Fireworks At Any Cost

July 5, 2012

Detroit has been in such a dire financial position that it had to turn over control of its budget to an outside board. Under the terms of a consent agreement with the state of Michigan, this outside board controls much of Detroit’s finances. Before this agreement, the city was on course to be $400 million in debt and closing in on bankruptcy.

So it comes as no surprise that the estimated $700-900,000 being spent on fireworks recently was met with some criticism. Even the mayor came out and stated that similar events in the future would have to find sponsorships in order to continue.

I am going to level with you; I think Detroit should have their fireworks. It’s a great way to bring entire communities together in celebration of our great country.

However, these are the types of choices that are going to continue to crop up if we do not get our fiscal house in order. This is just a small taste of the unpleasant choices we will have to make if we do not change our economic course. And worse, we will have to do this on a national level. Do we continue to fund our national defense at a high level or reduce social security benefits? Do we end foreign assistance that saves millions of lives every year? Do we allow the Bush tax cuts to expire and cost Americans more in tax dollars?

None of these options are the most politically, morally or socially appealing. At the end of the day, the real drivers of our fiscal crisis are entitlements and defense spending. Some relatively modest, fact based budgeting in these areas will help prevent painful choices, like cancelling fireworks on the Fourth of July (which just seems flat out un-American to me, like not televising the hot dog eating contest).

For now, Detroit’s decision on fireworks represents just a small taste of what could be ahead for all of us. I, for one, am hoping that Washington can solve our fiscal problems so we don’t have to start making choices much more painful then a celebration of America’s independence.

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