Rant: Burn the Rich

Is it "apartheid" to pay for extra fire protection?

When Southern California really burns, as it does every fourth October or so, there can never be enough firefighters. Scorching Santa Ana winds turn parched chaparral canyons into wind tunnels begging for any spark—from lightning, cigarettes, blown-over power lines—to set whole mountain ranges ablaze. At the height of the October 2007 season, 23 separate wildfires from Malibu to the border of Mexico were simultaneously chewing through more than 2,000 homes and a combined land mass two-thirds the size of Rhode Island.

No firefighting force on the planet is equipped to cope with that kind of storm. Doing so would require standing fire squads of at least triple their current size, with nothing much to do until the next far-off catastrophe except draw salaries and qualify for pensions. So in the most recent conflagration the state of California bolstered its ranks of roughly 9,000 firefighters by deputizing more than 3,000 prison inmates to go on the front lines and recruiting an equal number of reinforcements from other Western states.

That much was uncontroversial. Then the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News revealed the shocking news that the American International Group (AIG), an insurance company, had been adding a very modest supplement to the firefighting effort—six trucks—on behalf of its clients. For premiums averaging a hefty $19,000 a year, AIG policyholders in the fire-vulnerable “wildland-urban interface” have their homes assessed for vulnerability, kitted with sprinkler systems, and doused with fire retardant. When wildfires rage within three miles of a covered house, AIG-contracted teams come out to lay down a fresh perimeter of retardant and check the roof and nearby brush for stray embers (the cause of most housing tract losses during an inferno). According to Bloomberg, AIG firefighters saved at least six houses, including one lucky enough to be next door to an AIG client.

You would think that the creation of supplementary firefighting capability—the costs of which are borne entirely by the homeowners who choose to live in fire zones, instead of taxpayers—would be a cause for at least mild enthusiasm. Instead, it was greeted with howls of class warfare.

The leftist critic Naomi Klein called it “disaster apartheid,” proof that “the country is indeed in the grip of extremists who are determined to act out the biblical climax—the saving of the chosen and the burning of the masses” (the “masses,” in this case, being millionaire homeowners who live near the millionaire homeowners who bought supplemental fire insurance).

The liberal historian Rick Perlstein called it “a sickening indication about how the conservative mania for privatization is beginning to create two Americas: One that is protected from fires, and one that is not,” and then delivered this economically illiterate policy lecture: “Firefighting is a public good. Privatize it—provide a higher level of fire protection for those who can afford it, and a lower level for those who cannot—and you…insulate certain individuals from the consequences of crises that wrack
everyone else.”

Leaving aside Perlstein’s bizarre definition of privatization, what’s noteworthy about his critique is that it’s almost the exact inverse of what L.A.’s influential socialist/apocalyptic critic Mike Davis argued in his famous 1996 essay “Let Malibu Burn,” which complained bitterly about “public subsidization of firebelt suburbs,” “cheap fire insurance, socialized disaster relief and an expansive public commitment to ‘defend Malibu.’ ” Davis resented—and rightfully so—a system of government incentives that rewards development in fire zones that no private companies would insure while transferring tax money from the poor to the rich.

This year’s critics, by contrast, balk at letting the wealthiest Californians finally pay their fair share. Since the Naomi Kleins of the world don’t want the rich to get more public protection, and they don’t want the rich to get more private protection, what options are left? Burn, Malibu, burn.

Matt Welch is assistant editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times.

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  • Question||

    What about those people who invested in generators in places left without power in those areas stricken in Midwest ice storms? I guess we should hate those people, too. Those people in California paid $19K a year in extra premiums -- that's a lot of money that otherwise could have gone for expensive landscaping, vacations to Maui, or whatever. If those fires never happened, one might say they wasted their money on such insurance. Instead, it turned out to be a wise investment. Similarly, homeowners who spent $3K or more on a quality generator and fuel rather than an LCD TV may never reap the benefit of their decision.

    It's not class warfare. It's the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper all over again. Populism seems to favor the grasshoppers over the ants, doesn't it.

    Makes me want to get me one of them there fancy adjustable rate mortgages so I can bleat to government when things go wrong later!

  • ||

    two questions:

    1. bundits?

