What could be more American than fireworks on the Fourth of July? These days . . . maybe a desire for increased tax revenue by state governments?
Richard has an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune today about fireworks sales in Indiana stores that are just across the state line from Chicago. There are bunch of those stores, ready to serve the insatiable fireworks appetites of Chicago area residents, and not surprisingly the weeks around the Fourth of July are their biggest sales period.
Illinois strictly prohibits fireworks sales while neighboring Indiana broadly permits them, and recently Indiana loosened its regulations to allow out-of-staters to buy fireworks more easily. The result is a proliferation of stores and sales. Sales of consumer fireworks in the U.S. now exceed $660 million, and 42 states allow the sale of consumer fireworks to the maximum extent permitted by federal law — largely because increased consumer sales means increased tax revenues.
The Nanny State impulse is at work in our society, with know-it-all regulators and advocacy group trying to dictate what we consume and what we do, but the zeal for more tax revenue seems to be trumping the notion that government exists to protect us from every risk and form of sin we might undertake. Perhaps the back story of the American Revolution has been turned on its head, and taxation and freedom now go hand in hand. If the hunger for taxes has convinced state governments to permit Americans to freely purchase explosive devices and detonate them at their whim, maybe we shouldn’t be that concerned about the increasing intrusion of government into our personal liberties.