Obion County TN has taken the foward-looking position of opting for lower taxes over government spending and socialized public services. The fire department in Obion operates on a privatized, opt-in fee basis. This is clearly the wave of the future, as represented by such leading conservative thinkers as Freedomworks' Tea Bag empresario Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich, Congressman Paul Ryan, Senator Jim DeMint, candidates Rand Paul, Sharon Angle and Jim Miller. Cut taxes and privatize government services seems to be their Big Idea - perhaps their only one.
Of course, ideas have consequences. Obion TN hit the news this past week when the local fire department stood and watched an Obion resident's house burn to the ground because the owner had failed to pay his $75 fee. Fair enough. That's the deal. The county has saved residents a whopping .13% increase in property taxes that would accrue if the fire department were simply a public service provided by local government. The beauty is that the residents of Obion have more freedom and aren't burdened by the fire department socialism that most of America suffers under. I may sound like I'm being ironic - because I am - but the deep thinkers at National Review are actually having a debate over this, with some of their "heavyweights" like John Derbyshire coming down on the side of letting the house burn because the owner failed to pay the fee. Yes, privatization when it comes to the fire department is a "conservative value" over at America's leading conservative weekly.
Better yet - for those who are shocked and/or amused by the looniness of the right-wing, the Tea Baggers, conservative "intellectuals" and other venders of the paralogical farragos that constitute conservative "thought" in its present debased ambience - is this contribution from the "Christian" Right at American Family Association. (Remember that this is coming from the same corner who want the state to have ultimate authority in private matters such as abortion and sexual preference.) The AFA commentary has to be read to be believed:
"Muscular" Christianity from an aficionado of the Supply-Side Jesus.
The fire department did the right and Christian thing. The right thing, by the way, is also the Christian thing, because there can be no difference between the two. The right thing to do will always be the Christian thing to do, and the Christian thing to do will always be the right thing to do.
If I somehow think the right thing to do is not the Christian thing to do, then I am either confused about what is right or confused about Christianity, or both.
In this case, critics of the fire department are confused both about right and wrong and about Christianity. And it is because they have fallen prey to a weakened, feminized version of Christianity that is only about softer virtues such as compassion and not in any part about the muscular Christian virtues of individual responsibility and accountability.
The Judeo-Christian tradition is clear that we must accept individual responsibility for our own decisions and actions. He who sows to the flesh, we are told, will from the flesh reap corruption. The law of sowing and reaping is a non-repealable law of nature and nature’s God.
We cannot make foolish choices and then get angry at others who will not bail us out when we get ourselves in a jam through our own folly. The same folks who are angry with the South Fulton fire department for not bailing out Mr. Cranick are furious with the federal government for bailing out Wall Street firms, insurance companies, banks, mortgage lenders, and car companies for making terrible decisions. What’s the difference?
Mr. Cranick made a decision - a decision to spend his $75 on something other than fire protection - and thereby was making a choice to accept the risk that goes with it. He had no moral, legal, ethical or Christian claim on the services of the fire department because of choices that he himself made.
Jesus once told a parable about 10 virgins attending a wedding feast, five of whom failed to replenish the oil in their lamps when they had the chance. The bridegroom came when they were out frantically searching for oil, and by the time they made it back to the party, the door was shut tight. The bridegroom - the Christ figure in the story - refused to open the door, saying “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you” (Matthew 25:13).
The critics of South Fulton thereby implicate themselves as accusers of Christ himself, making him out to be both cold and heartless. They may want to be careful about that.