“Which is why it would be excellent if someone with a reasonably firm handle on statistics could maintain a webpage, updated weekly, of the approximate "body count" the Republicans will amass as a result of this. How many Americans, who would otherwise have lived had the health care law been funded, are expected to die this week?
That ought to make things interesting for the Sanctity Of Human Life crowd.”
“That's why I love living in one of the 33 states with open primaries... no party registration required. It lets people weigh in on the primary slate with the largest potential to make a difference.
I generally don't lean Republican at the national level, although I often do at the state level. I was glad to vote for McCain over Bush in the 2000 primary because Gore had the Democratic nomination locked up. I decided McCain was a better alternative than Bush should Gore lose the presidential race in November.
Voting for Palin in the 2012 primary would be just as strategic a move, albiet with a different purpose.”
“If banking regulations were written in plain, vernacular English, I doubt they'd fill 10,000 pages. Part of the trouble with the regulations and laws we have on the books is that they're written in such complex terms that it would take a room fulll of lawyers to untangle what they actually allow and prohibit, as well as where the loopholes are to allow that whch is prohibited.
Of course, since the bulk of our laws are written by lawyers, this comes as no surprise.”
Economy in a slump? Tax cut for the rich (ostensibly so they can jump-start the economy).
Economy booming? Tax cut for the rich (because they somehow deserve credit for the boom).
Economy stable? Tax cut for the rich (just because).
The fact that Republicans don't even differentiate the circumstances under which they tout the "tax cuts for the rich" banner is sad. The fact that so many people fail to see this is positively tragic.”
“No, it's not socialism at all. The $75 is a voluntary service fee, like having a private company handle your trash pickup. If you pay the fee, your trash is picked up for the period of time covered by the fee. If you stop paying, the company stops picking up your trash. People who don't buy into the system have to find another way to deal with the trash they generate. Membership is optional.
This situation is more complicated, however, because fire can spread and threaten other community members' lives and property -- just ask a southern Californian. It is for this reason that I would argue fire protection, like police protection, should be a taxpayer-funded government service, instead of an "opt in or opt out as you like" deal.
Beck's championship of voluntary systems is just fine when it comes to things like satellite TV service, warehouse price-club memberships, season tickets to football games, and other luxuries that people can live without. His arguments fall flat when he expands the circle of "pay as you go" to include essential public services that promote the general welfare.”
“There's no guarantee that anyone will pay any bill. But most people do on general principle. Those without such principles still tend to pay, although they do so out of fear -- fear that their credit score will be damaged or fear that they'll be endlessly harassed by a collection agency.
Even if the firefighters only had an 80% collection rate from situations like this, it's a small cost to absorb compared to the shame many of them now feel on their consciences and souls.”
“Exactly, Leland. That human element of the equation is precisely why the firefighters should have done what they could to put out the fire, and deal with the financial end after the fact.
If Mr. Cranick, a "non-member" of the fire protection shared risk pool, was unable or unwilling to pay the cost of the service after the service was rendered in good faith, a civil action could be brought against him, a lien could be placed on his property until the debt was paid off, etc. -- whatever it took to make sure the firefighters who risked their lives in defense of his property would receive fair and just compensation, as is their due.
The unconscionable act here was that the financial concerns were allowed to trump the human concerns.”
“No, HHUA, under the same circumstances, if this "where" [sic] my house, there'd be no winner all the same. I have a feeling you didn't really understand my post, as your responses seem laden with knee-jerk emotion, capital letters and exclamation points.
Mr. Cranick is not a winner here because he lost his house.
The firefighters are not winners because they followed orders which ran against their sense of human decency.
The fire chief is not a winner because he is now being vilified by people in his community and in the national media who understand the human aspect of this situation. He also has to bear the shame of being celebrated as a hero by Glenn Beck for his role in this tragedy.
The neighbors are not winners because they have lost faith in the basic human empathy of their only locally available fire service.
And human civilization is not a winner here because a group of people who could have helped allowed financial matters to trump human matters.
