Government Spending

Apocalypse Not: In a World Without the Tomo-Kahni State Historical Park, Survivors Would Envy the Dead

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The Battle of San Pasqual: Never have so few cared so little for so long.

One of the most entertaining things about the state fiscal crisis is that the longer it goes on, the more clear it becomes how useless state governments are. As California's walking wounded wander the wasteland and resort to cannibalism in the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed "austerity" budget, the Sacramento Bee attempts to lay out how the damage will impact each and every state resident.

If you're worried that the Golden State might have to axe such essential services as the boards of chiropractory and horse racing, or even reduce spending on the second-worst public schools in America, the Bee explains that the almost-balanced budget is not just more terrible than you imagined but more terrible than you can imagine.

First they came for the community college students, and I did not complain because I already had my associate's degree and had used it to score seasonal employment as a department store Christmas elf. Under Edmund G. "Jerry" Borgia's plan, community college scholars will have to pay another $10 per unit. Full-time students will have to sell their own organs in order to afford a tuition burden that could reach as high as $1,080 a year.

Then they came for the people who want to make more than 10 free doctor visits a year and get more than six free prescription refills a month, and I did not complain because I figured by dropping out of community college I could use the $10 in savings to afford two of the draconian $5 co-pays Brown's plan would require.

But who will speak up for the least popular of the state's 278 parks? Here's what the Nero of Sacramento has in store for the park system, according to his budget summary:

A decrease of $11.0 million in 2011?12 which will result in partially or fully closing some state park units and reducing expenditures at the Department's headquarters. The plan, when completed, will minimize the impact on attendance by partially closing state parks during weekdays and off?peak seasons and closing other parks with the lowest attendance and revenue generation.

Let 'em eat cake, Jerry!

It's a little hard to figure out just what those least-attended parks are, given that in the most recent (2008) statistical report [pdf], the California Department of Parks and Recreation lists many sites as having zero annual attendance.

Presuming that these are closed sites or preserves not designed for human visitation, we can still find quite a few forlorn destinations. A mere 4,039 people per year turn out for the "spring wildflowers" and "scenic vistas" of Pacheco State Park near Los Banos. But are there really only 557 Kawaiisu buffs willing to make the trek to the Tomo-Kahni historic village in Tehachapi? ("The moderately strenuous walking tour takes between two to three hours to complete.") And is the blood of my fellow Californians so tired that a mere 2,149 of us can show up to see Don Andrés Pico hand Stephen W. Kearny his ass at the San Pasqual Battlefield re-enactment? Wouldn't a better understanding of this none-too-important military engagement shed light on why San Francisco's Kearny Street and L.A.'s Pico Boulevard are two of the crappiest streets in their respective burgs?

Weep not for the prison guards, lawyers and engineers who would face a 10 percent pay cut (and possibly even give up their taxpayer-funded cell phones) under Brown's plan. Instead be grateful that the Bee, which always sees the wisdom in a tax hike, included "taxpayers" among the injured parties under Brown's plan, which would maintain a 0.25 percent "surcharge on their income tax" (which for some reason is not the same as a 0.25 percent income tax increase). A quarter-percent tax increase may seem small, especially when history has shown that tax hikes are always used to close the deficit and never get spent on some new useless program. But this is where all the laughter dies in sorrow. If California is going to thrive again, the tax burden doesn't just need to stop increasing. It needs to start shrinking, and soon.

But there's still hope: The budgets for the chiropractic and horse racing boards will both increase under the Brown budget. That's two reasons to quack and whinny, respectively, with relief.

Remind yourself why the parks don't need all the taxpayer funding with this Reason TV report on the mercifully defeated Prop 21:

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  1. If California is going to thrive again, the tax burden doesn’t just need to stop increasing. It needs to start shrinking, and soon.

    But if it does successfully begin its recovery after this, that tax burden can go right back up again, right?

  2. Instead be grateful that the Bee, which always sees the wisdom in a tax hike, included “taxpayers” among the injured parties under Brown’s plan, which would maintain a 0.25 percent “surcharge on their income tax” (which for some reason is not the same as a 0.25 percent income tax increase).

    Ahhhh, that felt goood!!!

    I just had a rush of pleasure because I don’t live in California any more! Sucks to be you, Californians! Bwa ha ha ha ha!!!

    1. I didn’t even get a reacharound.

    2. Yes. But as an earlier poster noted in another thread, you all won’t be laughing when we Californians have dibbs on the “… gravy train to Michoacan.”

