me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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Tax protests

Before there were municipal fire departments in American cities, individuals who had real estate worth insuring and money to insure it paid insurance premiums, and the insurance cos. hired firefighters on the theory it was cheaper to pay people to put out fires than to pay policyholders for destroyed property. Policyholders put plaques on their buildings so firefighters would know which fires to fight. (You can still see some of those plaques in NYC.) If firefighters arrived at a fire that turned out to be not at their company's property but next door, they'd stand and watch. Either the burning building's insurance co.'s firefighters would come fight the fire, or they wouldn't, because they couldn't make it in time or because the building wasn't insured. If no one came, the fire would eventually spread to the insured building. Then the firefighters would try to put out that fire, letting the other building -- and possibly the rest of the neighborhood -- burn. Eventually it became clear this was a bad idea, and municipal fire departments were born. That wasn't until the late 19th C.

There's another model, of course, and that's what goes on in the developing world. Everyone in the village fights every fire. That's what used to happen in American cities, too, when they were first founded. The point, and it's the same point re: schools and re: parks, is that we're all in this together. If we're not going to fight the fires, mow the lawns, and teach the kids ourselves, if we're going to hire people to do it because our society's gotten complex, then we all benefit and we all have to pay.

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