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Thread: Shortcomings of Libertarianism

  1. #1
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    Shortcomings of Libertarianism

    no one wants to pay for government

    until they need the government

    [quote]
    October 6, 2010, 1:15 PM
    [B]Tennessee Firefighters Watch Home Burn[/B]
    By ROBERT MACKEY

    A bizarre incident last week in Tennessee, in which firefighters watched a family’s home burn to the ground because they had forgotten to pay a $75 annual subscription fee, has led to a debate about the limits of libertarian visions of limited government.

    As local NBC affiliate WPSD reported, the family of Gene Cranick in Obion County, Tenn., called for help last week when a fire broke out near their home but were told that since they had not paid $75 this year to the city of South Fulton, the local fire department would not send a truck to help.

    Mr. Cranick later told The Associated Press that he had paid the fee in years past and that it had simply slipped his mind this year. Even when he offered to pay whatever the cost might be to put out the fire, the department refused to respond to the emergency during the two hours it took for the flames to spread from his yard to his house.

    Firefighters did eventually arrived on the scene, but only to protect the property of a neighbor who had paid the fee. WPSD’s video report, above, showed the crew standing near the fire as it burned but refusing to intervene.

    One of Mr. Cranick’s sons was later arrested for attacking the South Fulton fire chief.

    As Zaid Jilani noted on the Think Progress blog, the fire led to a debate among conservatives at The National Review’s Web site.

    In a post on Monday about the fire, Daniel Foster began with the observation, “Oy, this is bad for the libertarians.” He explained:

    I have no problem with this kind of opt-in government in principle — especially in rural areas where individual need for government services and available infrastructure vary so widely. But forget the politics: what moral theory allows these firefighters (admittedly acting under orders) to watch this house burn to the ground when 1) they have already responded to the scene; 2) they have the means to stop it ready at hand; 3) they have a reasonable expectation to be compensated for their trouble?
    In reply, Mr. Foster’s colleague Kevin Williamson wrote that the city’s fire department was offering a benefit to some people living outside its limits,

    And, for their trouble, the South Fulton Fire Department is being treated as though it has done something wrong, rather than having gone out of its way to make services available to people who did not have them before. The world is full of jerks, freeloaders, and ingrates — and the problems they create for themselves are their own. These free-riders have no more right to South Fulton’s firefighting services than people in Muleshoe, Tex., have to those of N.Y.P.D. detectives.
    A local news site reported that South Fulton’s mayor, David Crocker, “said if the fire department operated on a per-call basis outside the city, there would be no incentive for anyone to pay the rural fee. As an analogy, he said if an auto owner allowed their vehicle insurance to lapse, they would not expect an insurance company to pay for an unprotected vehicle after it was wrecked.”

    That led a Tennessee blogger, Jeff Woods of The Nashville Scene, to propose a solution:

    I am really torn on this. On the one hand, I understand the mayor’s position. If you don’t pay the fee, you don’t get fire protection. Your stupid decision, your loss. On the other hand, we live in a society….

    This may be a new state law we need: If fire protection is available to you by subscription and you refuse to pay for it and the fire department has to come to your house to remedy that dangerous condition, you’re going to be charged for it — the cost of work missed (assuming the firefighters are volunteers), the cost of running the truck or trucks, the labor, etc.

    A modest proposal: Make it costly — say, $10,000. That way, it makes more sense to just subscribe and pitch in.[/quote]

  2. #2
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    I'm sorry, thats not Libertarianism, nor does it represent what I (and the other self-described Libertarians I know) think or believe.

    The idea that a desire for a smaller, less intrusive, lower spending Govt. automaticly means "we no want po-po or fireman!" is insulting.

    As a matter of fact, this is a prime example of why Libertarians don't trust the Govt. A fee to get fire service? You mean all that taxation doesn't cover it, a basic fundamental public safety need? One wonders what exactly their local and state taxes DID fund instead.

    The State exists to protect it's citizenry, and within that mandate is Police service and Fire Service. The very first dollars every state should spend from it's tax revenue is to ensure full coverage statewide of those two services. Until that is done, not a single penny should be allowed to be spent on other things. The idea of an "opt in" fire dept is assinine, as would an "opt in" police dept.

