Burning Kochs: Americans for Prosperity Stands Up For Firespinning Freedom


The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity issued an ad slamming Democratic state Senate candidate Sheila Leslie for her role in passing a 2011 law in Nevada licensing the art of fire spinning, so frequently displayed at that desert festival of art and community.

People in the Burning Man community misinterpreted it, because of general disdain for their media-spun vision of what the Koch brothers are all about, but this was not an attack on "Burning Man culture" but on what AFP sees as frivolous and irrelevant lawmaking and fee-imposition.

Apprentice fire performers between the ages of 18-21 must be supervised and trained by existing permit holders.

From their own side, a Reno-based group of fire performers who call themselves "Controlled Burn" and who pushed for the state law say it was to protect performers from inconsistent application of local codes from fire marshalls.

The law does restrict the licensing requirement to those "who performs for an audience using an open flame in a venue authorized by permit of a governmental entity," not to anyone practicing poi in the privacy of their own yards.

The Institute for Justice has compiled a useful document on the absurd number of occupations that it is illegal to practice in these here United States without state licensing.

My 2004 book about the festival's history, This is Burning Man, discusses the festival's anarcho-libertarian roots and its status as a (ironically, highly policed) Temporary Autonomous Zone. My May blogging on Burning Man's attempts to become a D.C. lobbying player.

NEXT: Sandy's Death Count, Jill Stein Arrested Again, Rhode Island Sues Curt Schilling: P.M. Links

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  1. Count on the useful idiots at Burning Man to see an ad that is all about getting The Man off their backs (which is supposed to be what they are all about), and getting all pissy about it because it comes from the Wrong People.

    1. Because it was a Kochtopus plan all along to trick her into supporting the legislation in the first place.

    2. Yeah, what a bunch of pussy rubes. They need the government to protect them from themselves! KOCHTOPUSS!!!!!

    3. A couple seemed to almost get it, but still had to add a “but the Kochs still are evil” caveat.

    4. The comments at the site are actually pretty refreshing. Even those that say they don’t like the Kochs note that they’re on the right side of this.

  2. Permits make you flame retardant and Burning Man makes you a mindless follower, apparently.

    1. Maybe the permits make your insurance premiums lower. I really sometimes have a hard time believing just how much people in this country are begging to be controlled.

      1. Outsourcing the insurance inspector jobs to government!

        Shouldn’t the “fire performers” be called “fire workers” in this case?

  3. This is all about the early market entrants trying to make it harder for new market enterents to get a foothold.

    Its hilarious how many hipster kids take up fire arts thinking they are going to become the next Cirque du Soleil, only to discover that (1) it’s not that hard to learn, so that (2) thousands of other hipster kids are doing the same thing.

    I’ve been in more than one fire-spinning practice group where one or two members decide that they want to form a “professional” group, thinking they are going to quit their shitty job as a Barrista and start making money as a professional performer.

    It never works. And the reason is simple, there are tons of amateur fire spinners willing to put on a show for free or cheap. Not just you. So, what do these semi-professionals do? Easy – call the cops and tell them that someone is doing something “unsafe”. Harass the amateurs and make sure they can’t put on public performances.

    In short, put up barriers to market entry so that ONLY YOU can get paid to perform.

    1. Without any apparent government barriers to competition, Susanne Muldowney found an act or two with no competition at all.

  4. I think that a person should have to obtain a licenser’s license in order to license…

    1. Who licenses the license licensers?

      1. It’s licenses all the way down.

  5. The licensing is totally gay. The safety matters should already be covered by existing indoor commercial property fire regulations. Maaaaan.

  6. I love how many of the comments on that page are just rational people saying “Dude, no, seriously, it’s the Kochs trying to help you here,” and just getting a bunch of retardation in return.

    I wish we could just split the world up so the people who want to submit their lives to authority can be in one section, and the rest of us who think we’ve pretty much got our own lives taken care of can be in the other. Of course, I’m well aware that this would lead to a GIANT war, so this wish fizzles just as often as it sparks.

    1. I wish we could just split the world up so the people who want to submit their lives to authority can be in one section, and the rest of us who think we’ve pretty much got our own lives taken care of can be in the other.

      That actually happened, back around, oh, 1776 or so.

  7. Dude is like totally rocking it man!

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