    3. You’re not the only one who thinks that:

      Why did I once live in California?
      Must’ve smoked some sunshine;
      Maybe I drank the moonshine.
      Some pretended to be friends of mine,
      But they were thieving slime,
      So I’ve gone from California for all time.

      I was better off there once,
      But, well, nowadays the state’s declining;
      Governor is just a dunce.
      The hand-writing is on the wall:
      That’s why I’m–really–
      Gone from California for all time.

      There ain’t no doubt in this one’s mind,
      Sure glad I didn’t hang around:
      Yeah, they would have robbed me blind.
      With tax hikes, and union strikes,
      They’re dying; glad I’m
      Gone from California for all time.

      And that’s why I’m gone from California
      They would tax the sunshine;
      They already tax the moonshine.
      Had to watch my back all the time
      Around those thieving slime,
      So I’m gone from California for all time.

      Watched an election website
      From my quiet room in flyover country;
      No soundbytes, or fights to fight.
      They elected morons, but I’m long gone, long gone!
      Been out of California a long time.

      With its hordes of unemployed voting for scoundrels,
      Don’t think they’ll dig out of their hole soon,
      ‘Cause no matter how they dig, they don’t hit bottom;
      Better them than me!
      Sure am glad I’m gone from California for all time.

      I’ll be fine; I’m gone from California.
      I’m not smoking sunshine;
      No one can sell me moonshine;
      And my corn hole’s safe from the slime
      Who’d take me from behind!
      Now I’m gone from California for all time.

      Gone from California for all time;
      I’ve been out of California a long time;
      Gone from California for all time;
      Gone–I’m gone–I’m gone…
      Staying out of that place
      ‘Cause it’s going south, fools!
      Got my goodies here safe from you,
      ‘Cause I’m gone…

  3. the longer it goes on, the more clear it becomes how useless state governments are.

    It sounds like you’re saying we need to get rid of state governments. Some pretty violent rhetoric you’ve got going on there.

    1. Ignorant rhetoric, too.

      The state and local governments aren’t suposed to be useless, they’re supposed to be the more important levels of government to the average individual. I know my mayor personally. I can drive over to my state legislator’s office or home and chat with him. These are the things I cannot do with my Federal Reps.

      The People in DC see you as a number on a spreadsheet. The local level politicians see you as a neighbor, the kid who used to date their kid. When laws are being placed on the books, which of those two do you want in charge of them?

      I’d prefer the guy who knows me and might actually be looking out for my interests too.

      1. how useless state governments are

        Yup. Get rid of the government and all your problems will disappear.

        1. Not all, but many.

        2. “The government we have is useless” is not the same as “all government must be useless”

      2. The People in DC see you as a number on a spreadsheet. The local level politicians see you as a neighbor, the kid who used to date their kid. When laws are being placed on the books, which of those two do you want in charge of them?

        I’ll take the spreadsheet jockey, since my dog poops on all the neighbors’ lawns and I never bring my date back by 11.

        Seriously though, local government can be even more oppressive than distant government, and will screw you for even more petty reasons. If I’m going to get checked off in the “30-39, received penis in anus” category, it’s going to be cold comfort indeed to know that it was with a personal touch.

      3. My mayor knows me as the guy whose dog crapped on his lawn two years ago. He doesn’t really look out for my interests all that much.

  4. Ohhh, the humanity!

  5. Full-time student will have to sell their own organs in order to afford a tuition burden that could reach as high as $1,080 a year.

    THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

    1. A full time community college education costs more than that in Texas and Washington state.

  6. “…the draconian $5 co-pays Brown’s plan would require….”

    Hey! That’s part of a cup of coffee at Starbucks!

  7. But the California Prune Advisory Board still exists, right? I mean, some things are still sacred.

    1. What do all of these boards that California actually do?

        1. I meant to justify their phoney baloney jobs.

          1. “I meant to justify their phoney baloney jobs.”

            To whom?
            A real whacko named Carole Migden went from SF supervisor to State Assembly where, on top of being busted for stoned driving, she pissed off enough people with her nastiness that another not-quite-so-lefty blew her out of the primary.
            Schwarzenegger promptly parked her sorry butt on some commission that paid 6 digits for a couple of meetings a year.
            So given that sort of insider crap, who needs justification?

      1. Oh, of course. They’re “dried plums” now.

    2. Don’t forget the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation!!

  8. But who will speak up for the least popular of the state’s 278 parks?

    Jesus! The state owns 278 parks? You could visit one park each week and long before you got to all of them THAT’S TOO MANY PARKS FOR THE STATE TO OWN!!!1!

