Monday, July 6, 2009

Independence Day

This July 4th, a baby was injured by some stray fireworks which were being set off in a Worcester baseball field.

In the 90's I was at Plymouth Harbor watching the fireworks display when someone a few hundred feet away set off some off some illegal fireworks into the crowd badly injuring a five year old boy.

A man I used to work with bore burn scars on his face, arms and chest from setting off fireworks when he was a teenager.

And as a child growing up in Middleboro in the 70's, it was common knowledge that you took your life into your hands wading through the drugged-out firecracker crowd at the annual town display.

I have a lot of stories like that. A lot of people do. Google "fireworks injuries" if you think I'm lying.

According to Mass General's web site:

Both sparklers and firecrackers have the potential to entertain. But, when they are misused or some type of mishap occurs, they have the ability to harm severely or kill. On average, every year, more than eight thousand people are treated at hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to fireworks. About fifty percent of these are burns involving the head, eyes or hands. There are also instances in which a fireworks accident has resulted in a profound loss of hearing and/or blindness. It has been estimated that one-third of such injuries to the eyes result in permanent blindness. Approximately seven percent of firework injuries require hospitalization. It has been estimated that in the U.S. the annual cost of fireworks related injuries is one hundred million dollars. But fireworks do not only hurt people, they harm buildings. They have triggered life-threatening fires.

Massachusetts bans most kinds of fireworks, but that doesn't stop people from using them, getting hurt, and hurting others. In fact, people can just go across the border to New Hampshire and buy illegally, or even through catalogs and the Internet.

So let's see... something a lot of people consider entertaining, but which has the potential to cause harm, and which has a long recorded history of causing harm to the people engaged in using it, as well as the innocent, is illegal here in Massachusetts, therefore prompting many people to cross State lines in order to obtain it.

So, why aren't we here today, discussing the possibility of legalizing currently illegal and dangerous fireworks, collecting a certain percentage of the revenue, and using it to shore up our State budget?

Shouldn't our leadership accept responsibility for the safety of the Commonwealth's citizens, whether the potential injuries come from the burns associated with fireworks or from the impacts caused by gambling addiction - like child neglect and abuse, domestic abuse, bankruptcies, foreclosures, violent and white collar crime? And suicide?

Or is the only difference in the eyes of some legislators not the type of the potential injury, but the size of the potential payoff? A payoff that will quickly become absorbed into our budget - probably leading to more industry expansion?

Oh, and I should probably mention that the impacts from State-sponsored predatory gambling don't occur when "they are misused or some type of mishap occurs". They result when the consumer does exactly what the industry and slot proponents expect and count on them to do - "play to extinction."

So... I'm wondering if these Statehouse denizens will prove as independent as the great nation we celebrate every July 4th? Or merely the servile doormats of powerful and connected pro-slots legislators and the ubiquitous predatory-gambling lobbyists who love them.

This may be the land of the free - but is our Statehouse really a home of the brave?


Anonymous said...

Great question, Gladys!
Watch the spines collapse of some of the leaders who were opposed last year sure makes one wonder.
Is it the new leadership positions they've been granted along with the additional staff and pay?
Sometimes you just know what's right is right, even when you stand alone.
Thanks for being there for us and with us.

Anonymous said...

What a great analogy!

I can't have fireworks because I might harm myself but I can gamble until I wet myself as long as I don't leave the machine!

jana said...

This is such a briiant analogy when the cheerleaders argue about "individual freedom" and everyone having a right to spend there money the way they choose and no one should have the right to legislate "morality."
This is another example of when we legislate public safety and protect people from harm.
It works for me!

Gladys Kravitz said...


betty dicorsi said...

Statehouse denizens?Choice words! Great blog as always.We need a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw once and for all slot machines and casinos so we aren't enslaved by the likes of the industry scum.I'm tired of the Beacon Hill games.

dorothea swenson said...

Beecon Hill needs to explain why it's ok to subsidize the gambling industry, George Carny, Harah's, Adalman or others with my tax dolars, but I'm not free to injure, maime, mutilate, permanentlly disable, mortaly wound, kill my neighbor in a drunken stupor using fireworks? I promise I will only injure a few unlike slot parlers.

Anonymous said...

If there were no lobbyists schmoozing,monopolizing the media and bending the ear of every elected oficial, would we anyone care?Maybe if fireworks were more profitable, they wouldnt be ilegal.

Anonymous said...

Under the new state Ethics Laws, I just wonder about Bacon Hill (misspelling intentional).....after watching Dianne Wilkerson stuffing greenbacks in her bra on their way to Foxwoods the failure of our elected officials to conduct their due diligence has me mighty suspicious.
Gladys, you help make it easy to disregard each argument in favor of predatory gambling and this has made me consider the one about legislating to save people from their own stupidity.

Raymond Tolosko said...

Gladys for GOVERNOR!

Anonymous said...

Another great blog Gladys.
Agree, good analogy!

This made me stop and think. I put drug use, (illegal), and gambling, (not illegal?), in the same catagory. They both can and have lead to addiction, so is why one illegal and one is being approached as our states saviour??

Anonymous said...

I've reconsidered the issue and come to the conclusion that fireworks should be legalized and heavily taxed to cover the medical costs of injuries and screw the consequences! You're right, Gladys!

Gladys Kravitz said...

Um, Anon. 11:03, that's not exactly what I was saying.

Instead of heavily taxing something that would be really bad for people - usually innocent people and young people and normally law-abiding people - so that our State can pay for the 'medical costs' - which the 'State' probably wouldn't pay for anyway - how 'bout just not legalizing it.

No scars, no burns, no deaths.

No abuse, no neglect, no death.


anon 11:03 PM said...

I forgot the sarcasm emoticon! Watching CA talk about legalizing pot to make up the deficit reminds one of the absurdities of legislators. CA still has slot licenses they havent sold. MA overpriced cigarettes and its worth a tank of gas to go to NH. MA must think people have stopped smoking. Desparate times call for silly solutions in MA and always have.

Anonymous said...

We can always expect a brilliant post from you that points out our illogical reasoning. Great points.

Anonymous said...

When suporters tell me we shouldnt legislate morality you found a good example.The more you look the more you find things we legislate to protect people sometimes from there own carelessness.Good example.