    2. Has apocalyptist Mike Davis registered a more recent opinion on the firemen issue? I'm not looking for a flip-flop on the issue -- it just seemed like a more recent opinion might be available.

    Anon

  • ||

    The Reichstag burned down, not the Budestag.

  • Episiarch||

    The German-American Bund is still around?

  • Matt Welch||

    "bundits" changed to the original "p."

  • ||

    Gosh, Naomi, you've pretty much mastered envy. You seem to have a handle on anger as well. Just five to go for the septfecta.

    Classless, stupid bitch.

  • Marcvs||

    If one person can't have something, NO ONE should be allowed to have it! All are equals! In this way, we shall create the New Soviet Man!

    We might just be a little bit crispier...

  • ||

    I wonder if Ms. Klein makes certain before every meal that everyone with less income than herself is eating at least as good as her? Or before driving makes certain the less fortunate have equal transportation to what she drives.

  • ||

    Argh, not Naomi Klein again. I'll just start calling her the "Disaster Socialist".

  • ||

    I think just "Disaster" is sufficient.

  • ||

    No firefighting force on the planet is equipped to cope with that kind of storm.

    As a member of the "Milky Way Galatic Volunteer Fire Department", you could have called us. We've recently improved our average response time from seven to only six light-years.

  • Danny||

    Nevermind, Tbone, that the light-year is a unit of distance and not time. If you plan on taking the easy route you could go merely the speed of light, but if you want to go faster you could go up to nine or ten MPH faster than the speed of light. Just a suggestion.

  • ||

    We've recently improved our average response time from seven to only six light-years.

    Pedant alert! Light years are a measure of distance, not time. I know, I know. But it irks me nonetheless.

  • TLB||

    MattW seems to have left another option out of his article: not building in FireProne areas. I also imagine that there's some other moneyshuffling going on that allows even those with private protection to pass on some of the costs.

    Nevertheless, can I suggest posting this up at various locations in that area? Maybe Reason could get some contributions or something.

  • ||

    It seems like a bizarre claim when people claim that you cannot get rich in a social democratic state. European states are significantly more socialist than the United States but there are certainly rich people...not as many rich people, and they are not super super rich, but then again, though these states have a fraction of the resources of the United States, they also have a significantly lower percentage of very poor people.

  • ||

    I thought I was going to get whacked for mistyping Galactic.

    I am familiar with the concept, but "seven to six years" sounds PEDANTIC notwithstanding its accuracy.

  • ||

    "The leftist critic Naomi Klein called it "disaster apartheid""

    Oh how original.

  • ||

    Nevermind, Tbone, that the light-year is a unit of distance and not time.

    It is for the for the Kessel run, which they use to make in 7 light years but now only take 6.

    The Kessel run of course requires skirting the black hole core of our galaxy...thus a shorter run mean a faster time...of course skirting a black hole has relativistic problems in time...what time you mean the time you were in the ship or the time observed from outside the ship...but the distance is a constant that can be related from both inside the ship and outside by an observer...thus using light years as a measure.

  • ||

    I think the argument that Naomi Klein makes is more fundamental, that as a society we must make certain that those with great wealth and power cannot opt out of the consequences of their actions.

  • ||

    Building houses in hurricane prone areas, in flood zones, on land below sea-level, and in areas given to frequent fires are all slight variations of the same problem. The expectation that "we" are responsible for these foolish decisions is the indefensible bit.

  • anon.||

    This is an interesting phenomenon among people like Klein. There are some areas, food for example, where they're probably willing to tolerate wide quality variation between the rich and the poor; i.e., as long as the poor have enough to eat, Klein won't insist that they eat filet mignon, nor particularly chastise the rich for doing so.

    There are other areas, however, where any significant variation in quality is seen as intolerable. Healthcare is one such area. Insurance against natural disasters is apparently another. In these areas the rich are entitled to no more than they are willing to provide to the poor, regardless of the quality of service otherwise available to the poor.

    What's the explanation for this I-hope-you-brought-enough-gum-for-the-rest-of-the-class approach to public policy? When teachers say that, the end result is just trying to discourage the underlying behavior. Why would we want to discourage socially beneficial behavior?

  • ||

    I think the explanation is relatively simple...healthcare and disaster-relief are sort of life and death matters, whereras when it comes to something like food, people who eat a modest diet can be just as healthy as long as they are not starving.

