Bread and Circus Fireworks

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Lew — your post on fireworks is spot-on. The local municipalities around here are in the red; laying off police, EMTs, and firefighters (and telling us that thanks to the heartless taxpayers, we are all in “danger” because of the lack of emergency services); and whining in the local papers about the lack of money to pay for essential services for which we have already been looted. Yet they continue to build huge, new schools, fancy court buildings and libraries, police and fire stations, and still, they hold the annual, expensive fireworks extravaganzas that they pay for by looting us — including those of us who do not wish to observe these events but are forced to pay up for the bread and circuses for others.

I have a good story about public vs private fireworks affairs. I live on the east side by the sixth Great Lake (Lake St. Clair) and I have a friend who has a house right on the lake at Conger Bay. Last night there was a medium-size fireworks show that was put on by a private enterprise — a local marina and fairly posh restaurant just to the north of her house on the bay. This show is arranged meticulously — a private company is hired to fire off of a barge a short distance from shore so as not to disturb and destroy private property. We took a boat out to the barge in the afternoon to take a sneak peek at the setup — they had a whole crew working for 2 days to prep the show. They arrange this show via community involvement, buy-in, and approval. All voluntary and peaceful and private. There was enough give-and-take on both sides so that the show was able to go on.

The restaurant had cancelled this pricey gala in leaner times, but has fired up the show again this year. Folks from all over the lake area come to see this — either from the restaurant, nearby marinas and condos, a friend’s lakefront house, or better yet, they take their boats out and anchor in the bay to get a closer view. The business does this to serve and appreciate its customers, as well as gain goodwill from the lake/boating community for the potential of future business. No ulterior motives and no militaristic jingo — just a nice family show. People are happy and congenial, even as they jockey for position in the bay with their boats. In spite of the excessive drinking (hey, they are boaters!), there is no trouble, no hoodlums, and only good times. There are also no police and no security, because they are not needed. The only trouble comes from the sheriff’s boat patrol and Homeland Security — yes, they patrol these waters — who are lurking just about everywhere, looking to harass boaters who may have committed the crime of having a beer, or perhaps they thought about having a beer.

Contrast this with the local, small-downtown, suburban, mid-size fireworks show and festival just a few miles away, on the river, which brings tons of trouble each year. Losers, drunks, druggies, bored thugs, and gangs take over the grounds, cruise for trouble, and harass the attendees. The local sheriff department has a huge presence at this event, but they do nothing to contain the crowd and the crime. (As usual, the complaint is “not enough resources.”) A friend of mine, who is a paramedic, was working at the festival, on standby, as a medic. She said there were the usual gang issues — groups of skinny, teenage punks walking through the crowd sucker-punching people and running. Meth heads lying all over. The usual excessive trouble-making and crowd madness. The cops could do … nothing. They never do a dang thing except use taxpayer funds to cruise the lake and harass boaters — whom they constantly target for intimidation.

As you note, “In a private property order, no one would be setting off these things near neighborhoods, unless everyone agreed to it.” Exactly. What the lakefront community has agreed to is this private show for public display that brings enjoyment to a lot of folks. The company that puts on the display also cleans up any mess left behind.

Your statement also leads to the point that no libertarian, private property order would have yahoos running loose in a neighborhood such as mine setting off commercial-grade rocket launchers in the middle of the streets because mindless (adult) juveniles are titillated by overpriced crap that twirls and makes loud noises while leaving behind a mess of private property destruction with no one coming behind to make the repairs or clean up the mess. As usual, I was on the roof of my house at 7am(!) this morning clearing off chunks of burnt debris that left behind burn scars on my new roof that I just paid $4,000 to have installed 24 days ago — not to mention the huge burn marks on the (formerly clean) cement driveway and the fireworks scars on the vinyl siding on my house.

Tonight, several blasts from these rocket launcher things shook my entire house from what appears to have been a few blocks away. (I had a collector’s plate hanging on a wall where the plate hanger literally exploded and the plate fell to the floor and shattered.) Yet a recent thread on my Facebook page (where I made comments about the puerile parade of juveniles who engage in this pathetic practice perpetually) makes the astounding argument that this private property destruction of fireworks chaos is a “libertarian act” since fireworks are illegal, and doing something — anything — that is illegal is an anti-state, libertarian moment(!) I welcome anyone to come to my FB page and read the thread — the comments are some of the worst I have ever seen.

9:38 pm on July 4, 2011