State Firefighters Let House Burn

Update: Here’s an article from The Freeman about a private firefighting company in Arizona that doesn’t let houses burn to the ground.

Watch state firefighters twiddle their thumbs as a house burns to the ground. They can’t do anything because the homeowner didn’t buy a subscription to their service. Libertarian wet dream? Or authoritarian reality? You may be surprised.

The firefighters that refused to help this family are employed by the state. They are not a market organization. The state does not respond to market incentives. It doesn’t have the capacity to accept a higher fee for last-minute service. Market organizations do have that capacity. Airlines don’t make you wait two weeks to fly, they just charge more if your need is urgent. Gas stations don’t only offer one kind of gas. They just charge more for the higher quality ones.

Libertarians want market organizations to provide services with free and open competition. I am a libertarian who is not in favor of a state-run fire brigade such as this. I find it utterly stupid and self-destructive of them to not save this house. The fire brigade is short of funds. Imagine their windfall from situations like this! Instead of a measly $75 per house per year they could charge $2,000 to save a house on the spot. If I ran a fire brigade, I would save his house just so I could get him as a customer. If I didn’t, a competitor might.

Over at the Alexandria blog, the author claims that this fire brigade is a private entity contracted by the local government, thus making it a libertarian relationship. That’s about as libertarian as the federal government hiring Blackwater to fight their wars for them. It’s right up there with states outsourcing their prisons to private companies. Government outsourcing is a corporatist state model. It’s about crony capitalism. It is not libertarian. Government operations that are contracted out on a monopoly basis to corporations are not the same as free markets with full and open competition.

I hope the people of Obion county, Tennessee don’t demand more services from their local governments. Do you really want more of the same? Their best hope lies in forming a volunteer firefighting department. We are the solution we’ve been waiting for. The state has no magic wand to do anything we can’t already do.

Suburban Guerilla thinks this is a libertarian wet dream. But it’s the authoritarian reality we face today. Authoritarians like to have monopolies. They tout their zero-tolerance policies. Buy our service the way we say, or you get nothing at all. That’s dumb. That’s the state.

Photo credit: dvs. Photo license.

3 October 2010
Support More Liberty Now at Patreon

One Pingback/Trackback