Burnin’ Down the House

Today I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Fight Socialism!” That and the Ronald Reagan bumper sticker made it crystal-clear that the owner of the car must be of the conservative persuasion.

My question for this addle-pated individual is this: When your house catches on fire, what private fire company are you going to call to put out the fire?

What? You mean to tell me you don’t subscribe to a private fire company? You’re not planning to call the 100% socialist public fire department, are you? I sure hope not.

I seem to remember that they taught this lesson in history class in high school when I was but a wee sprat. Maybe it’s not in the curriculum anymore. The thing is, we used to have private fire companies in the United States, back in the bad old days. And what would happen was, when a house caught on fire (which happened quite a lot, because lamps and stoves and candles all used open flames), the wagons from two or three local fire companies might show up.

These companies were rivals: free-market capitalism at its finest. So if you weren’t already a subscriber to one of the companies, you’d have to negotiate a price (while the fire was burning) for them to put it out. The price would be exhorbitant, naturally, since the fire chief knew you were in a big hurry, but precious minutes would be wasted while the various companies bid against one another. If you did happen to already be a subscriber to one company, the firemen from another company might engage in various sorts of sabotage so that later they could say, “See, Bob Smith was an XYZ Company subscriber, and they were on the scene, but guess what? His house burned down before they could put the fire out. Their pumper didn’t pump out but a trickle, haw-haw-haw!”

The system was broke. So what happened was a government takeover. Now there’s only one fire department. It’s run by the government. It’s paid for with your tax dollars. It’s socialism, weenie-breath. And it works just fine, and nobody complains about it.

Oh, and in those days there were no regulations on how food could be packaged or labeled. Quite a lot of babies died from being fed stuff that was supposed to be milk, and looked like milk, but wasn’t. So today we have (in theory, at least) intrusive bureaucratic government regulations. The kind of stuff conservatives love to ridicule and whine about. But the number of babies dying from tainted milk dropped dramatically when the regulations were written into law.

Conservatism — a sure-fire recipe for burned-out houses and dead babies. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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2 Responses to Burnin’ Down the House

  1. Aaron says:

    The big problem with using the fire dept. as an example to promote socialism has quite a few flaws in this argument. First of all, the fire departments are run by the states not the federal government. Also they are not 100% socialist. While the people employed are paid for by tax dollars as well as the building and trucks etc. everything that they use was produced, developed, and improved by capitalism. This in it of it’s self completely destroys the argument “if the fire department is socialist and they are good, socialism must be good,” but to further prove the point I’ll continue.
    Capitalism provides more opportunity, wealth creation, happiness, and progress than any other type of economy. That being said, a form of government is still necessary to provide protection for the general public. Thomas Paine said it best in his writing “Common Sense.” “Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in it’s best state is but a necessary evil; in it’s worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”
    Another example of why we need not just a government but a limited government rather than one that controls all aspects of economic activity can be found in “Federalist #51.” “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
    This form of government was designed to limit the the role of a federal government to specific enumerated powers and those powers not given to the federal government would be given to the several states and ultimately the people. This has allowed people the freedom to create businesses that employ people and develope products and services that better our quality of life. At the same time, the government is required by the constitution to provide a military to protect the several states, regulate commerce to the extent of having only one currency and prevent rules of commerce from hurting other states, provide one voice for the collective states when negotiating or speaking with foreign nations, and to protect the rights of man given to him by God. The state government then ar free to create their own laws to protect their people. This obligates the states to have a state police force (cities of course have this obligation too) and fire department. These are necessary for the reasons you point out. On the flip side, those entities do not create wealth. They only consume wealth so they require money from wealth creators. Enter the private market. A private citizen creates a business to sell a product. That product is wanted or needed by another person. The more people that want that product, the more of that product is needed. In order to provide enough product for the number of people that need it, the business owner needs to hire people to help with the demand for that product. That is how jobs are created. The product it’s self is what creates wealth. The governments, whether local state or federal, needs to tax the wealth generated by this business in order to fund the fire department and it needs other businesses to create products that the fire department can use to do it’s job.
    Now we have a situation where there are so many projects that the governments want to spend our money on, they need more of our money to fund them. If that business man has to pay the government 50% of what he earns, he has to do something to make up for that loss. He will have to raise his products price, lower his employees wages and benefits, and also get rid of some employees. Eventually he may even have to shut the business down because people can’t afford his product (or unwilling to pay his price), those that can or want to buy his product can’t find it because there are fewer people making fewer product and selling it in fewer places, and the extreme regulations regarding his product buildings and employees will remove his desire to earn money. This is why so many businesses are shutting down or moving to other countries and also why unemployment is so high. Now when businesses are forced to close or move, where is the government going to get the money to support a fire department, police force, or military?
    Liberalism — A sure-fire recipe for being jobless, homeless, and completely unprotected.

    • midiguru says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Aaron. You’re wrong, but I appreciate your taking the time to weigh in. It’s not the liberals who wrecked the economy in the last ten years, it’s the capitalists. The capitalists are the ones who have sent jobs overseas to increase profits. The capitalists are the ones who fueled the real estate bubble with sub-prime mortgages. The capitalists are the ones who are warping the actions of government with massive lobbying efforts. It’s the capitalists who are fixing it so their corporations pay little or no taxes by juggling the books.

      Your faith in capitalism is touching, but naive. Have you ever worked in a large corporation? I have. For more than ten years, the music magazine where I was an editor was run by a large corporation. The corporate officers cared not a damn thing about the quality of the product, and not a damn thing about the customers (musicians). They cared only about securing a fat bottom line. Putting your faith in people like these (and they’re almost all of the same mentality) is a huge mistake.

      The trouble with putting your faith in corporations is that they’re not accountable to the citizens. They’re private entities, they’re secretive, and they do not have your best interests at heart. The only way we can rein in corporate excesses is through government regulation! Yet somehow their propaganda blitz has convinced you that all would be well if only they were free to do as they please, without oversight.

      By the way, I’m not a liberal. I’m a socialist. Liberals are way too wishy-washy for me.

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