At The Onion today:

Libertarian Reluctantly Calls Fire Department
CHEYENNE, WY?After attempting to contain a living-room blaze started by a cigarette, card-carrying Libertarian Trent Jacobs reluctantly called the Cheyenne Fire Department Monday. "Although the community would do better to rely on an efficient, free-market fire-fighting service, the fact is that expensive, unnecessary public fire departments do exist," Jacobs said. "Also, my house was burning down." Jacobs did not offer to pay firefighters for their service.

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  1. I was wondering how long it would be before you guys posted that…..

  2. What’s worse, the fire department drove on tax-supported roads too!!!!

  3. The piece is funny but it’s silly how many people think that’s a valid argument against libertarianism. I don’t hear too many communists (of whom I know a few, being on a campus) getting shit for living in a country with private property.

  4. Nagol-
    Better to compare this to Communists who OWN large amounts of private property.

  5. That was a hilarious Onion article!

    I really think the Onion’s editors have some libertarian sympathies. Articles like “Marxist Apartment a Microcosm of Why Marxism Doesn’t Work”, “Drugs Win War on Drugs”, “Bill of Rights Pared Down to a More Manageable Six”, “Americans Demand Increased Government Protection From Selves” all have a libertarian feel to them. (Most of these, but not all, can be found in their archives.)

  6. … “Also, my house was burning down.” Man, they always write like that at the Onion – it’s that one line that makes it funny as hell!

  7. It is pretty funny (the onion almost always is). Only problem is the last sentence: “Jacobs did not offer to pay firefighters for their service.”
    Well that’s because he already did…it’s called paying taxes.

  8. Not important, but I think that one’s a rerun. The Onion has a strange tendency to run older stuff from when they weren’t as popular as new items. Take for instance, when they re-ran the “Clinton Deploys Very Special Forces to Iraq” (http://www.theonion.com/onion3502/very_special_forces.html) as a new article, changing Clinton references to the Bush administration.

    Actually, check that. I can’t find it in their archives, but they still recycle old stuff from time to time.

  9. Better to compare this to Communists who OWN large amounts of private property.

    Well, the stereotypical Communist believes there should be no private property, as the stereotypical Libertarian believes there should be no public services. So the parallel here would be Communists who own or use any private property at all.

    My attitude has always been that I oppose most government programs — but so long as they exist, I’ll take every penny they offer. So long as I’m forced to lose $X to taxes, I’d rather reclaim 30% of X by making use of government services. Ideally, though, I wouldn’t have to lose the $X in the first place, and could just pay for the service out-of-pocket, and donate to charitable organizations to help lower-income folks make a similar purchase.

  10. Dan-
    Oh, I agree. I’m just saying it’s not fair to criticize libertarians for, say, driving on public roads, when there really isn’t an alternative. I’m pretty sure your choice is either go with the public firefighters, or watch your house burn.

  11. Exactly what kind of cigarette was it?

  12. Jennifer: There is an alternative to public roads. It’s called a Hummer. True, local officials (and neighbours) may take a dim view of you driving through the azaleas, but what the hell, better to be true to your principles, right?

  13. MALAK-
    My bad. But you know what? I’ll bet the evil repressive non-Libertarian US Government doesn’t take as enlightened a viewpoint as do you.

  14. Every philosophy has its humourous sides, libertarian”ism” not excluded.

  15. That’s because I live in an enlightened dictatorship, and not a republic. *SIGH* So what’s going on with that regime change you were threatening in a previous thread? No . . . really, I’m serious . . .

  16. Is cigarette smoking a popular libertarian stereotype, or is it weed? I forget. The Onion may well be able to run this piece again in a few years, but also informing us that the poor dude was also incarcerated for ‘using a non-sanctioned flammable nicotine delivery apparatus’ in his home. And without a permit, too!

  17. Sorry, forgot to turn down the sarcasm . . .

  18. While cigarette smoking is not part of the libertarian stereotype, it was once considered a moral obligation among the randroids. Why? Because Ayn Rand did it, of course.