So no, if I were in Mr. Cranick's shoes, it wouldn't be any easier for me to find a winner in this situation.”
“If the Cranicks were truly destitute and could not afford a $75/year fee, that would be one thing. However, the fact that they could afford to keep and feed four pets tells me that they weren't that close to the edge.
If there were a publically-funded fire department in South Fulton, the Cranicks' taxes could easily have been $75 higher per year, and there'd be no way to opt out of that piece, any more than I can tell the IRS I want to opt out of paying whatever percentage of my income tax goes to fund programs or wars I oppose.
Glenn Beck is a friend of the wealthy who collects a multimillion-dollar salary by posing as a friend of the average Joe. No doubt about that. However, this is a situation where a homeowner could have made a very reasonable annual payment, and chose not to. It's also a situation where the fire department could have worked out a payment arrangement at the scene, and chose not to. It's hard to find a winner here.”
Dave61430 on Oct 9, 2010 at 15:54:28
“From what I can gather, the guy forgot to pay the bill. Regardless, it's not only immoral but demonstrably stupid to let a house burn down. This little incident clearly indicates their morals are debatable, and some might argue stupidity is the norm for this bunch.
I doubt the insurance company is very happy with this situation, they might think twice about writing policies now they know the score.”
BUMbO on Oct 9, 2010 at 13:08:33
“If this was a case of someone not wanting to pay the fee at all, this would be one story. But the man offered to pay both the $75 fee and the actual costs involved with the fire department saving his property. They could have recouped costs from him. When it comes to fire and police departments, I don't think they should pick and chose who they serve. Fire depaartments should serve everyone, and bill the people for actual expenses if they need the services and haven't paid a paltry fee. In conservatives zeal for "personal responsibility" they forego compassion in this case. No, there were no winners in this case, and most of the blame lies with a too-strict rule that ended up killing pets and destroying a family's home. THAT should be paramount in peoples' minds, nit the fact that the man forgot to pay the fee until it was "too late." Whoever thinks it was sad but necessary to allow this to happen over $75 needs to check into some sensitivity training and speak out to make sure things like this do not become the norm in America.”
JustMyWords on Oct 9, 2010 at 12:42:02
“Almost right, but not - the fire department could not have worked out a payment arrangement at the scene. Not legally.
The city has arrangements in place to extend fire protection to this area of the county, but the fire department is not a for-profit or privately owned business. It can only work within the framework set up by city ordinance. The ordinance allows for a yearly fee, not for a payment-for-services arrangement. Arranging for payment *during* a fire would violate city ordinance. And any fee agreed upon at the time of a fire would be tossed out by a court as an unenforceable contract - it would be impossible to argue that "Pay us $XXX or your house burns down" is anything other than coercive.”
HHUA on Oct 9, 2010 at 12:11:14
“Hard to find a winner here?
If this where your house perhaps it would be easier for you to "find"!”
Oortcloud on Oct 9, 2010 at 11:45:36
“One article covering this story said the man did try to pay the fee at the scene and the firefighters refused it.
The IIAF (assoc of fire fighters) has condemned the actions or lack thereof of the fire fighters at the scene.
Refusing to put out a fire that endangered others' homes over $75.00 is beyond the pale. Not surprising how many NeoCons and TBaggers support the fire fighters at the "pet roast", though....
Still and all - only the lowest form of life, such as Beck and his minions, would mock the misfortune of "the little guy" - and then try to sell him some overpriced gold....”
tomterif on Oct 9, 2010 at 11:42:55
“Excellent and extremely balanced and wise overview, about this whole somewhat distressing and actually rather complicated subject, Joyvaman.
I've just started to read the comments on this board, but with the [lack of] quality I've seen [aside from this post of your's] in what I'v been reading people saying thus far, I doubt I'll come across another post here even REMOTELY as intelligent, reasonable, and balanced as this one, and I imagine I'll probably just stop reading many more of them, fairly quickly.
