For the most part, I consider myself a Libertarian in that I'd just as soon the government not tell me what to do. In some aspects, I guess, I'm pretty conservative in my values, so I'm a little Republican, and I like the idea of people on welfare getting off of it someday, especially since I had to eat a lot of PBJs and continue to drive a car with 100k+ miles on it to afford the house we live in (but that's called choosing your priorities). And although I'm all for funding the arts, I'm pretty sure I don't want to fund anything called "Piss Christ".
Socially, I guess, I'm pretty Democratic. While I want people off of welfare eventually, I'm also realistic in that there are people who really need help. I also believe that just because I believe in certain things, others do not. Just as soon as I would never force anything down your throat, though, I'd just as soon you didn't force me to either. So I'm all in favor of saying "One country, under God" and courthouse lawn manger scenes, in season, of course.
Our government should help when it can and stay out of our business when it can not. But when public safety is involved, time and time again the public has shown it can't be trusted to do what is right for their neighbors, so there are times when the government should really step in and set things straight.
What am I talking about? Well, in Breckenridge, Colorado, an ordinance was passed to create a defensible space between properties. While some people see this as a sane thing to do, others think that it infringes upon their rights. As I see it, it is the right to have highly combustible timber and brush leading right to your home (or your neighbors), and then, I guess, your right to bitch about it when it catches on fire and the fire department is overwhelmed trying to help all the other Libertarians in your neighborhood.
Now, I don't for a minute think all these people are Libertarians (nor do I care, and the same for any other political affiliation, just bear with me), but there really does come a time when the common good trumps that of your personal rights. Call it a slippery slope, but you know, as much as I embrace your religious rights, I don't see a problem with being able to see your face when you enter a public building. And I as much as I believe in my First Amendment rights, I think race-baiting and hate speech should be banned, because it is apparent some people lack a certain amount of civility.
When we in emergency services make proposals for public safety, we should always consider the effect we have on individual rights. The decisions we make really do affect those rights, but so long as we are using good logic in doing so, the public has to understand that we need a LITTLE HELP sometimes. If you choose to exercise your right to build right up to the interface, you are going to have to give us a little break when we ask you to cut back the forest from your house a little. When we tell you that you need to leave your home because the fire is heading in your direction, trust me, if I could leave you in place, I would, because frankly, you're just going to get out there and tie up the highway and gawk and get in my way instead of evacuating anyway, so I'd just as soon leave you there. I do, however, realize that leaving you to burn up in your property, regardless of your individual rights, is going to land me in court because I left you to do what you wanted anyway.
How do we take into consideration individual rights versus the right to protect people from themselves? By educating people, and sometimes that requires bold and candid speech. It is this exact kind of speech that politicians hate, because it shakes up the status quo. So long as the populace is happy, the politicians are happy and it's a lot less work. When we make decisions to cut back trees or not to respond to calls for help at a certain windspeed during a hurricane, or to evacuate people from harms way, it certainly upsets people and they take that moment to complain.
We have to make the grown-up decisions, though; it's why we exist. Sometimes it's best to leave things be, but sometimes you need to point out to people that their decisions could very well result in injuries and fatalities. If people can't see their way through those choices, then maybe we should just restrict our response to help them when all Hell breaks loose. After all, we wouldn't want the government to interfere with your life, would we?