There can be no more graphic example of the mood of the country and the state of the economy than this little vignette of my own home community, at least for me. Where I live, I can see the valley below me and a panorama of the hills towards the west from my living room window.
In a ‘normal’ year, the lead up to the Fourth of July would be a steadily increasing crescendo of fireworks going off, culminating in a house-shaking, window-rattling finale on the evening of the Fourth. Now, just so we’re all on the same page, pretty obviously I’m not talking about the safe and sane variety of sparklers and fountains. I’m talking about skyrockets and 3 and 4 inch ‘mortars’, ‘bricks’ of firecrackers etc. I’m not advocating the purchase or use of illegal fireworks. I’m simply stating what is. The nanny state can try as it might, but there’s certain things that Americans will never allow themselves to be weaned from… fireworks and moonshine are two that come to mind.
I served in the Marine Corps with a guy whose family had been making ‘shine, as he called it, for generations. Asked if he wasn’t worried about the Feds… he just looked back at me and said, “Heck no”. So much for the Revenuers. Likewise, around here the police make a great show of driving around and suppressing the illegal stuff. It’s like a cat-and-mouse game that operates by its own rules.
Explosive fireworks are legal in the UK where my editor Dee resides. There is a rather gruesome event over there called Guy Fawkes Night, commemorating a plot to blow up Parliament by placing barrels of gunpowder under it. Poor Guy got caught. Capital crimes in the England of 1605 were dealt with by having the convicted traitor hung, cut down alive, stretched by ropes pulled by a pony, thrown down on an execution slab and eviscerated, having his intestines drawn out in front of his own eyes, and sometimes thrown in a lit brazier… at which time if he wasn’t already dead, his head would be removed with an axe… his limbs removed from his torso which was thrown on an offal pile for the dogs to eat. His head would then be placed on a spike on the Tower of London… the four limbs would be taken to the four corners of the Kingdom and disposed of. Altogether, an unpleasant way to die. Poor Guy was able to throw himself off the scaffold headfirst, breaking his own neck and saving himself from the gentle ministrations of the King’s executioners.
Dee tells me that the evening is celebrated by the ingestion of copious amounts of alcohol and hot dogs around the bonfire, which is symbolically topped by an effigy called a ‘Guy’, and explosives going off everywhere. It’s one of those quirky things about the UK, arguably one of the greatest nanny states in the world. That it would allow their citizens to use explosive fireworks in great quantity fueled by, as Dee says it, binge drinking… while at the same time they’re not permitted to defend themselves, their families or their property from evildoers.
This year it has been noticeably quiet around here. So much so that I mentioned it to the elder of my two boys. He said he had noticed the same thing. We seldom go to a fireworks display. We can simply open the living room blinds, turn off the lights and enjoy. The valley would be lit with fireworks of both varieties, likewise the hills on the other side. There’s very little going on in comparison to other years and we’ve been here for ten Independence Days now.
Now you can’t be much more unscientific about an observation than this, but I think it’s indicative of two things: (a) A scarcity in disposable income. These big ‘illegal’ fireworks, some approaching professional quality, are anything but cheap. (b) A less than joyous mood in the country. People are not only not spending what money they have, they are noticeably pessimistic about the direction of the country. The Gulf well isn’t dry, but America is watching our DeMarxist Congress tapping a well which doesn’t exist.
In another breathtakingly unconstitutional maneuver, the Democrats voted that a budget was ‘deemed’ passed, so that they could start spending funds from a budget which is non-existent. Sounds insane, doesn’t it? We have a country being run by the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the Dingy Rabbit. Their Wonderland is as hallucinatory as the ‘Phantom Budget’.
Semper Vigilans, Semper Fidelis
© Skip MacLure 2010