Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another Money-Taking Scheme

Looks like a local government in Michigan is considering fining home security companies for every false alarm the police respond to. This is nothing but a dishonest and unjust money-taking scheme for the officials that desire to increase the budget.

It is dishonest and unjust because of two things:
  • It is dishonest because, contrary to what mayoral candidate Sheldon Neely asserts, the proposed fine is blatantly constructed so as to recoup an excess beyond what resources are wasted:
"The Fines? They start at $50 and increase by $25 for every subsequent false alarm call." [Emphasis added]
If it were true that they were merely trying to regain what they had lost, then the fine would either be equivalent to what it cost to respond to a certain alarm call or it would be at a static amount (adjusting as costs change), but that is not the case. Instead, the company would first have to pay $50, and after that $75, $100, $125, and so on ad infinitum. Twenty fines alone for a single company would total $5750. To imagine what it would have cost if the government officials had issued a fine for each of the 10,000+ false alarms last year is difficult.
  • It is unjust because they would be fining security companies for the purpose for which they are created and for an incident they are not at fault for. Who can always foresee if a branch is going to hit the side of the house at night, if a bird is going to fly into a window, or if a pet might bump into a door? All of these factors are sufficient to set off a home alarm, but are out of the control of the company to either prevent or acknowledge immediately. However, given a more appropriately formed fine, it would be just to fine the owner of the property for a false alarm because one should pay for a service one expects to use.
Do these officials think they can just fine the hell out of security companies without consequences? Given the dismal economy of Michigan as of now, this would make the situation even worse by either raising prices or by causing the company to withdraw from the state economy.

This reminds me of the politicians in the novel Atlas Shrugged who ended up destroying the economy of America by foolishly assuming that the producers would be able to bear any hardship that was placed on them. When the question arose as to how the producers would be able to survive a certain new economic regulation the answer would always be: "somehow." Well, how will the security companies cope with the fines placed on them, assuming a similar number of false alarms as last year? "Somehow."

Aesop begs to differ: "Thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find,- nothing."

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