Not Paying Taxes Is Like Playing With Matches


A Tennessee house fire is sparking (pun intended) a heated(!) debate over paying our taxes

Each year, residents of Obion County, Tennessee are asked to pay $75 to the South Fulton Fire Department for protection. But homeowner Gene Cranick refused. When his house caught on fire this past week, firefighters refused to help.

Hours later, they did respond but only when a neighbor who had paid the fee called because he was worried about his own home.

Were they right?

Heck yes, they were!

The Tea Party loves to talk about individuality and smaller government. They love to talk about self determination, but when their house is burning, who's on the phone the quickest, dialing 9-1-1?

This time, the fire department said no. Good on them.

We can argue all day about the morality of that, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. You don't get to refuse to pay your taxes and then wonder why the government services you so "don't need" are no longer available to you.

The fire department is paid for by South Fulton taxes, but Cranick's home is too rural to qualify, hence the $75 annual fee. It is nominal. Not a large sum of money by any standard, especially for what it covers, but he refused to pay.

According to NWTN Today:

South Fulton Mayor David Crocker said city officials don’t want to see anyone’s house burn, but he emphasized that South Fulton has a city fire department which is supported by city taxes in order to serve its residents -- with a rural fire subscription service made available outside the city limits to county residents in the city’s designated rural coverage area.

“We’re very sorry their house burned,” he said.

Mayor Crocker said if the fire department operated on a per-call basis outside the city, there would be no incentive for anyone to pay the rural fee. As an analogy, he said if an auto owner allowed their vehicle insurance to lapse, they would not expect an insurance company to pay for an unprotected vehicle after it was wrecked.

Bureaucracy is an awful thing, but paying $75 is not. It's part of living in our society and although it's sad that Cranick lost his home, the lesson is clear: We don't exist in a vacuum. And the lesson applies to us city dwellers as well: If we want to use roads, public schools, the fire department, city water, and trash pick-up, among countless other services, then it's time to pay taxes.

No one likes to see money taken from their paycheck, but smart people also recognize that even though the system isn't perfect, money doesn't only go to "welfare queens" and social services (which are also sorely needed), but it also goes to support the very amenities they take for granted.

It's a lesson I'm sure Cranick -- whose son went and physically attacked the fire chief -- won't soon forget.

Pay your taxes, people. It could save your life (or your home).

Do you think the fire department was right?


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kathe... katherine.pryde

NO!  there's a thing as humanity and kindness. you don't sit idlely buy and watch all that a family has worked hard for go up in smoke because of some principle.  if there's an old lady about to get hit by a bus in the middle of the street are you gonna let her get hit by that bus cause you know she didn't vote yes on your child's school budget.  this is insane.

rebec... rebecca_tal4

it was wrong! and so are you... katherine above me is right.

is this not The United States of America??? how could anyone allow this to happen? isn't home ownership part of the AMERICAN DREAM?

wrong wrong wrong!!!

and don't property taxes and sales tax help pay for firefighters??

nonmember avatar Helen

I am so glad to hear someone say this. I got really tired of everyone feeling sorry for the homeowner yesterday. I find the whole thing especially appalling as Cranick admitted that three years ago the fire department saved some family members (I believe it was his parents) house even though the fee wasn't paid - they paid it the next day. I would really like to know how many times since he has 'forgotten' to pay the yearly fee on the theory he would just pay for it when he needed it.

If you have a problem with how the fire department system works, then change the system - but when you know the rules, you have to play by them. Personal responsibility is something that this country lacks, including when it comes to paying taxes.

MomIWant MomIWant

"The Tea Party loves to talk about individuality and smaller government. They love to talk about self determination, but when their house is burning, who's on the phone the quickest, dialing 9-1-1?" 

Seriously? Do you know Mr. Cranik was a Tea Party member?  If a liberals house is burning, do they just grab a bucket and start putting out their own fire or do they DESERVE to call 911?  What if that liberal hasn't paid his taxes?  What if he owes the City 5 years of back taxes to a tune of $10,000?  Should the Fire Department paid for by a Republicans next door neightbor's taxes put out his fire?   Way to turn this man's tragedy into political BS.


nonmember avatar Paul

I agree that the fire department was correct to provide service only to its subscribers. But what does this have to do with the Tea Party? Was Cranick a tea partier?

Ashley Castillo

I understand the fire department's point of view.  However, the tax was $75, and now this man has thousands of dollars in damage and may have lost irreplaceable possessions. How is that equal?

Wouldn't it have been more fair for the fire dept. to go ahead and put out the fire, and then stick him with the whole bill of putting out the fire? They should be able to do that if the person has not paid the tax.  Trust me, it would have been expensive, but certainly less than replacing an entire home. 

An expensive lesson for this man. He gambled his home wouldn't burn down, and he lost.

nonmember avatar monster mash

Ashley. what if the family didn't want to pay afterward? what if they are an American Frontier family who take care of everything themselves? It IS a gamble to set yourself outside of the community (and I am not saying that this particular family aspired to do that. None of us know all the details). But it is worthwhile to ask the hypothetical questions, because that helps us build a better society. The town should have instituted a mandatory tax to help pay for fire department services, but it's likely that the CONSTITUTION doesn't allow them to do that. So next time some people think that health care should be OPTIONAL, don't bleed all over me!

Nellyo Nellyo

Good for them! Kindless and humanity? Please. These men and women risk their lives to rescue you and your cats from your home, but you dont want to pay them so THEIR families can eat?

Id let that home burn to the God damn ground and not feel a twinge of guilt.

Shame on that family for expecting anything from the fire department.

You get what you pay for. You dont pay, you dont get shit.

Nellyo Nellyo

Also, what in the world does this have to do with the Tea Party? That line seemed like an unnecessary and cheap shot, but maybe theres an association between the two that I missed...?


hotic... hoticedcoffee

This isn't a tax we're talking about, so to extend this out to a political argument is just silly. This is a fee, and clearly, one made optional by Obion County.  I personally would LOVE to pay a fee right to the service providers for infrastructure and safety, and leave the government out of it - it's brilliant. 

Mr. Cranik refused to pay a nominal fee for a really important service, that could safe his life, home, and personal belongings.  Why should the fire fighters care more about the Cranik home than Cranik does?  Fire Fighters risk their lives to put out fires.  Cranik didn't think it was worth $75 for a handful of men to come to his burning house and risk their lives. I don't blame them one bit.

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