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Daily News editorial

Editor’s note: Today’s editorials originally appeared in The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.

Independence Day is this week, but Fourth of July celebrations always begin a little early. So if you opt to have a neighborhood or private fireworks display, use good sense when buying and igniting the things that go snap, crackle and even boom.

In addition, be respectful to others. Follow the rules and, well, don’t start a blaze.

It’s important to know which fireworks are and are not legal.

The rules on the discharging of fireworks are strict in the city of Walla Walla compared to the areas outside the city.

Pretty much everything that goes boom — or even bang, crack or pop — is forbidden within the city limits. Fireworks purchased outside the city limits are not allowed in Walla Walla. The city code specifically prohibits fireworks that travel more than 20 feet off the ground, travel more than 15 feet along the ground or are specifically designed to produce noise.

The rules are more liberal in the county and College Place. Some of the highflying stuff is OK to be sold and used in those areas. Check the specific rules for your area.

Since it’s sizzle — and loud booms — that sells, it is no accident the majority of fireworks stands are outside of Walla Walla. And, given the bulk of fireworks are purchased just outside the city, it is a reasonable assumption (backed up by years and years of anecdotal evidence) that a lot of illegal fireworks will be used in Walla Walla on and around July 4.

Law enforcement officers do what they can to keep abuse of the law to a minimum, but it is simply impossible for officers to respond to every call in a matter of minutes.

When using legal fireworks such as fountains, please clean up your mess.

Another option (full disclosure, the Union-Bulletin sponsors these events) is to spend the day at Pioneer Park. Fourth of July in the Park on Thursday features entertainment all-day long, and vendors are selling food and beverages as well as a variety of clothing, jewelry and many other goods. When it gets dark, look toward Walla Walla Community College for the city’s fireworks display.

Whatever you choose to do on Independence Day, have fun and be safe. And take extra care to make sure a spark from your fireworks does not start a fire.

Free college isn’t sound policy

The effort to make a college education free and to eliminate (as in forgive) student debt, now led by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, isn’t practical nor would it be good public policy.

Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, proposed a plan to cancel $1.6 trillion in student debt owed by some 45 million people. In addition, he wants to guarantee tuition-free public colleges and trade schools. This would be funded by $2.4 trillion in taxes on financial transactions over 10 years.

This would be a slap in the face (and the wallet) to all those who paid for their college educations.

It would also essentially have the government cancel loans taken out by doctors, lawyers and other high-paid professionals who will earn millions more in their lifetime because of their educations.

According to the College Board, two-thirds of students who earned a four-year degree in 2017 borrowed to pay for school. The average student loan bill was $28,500 upon graduation. The Washington Post reported that those with graduate and professional degrees accounted for 26 percent of borrowers but 48 percent of debt.

Colleges and trade schools will charge more for tuition and fees year after year because the government — taxpayers — are footing the bill. The cost will go up but the quality of education won’t necessarily follow.

Frankly, government is currently having a tough time paying for high-quality kindergarten through high school. Just look at the mess in Washington state as lawmakers remain befuddled even after complying with a state Supreme Court order to fully fund basic education.

State governments around the nation already subsidize college and university educations at state-run institutions. Student tuition covers only part of the costs of college. But if the federal government is handing out cash, states would gladly let them pay the tab.

The strings attached, however, could create unanticipated consequences — starting with reducing the worth of a college education. When students (or their families) pay something toward a college education, it has more intrinsic value. Having to pay something makes it more likely those who are seeking a college education are serious about it.

As we have stated before, but it’s worth repeating — the nation’s higher education system made up of public and private universities isn’t perfect, but it does work. Allowing the federal government to micromanage higher education, which could be the end result of Sanders’ plan, would be a mess.

Congress is now spending billions more than it receives in tax payments to fund every aspect of the federal government, and that adds more and more to the federal debt, which is now in record territory at more than $22 trillion.

A federal takeover of the higher education system would create far more problems than it solves.

Education, at all levels, is a state concern and it should remain the responsibility of the individual 50 states.

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