Thursday, July 19, 2012

How plastic bag bans and consumer fireworks bans are similar knee-jerk local government reactions

The similarities between local Shopping bag bans vs consumer fireworks bans?

Its now almost two weeks after Fourth of July yet in my neighborhood fireworks of all kinds still pop around every weekend. While some of these are approved consumer fireworks many of them are illegally imported black market fireworks or dangerous home made ones. I find on Fourth of Julys the same situation repeats. While the state decide to keep the regulated product legal many localities ban selling them and make displaying them an infraction it is kind of like the movement to ban or tax plastic bags which is also a legal product. I find plastic bag ban and single use bag bans in the late 2000s similar to the movement to ban legal consumer fireworks locality after locality from the late 80s early 90s even though the fireworks are certified for use by federal and state officials in 46 states. According to sources I think San Jose banned charity firework stands since the 80s but I was not there back then,  though the state of California officially approves use of such fireworks which pass many rigorous safety tests and inspections. These do not leave the ground nor explode unlike the black market ones my neighbors use. The ban on official fireworks stands does not reduce fireworks use at all as people will either go to the city that allows the sales of them just like people shopping in cities that still allow plastic bags, or revelers would just buy fireworks off the black market which is amazingly readily available the ones made in China or Mexico or those high powered commercial display versions. Most injuries and fires from fireworks are caused by the black market kind of fireworks which explode in all communities and the situation is actually worse in communities that ban legit fireworks stands which is subject to close supervision. I am surprised localities can get sparklers banned as well and make it a citable offense to light one even though it can hardly be considered a firework. Think about it a sparkler is not any more dangerous than lighting a match or lighter.  Most certified consumer fireworks are safer than many welders, torches, bbqs, campfire pits, and many other items that produce fire. It is just like the situation where individuals that litter and trash neighborhoods won't be affected by the bag ban. Also officially Plastic bag waste account for less than 1% of all litter compared to up to 33% tobacco product waste so it is really a knee-jerk reaction on local governments.

It seems like the banning of shopping bags is similar to banning of fireworks of the last two decades, the locality  essentially acts like an Ostrich thinking that their safe by burying their head in the sand when an attacker shows up. Banning the regulated product doesn't solve any issues and actually makes things worse. The ban is nearly impossible to enforce, and the ban spawns the black market of fireworks or homemade fireworks which explode and have no safety mechanisms what so ever. It is just like gun bans are not going to keep real gun lovers particularly the real troublemakers from finding loopholes to keep their guns and only is going to hurt honest gun owners.  Mass scale public fireworks displays can produce their own danger as well, as many drunk people assemble and sometimes do insane things such as playing with black market fireworks in the thick crowds. Also fireworks displays can go wrong by itself. For example in San Diego a computer glitch had resulted in three barges of fireworks to explode within a minute. Good thing it did not result in a catastrophic explosion in the barge where thousands of high powered fireworks were stored in or it would had been a mass scale tragedy. Also as cities run out of money public displays had been scaled back if not public safety had been cut back as well. Of course municipalities which pass these bans would always use false data to prove they are right in their decision no matter how "wrong" they are.

As the plastic bag ban is administrated by the Waste Management "garbage man" the fireworks control is administrated by the fire district(firemen). The rules are nearly impossible to enforce as fire districts are overwhelmed and stretched thin during fourth of July that if they were to chase after all these fireworks they would have to compromise on fire protection which is needed desperately that night with all these fire threatening events including barbeques and mass scale public fireworks displays they would not be able to respond to fires if they happen to be playing cop all night. The San Jose fire department itself tells the media a few years ago they would focus on public safety fire suppression first and only respond to fireworks complaints if its severely dangerous situation or has already caused a fire. A similar situation occurs after the bag ban in San Jose where many smaller stores in the gettos are completely oblivious the the bag ban and stores large and small continue to litter and dump in the neighborhood around them. I notice more and more parts of the city happens to be covered in mountains of garbage after the ban than before. The bag ban only results the stores to increasingly pre wrap their products in plastic packaging which are pretty much useless outside its purpose and need to be disposed once unwrapped. 

Here is more information regarding people fighting to repeal ridiculous policies in San Jose and elsewhere. This fourth of July fireworks issue really heats up and matches that of the plastic ban. 
Its a petty that cities cancelled official displays yet still prevent well regulated fundraising Fireworks stands from doing business. Only to let the dangerous life threatening black market fireworks take reign of the neighborhood. 

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