Sunday, May 12, 2013

Free Market 911

Chris at Information Liberation presents Listen To The Way This Rude Dispatcher Handled Charles Ramsey's 911 Call... an article of 911 aberrations. (Note: I originally wrote my free-market examples in comments to that article.)

The article starts with the handling of one Charles Ramsey's call to 911 about the woman trying to break out of the house next door. Okay, I listened to it and, while I would prefer to be charitable, Mr. Ramsey has a problem forming coherent, connected sentences that actually convey useful information. The dispatcher did get a bit frustrated but overall, I think, handled the call fairly well.

There's apparently some people who don't agree.

The rest of the article at Information Liberation becomes a hate-government-911 festival that includes these fine examples of the worst of 911:

  • The case of the 8-year-old girl who called after her mother and dad were shot. The dispatcher does a very poor job of handling the call.
  • The 911 operator who repeatedly hung up on a girl because she had a habit of using the "f" word. (Yes, she's a slow learner, but...still.)
  • The 911 operator who ordered the man who called for assistance to return to the scene of the attack, where he was killed.
  • The 911 operator who reported a complaint relating to an officer, to that officer, who than proceeded to intimidate the 911 caller.
  • The 911 dispatcher who was rude to a woman who was fleeing a killer.

Millions of 911 calls are handled every day. Most of them are handled as well as anyone could handle them. 911 operators frequently rise above any reasonable expectation of service. The above are cherry-picked faults in the system—and every system has faults, no matter how finely tuned.

Which brings us back to Chris at Information Liberation, who believes these are proof that we should have a free market 911 instead:
These are just a few examples illustrating why it's extremely foolish to believe a government monopoly can provide the same level of service, or even as some believe better quality services, than the free market. All government "services" are monopolies, competition is literally against the law, this is what we get as a result.

So I thought, since we were cherry-picking the worst of the existing government 911, that we should cherry-pick the worst of our prospective new private 911 system. That's only fair, right?

And that's not hard. After all, we've all seen what wonderful service the free market can provide, from time-to-time (I've even added helpful titles):
Have you paid your bill?
Caller: "Help. My Dad is dying."
Dispatcher: "Do you have an account with us?"
C: "Send help, please."
D: "I'm sorry, I can't help you without your account."
C: "It's 1149391, I think."
D: "I'm sorry, that account shows payment overdue. You'll have to visit our office in Timbuktu next Tuesday to pay up your account, before I can help you..."
Your plan has been cancelled!
Caller: "Help. My Dad is dying."
Dispatcher: "Do you have an account with us?"
C: "It's 1149391, I think."
D: "I'm sorry, but that account was cancelled because you used it last month. Thank you for calling."
First promise to give up your right to sue and your right to free speech.
Caller: "Help. My Dad is dying."
Dispatcher: "Do you agree to pay, without challenge, any service fees we might deem appropriate for providing emergency services to you; or to arbitrate any disputes with our in-house arbiter? Do you agree not to publicize any disputes with us?"
A bit of price-gouging...
Caller: "Help. My Dad is dying."
Dispatcher: "Do you have an account with us?"
C: "It's 1149391, I think."
D: "I'm sorry, but service usage is especially heavy this evening. Due to market demand, an emergency services visit is $15,000 this hour..."
Drop your lawsuit first, pleeze!
Caller: "Help. My Dad is dying."
Dispatcher: "Do you have an account with us?"
C: "It's 1149391, I think."
D: "That account is in dispute with us; we can't provide service while your account is in dispute. But if you'll agree to waive your rights and withdraw your claim..."
911, outsourced overseas.
Caller: "Help. My Dad is dying."
Dispatcher (speaking Hindi): "क्या मैं आपकी मदद कर सकता हूँ"?
And, last but not least, the infamous...
Dispatch service: "Press 1 if you would like an ambulance. Press 2 if you would like a police officer. Press 3 if you would like another service. Press 4 if you would like to speak to an account representative..."
See, maybe it's just me, but I somehow have doubts that free market 911 would be that much better...

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