And I mean, seriously. They couldn't have put the fire out and then charged him $75? Ambulances do it. Nobody pays an ambulance fee before they need an ambulance. They pay it afterwards.
The $75 is a regular payment to cover the costs down the road; the actual expenses to put out the fire would be much, much more-and like I said, they should put out the fire for the safety of all concerned, them bill him the full costs plus a punitive fee for non-participation.
The question of logistics with the local fire departments is pretty simple really - the county in question doesn't set aside tax money to fund a rural fire department, so residents outside city limits rely on the protection of the City of South Fulton fire department in exchange for the aforementioned $75 per year fee. The fee is basically a de facto tax paid in exchange for fire services, except that unlike a tax, it is voluntary.
I see it as an administrative failure. It makes no sense whatsoever, in the 21st century, to have an option to not pay the government at all for fire services. Like many have said, its a fire hazard not only to the person whose property is being burnt down but to his neighbors as well. Also, the quality of voluntary firefighting organizations cannot be guaranteed, so to allow people the option of using such organizations is highly irresponsible and a throwback to centuries past when fire services weren't so centralized and the quality of such organizations had to be maintained to a relatively high standard. Nowadays, with the heavy dependence on the government-provided firefighting service, such organizations are logically in decline and can no longer be relied upon to provide competent service. Make it part of the regular taxes, and prosecute anyone who doesn't pay up. If that had been the case, this would never have happened.
Its not about small or big government. Your burning house is causing others potential harm, hence making it an issue not only of your personal rights, but that of others. The crucial part of the story, I think, is that the firefighters only turned on the hose when the fire had already spread to some extent to the other house. Which means some damage could not be avoided to the other house.
This, pretty much. I don't think enough attention has been paid to the fact that this guy does not live in South Fulton and that his own municipality has decided not to provide a fire department. I feel bad for the guy, but what he did is like deciding not to have homeowner's insurance. You take your chances. If the firemen had put out the fire, that would be a tacit message that you don't really have to pay the fee. I bet everyone will pay the fee next year.
yes - it is an insurance scheme in a sense. if we compromise insurance by letting people receive benefits without paying up we undermine the system. the firefighters did what they had to do - they were operating within the system's constraints. whether you like it from an ideological point of view or not public services all over the world have been moving towards 'user pays' for decades.
however, i agree with others who say the voluntary $75 payment system is flawed - policymakers need to analyse risks and think about outcomes. allowing fires to burn is not only dangerous it's politically risky and a rubbish policy outcome. what if a window exploded in the fire and an innocent party copped a piece of hot, flying glass in the eye? what if an uninsured owner and some neighbours took it upon themselves to defend a property with a garden hose and were killed in the blaze? litigation time. $$. further, if you think about it from a cost pressure point of view firefighting is cheaper/easier to do when fires are in their early stages. letting a fire burn increases the risk of more property damage/injury and can make the fire ultimately more difficult to control.
there are other policy options and other effective disincentives that could be employed. where i live if you don't have ambulance insurance, you still get picked up if one is called, however, you're required to contribute to the costs of the service - at a rate of around $1000 per pickup. the insurance costs around $60/year. you're sent a bill after the fact if you use an ambulance and you're uninsured, and there are fines on top of the initial fee if you don't pay the bill on time; so there is a meaningful disincentive influencing citizens' behaviour - but you avoid the huge public safety risks.
the cats that designed the system operating in that jurisdiction should be ashamed of themselves. it's a joke.
I love this story, it's a classic example of what would happen in a Libertarian "paradise" where there weren't enough taxes to cover social programs.
"Oh I wanted to live out in the sticks and not pay taxes, but then my house burned down! Boo hoo!"
I had a conversation with someone about this with someone just now, and at first I felt sorry for the guy (silly NF that I am) but this person has more Si and fortunately was able to kindly point out to me what was really going on here.
"Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." - Edward Abbey
I say, put out the fire, and then bill the guy for the expenses. You don't get to turn away an uninsured gunshot wound victim from the ER.
Actually I heard a story of a man who's brother was shot and taken to 3 different hospitals who refused to see him because he had no insurance. His brother finally bled out and died. I'm guessing the wound initially was not deemed 'life threatening' on the triage scale and therefore not ER worthy? But eventually non stop blood loss leads to death which is eventually what happened. So stuff like this does happen, even in the states.
As for the fire situation in the OP - I think it's harder for people to wrap their head around this when emergency services/first responders are seen as a common resource. Police/firefighters/EMS, etc. There is something that seems unfair or uncaring about denying these services to people when the resources are available. Maybe that is just an environmental response when you are taught something is a 'basic right' or you assume will always be readily available to you. So it's hard to wrap my head around denying the 'service' even though I understand intellectually that the fee, which is in lieu of a tax, had not been paid. Also, I can't see firefighters in the states not saving a home because the owners have obviously not been paying their taxes or are say, "undocumented workers" aka illegal immigrants.
I remember the fire department had to come out to our house many years ago and kick down our door to respond to a kitchen fire. My mom kept trying to give the firefighters money, for lunch I think, which shocked me. Even as a child I knew something was wrong with a public employee accepting money like that - I remember thinking "Mom, you don't have to do that, that's their job"
“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” ― Oscar Wilde
Here the hospital will admit you and run a few tests to make sure you're not going to die in a time-frame that will make them vulnerable to litigation, then they load you up with really strong pain meds and send you out the door.
It's great because we totally don't have enough drug addicts around here yet. :rolli:
“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” ~ John Rogers