  • ||

    This article did not really come as a suprise to me. I talked to someone who thought they could morally justify their indifference towards the fires with an anti-materialist approach. The argument they make is pretty much, "the more you lose, the less sad it is."

    I f***ing hate populists.

  • ||

    I don't get it. Should people, regardless of the location of their house or personal wealth, not be allowed to get this kind of thing? What does someone like Klein want? Ban rich people from buying supplements to what the state provides? Is her thinking 'if poor people burn, rich people should too even if they can afford not to?' That seems awfully mean-spirited.

    Surely it's not practical for everyone in the region to get this treatment. It's not an ideal situation for people's houses to burn, but if someone can afford to prevent it they should. What's so bad about that?

  • R. Mutt||

    Don't forget Glenn Beck amongst those cheering the fires.

    He hates them not because they are rich, but liberal rich.

    Class warfare populism exists on both sides of the political spectrum.

  • ||

    I don't think people are bad because they are rich...but neither are they good because they are rich. And no I don't think it is particularly sad when one of the 'devil-take-the-hindmost' rich people lose everything. Oh well, welcome to being a regular human...

  • anon.||

    James,

    That's probably how things get sorted into one category or the other, but that doesn't explain why treating the categories different will make society better off. As Adamness points out, it's not feasible to provide the best for everyone, which means that writers like Klein are really insisting that the rich settle for less healthcare and insurance than they could otherwise afford.

    What's the justification for this? Should the rich live shorter lives because it makes the poor (or writers like Klein, on their behalf) feel better about their own healthcare?

    And does society benefit in the long run from this approach? In the areas where we allow the rich to enjoy the additional luxuries they can afford, like food and cars, don't we see those luxuries become cheaper and more accessible over time?

  • ||

    Rich people shouldn't be allowed to have retirement funds either. They should have to live off social security and eat cat food.

  • ||

    though these states have a fraction of the resources of the United States, they also have a significantly lower percentage of very poor people.

    I'd want to see some data on that, including a very clear explanation of how we are defining "very poor people", and a longitudinal study of how long they are likely to stay at the bottom of the heap.

  • Paul||

    The leftist critic Naomi Klein called it "disaster apartheid,"

    Cool, already we're getting examples of "Paul's Law".

  • ||

    "it's not feasible to provide the best for everyone"

    No, I agree completely there, but I don't think that Klein or I am arguing that the poor must have the best in everything. I do think however that there is plenty of resources to give the poor adequate healthcare and disaster protection etc. For my part (and I favor universal health care) I wouldn't mind if rich people paid extra to get cosmetic surgery or exotic get-a-ways at health spas and I wouldn't demand that for everyone. I just don't think it is realistic to expect to avoid class warfare when it seems like the rich in our society are not like us, but almost qualitatively different from us.

  • ||

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2006/04/Hertz_MobilityAnalysis.pdf

    I would refer you to this study by Tom Hertz, a professor at American University. The generatioinal social mobility in the United States is actually relatively low compared to other industrialized nations, and only slightly better than the U.K.

  • Paul||

    I think the argument that Naomi Klein makes is more fundamental, that as a society we must make certain that those with great wealth and power cannot opt out of the consequences of their actions.

    Which is quite possibly in the running for dumbest argument of the year. I live in a wooden house. I own smoke detectors. Am I "opting out" of the consequences of my actions? That being the choice to live in a wooden house? Am I therefore barred from adding fire extinguishers or, perhaps a sprinkler system if I decide that I want to spend money on such a thing?

    Where EXACTLY, James, is the bright line where people are buying (opting out) of the consequences of their actions?

  • Matt Welch||

    I think the argument that Naomi Klein makes is more fundamental, that as a society we must make certain that those with great wealth and power cannot opt out of the consequences of their actions.

    No, the argument she was making was that private, supplemental fire protection is intolerable, because that means those who pay for it will have more fire protection than those who don't.

    Incidentally, isn't paying extra for your own decisions a case of opting *in*, not opting *out*, responsibility-wise?

  • Matt Welch||

    Has apocalyptist Mike Davis registered a more recent opinion on the firemen issue?