    Imagine, your wife is beign raped, and you are tied to a chair......the police are notified by an onlooker, but because you ONLY paid your local, state and property taxes, and not the extra "po po save ya fee", the police stand there, and watch your wife get raped and you get beaten.

    Are you kidding me.

    This story pisses me off, because it WILL be used against Libertarians and Tea Party folks, when it is nothing like what most of us (in my experience) believe. We're not anarchists, nor freeloaders (hardly). We're for smaller, efficient, limited Govt. that does the few things it should be doing excpetionnaly well, and stays the hell out of things it doesn't do or has no business in.
    Last edited by Warfish; 10-06-2010 at 02:08 PM.

  3. #3
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    The Libertarian party (I am not one BTW) does not believe in NO government. They CLEARLY spell out that there is a need for public safety, roads and other services in which the government makes best sense to provide. They simply believe in VERY LITTLE government.

    Your post, in my view, is more a statement of how government functions.

    Who would stand by and watch a house burn? These firemen are scumbags and do not represent firemen in general. I would love to hear from some of our 1st responder JI guys on this one. Pay or no pay I can't imagine this happening in a civilized society.

    This story is a down right crime.

  4. #4
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    [QUOTE=bitonti;3768491]no one wants to pay for government

    until they need the government[/QUOTE]

    Clueless as usual.

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    this is not explicitly noted in the article but one would imagine the 75$ firefighters fee comes on the back of a tax cut. it's not taxes AND a fee. It's taxes or a fee.

    [QUOTE=Warfish;3768540] We're not anarchists, nor freeloaders (hardly). We're for smaller, efficient, limited Govt. that does the few things it should be doing excpetionnaly well, and stays the hell out of things it doesn't do or has no business in.[/QUOTE]

    let's imagine that all road maintenance were privatized, by locality.

    Who maintains the intersection between two municipalities?

    the solution that you'd come up with would look suspiciously like a bureaucracy.

  6. #6
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    [QUOTE=Jets Things;3768606]Clueless as usual.[/QUOTE]

    thanks for that outstanding contribution to the forum.

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    The Federal Government is there for 2 things
    1) Insure domestic tranquility
    2) Insure Common Defense.

    The States take care of everything else.

  8. #8
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    [QUOTE=MnJetFan;3768643]The Federal Government is there for 2 things
    1) Insure domestic tranquility
    2) Insure Common Defense.

    The States take care of everything else.[/QUOTE]

    In the land of imagination...................

  9. #9
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    [QUOTE=bitonti;3768633]this is not explicitly noted in the article but one would imagine the 75$ firefighters fee comes on the back of a tax cut. it's not taxes AND a fee. It's taxes or a fee.[/quote]

    You're right, it's not stated in the article.

    And again, the local and state taxes paid should (IMO) go to vital services for all before it goes to anythign else, and both Police and Fire are vital, logical and legitimate services for the Government (state and Local) to be responsible for.



    [QUOTE]let's imagine that all road maintenance were privatized, by locality. Who maintains the intersection between two municipalities?[/QUOTE]

    Why would I imagaine an unrealistic thing? Roads are managed by the State. States have borders, and last I checked, there is no problem with maintenance due to those borders.

    Not sure what point you're tryign to make, as there does not seem to be one.

    Be it Local, State or Federal control, Police and Fire (and Millitary) are basic services the Govt. (in part) exists to provide for all, the safety of the citizenry.

    Really Bit, I challenge you to directly address my point re: if this were a Police Service, who sat by and watched a rape and beating, because "they didn't pay the po po fee". Would be be equally supportive of that, and equally chiding the so-called "freeloader" libertarians (and who knows if the burned down house guy was a lib or not, article certainly doesn't say, and given Govt. record accuracy, how can we eve be sure they didn't pay, and teh Govt. simply screwed up the records!)

    You want to know why Libertarians don;t trust Govt. Your story is a perfect example.

  10. #10
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    So why did those "firemen" show up? Just to rub it in? That's BS. If nothing else, put the fire out, and tell the guy he should reconsider paying his dues (or whatever they call it).

