Yet More Government Extortion

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The New York Times reports that police and fire departments are charging victims for responses. Before we call this “fee for service,” however, let us examine the following incident:

ABOUT a year ago Cary Feldman was surprised to find himself sprawled on the pavement in an intersection in Chicago Heights, Ill., having been knocked off his motor scooter by the car behind him. Five months later he got another surprise: a bill from the fire department for responding to the scene of the accident.

“I had no idea what the fire truck was there for,” said Mr. Feldman, of nearby Matteson. “It came, it looked and it left. I was not hurt badly. I had scratches and bruises. I did not go to the hospital.”

Nowhere does it say that Mr. Feldman called these agencies; they just showed up on their own, and then successfully extorted money from him later.

So, someone is forced to pay for services he did not need nor order. I believe this is what the ancients once called fraud and extortion. Murray Rothbard was right: we don’t need to “frame” government according to a mathematical “rent-seeking” model; government is much better understood as a form of organized crime.

8:31 am on September 6, 2010