Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
I’m not sure which story is worse. Under South Fulton, Tennessee’s, “Pay For Spray” program, rural property owners won’t receive fire fighting service unless they have the foresight to pay a $75.00 fee. In September, 2010, the city was lambasted when a home was allowed to burn because the homeowner hadn’t paid it. Now just over a year later the same thing happened again as firefighters watched helplessly when city officials refused to let them fight the fire of Vicky Bell. Bell isn’t eligible for the service because she can’t afford homeowner’s insurance.
To add to her misery, National Review Online deputy managing editor, Kevin D. Williamson, thinks that’s just peachy keen. Writing after the first incident in 2010 and from the security of a city that wouldn’t stoop to this fiscal insanity and downright inhumanity , the former employee of the Institute for Humane Studies opines:
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, Texas, have to those of NYPD detectives.
Williamson, you see, apparently thinks government is a business. And its citizens? Why they ‘re just “customers” who enjoy no benefits except by virtue of their payments. No sense of shared responsibility, no sense of community banding together in a social contract to “promote the general welfare,” and certainly no sense of a collective march forward against the troubles that beset us all. Nope, just fee for service.
It’s a disturbing trend in our national consciousness when citizens become mere customers. Instead, of public servants dedicated to the welfare of all and funded by the taxes of all who can pay, we now have proprietors who precondition their public duties on remuneration and not public spirit.
One wonders about the conscience of those like Williamson who would accept a catastrophe being suffered against someone like Vicky Bell.”We have no idea where we will go from here,” said Bell. “We are very lucky it was minutes from getting us.” If it wasn’t for the couple’s cat, they might not have woken up. He was shaking Brian’s leg and Brian yelled at me to get up,” said Bell. “We don’t know where the cat is now.”
At City Hall , this recent incident is already causing a stir. The city issued a press release saying the policy has been in place since 1990. It was reviewed in 2007, but not changed. If the property owner does not pay, then the fire department will not respond. According to the city, everyone should be aware of the importance of fire protection.
I wonder, indeed, what those city officials, fireman on the scene, and maybe even Williamson would have thought if Vicky and her family were trapped by the flames when help arrived. Would they have made her search her home amid the smoke to come up with the $75.00 fee before extending a hand to save her?
I think I know. If they have any conscience at all, they’d be worried another fire strewn location where eternal admission is free for those who deserve it.
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger