The Brain Dead Political Left

Yesterday, while reading Greenwald at Salon, I noticed a graphic of Hayek on the right sidebar, and out of curiosity, clicked on it, and arrived at this article, For-pay fire department lets man’s house burn. I read the article, immediately recognized another political left pol conflating libertarianism with something that it’s not, and closed out the browser session. However, later in the evening, while reading b-psycho’s blog, I learned the political left is trying to make this into “political football” about competing visions of government. Writes Think Progress:

As ThinkProgress has noted, there are currently two competing visions of governance in the United States. One, the conservative vision, believes in the on-your-own society, and informs a policy agenda that primarily serves the well off and privileged sectors of the country. The other vision, the progressive one, believes in an American Dream that works for all people, regardless of their racial, religious, or economic background.

And this was the lead-off to the salon article:

There is a sort of childish taunt that liberals use against proper libertarians sometimes, in which they humorously propose that the fire department be privatized, because the “invisible hand” of the market would be more efficient at putting out house fires. And then everyone has a laugh — the liberals because they think they just scored a really great rhetorical point, and the libertarians because they are high.

So, I decided to do a bit of cursory research, all of about 5 minutes. It turns out the fire department in question is not actually a “private” entity; it is the city of South Fulton’s fire department. This is a government, tax-based fire department that offers an optional subscription service to the surrounding Obion County. It was the city of South Fulton’s Fire department that stood around and watched the dude’s house burn. Now it is unclear if the dude in question simply declined to subscribe or had allowed his subscription to expire(failed to renew), but my suggestion would be for people that own property to pay the damn subscription. A monopoly offering an optional subscription service is not exactly a libertarian framework, but, in terms of things to be upset about in the overall scheme of things, this isn’t particularly high on the list. 75 bucks a year, come on. And technically, there was no “market failure” here. The guy had to bear the brunt of of the consequences of his decision. And this is not lack of empathy on my part, rather it’s the ability of me to apply reason to see the consequences of institutional moral hazard being a far greater consequence to “the community.”

Now, i am sure there are plenty of actual subscription-based departments(whose revenue is solely derived from subscription fees) out there, particularly that serve rural areas. I found one here. Just feel the dystopia, man.

Who is Goodhope Fire Department?
Goodhope Fire Department was established to provide fire protection and emergency medical services to rural areas in Western Douglas County as well as Eastern Christian and Northeastern Taney Counties.

Our Services Include:


Goodhope Fire Dept. has a legal Automatic Aide Agreement with the City of Ava Fire Dept. What this means is on a structure fire, regardless of the location, in our coverage area the City of Ava will automatically send pumpers and personnel to help. In turn, we do the same for them. This also allows us to claim their equipment which consists of 2 Class “A” pumpers, a mini-pumper and also a rescue van.

Within the next year, Goodhope Fire Dept. would like to be able to build a new mother station to be located at the junction of Highways 76 & “T”. We would also like to update our protective equipment.

In short, I believe that with hard work and community support we can achieve our goals for this department. We would appreciate any help that you could give in turn, we could help you by lowering your insurance rates if we could get a substation within 5 miles of your property. We are a Non-profit organization under Section 501 C(3). Any donations you might make will also be tax deductible. This is a win – win situation for you and for us.

All this again, with 5 minutes of research. You know what else I did in that 5 minutes. I did a very simple query to see where tax-based fire service had failed–that is, either failed to show up, took too long to show up, or had equipment failure. I knew I could count on Detroit. Found an immediate, recent example here. The Fire department failed to show up for an hour an half, despite repeated calls to 9-11. The mayor then blamed the fire on a “natural disaster.” There’s your progressive vision, “the one, that believes in an American Dream that works for all people, regardless of their racial, religious, or economic background.” A bit more research, again within this 5 minutes, turned up the following information regarding the Detroit tax-based fire service:

Since 1997…Detroit, which covers 140 square miles, has lost 18 lives in fires due to “failed fire equipment” or closed stations during the same time.

