Burning issues

Creative Commons License photo credit: euthman

You get what you pay for?

You get what you pay for even if it’s for the fire department to put our the fire in your burning house.  At least that’s the way the conservative, Republican-saturated fiefdom of Tennessee County have it.

Firefighters watched a house burn down rather than put it out since the owner hadn’t paid the annual subscription to the fire department’s services. Amongst conservative circles, there appears to be wide support.

I’m not going to comment further on this specific example, but it does bring into focus our South African and Emerging Market issues of progressive taxation, service provision and government responsibilities. Where do we draw the line between “you’re on your own” and “we believe in certain basic rights and protections for all” and ultimately “share and share alike”?

Many of those who pay income tax feel aggrieved at their tax burden, conveniently forgetting VAT (a regressive tax paid by all) and indirect taxes. Those who have no job, little protection from crime and have children in mud-schools complain of poor service delivery and the limited pace of transformation, conveniently forgetting how heavily skewed the tax burden is to a small percentage of the population and how wide the social security net has become.

But for fire-fighters to watch a house burn down?  Is this example really the society we want to build?

Published by David Kirk

The opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and other commenters and are not necessarily those of his employer or any other organisation. David Kirk runs Milliman’s actuarial consulting practice in Africa. He is an actuary and is the creator of New Business Margin on Revenue. He specialises in risk and capital management, regulatory change and insurance strategy . He also has extensive experience in embedded value reporting, insurance-related IFRS and share option valuation.

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