    Not necessarily the fireman issue, but regarding the fires there was this:

    Reached by telephone at the height of the inferno and given the opportunity to say, "I told you so," Davis, a San Diego resident, said he's no longer convinced that massive wildfires will always be an inevitable feature of life in Southern California.

    "We may not see a fire like this for some time, simply because all the fuel has burned," Davis said, adding that a recent scientific study suggests that global warming will turn the region into a desert within the next several decades-possibly sooner.

    "What's supposed to be happening in 20 years is happening now," he said. "We will be living in a Phoenix or Yuma climate, and [Phoenix and Yuma] will be living in Death Valley. You don't talk about a drought in the Sahara." [...]

    "To create open corridors and reducing interfaces between dense suburban development and [wilderness], you would need land-use regulation and zoning on a scale that has been advocated for decades but has never been politically possible," he said. "I guess what I'm saying is you can have two once-in-100-years disasters in five years, a Katrina in the suburbs, but the thought of getting any new policies to arm us against the consequences of climate change? I don't see that happening."

    And this Mike Davis column blames it all on Pete Wilson.

  • ||

    What about rich people who can afford better protection from crime, like living in gated communities, or private security patrols while the poor have to depend on the city cops?

    We can play this little game all night. Rich people have a better quality of life in all sorts of ways. Sucks all sorts of ass to be poor.

    Oh, yeah. Rich people also figure out ways around government redistributionist policies, too, so poor people bleating to government to punish the rich for being rich ain't gonna work, either.

  • ||

    "What's supposed to be happening in 20 years is happening now,"

    Apprently not.

  • ||

    Hasn't Naomi Klein blithered enough for a lifetime?

    -jcr

  • ||

    Here's the article about this fire protection: http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/disaster-capitalism-news/concierge-level-fire-protection

    Quote: "What we have is a dangerous confluence of events: underfunded states, increasingly inefficient disaster response, a loss of faith in the public sphere . . . and a growing part of the economy that sees disaster as a promising new market," said Naomi Klein, whose new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, looks at, among other things, the response to Hurricane Katrina."

    So while acknowledging the public services suck, she's still complaining about the private service. I know she'd rather have us wholly dependent on the government for...everything, but this just seems like a dumb issue to whine about. Yes, if the government did a better job we wouldn't need private service, but maybe this is just another example of the government's fundamental inability to be effective at this sort of thing.

  • ||

    I think Klein's argument is a bit more subtle than that we should all have to rely on the gov't for everything. I think she is trying to say that the hollowing out of the state's services through privitization is a key part of the problem. The rich require significantly less in gov't services.

  • Paul||

    a loss of faith in the public sphere

    That statement, right there, is the seed from which her oak tree grows.

    Did you know that there are still, still mainstream liberals who wring their hands daily about the conservative plot to strangle government? Is there anyone who has command of the family braincell that still beleives that government is being strangled by our current conservative overlords?

    Yes, if the government did a better job we wouldn't need private service,

    I disagree. A better job at...what? Placing a firefighter on every street, in every home? There will always be limits to what the government can do for us. (too bad some people think there are no limits to what the government can do to us...)

    Those people who can afford to suppliment their services, and can do it without taking away, or disrupting services to those who can't are perfectly welcome to do so by me.

  • Paul||

    The rich require significantly less in gov't services.

    Interesting... wasn't there a recent lefty argument that suggested exactly the opposite? It's friday, and I'm fuzzy where I saw this recent argument. Anyone?

  • ||

    "I live in a wooden house. I own smoke detectors. Am I "opting out" of the consequences of my actions? That being the choice to live in a wooden house? Am I therefore barred from adding fire extinguishers or, perhaps a sprinkler system if I decide that I want to spend money on such a thing?"

    I don't think this is a good analogy, I think a better one is:

    I live in a fire-proof marble mansion which is monitored 24hours a day and I help fund an astroturf 'grassroots' organization campaign to defund fire services so I can lower my tax burden.

  • ||

    "Interesting... wasn't there a recent lefty argument that suggested exactly the opposite? It's friday, and I'm fuzzy where I saw this recent argument. Anyone?"

