John Stossel

But that's bunk. New Hampshire charges reckless people who need help, and they still call 911 there.

Sparsely populated Grand County, Utah, which spent $5,000 to pull a jeep out of a crack in a canyon, started charging for rescues to protect its taxpayers. It has a hundred rescues a year because tourists come to participate in the extreme sports.

"I'm looking at the local taxpayer," says Sheriff Jim Nyland. "When people go out and do ridiculous things, I think they ought be held accountable."

He went after John Rushenberg, who needed rescuing while hiking a canyon -- in flip-flops. He was billed $2,000, but still has not paid.

"I don't want to pay," he told "20/20."

And get this: It wasn't Rushenberg's first time. A few years before, he and his friends had to be helped off a mountain. He laughed about it and said he hoped people watching my television special would chip in to pay his fine.

Give me a break. Why should other people chip in to pay for people who get themselves into trouble and need rescuing? They should take responsibility for the costs they impose on others.

As Herbert Spencer wisely said, "The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools."

If we start by billing drunken rock climbers who need rescuing, maybe we can convince Congress and the president to stop bailing out failed banks, insurance companies and automakers.

I won't hold my breath.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate