Monday, October 4, 2010

Firefighting, Tea Party style

The decade is young, but this story may end up ranking as the biggest outrage of the 2010s.

You don't have to wait for Rand Paul and Pat Toomey to take over Congress to see what the Tea Party would be like if it ran the country. In Obion County, Tennessee, the Tea Party already controls the entire county commission. And the ravages of the all-Republican commission are showing in how it treated a family whose house caught ablaze.

When firefighters arrived on the scene in unincorporated Obion County, they were fully equipped to extinguish the flames. But then they discovered the family who lived there hadn't paid their "subscription fee" for fire protection. They're not rich, you know.

So the firefighters refused to put out the fire.

"Subscription fee"??? Since when do people have to "subscribe" to get service from the fire department? Why are people paying taxes if their tax dollars don't even cover vital services like fire protection? The more important point is that even if you don't pay your taxes, fire crews are still supposed to put out fires. It's just like if you go to the emergency room, the hospital has to treat you without interrogating you about your insurance first (despite Bush's ukase to the contrary).

The family in this story offered to pay the "subscription fee" upfront so the crew would put out the fire, but the fire department refused to accept it then.

And get this: Suburbs that have higher incomes than the relatively poor rural areas don't have to pay this fee. Of course.

Firefighters finally began battling the blaze when it spread to the property of a neighbor who could afford to pay this fee.

In Tea Party land, I guess you're on your own if you're not at least somewhat financially secure, huh?

What if somebody had been trapped in the house and died because the fire wasn't put out? Keep in mind also that the policy of not putting out fires when people can't pay the fee endangers the entire community by allowing fires to spread.

They can't quite claim that requiring people to "subscribe" if they want fire protection is about "small government." After all, Obion County is a dry county. Yes, folks, they're so "small government" that they want government to make everybody follow blue laws that attempt to regulate "morals." I guess what this really boils down to is that this is all about the money of a few elites who try to police what everybody does in private but don't want their own taxes going up to pay for important services.

I guess that's the essence of Tea Party extremism: "Small government for me, not for thee" - or vice versa, when it comes to receiving vital government protections.



  1. I agree with Tim, I bet those people wish they'd paid the fee! Tim's right, many rural areas don't have enough people to run their own fire departments so they have to contract with the closest city for fire and EMS services on a subscription basis.

  2. Did you even read the article?

  3. Yes, you did an excellent job. Keep up the good work!

  4. These county commissioners should be charged with felony arson and be sent to prison.