It's really a pleasure to "fan" someone who's able to assess a thorny incident like this one so fairly and conscienciously, and then communicate his conclusions so clearly. : )”
BlackWidowPilot on Oct 9, 2010 at 11:36:48
“The "winner" is who bears the greater responsibility to act in the matter, a home owner who made a mistake, or a crew of trained professionals who stood by and did nothing.
When you're a trained professional and you stand by and do nothing, IMHO it is orders of magnitude beyond a delinquent $75 fee.
Second, you obviously haven't read my other posts on this subject; otherwise you'd know that I believe Mr. Cranick was shortsighted and foolish for not paying the very reasonable $75/year to join the fire protection club (essentially, a shared risk pool like any other insurance system), and that I fully support the right of the firefighters to be compensated for their efforts.
My "godless capitalism" comment stemmed from the fact that the firefighters were present on the scene, with their equipment and people readily at hand, and yet they did nothing.
Before turning on the hoses, they could have demanded that he sign a paper agreeing to have a lien placed on his property if he didn't pay the bill within 15 days. They could have pursued a civil suit against Mr. Cranick after the fact to recoup the cost of fighting his fire. A stack of legally airtight, one-page "non-member fire service fee" contracts on a clipboard in every fire truck's glove box would suffice.
My point is that the fire department could have done the human thing first, and settle the business end of things later. Instead, they allowed the business end of things to nix doing the human thing entirely.”
“My main concern with this article is the headline... how is the big-money takeover of America (which for decades has been blatantly visible to anyone who's paying attention) a "secret?"
That's like saying it's a "secret" that American corporations have been outsourcing their labor.”
Royal Payne on Oct 9, 2010 at 16:33:54
“The Big Money Takeover, think again! Think George Soros>OSI>CAP. His wealth, in excess of $14 billion is the result of hedge funds and currency manipulation. He quietly operates from behind a well-funded network of more than a thousand organizations with the help of a plethora of “useful idiots” and a conglomerate of revolutionaries and anarchists. He funds the soup kitchens and opiates the masses simultaneously. Guess who is next at Grendel's feast?
Since 1992 he has made a concerted effort attack George Bush and his policies, the convenient straw men, on every conceivable front. More recently he gave the “nod” to Obama over Hillary with initial campaign funding for the “Bamster”. His goals are clearly stated and available on the internet as is his agenda through the Center of American Progress (which strangely mirrors the Obama Administration’s goals) and they don’t include anyone getter richer than him. The rest of us, governments included, are here to serve at the altar and discretion of the “almighty”, for his (the Savior’s) own enrichment, and to accommodate His need for adoration and adulation. Could he be the anti-Christ or the 12th Imam? If you don’t “believe”, then there is nothing to worry about!”
Timma on Oct 9, 2010 at 13:39:35
“A "secret" like this apparently eludes the vast majority of the population in America. It cannot be stated too often. To not repeat it is a retreat from those who would rather nothing be said at all.”
richardgordon on Oct 9, 2010 at 09:53:22
“But that's the problem isn't it. By and large the average American hasn't been paying attention. Most American's are pitifully ignorant. This is why the Huffington Post is such an important instrument of democracy. The people who participate in it ARE informed and ARE involved through the act of arguing, discussing and understanding their points of view. Sadly this is not true of the rest of America. The rest of America is not only woefully ignorant, they are actively disinformed about what is going on in America. The Tea Partiers are an example of this.
Reich is saying that American's need to take back their democracy. As for the headline, the problem is that it is a secret to the vast majority of Americans who don't read or participate in their democracy.”
“Forcing collections after the fact can definitely prove to be a challenge. Hence the need for a legally binding contract before services are rendered, if this is indeed the system that this municipality has agreed to use. Otherwise things are vague and decisions are made arbitrarily.”
reddog55 on Oct 9, 2010 at 13:20:36
“Legally binding contracts don't guarantee payment, it happens all the time. A lien against the property also doe not guarantee payment in a timely manor either. Eventually quite possible a number of years, the money might be collected but it cost money and resources to get a lien too.”
