Should there be a price to pay for being stupid?
LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Two brothers rescued from a rain-swollen stream after an ill-advised journey in an inflatable raft without oars or life jackets may have to repay the cost of their rescue if Tippecanoe County's sheriff gets his way.
Sheriff Tracy Brown said he's considering asking the Lafayette brothers to reimburse his department for about $1,000 spent in man hours on Tuesday night's rescue from Wildcat Creek.
[. . .]
Michael Poore II, one of the rescued brothers, thinks it would be unfair to ask them to pay.
"If someone drops a cigarette and lights a fire and the fire department puts it out, are they going to be charged for that?" Poore asked.
Well, it's an interesting question, Mr. Poore. The guy admits that what he and his brothers did was "unwise" but says if they're going to be charged, their taxes should be cut.
There is a certain appeal to making morons pay for what they cost the rest of us, but there would be a danger, too, which the Lafayette fire chief points out in the story. Who would decide who pays and who doesn't, and where would the line be drawn? The practice would also dilute the idea of public service -- that there are some things so important to have that we all need to pay for them, even if we never need to use them. Would charging those at fault be more like paying for a bus ride on top of paying traxes for the buses, or would it be more like the losing side paying the other side's court costs?