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Fire Escape Futures Trading

Cynical exploitataive Capitalism, gone mad.
 
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If you are in a tall building that is on fire, you need a fire escape.

However, when the buiding is not on fire, the fire escape is a wasting asset. It takes up space, it needs maintainance, it is a possible means of entry for burglars.

The point being that you only actually NEED the fire escape when there is a fire.

Now, to a certain extent, the Fire and Rescue services have already dented the market by providing self-propelled portable ladders; but capacity is limited.

Now, many commodities are extensively traded as "futures". Traders try to predict the price of a given commodity at a given time. But the time that a fire escape will be required is unpredictable, and when it is required, the price of survival will be correspondingly high. And, like a hotel room or an aircraft seat, it is a commodity which is "infinitely perishable".

The proposal is therefore to fund the Fire and Rescue services by selling time slots in advance. Those wishing to avail themselves of the service will be required to place a deposit in escrow. They may then bid on time slots which they can re-sell, at a profit or loss accordingly.

When a fire actually occurs, the cost to the individual summoning the emergency services is set by the price of that particular time slot.

This will provide a solid revenue stream for hard-up local government. Ok, so some people will probably die, but they'll probably be the less well off ones who couldn't afford to contribute to campaign funds for local politicos. The property losses will be no greater than before; the fire is still extinguished free of charge, they just don't rescue anyone.

The real fun would be when fires break out in two expensive apartment buildings simultaneously, and an eBay-style bidding war breaks out as the flames lick higher and higher...

8th of 7, May 20 2010

Wikipedia: History of Firefighting http://en.wikipedia...ory_of_firefighting
It's all there. Private enterprise just doesnt work on its own. [rcarty, May 21 2010]

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       The value of a slot-future would plummet as it's date-time approached -- unless a fire broke out in two or more places simultaneously, in which case, its value would skyrocket.   

       What do you suppose would happen to the incidence of fires under such a system?
mouseposture, May 20 2010
  

       The invisible hand was no good at fighting fires [link], and the causes of many of those fires are yet to be explained. A mysterious invisible hand would be a convenient suspect.
rcarty, May 21 2010
  

       Great analogy to describe the current vaccine market, the insurance industry during a large-scale disaster, the computer anti-virus market, the FDIC, the Republican Party...
RayfordSteele, May 21 2010
  


 

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