05/17/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Let's Do Everything Like Health Care

I used to be one of those Bolshevik, single-payer, Medicare-for-all types, but with the healthcare drama dragging on so long, I got to hear the other side. I listened to the insurance company CEOs, and the Congressional Republicans, and the Free Marketeers, and an over-the-top but rational Libertarian on talk radio ranting about why he shouldn't have to buy healthcare for people who are too stupid to own an insurance policy or too lazy to get a job that provides one. They convinced me.

In fact, I'm so convinced that the private market will make everything better that I think we should do it across the board. Let's start with firecare.

Right now, our tax money pays for a government-run program that puts out fires no matter who owns the building, or who lives there, or who started them. But why should I pay for firecare services for people who are dumb enough to start fires in the first place, or so damn lazy they don't earn enough money to rebuild their homes with the best fire retardant materials and a first-class sprinkler system?

Come to think of it, why should my tax dollars be spent on fire inspectors and bureaucrats who create and enforce fire regulations? Another tax-and-spend, nanny-state, budget-busting waste! Keep your government out of my firecare! The whole fire safety net apparatus discourages personal responsibility and turns us into a nation of wimps. Let a few apartment complexes and office buildings go up in smoke and people will start taking charge of their own fire prevention. Clearly, there are more major conflagrations since we created socialized firecare than there was in the good old days of volunteer firefighters, when farm hands put out barn fires with a bucket brigade.

Under my plan, all fire-related government agencies and all fire departments would get dumped into history's trash bin with the Stalinist collectives. Insurance companies would offer a wide range of policies, giving consumers freedom of choice at long last. You could get a low premium, high deductible plan that covers blazing, life-threatening infernos, but not inspectors who examine your property for risky construction, or construction providers who correct flaws that can lead to serious problems in the future, or private firefighters who rush to your home to put out a small flame in, say, your garage. For those services, you'd have to pay out of pocket.

On the other end of the scale, you could have a deluxe high premium plan that would cover all screenings, preventive firecare, and blazes of every size in all locations.

It might be a little complicated at times. When, for example, you see smoke coming out of your basement and you call your primary provider, they would have to check your policy to be sure you're covered for basement fires before sending a fire truck. Some policies will cover basements, but not attics or living rooms, and of course kitchen coverage would probably be extra. Naturally, your rates could double at any time, but you could always switch to another provider, if there is one in your area. It might also be a tad inconvenient if your insurer drops you for a pre-existing condition -- say you didn't replace your handheld fire extinguisher in a timely manner, or your parents' home once caught fire and you might have inherited a pyro propensity. And some bottom-line-oriented insurers might drop your coverage when your house goes up in flames, leaving you to do your best with buckets. But the marketplace will sort it all out, as it does everything else.

I hear you objecting: but fires spread. If some idiot falls asleep with a cigarette, it's not just his life and his property that's threatened, but all his neighbors as well. And think of the damage to our economy if we had fires erupting all the time -- the rebuilding costs, the price of hiring more firefighters and purchasing more equipment.

Well, diseases spread too. And doctors, nurses, and medical equipment cost a fortune now. And people who don't get timely care show up for costly emergency treatment. But at least we're not mollycoddling Americans with socialized medicine -- except for those Medicare and Medicaid travesties -- and we have the best damn healthcare system in the world, no matter what those liberal elites say with their cooked-up statistics.

We have the best firefighters and the best firefighting equipment too. So let's stop shackling them with government regulations. Don't let bureaucrats stand between you and your firefighter! If we free up the private fire insurers and firecare providers to make more robust profits they will create policies that give us a real choice. As a bonus, it will keep Rush Limbaugh from moving to a tropical location where he'd have to endure universal health coverage.

This is just the beginning, friends. Once the Tea Party catches on to this idea and we get government out of firecare, we can do the same with crimecare. Privatize the police and let insurance companies create crime policies. Why should I pay for police protection for people stupid enough to have crimes perpetrated against them?

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