Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Telegraph, Macon, Georgia, on legalizing fireworks:
They draw oohs and aahs and excited gasps as they explode in bright colors in the sky. We delight in the cannon- like sounds as they rocket skyward. Fireworks around this time of year are more American than apple pie, however, getting a pie in the face won't cause loss of life or limb or eyesight.
Fireworks, by definition are a class of explosives and the month around Independence Day, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission can be deadly. On average, 230 people a day visit emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries. Certainly the professional displays are wonderful, but they are performed by professionals. But the fireworks flying off the shelves in Georgia, made legal by the 2015 General Assembly, are not being sold to professionals and that's keeping public safety personnel up at night. According to the Georgia Injury Lawyers Blawg, 2013 was a "record year for fireworks-related injuries in Georgia with eight deaths and 11,400 injuries. There were 8,700 injuries in 2012.
Granted there are some, including members of the Georgia General Assembly, who think legalizing fireworks will actually cut down on the deaths and injuries. It will certainly turn into a cash crop for the state as Georgia residents won't have to cross state lines to get their pyrotechnics. ...
In the words of Hill Street Blues' Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, "Lets be careful out there." And, while firing up the grill, take a moment to thank our Founders, who risked it all 239 years ago, to create this great nation defined by liberty and justice for all.
Savannah (Georgia) Morning News on America:
You've probably seen the hilarious man-on-the-street videos of Americans who seem to have little grasp of either current events or American history.
While entertaining, the videos are all a bit horrifying, in that they reveal a level of ignorance and apathy that is wholly incompatible with a self-governed nation.
No such nation can long endure if its citizens don't know what's gone on before, what's going on now, who's doing it, and how our system even works.
Yet, increasingly, that appears to be the case in the United States.
Such a nation, to borrow a line from the movie "Braveheart," ''has no sense of itself."
Witness the latest frightening Internet video — in which a man, pretending to be quite earnest, asks passersby to sign a petition to dump the American flag in favor of a new one, the design of which is described only in the haziest terms. While some folks walk away expressing satisfaction with the current flag, some are all-too-eager to sign the bogus petition.
It's unclear how many of the signers really despise our flag and how many are just so nice and manipulative that they sign a petition without knowing or caring what it says — or what it says about them.
Sadly enough, it's likely a few of them knew exactly what they were doing — and that a growing number of Americans, particularly young ones, don't have much attachment to either our flag or what it symbolizes.
There are a number of likely reasons for that:
. Post-Cold-War youths have grown up outside the shadow of world communism — the specter of which helped galvanize Americans. Against the backdrop of a menacing and morally bankrupt foe, the beauty of capitalism and freedom are easier to recognize. Today, world communism has put on a happier face; tried a little toe-in-the-water perestroika-style capitalism; and has managed to change its brand — though as Vladimir Putin has shown, the resulting oppression and expansionism are often the same.
. Let's just say that as parents, the World War II generation and the Baby Boom/Vietnam generation had different takes on things. It's understandable, considering the relative moral clarity of one war versus the other. But there it is.
. It seems to us that both schools and the news media over the past few decades have overemphasized America's warts — almost to the exclusion of its many virtues. Certainly the older generation may have been exposed to a romanticized version of history, but perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of deprecation.
Indeed, a group of eighth-graders at a school assembly seemed to have never heard the term "American exceptionalism." Granted, it's a high-minded term, but it does strike at the core of the American psyche.
They need to know the term. They need to know what it means. They need to understand that it isn't mere patriotism or vanity or nationalism. American exceptionalism has to do with the fact that, because of the freedoms and rule of law enshrined in our Constitution and other founding documents, America has unleashed the potential of the individual like no other country in history.
Yet, if we don't have an appreciation for what we've got, we're bound to lose it.
As for the flag, there have been actual grumblings about taking it down along with the Confederate battle flag.
Such people only see the negative parts of the flag and the country it represents, and they'll get nowhere with us. You betcha we've got faults; it's the human condition. We live in an imperfect world. But this is still the greatest nation in history — and it's not boastful to admit it. That's because its greatness is not our doing; we're not born special. We don't have "Greatest Nation in History" genes.
No, it was our predecessors who bequeathed us this amazing system of self-governance.
Rather than get all cocky about it, we'd best be humbled by it — and do a better job as stewards of it.
Right now, we simply are not.
As this beloved country turns another year older, may we rededicate ourselves to it, to each other, and to our posterity.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence, knowing they risked everything by it, pledged to each other "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Is it so much to ask of ourselves? Pray it's not.
Happy birthday, America!
The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle on Greece:
You may have heard about the vote in Greece over the weekend: It held a referendum on adulthood - and adulthood lost.
A whopping 61 percent of the country's voters stubbornly said "no" Sunday to financial bailout terms proposed by European Union officials that would have required the bankrupt nation to live within its means to stay in the eurozone.
It's now likely Greece will leave the EU, abandon the euro and reinstate its old currency, the drachma. For a country that owes 175 percent of its gross domestic product to foreign creditors and has a youth unemployment rate of 50 percent, that's not a recipe for success.
But apparently, Greeks prefer the idea of economic uncertainty to austerity measures that would have required them to do things like balance their budgets, pay their taxes and accept cuts in their overly generous government pensions.
Obviously, those who petulantly voted "no" are thinking their ultra left-wing government under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras can get a better deal from the International Monetary Fund, perhaps even a debt write-off. That would be a horrible precedent.
Greece's creditors are angry and fed up, as well they should be. In the EU "household," Greece would be the deadbeat who refuses to get a job or help out with chores. And after five years of excuses and no loan repayments - the latest being the $1.72 billion missed payment to the International Monetary Fund on June 30 - the unrepentant houseguest is being shown the door. And they throw a temper tantrum on the way out?
Other EU nations, particularly Germany, the union's largest economy and biggest creditor, don't have the stomach for another bailout, anyway. All that would do is send a message to far-left radicals in other debt-heavy nations, such as Italy, Portugal and Spain, that sweetheart deals are available to those who push back hard enough against austerity.
The long-term survival of the European single currency depends on making it clear that countries must live by common rules, balance their budgets and pay their debts.
The Greeks, in essence, voted Sunday to suspend reality - real-life math, real-life responsibility.
What next - a referendum on the law of gravity?
If so, look for gravity to lose.