Gene Cranick, the man whose home recently burned down in Tennessee, is now the center of a chilling controversy. As his home smoldered to the ground, local firefighters stood idly by without lifting a finger to save it — apparently because he didn’t pay the annual $75 protection fee required by the local government.

Liberals such as Keith Olbermann argue a similar episode of a la carte government could happen if the Tea Party had its way. I won't begin to touch the stupidity of that logic (somebody get the guy a copy of the 10th Amendment, please). But what is frightening are the potential parallels to healthcare and requirements for all Americans to buy the government's form of insurance.

For those of you who might not be familiar with the story, firefighters on the South Fulton, Tenn., scene would only do their job if and when the fire was considered a threat to neighbors' homes. Neighbors, that is, who paid the fee. As the situation unfolded, Gene pleaded that he would pay anything to have the flames extinguished. Firefighters, along with the chief, had no remorse for Gene Cranick, who is now being portrayed as a free-rider.

So who is to blame here? Cranick clearly knew the consequences of his actions, no?

Many homeowners are expected to sympathize with Gene out of their understanding of what it must feel like to lose everything they have. However, other principled Americans are likely to say, “See, that’s what you get — stop riding on the backs of society and carry your share!”

Although dramatic situations rarely occur, I fear the conditions are ripe to be played out over and over again with nationalized healthcare. What will our government do with millions of people who want to free-ride on the backs of national healthcare (not paying while consuming services)?

This is an interesting dilemma. Pay the insurance, required by federal fiat, and your health is all but assured. Don't pay the premium, and you could suffer a fate similar to what Gene Cranick saw, only this time with one's own health. Either way, Americans will cry out there's an injustice here, just as they did in Cranick's situation. Do we really want more secular moralism involved by our government and a "we-know-best-for-you" mentality?

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at, and follow him on Twitter at