How Anti-Government Can You Be If Your House Might Burn Down In a Forest Fire?

C-130 with MAFFS System is Government
Government At Work

So, I’m not exactly a fan of high taxes, wasteful spending, and red tape.  But as my adopted home state of Colorado burns this morning, I am forced to ponder my views on the question of government, and more generally, whether being an aviation geek prevents me from being too anti-government.

I am, in fact, rather thankful for many government services being utilized at this very moment in Colorado, i.e. the taxpayer-funded fire fighters, police, National Guard, Forest Service, and the many other agencies working to make sure my state doesn’t burn completely.

Yet, in the face of disaster, it seems that some people (those who are probably outside the danger zone), still blindly throw out anti-government rants which sound ludicrous.  Case in point: Twitter user Aquinas Shrugged ‏@AquinasShrugged, posted the following pearl of wisdom to the Twitter #cofires thread:

Gov’ts don’t help people, PEOPLE help people. Just read about Denver folks opening homes to those displaced by #cofires

Ignoring the fact that governments are indeed composed of people, do governments (in this case ours in the U.S.) TRULY not help?

If Your House Was Burning

If your house was in imminent danger of burning to the ground, would you want help?  If you answer ‘yes’, you probably can’t be entirely anti-government.  In fact, if you love big airplanes, you probably can’t be too anti-government either.

First, if your house were about to burn, you’d want fire fighters of some type.  You’d want heavy equipment.  Sure, you could stand outside on your roof with your garden hose if you think that would work (sometimes it does).  Otherwise, the best fire fighters are the ones who do it full time.  i.e., professionally.  Professional fire fighters are most likely government employees.  Yes, there are private contractors who can be hired to help out with large fires (so we’ll leave that option open), but only if you’re rich or if you’re an insurance company with high-value, rich, clients.

If a forest fire gets big and you still really want your house saved, you must have air support.  Of course that would have taken forethought and planning to get an air tanker, but we’ll assume that happened a long time ago.  And when you were trying to buy one you realized that they’re kind of expensive.  So maybe you, and your neighbor tried to split the cost.  Maybe that wasn’t enough so your entire neighborhood got together.   It still wasn’t enough, so your city, or your state bought one.  Boom, that’s government.

Could this be privatized?  Certainly, but it would be quite expensive and who gets the bill?

C-130 with MAFFS Water Drop (USAF)

Big Planes

The same logic holds true for anything related to big airplanes and ‘defense’.  At least if you appreciate that kind of thing.  Whether in defense of your house, or defense of your country, there’s probably some government needed there.  I certainly don’t want nuke launch codes in the hands of a CEO.  But I do want cool tech like the F-35 and F-16, not to mention the C-130 that’s flying over my house right now to drop flame retardant near Boulder.

So, while there might be waste, in general when emergencies happen, I appreciate government providing the aid and financial support that I would be unable to afford on my own.  Plus, I love big airplanes.  If you believe otherwise, maybe you hate aviation.  But more likely you either aren’t in trouble, or like Aquinas Shrugged, aren’t smart enough to contemplate that you could be.

  • Rob Elsner

    In a state-free society, those living in fire-prone areas would pay for insurance to cover such situations. This is not something that only the government can do, and it actually hurts to rely on the government. For instance, many people do not create proper fire breaks. If it were private insurance you had to carry in the event of a fire and they rated your house high risk because you do not properly mitigate the conditions, then you pay more. Now, though, all of the tax payers pick up the bill because someone won’t correctly maintain their property.