Americans are having trouble coming to grips with all the ways the recession affects daily life.
Sure, we trim the budget at home, but when local government makes painful cuts that we feel down at the grassroots level, we get resentful. Take Independence Day fireworks, which we feel is our right as Americans to enjoy. Somehow, they just happen.
It's this preconception that causes civic leaders to swallow hard before they take away something so highly visible. They're afraid we'll take it out on them later at the polls.
On the other hand, how would you like to be a city worker who's been doing his or her job for decades, and doing it well, when some councilman comes to you and says, "Sorry, but we had to lay you off so we could save our own butts by blowing up a few thousand dollars in the atmosphere this year?"