I think it’s a given that you likely won’t see Keith Olbermann on the scene in Detroit.

There was some talk last August, I believe, about the failure of “liberaltarianism,” which was, in some respects, a fusionism attempt with the political left. Well, it’s largely dead, but it was the pig-loving authoritarian political left who killed it. As soon as the political left assumed majority power, they, rather than attacking conservative hypocrisy, launched an all-out assault against libertarianism, in the foolish belief that this would somehow provide the final knockout punch of a permanent discrediting of the GOP(and the tea parties that would arise soon thereafter). These lame, brain-dead attacks still continue. And it took about 5 minutes of research to debunk their nonsense and provide counter-examples of actual government, tax-based failure.

I would encourage the political left to start a website to document the failures of subscription-based fire service. And you can put that up against the everyday documented failures of government, tax-based service provided by our brave men and women in uniform blue, documented by the likes of Radley Balko or RadGeek. The pig-loving authoritarian political left, led by their intrepid leader, Joe Biden, would love, no doubt, to put all our “first responders” under the authority of Homeland Security. One big federated political union of brave first responders operating under one gigantic bureaucracy. That way, we will sure to get more predator drones in the hands of “law enforcement” and Janet Napalitano can resurrect that TIPs program for FireFighters. After all, as the Obion County case clearly demonstrates, taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

Think Progress, Keith Olbermann, and Alex Pareene…laugh the fuck out loud.


5 thoughts on “The Brain Dead Political Left

  1. My beef with this is that he offered to pay them while they stood there and did nothing. Offered whatever price they wanted. So, in the end it was a government agency acting as all government agencies do: a protection racket. In my eyes, they put themselves in something of a moral dilemma by showing up to it and then refusing to act. Had it been a private agency, I feel pretty certain they would have said, “ok, our single-event price is $1000. If you agree to that, we’ll put it out.”

    Fire suppression should be the province of the insurance companies anyway, since they are the ones bearing the cost of a lack of suppression. In reality I think the insurance company probably ends up paying out just as much whether the fire is extinguished or not – what isn’t destroyed by the fire or smoke is damaged by the water used to put it out.

  2. It’s always a mistake to try to make a point by using an isolated incident where assorted people couldn’t get their act together– that type of thing will happen in any system.

    Anyway, Todd hit an important point. The behavior of the firefighters seems to be based on their knowledge that they have a monopoly on fire protection services. Aside from their unwillingness to accept payment on the spot, it seems that they did not follow the easiest strategy for protecting the possessions of the neighbor who did subscribe to the service–which probably would have been to put out the fire as soon as they arrived at the scene.

    The very act of waiting for the fire to spread was costly to them (it occupied the time of the firefighters and the equipment), so I can only imagine that they did it to make a point — “subscribe for protection or else”. In a competitive market, that would be counterproductive, since people would likely subscribe for a competitor’s service rather than the service that refused to help in a dire situation.

    Finally, the people who want to make hay of this scenario are distracting from their strongest arguments. Communal fire protection does not exist as a form of personal insurance; it primarily exists to prevent a fire from spreading throughout the community.

  3. Okay $75 dollars a year for fire protection is a BARGAIN!!! I can virtually guarantee the citizens of the city in which the fire department resides pay MORE!.
    A key point – not noted in this article is the fact that this man has a family issue with house fires. He has had one burn in the past his brother had a house to burn and now this one has burned. Not to say that the odds preclude this from being coincidental but it is odd nonetheless.
    As far as th fire fighters themselves I can not let them “off the hook” if you sign up to be a firefighter BE A FIREFIGHTER!! If you want to be paid before you do good for your client BE A LAWYER or even better BE A F(#KING POLITICIAN and you can be a Democrat a Republican or a Libertarian and still do NOTHING for your constituency!
    AND give yourself a RAISE EVERY YEAR!!

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