Firefighters Let Home Burn

Like everything nowadays, I have mixed feelings about the buzzy news story about fire fighters letting a house burn to the ground. Judging by the headline, “Firefighters watch as home burns to the ground” the story/situation seems really fucked up and upsetting… but then you read more and find out that the people who owned the house in question opted out of paying for “fire protection.”

Everyone should see this as a parallel for health care. A lot of people opt out of paying for health care because, “Well if something happens to me they will pay anyway.” This is what always bugged me about the health care debate — “fiscal conservatives” rallied against “mandatory universal health care” even though that’s the de facto system we had all along (hospitals won’t turn away someone who is wounded even if they lack insurance). The people whose house burned down thought the same thing:

“I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,” said Gene Cranick.

What really bugs me about this conservative “cost-saving” mode of thought: They think that bad things won’t happen to them and if they do that someone will help them. The flip side of this is that they think that when bad things happen to “poor” people that it happens because they deserve it. How the tables turn when it happens to them.

This is why we need government services and why they cannot be opt-in/opt-out: Everyone thinks the same thing the Cranicks do: That if they play the odds chances are nothing bad will happen to them (and they save some money in the process), but if for some crazy statistical chance something does happen to them, that someone will be there to bail them out. They don’t want to pay taxes or for services that help “poor people” but they expect the “poor people” to pay in case anything happens to them.

* Note: I’m making huge assumptions about the Cranicks and what type of people they are and admittedly don’t know anything about their situation. I’m just using them as an example rather than some hypothetical story.

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