Limits-of-Libertarianism Hypothetical Brought to Life in Tennessee


From Obion County, Tennessee, a made-to-order sample case for Political Philosophy 101 profs around the country to borrow for their lesson on libertarianism:

The county does not have its own fire department, and instead relies on the fire protection services of the nearby City of Fulton. But there's a catch: The City of Fulton does not automatically serve residents of the county. If Obion County residents want to be protected by the City of Fulton Fire Department, they need to pay a $75 fee to the City. 

Obion County resident Gene Cranick decided not to pay the $75 fee, and then he set a fire in his backyard in two large barrels. The fire began to spread, and he called 911. The 911 operator told him that because he hadn't paid the fee, the fire department would not respond. Cranick's wife told the 911 operator that she would be willing to pay "whatever the cost" to hire the Fire Department to put out the fire, but was told that this was not an option. The Fire Department did not come out until the fire spread to a neighbor's yard — the neighbor had paid the fee — and the firemen put out the neighbor's fire but not Cranick's.

The fallout and some lively discussion over at Volokh, or watch the video here: