Should the government protect us from everything, including ourselves?

The Madison County Record Aug. 4, 2012, 5:32am

Fans of last year's hottest new TV show are looking forward to the fall premiere of the second season of Person of Interest. The show revolves around a computer genius who's created a machine that can predict violent crimes, but not precisely. In each episode, the geek and his tough-guy associate try to learn enough about the intended victim and the would-be perpetrator to allow them to intervene in time.

The two partners against crime share a sense of moral obligation to use the information provided by the machine for the protection of victims-to-be. The show has yet to address whether or not they have a legal obligation as well, but that's bound to come up.

After all, how often do we hear people who've suffered calamities suggesting that some government agency or other failed to prevent the calamity from occurring?

If it's a burglary, why didn't the police catch the culprit in the act, before making off with the loot. Never mind that the burglar was in and out in five minutes and that it was the pet Pekingese that set off the burglar alarm the previous 15 times.

If a house burns to the ground, the fire department's response time or the number of trucks dispatched is questioned. Maybe that turkey shouldn't have been deep-fried in the bathtub, but still...

Some Metro East motorcycle owners actually are suing the Village of Pontoon Beach because their bikes were destroyed in a fire ignited by a lightning strike at Joe's Hawg Doc. A police officer responding to an alarm found the building secure, had no idea a fire was smoldering inside, and drove on. That's the basis of the claim against the Village.

Maybe, just to be on the safe side, the police should assign an officer to each family in the village and fire trucks should drive by hourly to douse everyone's home or business. But who would pay for it?

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