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Privatized Fire Service in Tennessee

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There is nothing like a good tale of social injustice to shake away the Tuesday cobwebs and raise a little rage.

And so it was that, according to the Associated Press, a Tennessee couple lost everything when firefighters showed up to put out a blaze at their mobile home, but sat back and watched the fire from a distance when it emerged that the couple had not paid a $75 fee.

If that sounds disgusting, repulsive, and the natural, logical progression from privatized healthcare, that is because it is.

Residents of Obion County, where the incident occurred, can purchase fire protection from nearby South Fulton for $75 a year. Some might argue that this fee is relatively small, but that would be missing the point.

If public services are now able to ignore the public when fees are unpaid, where does that stop? Should the police ignore the pleas and cries for help from people behind on their taxes or who, gasp, pay no taxes at all because they can't afford to? Are the lives of taxpayers more valuable than those of the poor?

This is a very slippery slope and, while South Fulton Mayor David Crocker said that firefighters will respond if people are in danger whether they have paid the fee or not, one has to wonder how that assessment can be made in the heat of the moment.

 

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