Monday, December 8, 2008

Don't Put "Heroes" In Quotes In My Town

In the wake of the Orange County, California fires last month, Steven Greenhut, a writer for the still-libertarian editorial page of the Orange County Register, had complained about excessive praise of firefighters after being evacuated from his home (an event that caused him relatively little stress, he said, because he has fire insurance and a second house in the desert):
[T]he public should lighten up on the excessive thanks offered to firefighting "heroes." Firefighters perform an important job. Most of the time, they have little to do, but when a fire strikes we are glad that there are folks willing to go out there and stop the flames. Thanks are in order, as they are for anyone who does a good job in any area of work. Still, Orange County firefighters are highly paid professionals. Most of them love their job and do it well. But their $175,000 a year taxpayer-paid salary/ benefit packages with retirements at age 50 are thanks enough. Getting overly teary-eyed leads to: A) an unwillingness to look closely at firefighting policies; B) a willingness to give these agencies anything they ask for once the fires are over. And they will ask for more while the fields are still smoldering.
To which my friend Cathy Cuevas, wife of a firefighter, had this to say in a rebuttal that was also published in the Register:

First, he has no idea how much [firefighters] have to do. If he thinks all they do is "go out and stop the flames," then maybe he should work a shift side by side with them, to see what a real man does during a work day (which, by the way, is a 24-hour shift, not 8-to-5 office work).

You also mention the "fancy training centers they spend as much money as possible on." How does he think these men and women know how to "put out the flames" or bring someone back from death while in full cardiac arrest? Does he think that just happens?

Which leads me to another point. While Steven is tucked in his cozy, warm bed, next to his wife, Donna, who had to "shove [him]in to his car" because he "wanted to be a free citizen and not subject to anyone's mandatory orders" on his own property, firefighters are up in the middle of the night, answering medical calls, fighting house and commercial fires, extricating people from cars involved in car accidents, just to name a few....

Next, I don't know where Mr. Greenhut gets his information, but I sure would love to see a $175,000 salary-benefits package. And, as far as retiring at 50, some men and women are forced to retire at that age because their bodies simply can't take it anymore. The demand is so great, dragging people out of burning buildings and cars and lifting dead weight when dealing with a person in full cardiac arrest. They are exposed on almost a daily basis to cancer-causing agents, and most die of some form of cancer. Most firefighters I know work at least two jobs to make ends meet. We certainly don't have a second home in the desert to evacuate to, either.

And to address his seventh point, "If you face evacuation, leave the chickens. They will poop in your sports car." Typically, firefighters can't afford sports cars.

1 comment:

Richard said...

What does that exchange have to do with Ayn Rand or any of her fundamental ideas? Are you playing off the myth that she is a Libertarian?

Rand considered Libertarianism to be an unprincipled morass of ideas that ultimately conflicted with her philosophy of Objectivism. Many Libertarians pretend she is on 'their' side, but she (and most who seriously work to understand her meaning) fully understood that any common ground between the two ideologies was illusory.