  19. Corrections:
    1. Most volunteer FD don’t get taxes,
    but rely on donations and fund raisers.

    2. The firemen were libertarians too,
    so they didn’t go put out the fire.
    They figured the local ecomony needed the new construction.
    The insurance company paid off the house.

    3. Libertarians do believe in insurance, right?

  20. Hmmm. So if I ever wanted to have an affair with a guy half my age, I could justify it by pretending to be an Ayn Rand fan. . . .

  21. Cocksuckers, all. To deny that the public good is a function of government is to affirm anarchy, disorder and brute force.

  22. i am so glad i ditched out on the fountainhead in high school. it seems to have a terrible effect on people at that age.

    i fooled around with an objectivist in college. not one of my finer moments.

  23. Interestingly enough, I have yet to hear a coherent arguement addressing the essential aspects of Rand’s philosophy when she is mentioned on Hit and Run and instead hear hyperbolic reactions to the minutia involving her sex life and smoking habits. Are some Rand enthusiasts silly or ignorant? Of course. Can that be said of just about any other group of people? Of course.

  24. I liked the article because I sympathise with it. I mean, I *know* that it’s ok to use public services, but I ~feel~ guilty about it.

    As for Ayn Rand and cigarettes… it was more than the fact that she smoked… she also talked glowingly about it… she thought it was cool (it’s all there in Atlas Shrugged). Well, until she had a cancer scare, after which she quit smoking… though she never bothered to admit she was wrong about the virtues of smoking.

    And why did Gadfly have to go and make that assinine comment? Or am I missing the sarcasm?

  25. wellfellow,
    I was only making an observation. I, like most Reason readers, agree with most of what Rand said. However, I find it odd that people who are so critical of traditional religion quote Rand’s writing as if it were divinely inspired. I read all of her novels and some of her non-fiction to discover the cause of so much excitement. It is still a mystery to me. The only Rand novel I enjoyed was “We the Living.”

    I actually enjoyed “Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal” (The chapter on why public schools should be abolished is one of the best I have ever read.) until the end when she started slamming John Calvin (I think the word she used to describe him was “mind-hating”.). Whatever you may think of his theology, Calvin was far ahead of his time with the ideas of limited government and separation of church and state. During his time there, Geneva was one of the few places in Europe in which one could be either Catholic or Protestant.

    I think the “Calvinist” influence is the main reason the Dutch are so tolerant of the vices of others. I’ve seen Calvin’s Institutes on kitchen tables in Holland. Most of the Calvinists I have met there lead very conservative, clean lives, but can’t imagine using the State to impose their morals on neighbors who want to be junkies or prostitutes. That has also been my experience with the most hard-core Calvinists in the U.S.

  26. I definitely think The Onion has libertarian sympathies. The writers make fun of liberals and big government more than anything else. And they’re not big on the hippies.

    My favorite piece is a point/counterpoint on Nigeria. The point is argued by a liberal college student who is praising Nigeria for its rich culture. The counterpoint is from a Nigerian man begging for someone to get him out of that god-forsaken hell-hole before he starved to death. Not so much funny as depressing, but still right on target.

  27. wellfellow, try paying attention to the context next time. Nobody asked about Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Someone did ask about libertarians and cigarrette smoking. Therefore that is what I addressed. I don’t really see which part of that is “interesting” to you.

  28. Yah, DJ, Libertarians believe in insurance—private, unfettered by government regulation. It is a product which is exchanged, just as anything else in the free market. You’re paying someone to help you if something goes wrong. As long as you are free to purchase or not purchase insurance, then yes, Libertarians, most of them, I’d guess, would “believe” in insurance, the same way they “believe” in toothpaste and auto repair shops and haircuts. Free exchange of goods or services.

