The Cognitive Dissonance of the Right: You Can’t Justify Letting a Home Burn for $75

I’m sure you have all heard about what happened to Gene Cranick’s house. If you haven’t, you should learn about it, because the incident is exactly what you can expect in the future, if the assholes who populate this morally bankrupt ideology that they laughingly call “conservative” continue to have their way.

Once again, folks; these people are not “conservative.” They are unfeeling douche bags and nothing more. They are the kind of people who would sell their mothers into slavery if they thought they could get away with it. You hear them talk about fundamentalist Muslims in pejorative terms; well guess what; this incident and their defense of it demonstrates them to be perhaps half a degree above them, if that.

You see, Gene Cranick lives in Obion County, Tennessee, just outside the South Fulton city limits. Because he lives outside the city, he is required to pay a $75 fee every year, so that South Fulton’s Fire Department will come to his house should it catch on fire. This year, the annual payment slipped his mind. I mean, we all do that, don’t we? I have to put my rent payment into my Outlook calendar, or I might forget to pay it, and that comes the first of every month. An annual payment will usually slip our minds – has it been a year already?

Well, Gene’s house DID catch on fire. Well, not at first. At first, a couple of barrels outside of his house caught on fire. South Fulton’s Fire Department came out right away. But when they got there, a dispatcher told them that Gene hadn’t paid his fee, so they were ordered not to spray any water on the barrels to put out the fire. Gene even offered to pay the bill on the spot, and was refused. A neighbor also offered to pay and he was refused, as well.

As you can guess, the fire from the barrels leapt to the house, and before long, the entire house was gone, nothing but a lump of charcoal. Everything that Gene Cranick worked hard for  over the years went up in smoke, as firefighters stood and watched.

All for a payment of $75. Seriously.

I usually restrain my language on this blog, but I can’t with this post. Sorry in advance, but this is not for the kiddies.

You know what I find amazing in all of this? A number of prominent wingnuts can  actually justify this sort of thing. Glenn Beck, who held what was practically a goddamn church revival in our nation’s capital about a month ago, defended the fire department’s actions. I am not shitting about that, folks! He actually suggested that perhaps ole Gene had learned his lesson from this, and others will make sure they fork over the money next time, huh? Right? I heard some other guy, whose name I didn’t catch, actually suggest that this guy’s house burning down might SAVE others, because now they'll be far more diligent in paying their $75. Reading a right wing blog today, I actually saw numerous assholes refer to this guy as some sort of deadbeat. A DEADBEAT! Gene offered to pay the bill BEFORE his house was engulfed in flames, and some bureaucratic asshole refused the payment and ordered firefighters to NOT fight the fire.

This entire episode contains so many layers of stupid, I don’t even know where to start. This is an example of just how completely fucked this country has become under the influence of the far right. You forget to pay one tax and you deserve to have your house burn down? Seriously? Under what authoritarian regime is that okay?

By the way, three dogs and a cat were in the fucking house, too. Is that okay, as well? Four innocent animals perished because some bureaucratic moron felt they had to make a point. Suppose there was a child sleeping in there, as well? Would it be okay then? For SEVENTY FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS??

First of all, right wing douche bags, let me explain something here. I am not a Christian, by choice. I have read the Bible and choose to believe something different than you do. It’s not a history book, it’s a book of fables. That said, while the fables contain a lot of nonsense, there are some amazing life lessons in the words of Jesus Christ. Even though I am not strictly a Christian, I still try to live by Christian principles, because they are good ones.

