- - Tuesday, July 5, 2011



As we all know from state and local laws that have been on the books for years, fireworks are dangerous and, without proper government supervision, can cause serious damage, injury and even death.

Without oversight, training and licensing by the government or one of its authorized agencies, individual citizens can cause bodily harm to themselves, hurt others, destroy property and generally cause mayhem that undermines placid governance.

The individual citizen may stick firecrackers up his nose and light them. He may jab a sparkler into the gas tank of the jeep parked in his garage and catch the whole house on fire.

A little necessary gene-pool weeding, you say? Not so, as our utopia progresses toward free government-mandated health care for all and our health panels are left figuring out how much public treasure to spend on the kid without nostrils or keeping the severely burned and homeless family on ventilators.

Fireworks are even more dangerous in the hands of a citizen who wants to have fun or entertain his fellow citizens.

He may stick an M-80 into a rotten apple, light it and throw it so that it blows nasty burned applesauce as near to his friend’s head as possible.

Or he might light a string of lady fingers and toss them into the tent where his brother is asleep with an unknown dog. In the sudden fog of smoke and pyrotechnics, the dog jumps up, bites the brother while involuntarily relieving himself all over the inside of the tent.

This can be very funny to watch, but it is also very disorderly.

Bottle rockets are even more dangerous and pose a greater threat to society.

Fired out of the tube of a used Roman candle toward a police car riding by, for instance, they will cause the police officer to turn on the siren and flashing lights and pursue evildoers who are, very often, 12 years old.

The bottle rockets with the high-pitched whistlers are even more incendiary. They can fly into the yard of the grouchy old lady down the street and disturb her parakeets into squawking up a huge racket just as she is trying to concentrate on finishing her giant jigsaw puzzle.

Bottle rockets are especially subversive because they are, of course, the gateway weapons to rocket-propelled grenades used to take down airliners and military helicopters.

This year in particular, with all the wildfires, fireworks are especially dangerous to public safety. Citizens could go out into tinder-dry woods and light explosives that they really can’t see for all the trees but that will catch the forest on fire and burn all of society to the ground.

Thank goodness the government is here to protect us from our fellow citizens and, in particular, ourselves.

But wait! This just in!

Turns out counties and towns across the country lifted bans on all sorts of previously dangerous fireworks. Have they suddenly become safe? Has modern medicine advanced so far that we no longer have to worry about injuries from firecrackers? Has society suddenly become fire-retardant?

No, not that at all. Turns out, all these governments just need cash.

“Desperate to find any source of untapped revenue, many cities, counties and states are scrapping decades-old restrictions on firework sales, trying to rescue budgets battered by several years of economic doldrums,” the New York Times reported as the holiday neared.

Officials in one county estimated they could raise $200,000 in sales taxes and permit fees by letting their residents run wild with dangerous pyrotechnics.

Not that this is any sort of news flash, but it is a fitting reminder as we have passed another Fourth of July, celebrating our violent overthrow of a tyrannical and unresponsive government, that governments by nature do not give one whit about you and me.

They go to great lengths to pretend to care about people blowing themselves up or starting wildfires. But they don’t really care. All government cares about is self-preservation and expansion — which is to say, your money and quiet acquiescence.

Charles Hurt’s column appears Wednesdays. He can be reached at [email protected]

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