LULU by John Linton Roberson (c) 2012.
I Didn't Write That!
05 October 2010
  About the Gene Cranick Fire and Ayn Rand

A lot of jerks among the right wing have been positively enjoying the recent fire that was not put out--even though the firemen were there--because the homeowner had not paid the fee required for fire protection. Which is not uncommon in rural areas; they were attempting to make this the case in Charleston when I was a kid, but it should tell you that, even in staunchly red SC, in the 70s, it failed.

In any event, Gene Cranick, the victim, offered to pay, but they refused, though they did put it out in the neighbor's property when it spread.

Interestingly, the richest man in Julius Caesar's time, and his benefactor, Crassus (and even adjusted for time period, he still stands as one of the richest men ever) partly made his money by owning a private fire department. He'd show up when your house was on fire, and then you'd have to pay. In fact, you'd have to sign a contract, a sort of subscription, for a lot. But most paid. (As most of the plebeians were not homeowners but lived in apartments, this was usually landlords) If you'd pay Crassus, he would at least put your fire out.

Crassus, the man who crucified Spartacus and his whole army, was more human than this fire department.

This, by the way, is a classic failing of privatized fire departments, and one reason the practice ended in civilized parts of America. If a fire occurs, it can endanger the entire community, and it makes more sense to get rid of the source of the fire than to have to take care of the ones it spreads to. For one thing, you stop the spread.

Here's a question for our clever philosophes on the right wing: suppose a lightning strike causes a fire on an abandoned property(I hear the US has a lot of those these days) that belongs to no one? And if this fire is not put out, it will cause something on adjacent, paid-up properties that would be harder to put out, like dry fields or the like? Would they put out the fire on the abandoned property? If not, isn't that insane?


The adjacent places are, it would seem, less likely to catch fire if the fire is out before it gets there. I realize this is hard for the right wing, in their Ayn Randian glee over this, to understand. And as far as any argument that a human being deserves to have his fire put out, if community has any meaning--I won't even try. I know they're Christians, so they say, so I expect them to think compassion is kinda gay. I get it.

But you know, I fell completely into the Ayn Rand cult when I was in high school. Anthem was required reading in my high school--I'm guessing as a tradeoff for Catcher in the Rye also being required, but in my view they shouldn't have bothered either way; the Bell Jar was also required, which may explain how many Mt. Pleasant girls tried to kill themselves. Anthem was the horrible gateway. I read every single thing she wrote. Really. Everything. Including Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. And yes, all of Atlas Shrugged. Did you know they use an infrasound machine to kill people near the end of the book? Sadly, I do.

As I've said before, she's appealing to teenagers because she gives you a mental system by which you can always prove yourself to be right. That's how I was. I was never more of a jerk than I was in that period. Possibly partly because when you're in the grip of Rand, all you can spout at people, write, or anything, is more Ayn Rand, no different than a Jesus-obsessed born-again, Scientologist, or doctrinaire Marxist.

That's how it's a cult. This is what happened to Steve Ditko and Neal Peart. The latter being no loss.

And that's all this kind of rhetoric is. Take it from someone who's forgotten more about Ayn Rand than most of her drooling followers know, it's nothing but a few forests' worth of excuses to be a dick.

That some actually want to extol this as a triumph of the Free Market, firstly: damn you, I can't write satire anymore because it's impossible to exaggerate something as horrible as that. Secondly, everyone else should look long and hard at what they could possibly mean when they say "Free Market," and what they consider a "triumph," and for whom. And notice that they enjoy the suffering of other people, because they believe that's the best way to bring people around to their opinions. Through pain and desperation to the bad ideas, because we've ruined everything else.

Many say this might save more lives because if people hadn't paid before, they certainly will now. Maybe, maybe not. But I seem to recall that the Mafia sold protection in a similar sort of way.

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