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Americans Keep Getting More Independent

More Americans will celebrate the Fourth this year with their own sparklers and bottle rockets, thanks to newly relaxed fireworks regulations in red and blue states alike. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Georgia lifted a longtime ban July 1 on the sale of consumer fireworks that shoot into the air, such as bottle rockets, Roman candles and flying spinners—despite concerns from some legislators about safety. Consumers had been buying them in neighboring states. “We were losing out on revenue,” said former state Rep. Jay Roberts, who co-sponsored the legislation this spring before leaving office to take a state transportation planning job […]

Since 2011, six states—Kentucky, Utah, New Hampshire, Maine and Michigan, along with Georgia—have lifted restrictions on the sale of most types of consumer fireworks, according to Ms. Heckman. Other states have loosened laws about sparklers and other smaller items, including New York, she said. Only three states—Massachusetts, New Jersey and Delaware—still completely prohibit fireworks sales.

At first glance, this development might seem simple: cash-strapped states are looking to balance their budgets in any way they can and lifting firework restrictions will bring in revenue. That’s certainly a factor, but on another level this story is of a piece with a less well-understood trend: the live-and-let-live cultural libertarianism that increasingly defines our age: You want a same-sex marriage? You can have one. You want pot? You can have it. You want guns? Be my guest. You want to play slots? Go ahead. You want fireworks? Here they are.

This libertarian political culture transcends left and right. The left cheers the decline of traditional moral values, but abhors the impact of individualism on economic regulation. The right, for its part, cheers the declining support for ‘group based’ policies like affirmative action and the growing suspicion of government regulation but is horrified by the impact of libertarianism on social issues related to church, sex, and family. Similarly, the liberalization of fireworks laws—in states from Georgia to New York—does not appear to be a traditional left-right issue.

But love it or hate it, one thing is clear: Americans are getting more independent. Happy Fourth of July.

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  • Pete

    “But love it or hate it, one thing is clear: Americans are getting more independent. Happy Fourth of July.”

    Try singing that on tax day. When it comes to economic & finance, Americans are under the thumb of government more than ever.

  • jeburke

    Bring it on. Fireworks bans were among the earliest and most pointless nanny state regs. Deeply disliked by almost everyone and enforced only halfheartedly or very selectively, the prohibitions have rested on “evidence” of a few dopes blowing off their fingers. Last night, on a beach in a town and state where all “unlicensed” fireworks are strictly forbidden, I witnessed for the umpteenth year a boffo display put on entirely by a few citizens for their own and their neighbors’ amusement. Hundreds of the most spectacular rockets, while a dozen campfires burned brightly and hundreds, from toddlers to grandpas like me, applauded. That is the way generations of Americans enjoyed fireworks on the Fourth before government party poopers took it over.

    • JR

      Keep on rocking’ in the free world, mothersfathers!!!

  • Anthony

    Another take: political culture (values and beliefs of citizens toward political system and toward themselves as actors in it) perhaps being reflected, of which above description of functioning libertarianism is of a piece. But short piece brings to mind on this 238th 4th of July, what does it mean to be an American?

  • fastrackn1

    This makes me want to start making M-80s again….

  • FriendlyGoat

    Fireworks are one of the dandiest ways ever invented to send money to China while driving up our own healthcare costs and property insurance. The National Fire Protection Association website mentions some 11,000 people treated in ER’s for fireworks injuries in 2013 and some 17,000 fireworks-related fires in 2011.

    Yes, I like America. Yes, I like Independence Day. Yes, I am a boy (old) and I like things that go bang, like most boys do. Yes, I’m glad we have freedom to be stupid, but it’s too bad so many of us insist on using that freedom to actually be stupid.

    • fastrackn1

      FG, we send all of our money to China anyway…I doubt a few hundred million more would make much of a difference.

      Besides, if the gubberment is so hell bent on saving us from ourselves, they should lower the speed limit to 4 miles an hour, put a traffic signal at every intersection, and mandate that all cars be made out of rubber.
      That would really lower healthcare costs and property insurance.

      And mandatory executions for first offense drunk drivers too….

    • Boritz

      “It’s too bad so many of us insist on using that freedom to actually be stupid.”

      And the temptation to save those many from themselves is oh so irresistable.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Well, that National Fire Protection Association pointed out that a majority of those fireworks injuries are to children, many of them very young. When parents don’t protect kids, sometimes the government tries to adopt policies to prevent child injuries instead.

