||[Oct. 8th, 2010|05:12 pm]
Youtube clip about Glenn Beck mocking the people who didn't pay and had their house burn down.
My position on that is that the firefighters who refused to help made the right decision given the policy that exists. If they made exceptions, who would actually pay? Maybe a handful, but if I knew my house would get put out anyways, that $75 dollar fee would go down really fast on my list of spending priorities. My conscience would nag at me to pay it, but I'm not sure it would win out over the other things I need and want to spend money on.
An objection that some people have is that the firefighters could bill them afterwards. Yeah. I'd be responding in the youtube thread, but there is no threading so tracking any real conversation in youtube comments is difficult to the point of pointlessness when it gets past a couple dozen comments. It's also difficult to fully articulate what you are trying to say in a YouTube comment box when you are agreeing with a decision that, on the surface, appears to be pretty heartless.
But billing them afterwards sounds good. Ok, firefighters take the money and put the fire out. They then try to give it to the financial department, which says "OH HELL NO". Taking payments not explicitly authorized by law would expose them to severe legal liability. As ridiculous as some lawsuits in the US are, it would not surprise me to see someone pay, and then they sue the firefighters for collecting an extortion payment. Might even be a legitimate case here.
How much do the firefighters charge? The law and regulations implementing the law don't provide for this option, so they have no policy compliant amount they could charge. Someone asks for money to do something, without legal authority to ask for it, well that's extortion. Even if you could argue a justification defense in this case, there is no oversight for what they ask for. "Hey, you got the deed to this place? Want the fire put out?" "Hey Bob, that's a really nice BMW there". This would be an absolute disaster.
So I agree with the firefighters decision in this case. People don't pay, and the system has no funding to help anyone. Sure, make the argument that the fire might spread- but wait, you make exceptions, you can't pay for equipment or training, so you can't put out the initial fire in time anyways. Risk spreading fires, or risk not being able to put them out at all. I'd rather the risk of spreading, at least you've got a chance to contain the situation.
Who I don't agree with are the policymakers who set this system up.
This risks lives. While yes, the firefighters would have rescued people, the system encourages those who do not pay to attempt to put the fire out themselves. This is a risk even for a small fire.
This risks fires spreading. Oh- amateur firefighting attempts can sometimes increase this risk.
This makes people homeless.
The firefighters making exceptions on their own risks their ability to help anyone at all. The firefighters charging on their own risks exposing them to extortion charges, legitimate or otherwise.
These risks, because the policymakers view firefighting as a service rather than a necessity. Firefighting should be universal. Paid for from taxes is ideal. Alternately, allow for an on site or after the fact payment through approved means at approved rates. Such payments would be steep- it would be like paying for car repairs or health care without your insurance companies help. But there needs to be universal service, whether it's through taxation or fines. I'd prefer taxation because it spreads the cost over more people, which would allow for better service at rates people can reasonably afford. But insurance with a fine for out of policy service would at least resolve the immediate concerns, though it could lead to some serious debt after the fact(less than if they had to buy or build a new house though).
Youtube clip this came from:
Much of my view on this was inspired by a post from theferrett, but I don't have the link to it handy.