Monday, July 4, 2011

Are Fireworks Displays A Good Expenditure Of Public Funds?

I was having Toyota trouble again, and spent half the day Saturday (one of my precious 3 days of one of my rare three-day weekends) at the repair shop. The manager had to drive me home because I'm leaving my car. They didn't have the parts so had to order them, but because of the long weekend, they won't arrive until Wednesday. On the way home, the manager asked about fireworks for the holiday, and if I knew if the county was going to pay for a show. He pointed out that last year they didn't because of budget shortfalls. I said, truthfully, that I had no idea. Should public funds even be spent on such a thing?

In some states or localities, it is illegal to buy fireworks, though even in California, people have traditionally just crossed the border into Mexico to buy them. When we were kids I remember one July 4th when my dad put on a show for us in the backyard. We watched from the window as he took a couple of sparklers and waved them around, then ended the show by lighting an emergency flare and letting it burn.

That was not as good as the years we spent in another house. It had a big picture window, and my mom had set a bar (the kind where you served food and drinks) in front of it where you could sit and watch, because it gave a great view of one of the annual fireworks displays. In fact, we could even see cars as the parked on a hillside, their headlights pointed right at us, as they got ready to watch from that direction.

I haven't seen live fireworks in years. And I've never understood the appeal of watching them on television. I guess this will be yet another year when all I get is the distant sound of neighbors blowing their fingers off with cheap roadside fireworks.

Perhaps I need to visit the Disney parks more often.


  1. I like the yard fireworks that fire parachuting army men up in the air.

    Setting up a public fireworks display is actually really good for local businesses. It gets people into towns and cities during the heat of the summer, when most people just sit around at home or in air-conditioned movie theaters.

    Most places I have lived had privately funded fireworks shows, usually joint sponsored by radio stations and local businesses, though often it was on public land (in particular, the spot in Indiana was within sight of the fire house, which makes sense).

  2. [I'm surprised Democrats aren't jumping on this, claiming there's a "War on Independence Day." That's just the kind of empty, patriotic jingoism they need for 2012.]


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