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    [QUOTE=quantum;3768752]So why did those "firemen" show up? Just to rub it in? That's BS. If nothing else, put the fire out, and tell the guy he should reconsider paying his dues (or whatever they call it).[/QUOTE]


    they showed up because the neighbor's house paid the fee. they were protecting the next house over. true story.

    also should be noted the dude who's house burned down, his son got arrested for assaulting the fire chief.

    it was basically a huge s--t show.

    and warfish im not "supporting" this situation I'm pointing out what happens when people believe they can privatize everything and don't _need_ government.

    i've been to places with less than functioning governments, it really sucks.

  12. #12
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    [QUOTE=bitonti;3768949]they showed up because the neighbor's house paid the fee. they were protecting the next house over. true story.

    also should be noted the dude who's house burned down, his son got arrested for assaulting the fire chief.

    it was basically a huge s--t show.

    and warfish im not "supporting" this situation I'm pointing out what happens when people believe they can privatize everything and don't _need_ government.

    i've been to places with less than functioning governments, it really sucks.[/QUOTE]

    You are right we need agencies like USPS, TSA and DMV to show us how it can be done. Wait how about the department of labor, (fed, state, county, city...there are so many to choose from)

    NO ONE is talking about privatizing first responders.


    This is government NOT acting as human beings , plain and simple. If a conservative walked on water, you would post about his inability to swim.:rolleyes:

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    I wonder what would happen if you were a renter and your landlord didn't pay?

    Just weird to show up and watch a house burn :rolleyes:

  14. #14
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    [QUOTE=bitonti;3768949]I'm pointing out what happens when [B][U][SIZE="6"]people believe they can privatize everything and don't _need_ government[/SIZE][/U][/B].[/QUOTE]

    Who is that, exactly?:huh:

    It's no one here I can think of. No one here (to my knowledge), least of all the smattering of Lib(ertarians), has EVER said: Hey, I want "No government, no fire department and no police. Hey, while we're at it, no millitary either".

    Thats an [U][B][COLOR="Red"]anarchist[/COLOR][/B][/U]. I don't think we have any anarchists.

    It's not Libertarianism, and certainly not the form of it I (or anyone I know) promotes.

    In other words Bit:

    [IMG]http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRUNtQzHoqrU-ih_YTUFQxqPnqw0i0pacForcd4oaRPxgr80bg&t=1&usg=__jfpgqbOPF_Ak4h-Yp32D31LPa6w=[/IMG]

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    As a Firefighter AND Conservative I figured I'd weigh in on this....

    WHat those guys did is REPREHENSIBLE. Period. You call yourself a "Firefighter" and watch somebodies house burn? Really? How the hell do you even know WHO "paid the fee' and who didn't?

    DOes that area have the old "FIre Markers" like back in the day where firefighting efforts were a function of insurance companies and they would only put out fires at properties with their protection. The different FIre COmpanies would actually FIGHT over who would put out fires at "uncovered" properties for the right to BILL the owner....think "Gangs of New York".

    Did dispatch relay to the responding companies the info, "Residential structure fire on Oak Street....but the owner didn't pay his fee..."? I doubt it.

    Its a bad system, but then again, most of the calls my department runs are in lower income areas. Fires, shootings, Medical calls...a lot of what we do is provide services to people who pay NO taxes, but we go, do our jobs, and do them well.

    Those guys (and that whole department) needs to evaluate what they do and how they do it. That was flat out wrong to stand there and watch somebody lose their house. I understand the issues of jurisdiction and funding (hey, wheres all that STIMULUS $$), but when it comes down to it, you get into this career to help people out. The incidentals can be dealt with later....after you put out the fire.

    If it was ME that was in charge of that scene, even if I was ORDERED to not fight that fire, I woulda said....."Okay guys, we're NOT going to treat this as a structure fire response.....but we could use some training time. SO while we're here lets catch a hydrant, stretch out some lines, and practice some "Hose Management". Problem solved....and I would DARE the FIre Chief to discipline me.

    Again, you WATCH a family lose their home to a fire over $75? Then stop calling yourself a Fireman.

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    [QUOTE=southparkcpa;3768562]The Libertarian party (I am not one BTW) does not believe in NO government. They CLEARLY spell out that there is a need for public safety, roads and other services in which the government makes best sense to provide. They simply believe in VERY LITTLE government.

    Your post, in my view, is more a statement of how government functions.

