As most readers know by now, Gene Cranick lost all his possessions, including three dogs and a cat, because his mobile home is Western Tennessee was allowed to burn to the ground because he failed to pay a $75 municipal fee that would have given him fire protection. Cranick called to report the fire last week and offered to pay the $75 to the South Fulton fire department, who refused to respond because doing so would only encourage others not to pay the fee.
South Fulton Mayor David Crocker said the following (from The Huffington Post)....
""Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't."
This is a story that has resonated through America, and well it should. And it should be a cautionary tale to all of those who may have been seduced by the call of "government should be run like a business", that "government is always the problem, never the solution", and "smaller government now!". What is on display in this case is a possible preview of what life in Tea Party America could look like.....lower taxes, but "user fees" for governmental services.
User fees- remember that term. Because Republicans and their Tea Party buddies always talk about lowering taxes. But one of the ways they get money into the public coffers is increase user fees for government run entities. When Christine Todd Whitman became was elected governor of New Jersey in 1993 she ran on a platform to lower the state income tax by 10% each year for three years. The state income tax was lowered....but tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, and Atlantic City Expressway rose, and new toll booths were constructed in areas where previously there were none. New and higher user fees.
Call it a GOP shell game.
So let's examine some possible scenarios in "Ala Carte Tea Party America".
Do you want to send your kids to a public school? Pay a fee. But remember, since not everyone is paying property or income taxes to support the school system, the citizen could be shelling out a lot more money in fees than in property taxes.
What about law enforcement, garbage pickup, libraries, snow removal, senior services, unemployment compensation....and fire protection? Do we offer it "ala carte"? And when the next flood hits in Wayne, NJ or Alton, IL or Nashville, TN does the 911 operator have to punch in your ID and check the computer program to see which government services you've paid for?
Boat and watercraft sales should be healthy in this not so brave new world.
Here in New Jersey families are starting to pay fees if their kids want to play interscholastic sports, and other school systems are imposing fees for students to take field trips. We already have teachers who routinely shell hundreds of dollars of their own money for school supplies because state aid has been cut to a trickle thanks to the New Jersey Mouth That Roared, Governor Chris Christie, now with his road show at a GOP event near you.
This tragedy to Gene Cranick is something that never, ever should have happened in the United States of America. Period and end of story. The lack of response to the burning of Cranick's home, where firefighters did show up to protect his neighbor's home, was a scenario similar to America of the 19th century, where fire protection was done by subscription, and often fires went out of control because the occupiers of the burning buildings didn't pay for fire protection.
The Grand Poobah of The Tea Party, Mr. Glenn Beck, the man who invoked God from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August for a new nation under God, said the following about the incident (from Newser)....
The argument about Cranick’s case will go “nowhere if you go onto ‘compassion, compassion, compassion, compassion’ or well, ‘they should’ve put it out, what is the fire department for?’” Beck said. “No, what is the $75 for?”
After all, he points out, “if they did put the fire out and make an exception for your house and you didn’t pay,” then “would anyone pay their $75?” (His producer helped Beck along in his explanation by mimicking Cranick’s accent for nearly the entire segment.) The fee is “to pay for the fire department to have people employed to put the fire out,” Beck continued, and to use fire services without paying the fee “would be sponging off of your neighbor’s $75.”
My question to Glenn Beck regarding this matter is very simple. If told another person's home was on fire and helped was asked for......what would Jesus do?
If you don't think He'd call for a thunderstorm to douse the flames, He's at least find a way to help...for free.
And if it were too late and the home was lost, He'd comfort the person who lost his home instead of ridiculing and trashing him.
Below, Gene Cranick talks to Keith Olbermann on COUNTDOWN.
In closing, I just watched the interview Olbermann had with Gene Cranick a second time, and I'm torn between profound sadness and outright rage. How can this be allowed to occur in our country? Lincoln spoke of "our better angels"....and thank goodness there are those good people of compassion and justice who are willing and able to speak up for those who have been wronged.
And as for those who say Cranick got what he deserved....quite frankly, they make me sick. This should be beyond politics or ideology. These are individuals who say human evolution is only a theory, yet they adhere and practice social and economic Darwinism.....survival of the fittest.
As for Glenn Beck....I can only say that this self appointed God fearing Christian and savior of America might be the the biggest hypocrite walking the earth. A man who lacks the basic compassion of Christ, and is nothing more than a cheap carnival huckster playing the role of American Messiah.
But the truly delusional are those who believe his gibberish. And PT Barnum is sitting up in his grave, winking at the poor suckers....and there are a lot of them.