Thursday, October 14, 2010

While The House Burned Down...

The other week, in Obion County, Tennessee, a man's house caught on fire and the local fire department refused to respond because the man had not paid the $75 yearly fee for the optional fire department coverage. The department was located in the city of South Fulton, and offered the service to the surrounding neighborhoods for a $75 yearly fee. When the man's house caught on fire, he offered to pay the fire department whatever it took to save his home, but they still refused to respond, claiming it was "too late." The fire department eventually did show up, because the blaze spread to a field owned by a  neighbor who had paid the fee, but the fire chief still refused to do anything about the burning house.

The neighborhood community is, as expected, outraged, but the local authorities (all of whom are Republican) have taken a "tough luck" stance, saying he should have made sure to pay the fee and that it is his fault for not paying.

True, the fire department did not technically have any legal obligation to try and put out the man's house, or save his pets that were killed in the blaze (or, really, even him if he had been caught inside). Is that the kind of society we want to live in, however? Where for-hire emergency services use legal technicalities to weasel out of all but the bare-minimum legal obligation, and (literally) leave you to burn if you haven't paid up?

The proper response would have been to respond to the call, put the man's house out, and then send him a bill, for the cost of putting the fire out or just the $75 yearly due, either would have been fine. But refusing to even respond, and then responding to the neighbor's call when the fire spread to the neighbor's field, and then STILL refusing to put out the burning house while it burned down in front of them?

I'll grant the firemen themselves some slack for being told not to, but "just following orders" only goes so far. The fire chief who gave those orders, and then the city's mayor and elected officials who responded with such callous support for this heartless policy, do not deserve any leniency.

This is also a case-and-point for how current Republican police will work in practice. Only the rich or well-off will be able to afford all emergency services, and the poor, and lower and middle classes? Well, it's their fault for not being able to afford medical care, or fire protection, or police protection, or for driving up the cost of those services, so if they can't pay, tough shit for them.

It is also what the Republicans have been doing for the last 10-30 years. Republicans have refused to help while America's house has burned around us, and now they're trying to have the Democrats thrown out for trying to put out the blaze with garden hoses.

If you want to vote out incumbents, make sure they're Republican, because at least the Democrats are trying to DO something to actually fix the mess, even if it is like trying to put out a house fire with a garden hose, and many of the Dems are knew, having replaced incumbents the last two elections. The GOPpers have gotten us into this mess, and their prescribed solution is the same damn shit they've been doing for the last 30 years that caused the problem in the first place.

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