And I've decided on my proposed solution.
I reckon fireworks are relatively a lot cheaper than they used to be when we were kids, and teenagers have more disposable income than we did. And because they're cheap, we waste them, and experiment with them, and so on. That's why Yamis' neighbours have them stockpiled.
So let us impose a levy on fireworks, at a level that means your average family can afford a box, but which would hurt teenagers in the pocket. We already do this with other harmful goods, like alcohol and tobacco and petrol... And give the funds to the Fire Service. In fact, index the levy to the number of Fire Service callouts for fireworks-related incidents, so after a bad year, they might get priced out of reach for most people.
As much as I appreciate the efficiency in which the current Labour Gov't runs, as well as Helen's leadership skills, I do feel we could be doing so much more with our "surplus" and inherent innovative nature than haggling over the ongoing raft of social legislation we see every few months. Prostitution, smoking, civil unions,teen alcohol, fireworks...I mean really, WTF? Are we all so immature that we NEED someone to legislate every aspect of our lives?
Maybe it's because I am an ex-pat American, and used to everyone fending for themselves..I dunno. I do know we are a small island nation, and the impact we can make on the world stage will be about the cutting edge designs, creative arts and value added commerce, not whether our society is better because a few less hoons are spewing up their vodka every Fri nite and throwing crackers around, or who does what to whom in their own bedroom.These will always be there in any society. Lets look at the bigger picture, and create some more incentives for new business ventures and a more inviting entrepreneurial environment.
I've got to agree with Hamish, I watched the light show from my deck in deepest darkest Helengrad and it was spectacular. Quite pretty, my cat sat beside me quite happy, not pooing on me or my couch absolutely enthralled by the lights and sounds. I suspect he may even have been waiting for one to land so he could catch it. He's a strange one that cat of mine.
From the bastion of truth stuff.co.nz
"Fire Service chief executive national commander Mike Hall said the actual number of fires started by fireworks would not be known for a few days, but it was expected to top last year's record of 700 over the 10-day sale period.
Total fires over the sale period had increased every year for the past five years, from 702 in 2001 to this year's new record high, he said."
- This record high from this year was ..... 1729. That's quite the wee jump there and suggests something pretty chronic, and not the type Snoop Dogg is into.
Seems fairly likely that the experience of letting a few off in the backyard will be but a distant memory soon enough.
On the point earlier about how it may be the novelty factor that makes people go crazy for the week on sale... In Korea where I lived for 4 years they can be purchased anytime and you hardly ever see them apart from maybe at the local park now and then with a few crackers or Roman candles let off or at trhe beach in the middle of nowhere with some relatively tame behaviour.
BUT, the difference between behaviour of your average Korean youngin and your Kiwi equivalent is similar to the difference between Mike Tyson and a small bunny rabbit.
Sticking with my earlier idea I say they trial a 48 hour sale period for one year and see how they go. If it's just as bad then we'll all be off to the local fireworks display for the rest of our days.
Up until a couple of years ago I was a volunteer firefighter. A lot of our callouts all year round were to kids sitting around a bonfire on the beach at night. Fire bans would be in place, so no matter how safe the fire was we were duty bound to put it out. This felt more like law enforcement than anything else and many in the brigade resented the task.
We always got calls on Guy Fawkes night. One particularly memorable one involved shutting down a party of 300 kids sitting happily around a safe-looking bonfire in a paddock at a Christian Camp. They had applied for a permit but the council hadn't processed it on time. Some calls on Guy Fawkes involved kids being stupid - but not many. We just had more fires on beaches.
New Years Eve was the busiest night of the year and did involve kids being stupid. What are we going to ban next? All celebrations (many of which by nature get out of hand)?
I went to my first pub by myself when I was 16. Because I drank mainly in bars I was surrounded by older people and a wider community than just my immediate peers and this helped me learn to socialise in a drinking environment in a different way than binging with my mates at home did for example. I think if I had stuck to the law and not gone to a bar until the age of 20 it would have stunted my emotional growth in a way. I know quite a few 18 year olds who regularly go out clubbing and they seem fine. They aren't violent or vandals for example. I think those that are anti-social are by definition more likely be found parked up on a beach or in a friend's garage than at their local bar. Leave the drinking age at 18. At least they can be banned for being stupid - and this can be a valuable lesson for young drinkers in itself.
I don't think we are losing our competitive edge. Kiwi kids are still adventurous. Maybe we are encouraging more rebellion by coddling kids more now. I think that it is dangerous keeping kids at school for lengthening periods of time. In many cases they should be out learning what they want to do for a career in the workforce before undertaking further study. I would have gone nuts if I had to stay at school for longer than I did. I've got the career I always wanted through being employed in the industry at a young age. By the time my uni-trained friends joined the industry I had a 5 year head start on them. I was ambitious - and perhaps instilling ambition in kids is as important as anything else. None of the achievements listed in the starting post would have been achieved without it.