In many ways Obion County in rural Tennessee represents the libertarian Tea Party dream. Rural and sparsely populated, it’s home to a largely white and God-fearing set of people, far removed from the hurly-burly and big government folks in Nashville, Memphis or (heaven forbid) Washington D.C.
This week, however, the perils of small government — or “government a la carte” as it’s come to be known — came home to roost.
Gene Cranick, a homeowner located just outside the city limits of South Fulton (pop. 2,391) in Obion, forgot to pay $75 for the subscription fire protection service. This had drastic consequences when a bonfire on his property grew out of control and the fire department refused to help.
“We weren’t on their list,” explained Mr Cranick.
He watched in dismay as his home, life possessions, three dogs and a cat burned to a cinder, but despite promising “to pay whatever was necessary” to have the fire extinguished firefighters just “stood out here and watched everything burn” Mr Cranick said.
South Fulton Mayor David Crocker explained the fire service policy had been in place for 20 years and “if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck”.
“We can’t let homeowners pay on the spot because the only people who would pay would be those whose homes are on fire,” he said.
Mr Cranick is now living in a trailer on his property. “Insurance is going to pay for what money I had on the policy, looks like,” he said.
“But like everything else, I didn’t have enough.”
- John Gault joins the fire brigade (Guardian)
- VIDEO: No pay, no spray: Firefighters let home burn (MSNBC)
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