According to Jesus Christ, your supposed Lord and Savior, people, if you are standing in front of someone’s goddamn house, and it’s on fire, if you have the means to put it out, you have an obligation to put out the fucking fire. Period. What would Jesus do? It’s simple; He would have hooked up the goddamn fire hose and He would have doused the fire, and then He would have been fired from the department for violating their policy, because there are some things more important than money. It’s called PRINCIPLE, assholes. Deal with it. You "firefighters" who let your goddamn "job" get in the way of doing the right thing should be ashamed 

Secondly, the Constitution protects a lot more rights than just the right to free speech and free bastardization of your professed religious beliefs. Gene Cranick has a RIGHT to have his property protected by the government. I mean, for shit’s sake, folks, this is NOT brain surgery. Are right wingers too fucking stupid to understand that “national defense” is not just about big bad planes and guns and weapons that can level entire cities. Think about it, if you can; if terrorists were driving a truck toward that house with the intention of blowing it up, the National Guard would be expected to come by and protect his home. It would not be beyond the pale to expect a tank to come along and blow the truck up before it got to the house. Why don’t these idiots get that “national defense” includes police and fire protection? It’s a right, folks. How it’s paid for is a secondary concern, and your rights are not contingent on your ability to pay the bill. I’d also point out that we don’t know how this fire started; for all we know, someone drove by with a lit cigarette and flicked it into one of the barrels. Perhaps the electric company was responsible for a faulty wire that caused a spark. It doesn’t matter, you have a right to life, liberty and property. Period.

Now, let’s talk about the money for a minute, because these right wing scumbags don’t seem to get how this works, either, despite the fact that they’re obsessed with the cost of everything. The $75 was an annual fee to cover the fact that Gene Cranick didn’t live within the city limits, but was using the city’s fire department. The idea (a profoundly stupid one, to be quite honest) is to get people to pay for what they use. But the $75 sure as shit doesn't cover the full cost of the fire department, and Gene Cranick paid MOST of the cost of fighting the fire that took his house. 

Let’s do some math, shall we?

Keep in mind that the purpose for this $75 is to cover the shortfall, because people outside the city don’t pay the city tax that goes to the fire department. Got it? Okay.

The population of the entire county as of July 2009 was about 2,400 people. That would translate to about 800 households. If every household in the county was paying $75 a year toward fire protection, that comes to about $60,000. It’s not likely the fire department runs on that much; it's likely, given the rural make up of the county, the gasoline bill for the year would probably run higher than that. In other words, in addition to that amount, other money goes into the fire department from other sources. You know, like state and county property, sales and income taxes, and from the federal government, as well. (And since Tennessee gets $1.27 for every dollar they pay in federal taxes, they also get a significant bit of welfare from those of us who live in states that subsidize their "low taxes"). In other words, Gene Cranick paid county, state and federal taxes, and they all went to the fire department. So the concept that his $75 constituted payment in full for fire protection service is idiotic.

And here’s another layer of stupid for you people to chew on — we’re all going to pay for this house, anyway.

This is another thing wingnuts cannot grasp. All these idiots can see is that Gene didn’t pay his $75, so he didn’t “deserve” fire protection.

But he did have homeowners insurance.


But, the right wing morons will say, the only people who will pay will be the people with the same insurance company.

Think again.

If the fire department had done their job and fought the fire when they arrived, there may have only been, say, $5,000 damage. Instead, the home is leveled. Say the home is worth $120,000. (both numbers pulled straight from my anus).

His insurance company will probably pay to rebuild that home. And since the fire department cannot be counted upon to fight fires in cases of bureaucratic oversight, guess what’s going to happen to EVERYONE’s homeowner’s insurance? Not just that company’s either; all of them are suddenly looking at higher risk. Everyone with a home in that county will see their insurance premiums rise. 

Not only that, but the sad reality is, the fire department was negligent. They stood there and allowed the house to burn down. They could have put out the fire and then billed Gene for the fire call; THAT would be more defensible than allowing the house to burn down. Regardless of the bureaucratic bullshit that was cited as a reason, they had the ability to limit that damage to $5,000 (again, fictional number), but they let the house be totaled. How would you like to be the lawyer who has to argue the case for the county and the
fire department? For the sake of a $75 payment – which he and one other neighbor offered to pay on the spot, no less – they sat back and watched as $5,000 damage became $120,000 damage right before their eyes, even though they had the means to mitigate that damage. Do you really think the insurance company won’t sue the city, county and fire department? Even if Gene Cranick doesn’t sue, his insurance company will. And guess who will end up paying…

In other words, everyone pays, one way or another. But this isn’t just about money.

