For & Against
MARLIES: I can well imagine how much pleasure many people get out of fireworks. Sadly, by no means everybody is capable of using them responsibly, so there are some big drawbacks too. First and foremost of course, all the injuries and sometimes even deaths. And it should not be forgotten that the victims are certainly not always the people who let off the fireworks. Add to this the environment damage and all the debris we are left with the next day. For something that some people enjoy but that is certainly not essential to a fun New Year's Eve, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. I am in favour of organized fireworks displays (which would no doubt be a good deal more enjoyable and professional). Then no one would have to start the New Year in hospital as a result of irresponsible use of fireworks.
JILLIS RESPONDS: A government monopoly on fireworks strikes me as a very bad idea. Injuries and deaths usually occur among people who make their own fireworks or who doctor them. Good information campaigns for the ordinary consumer and severe punishments for letting off illegal fireworks seem adequate measures to me. Personally I just keep a safe distance, or I stay nice and snug indoors.
JILLIS: The idea of banning fireworks comes up every year without fail - unfortunately. Why don't we just let everyone decide for themselves whether they want to let off fireworks? Neither of the alternatives for unrestricted sale of fireworks is great. They are a total ban or only allowing government firework displays. The first alternative doesn't work, since anything you ban just goes underground, with all the criminal practices that entails. And I find the idea of government fireworks displays ridiculous. That way suddenly everybody is force to pay for fireworks, whether you like them or hate them. Besides, it is obviously utterly crazy for the government to shell out hundreds of thousands or euros for fireworks when it is cutting back on education, health care and safety. In short, let those who want to let off their firecrackers and the VAT is a nice little earner for the taxman.
MARLIES RESPONDS: Plenty of Illegal fireworks are already bought by the Dutch. What is more, the fireworks are let off quite openly on the streets so it's not that hard to track down the people who do this. If the government wants to spend some money entertaining the populace, I don't have a problem with that. After all, thousands of euros are spent every year on the Liberation festival in Wageningen, to name just one example.