California Republicans demand no taxes, speedy fire service. Fire devours expensive (Republican) suburbs, where voters overwhelmingly supported Arnold just weeks ago.
Each new homeowner, moreover, expects heroic levels of protection from underfunded county and state fire agencies.
Fire, as a result, is politically ironic. Right now, as I watch San Diego's wealthiest new suburb, Scripps Ranch, in flames, I recall the Schwarzenegger fund-raising parties hosted there a few weeks ago. This was an epicenter of the recent recall and gilded voices roared to the skies against the oppression of an out-of-control public sector. Now Arnold's wealthy supporters are screaming for fire engines, and "big government" is the only thing standing between their $3 million homes and the ash pile.
The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is now approaching one trillion dollars and is projected to reach a total of two trillion dollars. Apparently finding money to support programs is not a problem, but rather it is a matter of setting priorities. According to a report earlier in the year in the San Francisco Chronicle, “the California National Guard says equipment shortages could hinder the guard’s response to a large-scale disaster. A dearth of equipment such as trucks and radios—caused in part by the war in Iraq—has state military officials worried they would be slow in providing help in the event of a major fire, earthquake or terrorist attack.”
San Diego has only 975 fire fighters who must cover 330 square miles and a population of 1.3 million people. An agenda is pursued in city council chambers in cities throughout California of pursuing a strategy of tax cuts and no increase in the cost of fire services, with property developers having a big influence on city councils and the legislatures.