    I should be more specific, I think the rich do avail themselves of the gov't a lot, but usually not in social services. When it comes to tax-breaks, public policy, and subsidies, etc., the rich are fans of big gov't.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Does it ever start to really piss anyone else off that the mainstream philosophical arguments presented by the left are so ridiculously poorly thought out and contradictory?

    As Mr. Welch said:
    Incidentally, isn't paying extra for your own decisions a case of opting *in*, not opting *out*, responsibility-wise?

    Yet here we have people who want the rich to suffer because they chose to live in a fire prone area... I would have thought the issue would be focused more around rich over-using tax-payer funded firefighters to constantly have to come out to their homes. That would be the unfair thing right? I mean then you'd have the rich taking tax payer funds unequally to pay for their stupid choices - like Stossel's 20/20 special on flood insurance and how the Federal government replaced beach-house.

    But when the rich pay for it themselves, which usually seems to be the battle cry of all the populists anyway (i.e. rich weasel out of taxes and get away with billions in subsidies and loopholes, etc.), they're criticized why exactly?



    It all just makes my brain hurt.


    The fact is, we live in an unequal world and the sooner liberals/socialists/populists/etc. got that, the sooner they could start making some sense I'd imagine.

  • ||

    I live in a fire-proof marble mansion which is monitored 24hours a day and I help fund an astroturf 'grassroots' organization campaign to defund fire services so I can lower my tax burden.

    All the fireproof marble in the world isn't going to keep you from burning if you're a strawman...

  • ||

    I don't think it could be any plainer to see that what really bugs the shit out Naomi Klein is the idea of rich people taking measures to deprive her of the pleasure of gloating over their losses.

    The woman's a nasty little misanthrope, just like every other pinko.

    -jcr

  • Matt Welch||

    I think she is trying to say that the hollowing out of the state's services through privitization is a key part of the problem. The rich require significantly less in gov't services.

    If that's what she's "trying to say," it is getting obscured by what she's actually saying, which is that it's terrible for people to pay extra for private supplemental disaster protection. And, she fails to explain how "privatization is a key part of the problem" in the actual case under question, which is California wildfires in the hills. Has the Malibu firefighting force been pared back to the bone through privatization? Not at all! In fact, Mike Davis was arguing a decade ago that the problem was that Malibu residents received too many public firefighting resources, and had more stations per capita than anywhere in Southern California.

    I live in a fire-proof marble mansion which is monitored 24hours a day and I help fund an astroturf 'grassroots' organization campaign to defund fire services so I can lower my tax burden.

    I am happy to wait all day/week/month/year for you, Klein, or anyone else to find even one example of such a person. And even then, you would have to applaud the Evil Rich Man for building a house that requires zero public firefighting assistance, no?

  • ||

    "The fact is, we live in an unequal world and the sooner liberals/socialists/populists/etc. got that, the sooner they could start making some sense I'd imagine."

    This is utter capitulation and the social darwinists couldn't be more happy to hear it.

  • ||

    "I am happy to wait all day/week/month/year for you, Klein, or anyone else to find even one example of such a person."

    Well obviously I was speaking in hyperbole, but I could certainly fine you hundreds if not thousands of astroturf 'grass-roots' organizations funded by on or two individuals or a few families.

  • Matt Welch||

    Well obviously I was speaking in hyperbole, but I could certainly fine you hundreds if not thousands of astroturf 'grass-roots' organizations funded by on or two individuals or a few families.

    Sure. And I can find you an equal number of "grassroots organizations" funded at least in part by the government. Neither list bridges the enormous chasm between "paying for private supplemental fire protection" and "privatization."

    By the way, what's the proper Klein/James attitude toward volunteer fire departments?

  • ||

    I think volunteer fire departments are great, though they usually do not have a lot of resources.

  • Paul||

    I don't think this is a good analogy, I think a better one is:

    I live in a fire-proof marble mansion which is monitored 24hours a day and I help fund an astroturf 'grassroots' organization campaign to defund fire services so I can lower my tax burden.


    Mmmno, my analogy was way better. Naomi Klein is horrified that they used private, supplemental fire protection. My smoke detectors are private, supplemental fire protection in every single sense of the phrase. Again, if I buy fire extinguishers, or a sprinkler system, or... hire someone to exclusively montitor my home for fire and respond, where, and how many dollars do I have to spend wherein the use of those dollars are declared "apartheid"?

