In the wake of the story about Ronnie Bryant getting some national attention, Larry Downes of Indianapolis radio station WIBC interviewed me last Thursday. Listening to it reminds me of why I went into print journalism instead of broadcast. As talk radio host Ian Punnett frequently says, I have the face for radio and the voice for print.
These days, it seems as though departmental “policies and procedures” in some places are conspiring to make it clear that the public’s safety is purely secondary to the job.
On Memorial Day, a suicidal man walked into San Francisco Bay and stood neck-deep for about an hour while about 75 people watched. Police and firefighters were called, but they refused to help when they saw the situation. The man took himself under the water and died while these “public safety” employees watched.
Police later said they didn’t know whether the man might be dangerous. Firefighters blamed budget cuts for the department not having proper training to go into the water to rescue the man. When asked whether he would go into the water to save a drowning child, the fire chief responded this way:
“Well, if I was off duty, I would know what I would do, but I think you’re asking me my on-duty response, and I would have to stay within our policies and procedures, because that’s what’s required by our department to do.”
This story is recounted by Steven Greenhut in the summer edition of City Journal, who makes the case that public safety is being endangered by state employee unionism. He argues that these “first responders” are being turned into the equivalent of bureaucrats. Ultimately, the state cares about the state and those who serve it, not about you.
Many people remember the “bad old days” when we all chose our own phones. It was an inefficient world of competing brands and models — which just confused everyone. In these more enlightened times, we understand that it’s more efficient and fair for everyone to buy the same model. Even though we’re not seeing the predicted cost efficiencies so far, we’re confident that it’s just a matter of time before costs come down. Obviously, prices would have gone even higher if the Phone Unification Act hadn’t passed. This has been a godsend for the consumer.
There are still some selfish people who claim they should be able to buy what they want, without caring what their neighbors and fellow countrymen want. Thankfully, those self-styled individualists are dying out, probably because they’re too selfish to get anyone else to put up with them. Most people now understand that standardizing on one model is the only fair way.