The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


This bit of silliness was going around Facebook earlier this week:

A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, 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. [...]

We asked the mayor of South Fulton if the chief could have made an exception. “Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t,” Mayor David Crocker said.

Supposedly this is an example of the wickedness of private enterprise. Oh, the horrors we would have to endure if fire departments were run by corporations!

Let's look at the story again, with some helpful bolding:
A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, 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. [...]

We asked the mayor of South Fulton if the chief could have made an exception. “Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t,” Mayor David Crocker said.

My experience with private entrepreneurs is that they don't nickel and dime you. If you owe them $605 for some contracting work they're happy to knock it down to $600. If you pay Comcast $107 by accident instead of $109, they'll add the $2 to your next bill. They might stick you with a nominal late fee, but they don't cut off your cable right away.

Can you imagine your government behaving like that? You'd better pay exactly what you owe, on the due date, or it's a hefty fine. (Or worse -- my coworker recently moved his unregistered-for-driving car from his driveway to the street, where it was immediately impounded.)



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