than to beg like a loser." Nordic people think that's tough and noble, but it's really just freelance socialism.

jsid-1286556017-557  Marja at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 16:40:17 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286555304-773

True, Sarah. We are loath to ask even family members for help. It's also somewhat due to something like the concept of 'losing face'. You ask somebody, in person, you admit to that somebody that you can't do it yourself. It a lot easier to ask from somethign abstract like 'the government'.

But there should be some way to make it work.

jsid-1286563410-511  khbaker at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 18:43:30 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286556017-557

Marja, you hit upon a crucial point - it is all about culture.  Your culture has "progressed" a lot further along the path than ours has, but we're headed exactly the same way.

What I want is to stop that progression, because I don't see it as "progress."

I hate to say it, but I don't think you can reach your fellow countrymen.  Perhaps, like Sarah's husband, you need to move to someplace where people already think like you do.  (And where it isn't dark all winter! ;) )

jsid-1286556402-745  Laughingdog at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 16:46:42 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286551965-796

"What about people who just can't pay"

Then you own too much house.  If you can't afford the expenses on your home, you sell the home and get a smaller place.  That rule doesn't change just because you're talking about fire protection services instead of a mortgage or property taxes.

jsid-1286554228-510  Russell at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 16:10:28 +0000

There was a Roman, Marcus Licinius Crassus, born around 115 B.C., that made a lot of money running the first fire brigade. Of course, being Roman, he had his men rush to the burning home, then he would argue with the homeowner over the cost of saving the home. If a price could not be agreed on, he'd let the home burn the offer to buy the burned out husk at a fraction of its value. Some alleged that he had men starting fires in the city to keep up business.

I think we can all agree we'd like to avoid that from repeating!

But that said, I am curious why people think they have a right to a service they didn't pay for and had no intention paying for until after it was needed, if even then.

I pay my taxes and my home insurance for fire, I expect help if I should need it. I don't for flooding, and so I don't expect anything that I haven't paid for in that regard.

jsid-1286556247-80  Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 16:44:07 +0000

I can't help but to wonder what the repercussions would be, had a life been lost in the fire, that might have been saved.

jsid-1286560772-886  Laughingdog at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 17:59:33 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286556247-80

Since it was a city fire department, probably not that different from when someone dies as a result of actions of the city police.  The fact that the fire was in the county, not the city itself, would just add to that.

However, the fire department stated that they would have gone in anyway if it was a matter of "loss of life" instead of "loss of property".

jsid-1286576724-916  Phelps at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 22:25:25 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286556247-80

He lost four pets in the fire, but that is being glossed over.

jsid-1286577428-375  khbaker at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 22:37:08 +0000 in reply to jsid-1286576724-916

I feel bad about the pets, Phelps, but they die in house fires all the time.  They're not the focus of the question here.

jsid-1286558988-538  Guest (anonymous) at Fri, 08 Oct 2010 17:29:51 +0000

"I can't help but to wonder what the repercussions would be, had a life been lost in the fire, that might have been saved"

Like most stories, there is more than meets the eye here. Firefighters aren't stupid heartless bastards, recall 9-11 if you disagree. They probably knew from the time they were dispatched that there were no people in the home. They routinely risk their lives to save a structure, no way they would have watched it burn if there was even a suggestion of someone inside.

Another bit of information left out of the discussion is that mobile homes burn so fast it would have been damn near impossible to put out anyway. I've seen a mobile home burn, and if the dept wasn't in the next block, it was a goner. Burning it to the ground just makes less mess to clean up.

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