    The argument seems to be clear: Spend a little for supplemental fire protection (smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems) but don't spend too much (actual people who fight the fire) otherwise, it's class-warfare. Klein's argument, taken to its logical conclusion is ridiculous and almost scary.

    Also, James, rarely does someone seek to reduce fire protection directly to lower the tax-burden. Most often, people seek to lower their tax-burden, and taxing districts "punish" the residents by cutting the most visible and basic programs: fire; police; roads. One would begin to think that the state doesn't spend any money anywhere else except those three areas.

  • ||

    I'm surprised that the whining class isn't howling about how the rich used the excessive water at their command (i.e. their swimming pools) to oppress the poor.

  • ||

    Does it ever start to really piss anyone else off that the mainstream philosophical arguments presented by the left are so ridiculously poorly thought out and contradictory?

    It certainly would piss me off if I believed in that line of crap, er, eh... "thought".

    Then again, those disposed to believing in the fantastical aren't all that big on logical, rational thought anyway.

  • ||

    juris imprudent,

    Well, I think all of us are pre-disposed to interpret new information as confirming our prior beliefs, and come up with paper-thin rationalizations to convince ourselves that doing so is simply "logical". I've fallen into this trap myself once or twice.

    A good rule to live by is to be disproportionately suspicious of information that confirms what you already "know." It's mighty hard to do in practice, though.

  • ||

    crimethink,

    I wasn't faulting anyone for being human. Just pointing out that the further the base belief is from something rational, the greater the ease in falling into that trap. (And the less likely to be corrected short of a cerebral blow-out).

  • Kolohe||

    I'm surprised that the whining class isn't howling about how the rich used the excessive water at their command (i.e. their swimming pools) to oppress the poor.

    As Radley Balko says, we live in post-reductio world these days.

  • ||

    I wonder if Naomi Klein gets this angry about the fact that some local fire departments are more well-funded than others. Perhaps we should force all precients to recieve the same amount of funding, even if these departments are needed more in some neighborhoods than in others.

    What about the fact that someone in the neighborhood decided to use fireproof materials in their home and the rest of the folks there didn't? Maybe we should force all homes to only have a smoke detector and extinguisher, despite the fact that greater measures could (and should, in fire-prone areas) be implemented by some homeowners.

    It seems so many people believe in economic egalitarianism believe that it means "equally benefited." I can't see why considering that it means "equally miserable" far too often.

  • ||

    Er, there should be a 'who' between 'people' and 'believe.' Also, the second 'believe' should be 'are convinced'.

  • ||

    If rich Californians are trying to de-fund public services to reduce their own taxes then they are doing a terrible, terrible job. Maybe such a thing is happening somewhere, but not here.

  • ||

    It's the parents fault. This sort of shoddy Naomi Klein reasoning comes about as a result of the P's not reading their kids stories like The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Hen.

  • ||

    Posted here for the benefit of Naomi Klein, who will likely read this at some point. Its not your fault - no one gets to choose their parents. Read this story as if you are 6 years old, then rework your entire life in your head until maturity. (Story of the three little pigs is probably more apt, but we have to start somewhere)
    -------------------------------

    The Little Red Hen

    One day as the Little Red Hen was scratching in a field, she found a grain of wheat.

    "This wheat should be planted," she said. "Who will plant this grain of wheat?"
    "Not I," said the Duck.

    "Not I," said the Cat.

    "Not I," said the Dog.

    "Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

    Soon the wheat grew to be tall and yellow.

    "The wheat is ripe," said the Little Red Hen. "Who will cut the wheat?"
    "Not I," said the Duck.

    "Not I," said the Cat.

    "Not I," said the Dog.

    "Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

    When the wheat was cut, the Little Red Hen said, "Who will thresh the wheat?"

    "Not I," said the Duck.
    "Not I," said the Cat.

    "Not I," said the Dog.

    "Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

    When the wheat was threshed, the Little Red Hen said, "Who will take this wheat to the mill?"

    "Not I," said the Duck.
    "Not I," said the Cat.

    "Not I," said the Dog.

    "Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

    She took the wheat to the mill and had it ground into flour. Then she said, "Who will make this flour into bread?"

    "Not I," said the Duck.
    "Not I," said the Cat.