    Who would stand by and watch a house burn? These firemen are scumbags and do not represent firemen in general. [B]I would love to hear from some of our 1st responder JI guys on this one.[/B] Pay or no pay I can't imagine this happening in a civilized society.

    This story is a down right crime.[/QUOTE]

    [I]The absolute [U]last thing[/U][/I] I thought of when I responded to 9/11, flight 587 or any other emergency was how much I was getting paid.:cool:

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    On the flip side of this issue in regards to the poilitical, there are the municipal officials all over the country who deride and despise the "civil Servants" of their communities - Cops and Firefighters. The SEIU wants Cops and firefighters to make the same $$$ and pensions as janitors and parks employees, and I've heard City and County commissioners here in Florida express the opinion that they don't NEED Fire Departments....that it would be "cheaper to just rebuild the houses that burn down rather than have a Fire Department."

    Of course, the simple response from Firefighters, "Okay, but do you want [B]YOUR [/B]children and [B]YOUR[/B] families in those houses?" usually shuts them up.

    Point being, Police and especially Fire Departments are constantly defending their budgets from cuts while being expected to do more with less. Our department is currently a good deal below minimum staffing, with more cuts to come, and no, we do NOT have an "irresponsible pension". My department has a pension which every member pays 19.4% into every paycheck and currently the fund is at a healthy 90% funded - and thats with a 10 year timeframe in order to just get vested.

    I know fire departments all over the country are under attack for their irresponsible pensions (California, Northeast, Miami-Dade), but are also getting budgets cut and employees laid off, but are still expected to do everything from the mundane to the incredibly dangerous while politicians from both sides tell us and the public how greedy and lazy we are....its a tough place to be in, and those arseholes don't help.
    Last edited by Jet_Engine1; 10-06-2010 at 08:53 PM.

  18. #18
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    The first sentence of this article totally devalues the rest of it, and, frankly, made me stop reading:

    "A bizarre incident last week in Tennessee, in which firefighters watched a family’s home burn to the ground because they had forgotten to pay a $75 annual subscription fee, has led to a debate about the limits of libertarian visions of limited government."

    A) The guy forgot to pay the $75. He paid it in the past. He wasn't protesting the payment because he's a libertarian.

    B) The firefighters just decided to say, "**** it, let the ******* burn"? Seriously? That's criminal negligence, in my opinion.

    C) How exactly has this ridiculous instance led to a "debate about the limits of libertarian visions of limited government"? What should be debated as a result of this is the efficiency of that particular incident is whether or not the whole firehouse should be evaluated.

    What a stupid article.

  19. #19
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    [QUOTE=pauliec;3769185]
    A) The guy forgot to pay the $75. He paid it in the past. He wasn't protesting the payment because he's a libertarian.
    [/QUOTE]

    it's a libertarian construct to have pay-for-services models in the first place. people say things like "why do i pay taxes for this great school district when my kids are in college?" and they call it libertarianism. it's probably not 100% accurate usage of the term but it's symbolic of the good in theory bad in practice ideas that this side of the political spectrum loves to promote. No one gets to rebuke these ideas because frankly people are usually smart enough not to even try them. Well in Rural Tennessee they tried it and this is something that happened.

  20. #20
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    [QUOTE=bitonti;3768949]they showed up because the neighbor's house paid the fee. they were protecting the next house over. true story.

    [/QUOTE]

    Local issue has nothing to do with federal taxes other than if the federal government scaled down dramatically and reduced the tax burden local communities could either provide services through higher taxes or not and people could decide where to live based on taxes or cost vs. services. That's the entire point of a smaller federal government. It's too far away and too bureaucratic to provide local services at a reasonable cost and many people might actually want less services if they had lower taxes and more options for their income like buying stuff or saving for stuff.


    I have a volunteer fire service. If people don't donate it will go away and people's houses will burn down. Subscriptions for fire service make sense but like any public service whether paid for by taxes to a local government or by subscription it only works if everyone pays in.

    You're not entitled to free stuff. The politics of entitlement in our tax code has created the idea in peoples head that if they aren't a top wage earner they shouldn't have to pay for basic services.

    It sucks that they didn't put out his fire. It sucks worse that this SOB didn't think he needed to pay because his rich neighbors had him covered. He is another example of the entitlement society. There’s no free lunch and the idea that someone else pays so let’s do it has to stop.

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