“This is just another example of how "godless capitalism" is fundamentally no better than the "godless socialism" Beck and his ilk love to rant about...”
Frank Padia on Oct 8, 2010 at 23:34:16
“Godless Capitalism? Seriously,,,,, Okay all of you scream and whining do realize that this man lived in the COUNTY not the town who pays the fire fighters, purchases and maitains teh equipment and covers all of the costs of the fire department. So in order to cover the cost of providing fire protection, the town requires a $75 dollar fee for people who live OUTSIDE of the city. New Flash,,, they are not required to provide ANYTHING to anyone outside of the city limits, they are providing protection as a service to those in teh county who do not have fire protection.
Being someone who grew up in rural texas, there are no fire departments. The closest "town" is 30 miles from my parents home. We had a Volunteer Fire department and everyone in the area chipped in to buy and maintain the equipment... kinda like the $75 fee.
So you see Godless Capitalism had nothing to do with this tragedy.... what caused this tragedy is the belief everyone is owed something and they have no responsibility in protecting themselves and their neighbors. For those of us who live in "flyover" country, the solution to the problem is pretty clear.... pay the $75.00. I think the concept would be similar to.....let me see what do they call it..... ummm... OH yeah INSURANCE!!!!!!! So I guess it is true that you reap what you sow.....”
“Agreed -- a single-payer, tax-funded system that covers everyone is the ideal for firefighting services, since it removes the guesswork over who's paid and who hasn't -- everybody pays, so everybody's covered. My neighbor's house fire could spread and become my house fire; therefore, the best system is that which benefits the common good.
However, if a private or semi-private firefighting service is all people have, either by local decision, funds availability, or sheer happenstance, then people have to accept that responders deserve to be compensated for their time and efforts, just as any other person doing a requested job deserves to be compensated.”
themagicdog on Oct 9, 2010 at 13:19:10
“Something very few people here want to face is that this country is in a depression, and incomes are declining. The standard of living will decline too, and we're going to see it in all kinds of areas, including those services everyone takes for granted.
Big hue and cry here about some guy in Tennessee who didn't get something for nothing. Not so much hue and cry about the big cities that are cutting fire services to dangerous levels.
Folks, the money ain't there. Not even the rich have enough to get out of this hole. That's something the liberals don't want to talk about, just like the Republicans don't want to face the reality that taxes on the rich will go up. Either that, or maybe we legalize marijuana and keep everyone too stoned to notice.
People are going to be doing more for themselves, like it or not.”
spaceman 3 on Oct 9, 2010 at 11:40:58
“You can't do that, that would be socialism!! (just so you know that was sarcasm)”
“If my home has a sudden water leak, and I make an emergency call to a plumber, it's a safe bet he's got a stack of standard contracts on a clipboard in his work truck all ready to go. If I go to the emergency room at my local hospital, I have to sign a form stating that I will assume responsibility for any costs of treatment not covered by insurance. It shouldn't be too much trouble for the South Fulton FD to create a legally airtight, standard contract for the same purpose.
"This contract says you'll pay for the cost of fighting this fire, that you release us from any liability incurred through our good-faith firefighting efforts, and that a lien will be placed on your property if you don't pay within 15 days. Please sign here, and then we'll turn on the hoses." The entire process could take a minute at most.”
themagicdog on Oct 8, 2010 at 22:46:17
“You'd think, huh? The county's report on the issue just gave a flat statement that the towns can't force collections. I believe them, but I do wonder why.”
“I suppose one solution to Christine's "image problem" would be for Congress to pass a law making it illegal to bring up any information about anything a candidate has said or done in the past while said candidate is actively running for office.
Of course, that COULD be seen as "big government" intruding in people's lives and trying to quash freedom of speech (not to mention that it would utterly destroy the default campaign tactics of both major parties)...”
“Privatization itself is not a bad thing. It only becomes a bad thing when a private business allows "regulations and procedures" to trump common human decency. Ditto when government bureaucracy does the same.