    "Not I," said the Dog.

    "Then I will," said the Little Red Hen. And she did.

    She made and baked the bread. Then she said, "Who will eat this bread?"

    "Oh! I will," said the Duck.
    "And I will," said the Cat.

    "And I will," said the Dog.

    "No, No!" said the Little Red Hen. "I will do that." And she did.

  • ||

    Three Little Pigs (condensed version)

    Lazy dumbass pig builds house out of straw. Wolf blows down house. Pig cries to smarter and harder working piggy for help, or gets eaten, depending on what version of the story you have (again, crappy parents vs. less crappy parents).

    Smarter and harder working pig builds house of wood. Wolf still blows down house. Both pigs run to pig that has his shit together (or turn into delicious ham).

    Pig with a plan builds house out of brick instead of sitting around smoking crack all day. Recieves no handout from the government for bricks and in no way endangers any other pigs. Wolf goes home hungry. Happy ending, except for the wolf.

    Moral for leftists: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    Moral for normal people: Buy bricks.

    Moral for right wingers: Those first two pigs should have been in church.

  • bill||

    What's so funny is that it wasn't even really "firefighting". They basically just went around and sprayed some fire retardant on the foliage and checked for cinders. It was more like landscaping.

  • ||

    bigbigslacker,

    Careful...your Little Red Hen parable implies that only the workers should enjoy the fruits of their labor, not capitalist dogs.

    The grasshopper and the ant is the appropriate parable here, I think.

  • Nutter||

    Shouldn't the hen have been prosecuted for not turning the property she found over to the police?

  • ||

    The government should have seized the bread from the little red hen, and distributed it fairly to the deserving underpriveleged dogs, cats and ducks.

    -------------

    I wonder if Naomi Klein gets this angry about the fact that some local fire departments are more well-funded than others.

    There are plenty of people who think this way about school districts.

  • ||

    Clearly the little red Hen is engaging in unfair Disaster Baking.

  • ||

    I also failed to consider the possibility the grain of wheat might have been a Roundup resistant variety. The theiving little red hen might be in big trouble.

    I'd like to read some anti-red hen "takes a village" type children stories if anyone knows any. Surely there are communist children stories in English.


    OK, I couldn't just post - had to do some lookin:

    http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051106/REPOSITORY/511060370/1037/NEWS04


    Good one I'd forgotten about:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Fish


    Now I have something to do this morning. In looking for communist kids sites I discovered this new word "progressive". I played with some word substituion and found you get more hits if you search "progressive kids books" rather than "communist kids books". I'm not sure what this "progressive" thing is, but it seems to be some form of communism.

  • ||

    I suspect Heather's two collectivist mommies have a five year plan.

  • ||

    There are plenty of people who think this way about school districts.

    That's not quite the analogy I was going for, though. I meant in the sense that some areas are more combustible than others (Ex. Malibu), and thus should have bigger fire budgets. The situation isn't like education, which all children need regardless of geography of demographics. I am certainly not advocating favoritism. I simply wanted to point out that ignoring context when people prefer private alternatives to government services is logically asinine because it could be used to make the hypothetical arguments I put forward.

  • Paul||

    Moral for normal people: Buy bricks.

    But that would be supplemental fire protection-- that has to come from "ze state".

  • ||

    The situation isn't like education, which all children need regardless of geography of demographics.

    I'm thinking about special education requirements, mandated by the feds, which are dollar intensive. All districts don't have similar financial needs.

    Just sayin'.

  • ||

    I suspect Heather's two collectivist mommies have a five year plan.

    Wonder if it includes suing the sperm-donor for child support. [And as Dave Barry famously says, I am not making this up.]

  • ||

    This is nothing new. The first paid fire brigades were organized by fire insurance companies. Policy holders got a cast iron fire mark to attach to their houses to let the fire brigades know which buildings to put out.

  • ||

    For some reason, the story of the Little Red Hen reminded me of the optimist, the pessimist, and the engineer:

    The pessimist says the cup is half-empty.
    The optimist says the cup is half-full.

    The engineer says the cup is twice as big as it should be.

    -jcr

  • VM||

    I suspect Heather's two collectivist mommies have a five year plan.

    welllll....

    on page 69 of the leather-bound edition, the two mommies have a sweaty pillow fight.

