By Kevin Sharp
Last week, a private helicopter airlifted an injured Texas woman from Mount St. Helens. In her words, the $1,300 bill was a “no-brainer” compared to the seven hours it would have taken for normal search and rescue crews to transport her down the mountain.
While some criticized her decision, it’s clear she valued her safety more than she valued money in her pocket, which is a perfectly reasonable choice. Instead of relying on government assistance, she took the situation into her own hands.
While it is important to have a public safety net to help people in potentially dangerous situations, there is no reason why people should be denied the ability to hire private assistance when they feel the need; and they certainly shouldn’t be criticized for doing so. She paid more, and she received better and more immediate service as a result. Instead of accepting the one-size-fits-all solution provided by the government, she chose the option that worked best for her.
We need to work on adopting that mentality on a broader scale in relation to government services. If we don’t like the schools, we should be free to pick better ones without penalty. If we are unhappy with the public transportation options, we should be able to hire a better contractor. Freedom of choice is an extremely important liberty; we should be able to exercise it more.
Kevin Sharp is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free-market think tank.