Some extreme conservatives seem all too eager for the United States to adapt our legislation to their own dog-eat-dog philosophies, while not realizing that some individuals lack teeth. We recently saw this mentality materialize and reach its breaking point in Tennessee, where a small town family lost their home in a fire while the fire department, who refused to help them, watched the structure burn to the ground (story). Why didn't the fire department help, you ask? Because the family hadn't paid an annual $75 fee for fire service protection. That's right. Because they didn't pay a $75 fee, firefighters watched a home burn to the ground, refusing to lift a finger to help, and refusing to accept payment of the fee on the spot. Their home destroyed, their pets killed, the family has since been verbally assaulted by the likes of Glenn Beck, characterless monsters who add insult to injury by calling the family a group of freeloaders, and claiming they got what they deserved. This, my friends, is radical conservatism at its most dangerous, and should we do nothing to stop this harsh, brain-dead train of reasoning from growing in popularity, I fear our Republic itself will be lost in due time to this sort of moral delinquency.
Before I continue, I'd like to say something to the firefighters in Obion County, Tennessee. You didn't become firefighters because you needed the money. You became firefighters to protect the well being of others, and if I'm wrong about that, then you don't deserve to be employed, by a fire department or by any other organization. This family's needs did and forever will supersede any orders you were given in regards to how you should respond to that or any fire, and if you had an ounce -- a sliver -- of morality or dignity or responsibility, you'd have ignored those orders and saved those people from homelessness. There's no gray area in this matter, and I couldn't care less how sad you might be about standing by and doing nothing. If you were a good person, you'd have blatantly ignored your orders and done anything and everything within your power to save that house, because that is why you became a firefighter. You may have lost your job, but guess what? It's better to be an unemployed hero than a well-paid villain. A job is much easier to replace than a home. If you desire so much as an ounce of redemption, then I call on you to stop whatever it is you're doing and go help that family build a new home. If you can't afford to buy nails, you can at least lift a hammer. Go and beg them for forgiveness, and help them build a new home. You owe this to the family, to yourself, to your parents, and to your eternal soul. Having said that, let's continue.
"Insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare." You won't find "capitalism," "free market," or "individual responsibility" in the Constitution of the United States, but you'll most certainly find that previous sentence there, in the Constitution's preamble. That's what government is supposed to do. An effective government's first responsibility is the protection of the nation's citizens from all threats, both foreign and domestic. But as I stated earlier, some of the more extreme conservatives believe in a dog-eat-dog society. They feel the government should put forth no effort whatsoever toward defending the well being of American citizens. They believe the free market is the solution to all of our woes, and that State governments always know better than the Federal government. I've actually heard one individual, a fellow Viner, explain to me in no uncertain terms that police should be fully abolished; that every citizen has what he called a "constitutional obligation" to carry firearms, proving a gross mis-characterization of the second amendment. When I asked this person to explain how a person who isn't physically capable of operating a firearm should defend themselves in this dystopiate fantasy world, their response was brief and to the point: "screw 'em." Of course, this person is a radical, but this really is the most extreme example of the "individual responsibility" line.
I'm all for individuals being responsible. I believe every citizen should be empowered by all means necessary to make informed decisions, and that each and every one of us has a duty to humanity as a whole to learn before we speak, purchase, or otherwise act. But our government also has responsibilities, and owes to the people the protections advertised in our Constitution's preamble, without exception and without fail. The government must protect us from criminals and unlawful acts, and should provide health care to the people free of charge, and should defend our shores from foreign armies, and should shield us from the harmful acts of the market by regulating industry and commerce. The government must educate our children so that ours can be a productive and competitive nation. And regardless of what you may hear in Tennessee or on Glenn Beck's program, the government must protect us from fire, and owes a great deal to that Tennessee family aforementioned. These acts of government insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare... precisely as prescribed in the Constitution. Anything less means that our government is failing to enhance the lives of this nation's citizenry. How these services might be issued or managed is and should always be open to debate, but that's where the conversation needs to stop, and our cumulative morality as a nation depends on that.
Doing what's right is and should forever remain a simple question with a binary answer. You either live by a moral code and uphold the defense of everyone, or you suffer strangulation through karmic justice issued by the hands of forces unknown. That's what I believe, anyway. You're free to interpret such things however you'd like. But understand that such freedom does come with due penalty in any and all instances where you become willing to sacrifice a little bit of morality for any degree of personal gain or comfort. If you're walking down the street, and you see a person being accosted by another, would you stop to help them, or in the very least would you use your cellular phone to contact the police? Or would you first attempt to ascertain the victim's lot in life? If you knew that the victim were poor, would you do nothing? Would you refuse to call the police if you knew they hadn't paid any taxes in the past year?
Most of those who are reading this already know full well how I'd respond to such questions, but my opinions are of little consequence in this exercise. If you're a strong advocate of individual responsibility, you need to ask yourself these questions, and be honest with yourself in doing so, and be honest with others when you answer them aloud. And if you'd honestly react to such a situation the same way I might, then perhaps you need to stop and consider your positions on a few things. And if you'd react in some other way, then may god or whatever force you believe in have mercy on whatever minute amount of soul you have.