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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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