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Archive for Monday, June 10, 2002

Risks and coverage

June 10, 2002

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Increasingly, the policy on private events should be "you play, you pay."

With public funds in short supply and being diverted in so many different directions anymore, it makes sense that agencies such as the local sheriff's office feel they will have to charge fees for coverage of private events.

Perhaps this policy should have been put in place some time ago for various emergency units who face annual budget struggles. Certainly the plan should be implemented now, along with provisions for individuals and groups to provide money to offset costs when they get into trouble.

Increasingly, we are seeing high-risk ventures that fail and then create heavy drains on public funds during rescue efforts. Consider the Mount Hood mountain climbers who recently got into trouble, lost three of their members in a crevasse and had to call for help. A military helicopter trying to assist crashed and the costs in human peril and equipment ran high. Who but the taxpayers are going to pay such bills for private activity?

People jump from high places, climb seemingly inaccessible cliffs and mountains and delve into raging streams and forests expecting somebody to bail them out when they wind up in a jam of some kind. Time and again, we read about would-be daredevils who ignore warnings about bad weather or other dangerous conditions and forge ahead with their projects only to generate problems that require costly solutions.

We hear the term "trash sports" and "extreme games" often as people take it upon themselves to try "things you shouldn't do in your home." If they are going to indulge themselves with such activities, then they should be required to post deposits or take out insurance policies to reimburse the public agencies who have to save them.

With growing budget shortfalls in so many areas of government, local on up, it's time for more people who have been relying on public funding to start carrying their own weight. That should begin with paying fees for extra traffic and security patrols for private events. It should reach the stage where our budding Evel Knievels and Harry Houdinis are warned they have to pay to play, just in case they get into difficulty.

With public finances as ticklish as they are, and with the prospect things will get worse, there should not be any more free fun-and-games activities. You dance, you pay the piper.

That is or should be the American way.

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