    [runs off]

  • LarryA||

    If those fires never happened, one might say they wasted their money on such insurance. Instead, it turned out to be a wise investment.

    At least for the five insured homeowners whose houses were saved, one of which also has a neighbor who owes him a big one. The other subscribers haven't seen any return but being able to sleep easier in October.

    A smarter solution would combine fireproof homes and brush clearing, but I'll bet zoning and environmental regulations prohibit that. Can't have the left-handed bush rats (or whatever) sneezing or the neighbors whining, "Eewww, concrete!"

    Privatize it-provide a higher level of fire protection for those who can afford it, and a lower level for those who cannot-and you…insulate certain individuals from the consequences of crises that wrack everyone else.

    I would guess that anyone who lives in these areas can dig $19K for the extra fire service out of their pocket change. Some do, some don't. I would also guess that their regular fire insurance premiums are as spectacular as their homes.

    Since the Naomi Kleins of the world don't want the rich to get more public protection, and they don't want the rich to get more private protection, what options are left? Burn, Malibu, burn.

    The Naomi Kleins of the world don't want the rich. Their solution is to put everyone on the same government allowance and have the government provide all services. It's a nice fantasy but (Google "utopia") no one has been able to make it work.

    I think the argument that Naomi Klein makes is more fundamental, that as a society we must make certain that those with great wealth and power cannot opt out of the consequences of their actions.

    So for building in a fire-prone area having their house burn down is an acceptable "consequence," but having to pay $19K per year for extra fire service is "opting out?" So we need to take that choice away? Please show your work.

    I played with some word substitution and found you get more hits if you search "progressive kids books" rather than "communist kids books". I'm not sure what this "progressive" thing is, but it seems to be some form of communism.

    Communism has been tried a couple of hundred times and proven disastrous. Therefore people have begun to suspect it sucks. Rewrapped as "progressivism," it can be pitched without the negative connotations that it still sucks.

    The situation isn't like education, which all children need regardless of geography or demographics.

    Well, not really. Some areas have fewer children, either per family or per square mile. Some areas have more access to private schools. Some areas have a high percentage of migrant children who are only there part of the year. There are demographic and geographic features that affect the amount of education needed in a school district.

    The Divide Independent School District serves the west half of Kerr County, Texas, several hundred square miles. It has two teachers and less than a dozen students.

  • Ryan T.||

    In his book Ecology of Fear, Mike Davis argues the point that these people build their homes in areas where economics and ecology dictate they shouldn't. That is, a location that is naturally at a higher risk for disaster should carry a higher price tag. However, more often than not these people are bailed out by those who instead choose to live in a place that is economically and ecologically feasible, when the area is declared a disaster area and FEMA (using the tax dollars of the responsible folk) foots the bill for the folly of some.

    Those who chose to live where common sense dictates they shouldn't should have to bear the cost of protecting their unwise, selfish decision themselves.

  • ||

    If the rich are benefiting from private fire protection, does that not mean that more of the public resources are freed up for those who cannot afford private protection?

  • fishmonger||

    James

    "I just don't think it is realistic to expect to avoid class warfare when it seems like the rich in our society are not like us, but almost qualitatively different from us."

    The rich in every society are exactly like everyone else in whichever society those rich people are living. They are human beings not some sort of animal. It is amazing that people such as yourself scream for social justice and equality by declaring that one group is "qualitatively different" from another. Their choice to utilize their resources to good effect is not "class warfare". It does not become "class warfare" until people such as you declare class warfare on the "rich". I wonder, if an entire community had decided to purchase the additional protection from AIG and that community had been located in an advantageous position so that it became, in effect, a fire break thereby enabling firefighters to stop the blaze, would you still be bitching and moaning? What if its location had spared a low income community?

  • MG||

    Does James' last comment make a lick of sense to anyone else? I've tried turning it upside down and reading it backwards...but no luck deciphering it's Bible Code so far.

  • fishmonger||

    MG,

    You mean this comment:

    "I think volunteer fire departments are great, though they usually do not have a lot of resources."

    I've taken a hard look at it and I think he is saying that VFDs are great, but they usually do not have a lot of resources. I might be wrong though.

  • nfl jerseys||

    gsse

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