Every year I lay in bed at a reasonable hour each night for the week leading up to and following the 4th of July. 10-20 houses around mine fill the air with pops, crackles, and booms. And every year I lay there thinking about what a waste of money that is. How these are the same people who complain about the deficit. The same people who say they never have any money.
It’s not small amount either. For hours one house will go on for more than one night. And not bottle rockets and sparklers. We’re talking, what my father calls, “Ear-splittin’-louden-boomers”.
This particular year I find myself up and unable to sleep for the same reason. Only this time I have to get up at 2 a.m. to be to work at 4, which is not really a winning combination. So I find myself mulling over their waste of money.
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association American’s spent $945 million on fireworks in 2009. That’s just for personal use, so it doesn’t factor in the larger community firework displays.
The low-end cost to build a well in Africa is $3000. That’s 315,000 wells. If even half of that money went towards wells it would still make 157,500 wells. That money could probably go to great use for Haiti. Or think of what good it could do in your own community. How many mouths that could feed. Think of the great value it would have in cancer or AIDS research. How much suffering it could ease. Or if you prefer animals to humans, how many stray puppies and kitties it could house. Or to appeal to both sides, think of the gulf and that oil and what good that money could do there with the looming hurricane season.
Maybe you could be helping yourself in your own economic hardship. And think about your neighbors who are trying to sleep. Some of them with babies, some of them with anger issues. Some of them that just can’t believe you’re wasting your money.
So as you celebrate how we defeated the Brits all those years ago and how the founding fathers defeated them with so little. Think about the money you’re literally burning and who you could be helping.