Saturday, October 27, 2012

Home Town Heroes ... No Need to Raise Taxes to Support Volunteer Ambulance Service ... A Refreshing Market Based and Non-Government Approach by Local Officials

Every once in a while, something heroic happens that makes us smile. Such a thing happened to me today.

I read with wonder about an ordinary small group of We the People that stepped up to the plate, swung the bat and hit a home run. Or so it seems.

Then I recognized that this presented an "extraordinary" opportunity to reinforce the perhaps "obvious" point that it's not the self acclaimed "great" government knows best gang who do the great things that make American exceptionalism a continuing reality. It's We the People.

But as the American journalist Edward R. Murrow once said about the obvious, "The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer."

It's the ordinary people who generally accomplish the extraordinary, and they don't do these things for the applause, fame or even improving their chances to win election. They do them because it's simply the right thing to do. That's not always obvious, but it's generally true.

Accomplishing extraordinary things results from the hard work of ordinary people. In both business and sports, a great team doesn't always have the most talented individual players --- instead great teams consist of ordinary people possessed with an extraordinary amount of determination to achieve a common goal.

In that vein, let's take time to recognize an extraordinary, if somewhat unique, accomplishment by the people of my home town in support of its volunteer ambulance service. What's known as "Rescue 33," which was started from scratch in the 1960s, has developed into a wonderful small town community asset over the past half century. It's become a source of community pride.

The community based ambulance service from its inception has been totally staffed and supported by volunteer workers and donated funds. Over the years, several generations have "pitched in" by generously donating both their time and money for no other reason than to "help the cause." And for the past half century, it's been a wonderful cause to help.

Until the regional government knows best gang got involved and managed to screw things up for everybody, that is. You see, the area bureaucrats recently shut down the local ambulance service because of what it claimed were inadequate facilities, slow response times and inadequate funding. In other words, government decreed that the ambulance services provided to their fellow citizens in need by those deeply committed volunteer workers must cease and desist.

Alas, such is often the way of government bureaucrats. Meanwhile, the ambulance service is still out-of-business today. And to add insult to injury (no pun intended), as is all too often the case with government heavy-handedness, nobody apparently bothered to ask the good people of my home town what they thought about government's wrongheaded decision to cause the ambulance service to cease operations.

Of course, the people of the community could have caused the ambulance to cease operations long ago by choosing not to continue to use its services. They also could have caused it to shut down by not supporting the countless ongoing community wide fund raisers such as donut sales, breakfasts, donations, and memorial contributions.

But that never happened as the entire community continuously supported the efforts of "Rescue 33" volunteers in every conceivable manner. In fact, it's no exaggeration that Rescue 33 over several decades became a great source of community pride while providing a necessary ambulance service to a small community with no other realistically available alternatives.

Nevertheless, the regional government knows best gang voted to shut it down. But the story doesn't end there. As Yogi said, it ain't over 'til it's over, and it ain't over yet.

Upon operations being suspended, the home town leadership placed on November's ballot a referendum asking voters to decide the question of whether or not to raise taxes to pay for a 'new' ambulance service. In other words, the voters will decide the issue of approving new taxes to support the resumption of Rescue 33 in a way that would comply with the regional government's bureaucratic mandates.


The local volunteer ambulance service officials have come out publicly against taxation as a solution. Instead they are putting together a proposal which will enable the ambulance operations to remain a volunteer service operating in a free market environment. What an extraordinary, obvious and common sense great idea!

So let's all hope that the Rescue 33 officials are successful in their efforts to "rescue" Rescue 33.

And let's all heap shame on the regional government bureaucracy for ignoring the wishes of the local Chillicothe citizens by voting to shut down Rescue 33 operations in the first place.

{NOTE: Don't these feckless bureaucrats have anything better to do? Like fix the state's and municipalities' and school districts' and prisons' financial messes, for example. And when they're finished doing that, fix the public sector pension funding shortfall of $85 billion for teachers and other public sector employees. And then fix the deplorable state of the Chicago schools and the ongoing statewide Illinois financial fiasco. I could go on, but you get the message.}

So here's the developing good news story in Rescue 33: No need to raise taxes:

"As ambulance officials work on reorganization plan, they say they have adequate funding.
Officials of Rescue 33, Chillicothe’s permanently suspended ambulance service, are planning an unspecified comeback that they say won’t need money raised by a proposed city ambulance tax to operate.
So, they’re not supporting the ambulance tax referendum that city officials placed on the Nov. 6 ballot with the intention, potentially, of raising enough revenue to help save Rescue 33.
“I’m happy to see that (ambulance officials) feel they can go it alone,” said Mayor Troy Childers, who reiterated the city’s support for the ambulance tax referendum. “I hope they don’t fail.”
Inadequate funding was one of the reasons Rescue 33 was permanently suspended from operating in early September by Dr. Cheryl Colbenson, the medical director of the Peoria Area EMS System....
“Our projections show that our planned sources will support Ambulance Rescue 33, LTD without the need for a city property tax. . . . Ron Hedden, president of Rescue 33, wrote in a news release.
“Therefore, we would like to sincerely thank the city of Chillicothe for its attempt to save Rescue 33 but we do not support the current tax referendum.”. . .
Childers said the council approved the referendum question, that would add 0.25 percent to the city’s property tax rate if approved, to help fund the comeback and sustained service of Rescue 33. If Rescue 33 failed to return to operation, the city would have a mechanism to raise money to provide Chillicothe with some version of an ambulance service.
But Rescue 33 has decided to go its own way and re-establish itself under its current not-for-profit status. Its new funding plan contains an element not included in the old plan — billing clients for its service.
“Currently, we project that we can raise these funds through four sources: Our ongoing fundraisers (Donut Days, Claud-Ellen Days, and Baileys Breakfast); donations and memorials; billing; and memberships,” Hedden wrote."
To which I say to the leadership of Rescue 33 and the citizens of Chillicothe, "Congratulations on your use of common sense in this matter. As you may know, common sense really isn't all that common these days."
Getting the government regulators, tax and spenders out of the way and letting free "on the ground" people work through problems with the help of committed volunteers and satisfied "paying customers" is always the best road to travel.
Accordingly, here's hoping that MOM and the free market win this one.
What a heroic lesson in self reliance and self help.

Meanwhile, "learned helplessness" has been thoroughly trounced, at least for now.
That makes my day.
Thanks. Bob.

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