When did this country become so enamored with money that we have given up on moral character? I have seen a few accidents in my time, and in every case, I have called emergency personnel and assisted those stricken to the extent possible. I can’t imagine standing in front of this man’s home with a fire hose at the ready, and watching it burn. Even if I couldn’t stand the man, I can’t do something like that. I admit it; if I saw Glenn Beck hurt on the side of the road, I would administer CPR, and I wouldn’t ask for an insurance card.

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a car stalled by the side of the road and stopped to help. When I see homeless people on the street, it makes me physically ill, and it makes me sick that, in such a rich country, people are left outside to die like that.

This country has GOT to shake the right wing influence and get back to our roots. Yes, I know our track record has been spotty with regard to race and religion issues. But our ideals are supposed to be to all pull together and work together for the common good. We are a nation of individuals, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t work together. We need each other; we can’t do this without everyone working together for a common purpose. The fact that ANYONE could ever justify standing by while a fellow citizen’s home burned is more than troubling; it’s a sign that our country is changing, and not for the better.

There is no excuse for this, folks. None.


As an addendum, the idiots who run this county have NOT learned anything, and will actually EXPAND the subscription-based fire protection service: This is from the web site NWTN Today. Read it and weep:

An interlocal agreement for county-wide fire pro-tection that has been two years in the making is being sent to the Obion County Commission for a vote.
The Obion County Bud-get Committee voted at its session Monday morning at the Obion County Court-house to send the Interlocal Agreement for County Wide Fire Protection to the full commission for a vote when it convenes Oct. 18.
The lengthy and detailed agreement was presented to the budget committee by fire committee vice chairman Tim Doyle, who explained the committee met as recently as last week and “tweaked it a little.”
The agreement would be among the communities of Hornbeak, Kenton, Obion, Rives, Samburg, Troy and Union City, as well as the Obion County Emergency Communications District (E-911) as the fire dispatch agency for all municipalities in the agreement and Obion County.
The municipalities named would agree to provide rural fire service outside of their established town and city limits and would agree to expand their rural fire service areas as indicated on a map which defines the areas in which the present municipal fire departments provide rural fire protection.
Each municipality would agree to implement a standard subscription rate, with individual properties classified by a parcel number as listed on the county tax assessor’s map/tax card and a separate subscription fee to be charged for each parcel/address for which the customer desires to have rural fire protection coverage.
According to the pro-posed agreement, South Fulton intends to provide rural fire service outside its city limits as directed by its city commission in a designated fire service area and would not be a party to the interlocal agreement.
Doyle said the first year of implementing the program would be the most difficult as groundwork is laid, but he said it should become much easier the second year.
“I think we have set up a good thing,” he said.
Commissioner Ralph Puckett made the motion to send the agreement from the budget committee to the county commission for a vote. His motion was seconded by commissioner Dwayne Hensley, who said he noticed a lot of cooperation among members when he attended a fire committee meeting.
If approved, the projected date of implementing the agreement would be July 1, 2011.
The issue of county-wide fire protection has made local, regional and even national news in recent days in the aftermath of a rural South Fulton fire where firefighters from a municipal fire department could not respond because the property owner had not paid an annual rural fire subscription fee. Ironically, the issue of county-wide fire protection resurfaced and discussion of an agreement began a little over two years ago following a similar rural fire situation near South Fulton.

There is a better way, and the vast majority of states and municipalities manage to pay for fire protection without putting anyone at risk. Even after the negative publicity, and their likely negligence, they still haven’t learned.

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One comment

  1. Is the right applauding the county for lowering taxes and offering ‘subscriptions’ for services instead? At least they aren’t wavering in their principles in saying the guy got what he deserved.
    For everyone else, this should be a lesson in what life will be like without ‘socialist over-taxation and mothering’.

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