Discerning Smoke from Fog
The conflations were sloppy while the assumptions were obvious, and several broad swipes were made without attention to detail but I still think that I was being fair in my contentions. That prominent conservative pundits at NRO started spinning a position in opposition to mine at least gives me the cover to say that there are right wing thinkers who are willing to take ownership of the ‘pro-allowing houses to burn down for not paying the fee’ side of the issue so I am not tilting at strawmen. In this case one can assert this is a theory being played out in practice in microcosm because that’s exactly what it is; the GOP, the Tea Party, and conservatives in general regularly call for exactly these sorts of policies to be enacted. The idea of the fire department as a fee-based service did not emanate from the letter column of Mother Jones.
What happened in Tennessee is an excellent example of why the idea of eliminating tax-supported services in favor of an optional fee is bad policy; inevitably there will be people who cannot pay. For some services this is acceptable, for others it is not. Taxes are mandatory and so therefore are the best way to support public services that are essential to public good; there is certainly debate to be had as to what constitutes ‘essential’, but it is reasonable that emergency services should constitute ‘essential’. I do not believe the free market is the solution for every challenge a modern society faces even as I understand it is the primary engine moving modern society; publicly funded fire brigades date back to Augustus Caesar, who preceded Marx by something like eighteen centuries so we can feel safe advocating for them without worrying about accidentally subscribing to socialist dogma.
Mr. Glenn Beck has gotten in on the act, and has taken his predictably tactful position, which brings me to the invocation of Religion by myself and others that was so strenuously objected to by one of my more astute readers. Mr Beck has shot his mouth off about religious matters for a long time and recently has anointed himself as some kind of spiritual leader to America; he is as quick to shout ‘hallelujah’ as he is to wrap himself up in the flag and he does that trick right quick. So, I actually do find it quite relevant to ask you to ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do?’ What would Dr King do? Try to imagine Abe Lincoln standing with a hose in hand, refusing to put out the fire because the fee had not been paid properly. For some time now the folks who have been praising Jesus and cursing Allah have been doing the work of Mammon all along; they are poisoning our discourse with their foul theology. Intelligent people should contemplate and discuss the spiritual perspective of everything because we need a theology for this age that is based on unblinking compassion and creative collaboration rather than prejudiced ignorance and blind adherence to petty laws.