The far-right FOX-heads who decry "godless socialism" should be equally disappointed by this stark example of "godless capitalism."
$75 a year for fire service is a bargain compared to the (herein demonstrated) alternative. But how does that compare with the ethical cost upon one's soul of standing by while a fellow human being's home is destroyed, when you have the time, equipment, and manpower readily at hand to intervene for the good?
The tragedy here is that Mr. Cranick's house could have been saved, but wasn't, all because of money. If there's a cost to be recouped, and he's unwilling to pay it, there's always the option of pursuing a civil judgment or a lien against his property. But in an emergency, doing the right thing should always be the first course of action; the financial piece can be settled later. That's where Glenn Beck misses the mark. As correct as Beck is on this issue from a free-market standpoint, his argument lacks human decency and is therefore difficult for any compassionate person to swallow.”
“Indeed; I didn't know about the additional per-call fee. Even so, I still think $75 per annum plus $500 for an actual fire call is a nominal charge at most when you consider how much a firefighter's time and effort (often life-risking) is worth, not to mention the cost of a new home.”
themagicdog on Oct 8, 2010 at 19:51:39
“Frankly, I think per-call fees stink. They create a disincentive to get the FD over there, and could turn small problems into conflagrations. But I just don't see any alternative if voters won't approve taxes adequate to fund the service.”
“More ruminations on the two-tiered pricing system proposal:
Members pay $75 annually and get fires put out for free. Nonmembers pay nothing unless there's a fire, in which case they pay $75/hour for each fireman's time plus all associated expenses, with a simple contract that must be signed allowing a lien to be placed on their property if they do not pay within 15 days.
Unless South Fulton is able or willing to set up a taxpayer-funded fire department that covers everyone, such a two-tiered system is a win for everybody.
Members get to be part of a shared risk pool at a very reasonable annual rate.
Nonmembers have a fire department available to them on demand, albeit at a very costly rate, but at least the service is available when they need it.
The fire department is able to maintain and operate the trucks and equipment as a result of the members' annual dues.
The occasional nonmember's house fire is a very profitable job when it comes up.
Nobody can complain that they're "forced" to pay to protect other people's houses; participation is voluntary.”
themagicdog on Oct 8, 2010 at 19:20:16
“That's not how it works. The subscription is $75 to get a response. But they've still got to pay $500 per call. I'm assuming (dangerous to do) that when they pay the $75, they sign an agreement that they'll pay $500 for a call. Maybe that's how the towns can increase their previously dismal collection rate. It'd be interesting to know that detail, which I haven't seen addressed anywhere.”
First, $75/year for fire protection is very reasonable. Being separate from local taxes, it has the benefit of not being a hidden cost. This family could afford to keep four pets, which tells me $75 would not have bankrupted them.
I pay $1000/year for house insurance. If I stop paying, and let my policy lapse, then suddenly have a disaster, would it be fair for me to call the insurance company and say "I need you to replace my house - I'll pay my $1000 premium now"?
That said, it's unconscionable for firefighters to watch a family's home burn to the ground when they have the time, equipment, and manpower immediately at hand to take action.
I thus propose the following, which would retain the voluntary membership nature of South Fulton's "fire protection club" while preventing avoidable tragedies like this. Set a two-tiered price structure: one for members, and one for non-members. Members have their fires put out for free; non-members pay a set rate -- say, $75 per hour per firefighter, plus associated expenses. Payment is expected within 15 days. The homeowner signs a brief "non-members" contract that allows a lien to be placed on his property if he doesn't pay. I think Mr. Crannick would have found the means to pay the bill in full, and my guess is that he'd pay the $75 each year going forward.”
“Since the corporate apologists always trot out the "but corporations create jobs" line, one way to sort out the wheat from the chaff would be to scale the tax rate on all corporations in direct proportion to the percentage of their workforce that is based outside the US. In other words, if 90% of your employees are in China, then your corporate tax rate is 90%. Simple.”
Marysse on Sep 25, 2010 at 16:28:07
“This is the best comment I read all day, and there are some great comments here.”