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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