Should Taxpayers Foot The Bill For Rescues ?by Doug Mataconis
Much of the news over the weekend focused on the search for three missing climbers lost on Oregon’s Mt. Hood. In watching the coverage last night, a question came to my mind — why should the government (read: taxpayers) foot the bill to rescue people who knowingly put themselves in dangerous situations ?
Consider, for a second, the scope of the rescue operation:
Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and a C-130 cargo plane from Nevada were to continue searching around the clock in 12-hour shifts, Sgt. Sean Collinson of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said. The C-130 has infrared imaging equipment that can sense body heat.
Additionally, the Oregon National Guard is heavily involved in the rescue attempts.
Don’t get me wrong. I am in favor of these men getting rescued and it was sad to learn last night that at least one of them had died. Hopefully, the remaining two will be found safe.
Nor am I saying that rescue attempts in situations like this, by both government and volunteer organizations, should not be made. Of course they should, the fact that we do them is an indication of just how precious one human life is to each of us.
The question is this; Should taxpayers foot the bill when someone who engages in dangerous, some might say reckless, behavior, gets injured or trapped ? Why shouldn’t the people rescued be made to bear at least some of the financial responsibility for rescuing them from the consequences of their own choices ?
I haven’t entirely made up my mind on this issue, but my instincts tell me that if you engage in risky behavior, then you bear some responsibility when the rest of us come to save you.