If we hadn’t socialized firefighting

IF WE HADN’T SOCIALIZED FIREFIGHTING…. Tina Dupuy, editor of Mediabistro’s FishbowlLA, had a terrific item the other day about the transition in the United States from private firefighting services to a government-run system.

I didn’t realize this, but major U.S. cities had for-private enterprises competing for firefighting dollars. The first business to get to the scene and put out the fire got paid. As one might imagine, this led to systemic corruption and an ineffective system, and by the mid-19th century municipalities switched to a government-run, government-trained, publicly-financed system, which, not coincidentally, works very well.

Dupuy imagines, however, what the political discourse would be like if we were making this transition today.

[W]e’d have socialism-phobic South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint on the TV every chance he could get saying things like, “Do you want a government bureaucrat between you and the safety of your home?”

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio would hold press conferences and ask, “Do you want your firefighting to be like going to the DMV? Do you want Uncle Sam to come breaking down your door every time some Washington fat cat says there’s a fire?”

There would be 30-second TV spots paid for by the powerful firefighting lobby featuring stars and stripes graphics and the national anthem playing softly in the background with a booming voice-over trumpeting, “Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were volunteer firefighters. Support traditional values and oppose government waste. Tell your representative you want a bi-partisan solution to fire reform.”

News programs would be interviewing sobbing people whose homes fell through the cracks and burned to the ground. “I don’t want to see the government take-over firefighting, but I sure miss Momma’s oil paintings.”

And President Barack Obama would relay his childhood experience with a fire then point out the failure of the for-profit firefighting industrial complex that “threatens to bankrupt this country.” And then those most in need of firefighting services would foam about his birth certificate and confuse Karl Marx with Charles Darwin on misspelled protest signs at events put on by covert firefighting lobbyists.

You know, I hear Canada relies on government-run firefighting, and people have to wait months for their hip-replacement surgeries fires to be put out.