    1. Can we give them Pioneer Park?

      1. And its residents?

        1. Specifically the residents. Well, “resident” might be a stretch. “Indigent inhabitants” is more like it.

    2. It’s a big state.

    3. And the shame of it is that California doesn’t even have the really famous parks like Yosemite that draw tourists from all over the world. Those are Federal parks.

  9. carpnig like this is exactly why it should be a flat cut across ALL state, AND federal budgets.

    1. That would involve keeping the California Chiropractic Board or whatever.

  10. I like the idea of a Board of Chiropratic. Next up, a Board of Astrology and a Board of Healing With Crystals, Dude.

    1. or the board of aromatherapy….

    2. so u got a prob w the people of cali deciding they want a chiropractic board?

      1. No, it would be fine if everyone in California agreed to pay the taxes that fund the chiropractic board. Since this is not the case, since people are forced against their will to pay those taxes, we do have a problem.

        1. tax pay civil u got prob with civl???

          1. You got a problem with English?

  11. I move that we ban “In a world” and “survivors would envy the dead” from the H&R post title lexicon.

    1. How would Tim title his pieces, then?

      1. Cannot predict now.

    2. I am just glad Tim is back.

      Plus Tim was one of the first to title his images. He should be given some leeway if only because of that fact.

    3. I prefer: “The Lucky Ones Went Insane”

  12. Having growed up in Southern California, and having Spanish Mission history (long live Junipero Sera and the El Camino Real!) and boring-ass field trips shoved down my throat for years on end in elementary school, I can state unequivocally say that every state park, mission, and historic point of interest can burn to the ground and the place would be better off.

    But you gotta love the everlasting close-the-parks gambit, in which the state spends almost as much money manning the park entrances to keep people out of the park as they would spend if the park were still open.

    So they’re going to close the parks. Teachers are going to have to buy their own classroom arts and crafts materials. Flashing your headlights in LA will make the Nightstalker shoot you. Downing Pepsi and Poprocks will kill you, and the Killer Bees are coming.

    All these have come to pass, and none are as bad as we’d been promised. I for one welcome our new park closing overlords.

    (I do have to wonder, though, where Latino families will have their BBQs, futbol games, and quincea?eras.)

    1. The good news is that all bit two of the missions are still owned and operated by the Catholic Church. Although, I clearly remember the church unsucessfully tried to dump a few of them onto the state or Federal government just a few years ago, without decommissioning them as churches.

  13. What a hoot…Californians have to be looking at this and wondering if they really were being bankrupted for such trivial shit.

    1. “Californians have to be looking at this and wondering if they really are being bankrupted for such trivial shit.”

  14. Weep not for the prison guards, lawyers and engineers who would face a 10 percent pay cut (and possibly even give up their taxpayer-funded cell phones) under Brown’s plan.

    Jeebus, what organization still provides cell phones to its employees?

  15. “It’s a little hard to figure out just what those least-attended parks are, given that in the most recent (2008) statistical report [pdf], the California Department of Parks and Recreation lists many sites as having zero annual attendance.”

    I would propose that if a zombie visits a park, that is kinda like a negative visit as they are non-living. Besides, all the public restrooms at the parks frequented by zombies smell like somebody died in there.

  16. Wow…I just moved from Tehachapi (to Colorado to start a business) after living there for four years, and I had never even heard of the Tomo-Kahni State Park…

    ~Jon

    1. “Wow…I just moved from Tehachapi (to Colorado to start a business) after living there for four years, and I had never even heard of the Tomo-Kahni State Park…”

      Well, see, they need more money to advertise the parks no body wants to go to.

  17. They would rather close a bunch of parks than let an entrepreneur like Warren Meyer run them.

    1. And in SF: “Similar to the last great economic revitalization during the 20th Century, recent progress has been principally sparked by government.”
      http://www.potreroview.net/feat10254.html
      Which, of course is like peeing on someone’s shoe and trying to tell them it’s raining.
      The properties in question have been locked in government ‘review’ for the last, oh. twenty years. Had the government simply hung a for-sale sign on them, they’d have been developed long ago

  18. If California is going to thrive again, the tax burden doesn’t just need to stop increasing. It needs to start shrinking, and soon.

    Now this is sounding dangerously close to eliminationist rhetoric that could, possibly, inspire someone to believe that such talk may have inspired someone to contribute to a non-rising tide of violence. Or worse, it might push somebody over right over the edge and they might at least want to eliminationize some essential non-minimalist sized government. At least for a moment or two.

    You better watch it there buster.

  19. students, and I did not complain because I already had my associate’s degree and had

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