        • CapitalHawk

          Ah yes, it’s “for the children”. It always is, it always is. Let’s try a challenge FG, shall we? You give me a topic, and I will then tell you why you need to be in favor of (or against) it “for the children”. I’m pretty sure I can do it for virtually anything, so let’s give it a try.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, OF COURSE you can. There is no topic whatsoever that eludes an argument EITHER for or against with some relationship to children. We’re going to be against things a reasonable person thinks will hurt children and for things a reasonable person thinks might benefit some child.

            The NFPA even mentioned large numbers of fireworks injuries to children under 4 years of age. Who believes that is a good idea?

          • CapitalHawk

            No, you don’t understand what I am saying. I’m saying that no matter the issue, I can give you a reason to be on any and all sides of that issue and in each case the ultimate reason will be “for the children”.

            Here’s an example: Nuclear energy. Of course, you must oppose this. There is the ever present risk of meltdown, plus it creates all kinds of waste that pollutes the earth and won’t break down for centuries, which will all have to be dealt with by our children. You must oppose nuclear power…for the children.
            OR
            Of course, you must support this. The urgent need to deal with climate change increases every day! And nuclear power is one of the only ways to have reliable power and reduce carbon emissions and if we don’t curb carbon emissions now, our children will live in a planet that is nearly uninhabitable. You must support nuclear power…for the children.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Okay, nuclear energy is a good example of being able to argue an issue both ways—-for the children. The correct answer depends on whether we have big nuclear accidents, or whether fossil-fuel-related climate change plays out badly. No one really knows the answers to those potential future events.

            But, can’t we just agree it would be nice for parents to not buy fireworks that burn their children? I mean, please remember that my first post here was not a demand for governments to ban fireworks. It was a wish that those of us capable of stupidity try harder to avoid being stupid.

          • CapitalHawk

            As you can probably tell, I’m generally opposed to banning things and removing choice. I’m pro-choice!

            I agree that it would be nice if parents didn’t buy things that then harm their children. The trick is knowing what they are ahead of time.

            I would prefer that people not be stupid, but some people will always be stupid – with fireworks, with cars, and with everything else. But just because some people will be stupid doesn’t mean the rest of us should suffer.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, I guess we’d like to think that none of the fireworks injuries were billed to Medicaid. And we’d like to think drunk drivers or drag racers don’t run up the rates on car insurance. But, alas, we get the bills, no?

          • CapitalHawk

            We do indeed. But if we are banning things, are police then to enforce said ban? Are willing to have more “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” events to enforce said ban?
            I don’t think its worth all that to protect stupid people from themselves.

          • CapitalHawk

            Over a dozen children under the age of 12 die in car accidents each week. All of these deaths could be eliminated if we simply banned children from being in cars. If you oppose banning children from being in cars, why do you want children to die?
            See how fun this is?

          • FriendlyGoat

            I don’t believe in banning children from cars. You don’t either. No one does. In order to have “fun”, we’ll need something more sensible, like your nuclear energy debate below.

  • Proud Skeptic

    It is the right of every young boy in this country to be able to blow stuff up.

  • lehnne

    this article does not reflect reality on the ground. Granting the populace the “freedom” to indulge in libertarian sexual/ drug activity and setting off fireworks is the equivlent of bread and circuses while the Judaic/Christian worldview/infrastructure that made libertarian ideology possible is suppressed, banned or erased from the nation’s history. It is doubtful that earnest libertarianism will thwart the totalitarian drift of governance

  • Calvin Coolidge

    Let me make this really simple for the Libertarians who went to public school and are unable to make crucial differences. The Progressive will give you a Government similar to the Soviet Union and the Conservatives want to prserve and protect our sytem of government. The Soviet Union was progressive about alot of social issues. It doesn’t make you freer. The Progressive admire Cuba, Venezuala, and alot of other opressive countries. There is NO equivalent on the right. The Right loves this country and the principles which found it. Look at College campuses. No due process and speech codes. IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT??? I know Liberatarians are unable to grasp complexities and like to simplistically classify the Left and the Right as the same. Anybody who does any investiagtion will discover that this is not even remotely correct. The Left uses these issues to gain political power and the Libertarian community is enabling this march to madness. The Left could care less about the principles behind these issues. If SSM was a Republican issue, it wouldn’t even seen the light of day.

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