Libertarian Fire Department Lets House Burn Because Owner Didn't Pay $75; Rightbloggers Applaud Free Market, Suffering
You might wonder: What of the believing Christians who constitute a large part of the conservative coalition? Surely followers of the Prince of Peace would counsel conservatives to do unto the least of His brothers what they would have done unto Him?
If you wonder thus, you obvious haven't been talking to proper, rightwing Christians. Bryan Fischer, blogging for Donald Wildmon's American Family Foundation (we're not talking about Christwire here, but one of the major Christian-fundamentalist groups), said that "the fire department did the right and Christian thing" because "we cannot make foolish choices and then get angry at others who will not bail us out when we get ourselves in a jam through our own folly." As Jesus told the woman taken in adultery, you're on your own, whore! (In his follow-up, Fischer explained to believers that any controversy over his remarks was meant to confuse Christians and was the work of Satan -- or, as Fischer likes to call him, "the left.")
Some rightbloggers wrestled with the issue before coming down on the appropriately inhuman side. A particularly sad case was that of National Review's Daniel Foster, who originally reacted to the news as a human being might -- "I'm a conservative with fairly libertarian leanings, but this is a kind of government for which I would not sign up" -- before being corrected by his colleagues.
"The world is full of jerks, freeloaders, and ingrates," said Kevin D. Williamson, referring to the Cranicks, "and the problems they create for themselves are their own," before resuming his stimming and math puzzles. Jonah Goldberg made what he seemed to imagine were jokes about the destruction of the Cranicks' house -- "You can pay 75 bucks upfront or, if you wait until your house is on fire, it will cost you, I dunno, $10,000? Lots of things work like this... No solace to the homeowner, but an important lesson for compassionate conservatives like our own Dan Foster (Zing!)." (Bolding and italics, embarrassingly, in the original.) "I am entirely with the South Fulton fire department here," announced John Derbyshire, with the same directness with which he once defended the guards at Abu Ghraib.
Etc. Perhaps not wanting a taste of what NatRev writer Jim Manzi got when he expressed an unorthodox opinion, Foster retreated, turning his wrath instead on -- readers, can you guess? If you said Paul Krugman, you win! Foster also rather pathetically tried to excuse his earlier, double-plus-ungood outrage at the firefighters' refusal to save the Cranicks' home: "My moral argument hinged on a reasonable expectation that the free-riding homeowner would (or would be compelled to) reimburse the fire department for its costs after the fact." See? It wasn't like he was in favor of letting the guy get away with something! Now ask him if he's in favor of cutting food stamps -- we think you'll like his answer!
As you might expect, at libertarian Galt's-Gulch Reason Nick Gillespie also attacked Krugman, and was inspired by his crack about essential medical care to this reverie:
Conservatarians: This is the enemy. He writes for the New York Slimes and loves Big Gummint. Try to work him into blog posts. If you do, your kibble portions may be increased. But don't presume!
"Which begs the question who does pay in the hypothetical medical care situation above. If the patient doesn't have insurance and can't pay, his costs are spread to other (paying) patients, or to charities or to taxpayers eventually. Is any of that just? Moral? If it's charity paying, certainly so. If it's other folks, there's a lot more to debate.
If your reaction to the plight of the seriously-ill-and-uninsured is not "whatever" bracketed by oceans of dorm-room bullshit, congratulations, you are out of sync with the new libertarian-conservatism. Which is to say, whatever ideology you favor, you seem to have at least some idea that the suffering of human beings is more important than utopian fantasies of a great big country with a teeny-tiny government.
You probably didn't go for Rand Paul's original-recipe denunciation of the Civil Rights Act, either, nor the many fanciful rightblogger campaigns against things they imagine are unAmerican (e.g. the World Cup soccer matches, Captain America, Theodore Roosevelt, etc), nor any of the other crackpot crusades the New New Right have come up with. But that's okay -- they don't need you to endorse all their crackpot ideas. They only want you to vote for their candidates because you're angry that Obama caused the financial meltdown of 2008. Then the rest of their program will take care of itself.
(You know what's really funny? Back in May, when the Cranicks' and the South Fulton Fire Department's home state of Tennessee was hit by floods, these same people were incensed that Obama didn't pour more federal aid into fixing it.)