I Put My Life on the Line Writing This
Recently by Steven Greenhut: Liberals Are NOT
America’s two biggest
groups of scammers have got to be police officers and firefighters, whose union
reps routinely tell Americans that their members put their lives on the line
every day simply by slipping into their uniforms. They really use that
terminology as they lobby for "donning and doffing" rules that give them extra
pay for the time they spend slipping into their government-supplied
latest data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics once again show that
these groups of government employees work in relatively safe professions, with
firefighters having a lower death rate than the average American worker and
barely edging out cashiers in terms of putting their lives on the line. Most
cashiers are killed on the job because of homicides, whereas a quarter of
firefighter deaths are from truck accidents – and the numbers have declined,
apparently, after concerted efforts to convince these heroes to buckle their
Fishermen, loggers, pilots
and farmers/ranchers have the most dangerous jobs in America. Police officers
and sheriffs fall below farmers, but above construction workers. About half of
their deaths are because of car accidents, often the fault of their own driving
This list looks at the data over a longer period and reinforces the same point. None of
the top 10 dangerous jobs are in the government "public safety" area and only
one category (trash collectors) is dominated by government employees.
I’ve known people who work
in a number of the most-dangerous professions – taxi drivers, truck drivers,
trash collectors, electrical line workers, loggers, fishermen, pilots, roofers,
coal miners, farmers – and I cannot ever recall any of them insisting to me
personally or publicly that they are "heroes" who "put their lives on the line."
Once in a while, I’ll hear a farmer insist that it’s thanks to his kind that we
have food on our table, but even that’s a rarity and it's usually part of a
political campaign to keep the environmental crazies from restricting his water
or property use.
I can’t recall ever telling
people that, by writing this article, I am a hero of the First Amendment. As
annoying as my profession may be, I don’t know any journalists who would argue
such an absurdity.
By contrast, police
officers and paid government firefighters – as opposed to the largely noble
group of volunteers, who provide this service to the public for free, despite
the harassment they receive from firefighter unions who try to put them out of
business – always insist that they are heroes. They do so in their public
pronouncements and especially during union negotiations. They love to have press
conferences and hand out heroism awards to fellow union members. They often tell
me that it's thanks to them that I am safe to enjoy my life.
firefighters and police routinely invoke the memory of 9/11 for their own
personal gain. I remember when Laguna Beach, Calif., firefighters – who have a
cushy gig on the Southern California coast – plastered photos of 9/11 all over a
fire truck as they lobbied for higher pay during their dispute with the city
In the California
Legislature this year, Democratic leaders quietly pushed ahead legislation that
would have declared that any retired cop or firefighter, no matter how old,
would be presumed to have died of a work-related injury if he or she died from
some common ailments such as blood disorders, heart disease or cancer. The
purpose was to give huge payouts to their survivors. The
bill was softened then vetoed, but it shows the lengths to which the unions
will go to play the hero card for self enrichment.
A few years ago, I wrote
about a bill that would have exempted firefighters from criminal negligence for
on-the-job behavior. It, too, died, but there’s no special protection that these
heroes won’t seek. Police unions lobby to assure that even the most abusive
among them don’t have to suffer any penalties, even
in instances where they shoot unarmed members of the public in the
Heroes are people who
display great courage and selflessness to protect others. Here, we see people
who are extremely well paid for services that entail only modest risk, and then
rig the legal system so there is no accountability if they misbehave. They
increasingly follow bureaucratic rules designed to protect "officer safety,"
assuring in essence that they are forced to endure virtually zero risk during
their work day. Is that heroism?
In 2011, Alameda, Calif.,
firefighters stood around and let a man drown to death. They said they couldn’t
go into the 60-degree San Francisco Bay water because they didn’t have the
proper cold-water training. Many believe they were selfishly withholding
"services" as a way to make a point about proposed budget cutbacks. When asked
by a local TV station whether he would go into the water and save a drowning
chief Ricci Zombeck said: "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."
Is this the answer of a
hero or a bureaucrat? My first LewRockwell
article was about a similar event in Philadelphia, where police and
firefighters stood around eating and joking as a suicidal man jumped into the
water. Despite the assembled minions of well-paid uniformed government workers,
it took some unpaid bystanders to risk their lives and try to save the
Unfortunately, the public
seems to buy this nonsense. When I was on the Stossel show discussing such
issues, a California union spokesman, Dave Low, argued that cops and
firefighters receive big pensions because they die soon after retirement. But
fortunately I had already done the research. According
to the union-controlled California Public Employees Retirement System,
police are the longest-living public employee category followed closely by
firefighters. They live well into their 80s, enjoying those millionaires’
pensions that their unions have secured for them.
Enough is enough. Police
and firefighters work in professions that are not particularly dangerous and
they live longer lives than most people. Most of this work can be replaced by
the private sector. There are no categories of hero. Individuals in all
professions and all walks of life engage in heroic acts. The truth will set us
free – and might just lighten our tax burden also.
January 25, 2013
Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is a Sacramento-based
writer and author of Plunder!
How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives And
Bankrupting The Nation.