    It’s only when government requires someone to purchase insurance, or when the government itself gets into the insurance business, or messes with the industry via legislation…or, inversely, when the industry messes with legislation. Case in point: the Virginia State Legislature recently caved in to the lobbying and bribing of the insurance industry and decided to outlaw bbq grills in multi-family dwellings that have combustible (IOW, wood) decks. They tried a similar thing with live x-mas trees, but that fell through when the population went apeshit. Too bad the population didn’t go apeshit about the grill thing, but owner’s cabals are fighting that one too.

    That’s the problem, though—when the government starts enacting legislation to save insurance companies some money (which, incidentally, saves them from doing their jobs). Insurance companies are there to provide INSURANCE. Robbing people of their freedom is not the answer. If insurance companies were worried about it, they should just not sell insurance to owners who allow grills on their property. But no, they lobby the government to restrict our freedom.

    And that’s my rant about insurance.

  29. They forgot the last paragraph….

    In light of the tragedy, community activist Molly Dreadlocks Re-iterated that her group would continue to push for a ban on fire–citing it’s dangerous, destructive nature. “We must do it for the children,” Ms. Dreadlocks explained.

  30. DJ of Raliegh,

    FYI, Re volunteer FDs and taxes:

    Here on Long Island, the FDs have fire protection districts, from which the townships collect property taxes (one of many separate taxing districtsl; others: schools, street lights, police, …). My understanding is that the taxes pay for capital expenses (trucks, buildings, equipment). I think that some vols in some FDs get paid to be at the station overnight. I think there’s a plan to give vols in some places 10%property tax reductions for being active members.

    The vols also conduct fund raisers throughout the year. I think these moneys go for “fringe benefits”: trips to conventions, the tournament trucks, *elaborate* officer installation dinners, the beer can vending machines at the station houses, etc.

    Our local district is one of the busiest in Suffolk County. They do both fire protection and ambulance service. They make thousands of calls per year. I wonder how that compares with Cheyenne?

    I favor private fire companies, probably best run by fire insurance companies, who have a big stake in keeping properties safe. But this is the only game in town.


  31. Maybe if he didn’t have to pay so much in taxes, he could have afforded smoke detectors, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers, and taken care of the problem himself instead of involving the fire department.

  32. I completely agree that the highlight of the latest Onion is Cheney drinking a glass of water while Bush spoke.

    As for Ayn Rand… I like her philosophy, but I think she was terribly wrong on the smoking thing. Having a detailed and informative discussion of her stuff here on Hit & Run would be impossible… or at least, useless. Though I don’t appreciate the offhand comments like “I got into Rand in college… what an idiot I was!”, which is a tired cliche as far as I’m concerned.

  33. I liked this one better: “Cheney Wows Sept. 11 Commission By Drinking Glass Of Water While Bush Speaks”

  34. 2. The firemen were libertarians too,
    so they didn’t go put out the fire.
    They figured the local ecomony needed the new construction.
    The insurance company paid off the house.

    That’s a bit of a broken window fallacy argument, don’t you think?

  35. Hmmm. So if I ever wanted to have an affair with a guy half my age, I could justify it by pretending to be an Ayn Rand fan. . . .

    I’m sure I’m not half your age, but if you ever need help with an affair, let me know. 😉

  36. Concerning Rand disciples’ smoking:

    A few years ago I had a very intelligent young co-worker I was surprised to see smoking outside our office. I asked her what led her to start smoking. Her answer: “I was reading Ayn Rand’s novels as a teenager and … .”

  37. Jennifer sucks – badly, I hear.

  38. Walter, and here we thought you were an intellectual whose wisdom was worth paying attention to. Won’t make that mistake again.

  39. All of this bizarrely mean-spirited anti-Rand ranting has taken all of the fun out of this thread.

    Randians are an interesting sub-culture. Anti-Randians are, in my experience, just mean-spirited little people.

  40. “Area Man decides to print his own da$n money.”
    also there was one headlines “High Schools May not be Preapring Dropouts for Work” lol defintely America’s finest news source next to Colbert Report that is

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