Government Shutdown

Who Knew that National Parks Were Such a Vital National Interest?

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Hang in there, Lady Liberty, and wipe away those tears that flow like ink from the pens of newspaper cartoonists.

House and Senate Republicans, even—especially— those hardhearted bastards who are pushing to reduce wasteful and useless government spending as a matter of principle, are redefining what essential and vital means.

Here's Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) the mustache-twirling Black Bart of this gunslinging fight:

"We ought to fund vital priorities." Cruz said to a question by The Salt Lake Tribune, noting that Congress made a special exemption to ensure active-duty soldiers got paychecks during a shutdown and other agencies could be spared, too. "We should reopen the national parks today…

Here's Rep. Jason Chaffetz pounding on his question mark key via the Twitter:

Voted to fund Veterans, Parks, Monuments and even D.C. Dems vote NO. Who really wants a shut down???

Here's Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) channeling his inner Pee-Wee Herman and throwing down:

"You think we're holding the Affordable Care Act hostage? You're holding the national parks hostage."

Over at the Washington Examiner, Byron York discusses the changing dynamic as the federal shutdown enters its second day in which 80 percent of federal employees keep working (the horror, the horror):

Sometimes fights become so intense and so tangled that the original cause becomes obscured. In the government funding battle, the issue that sparked it all, Obamacare, was no longer center stage less than 24 hours after the shutdown began. The fight is now about the shutdown itself, and Obamacare has been pushed to the side.

York's whole col here.

As long as the fight is about the shutdown now, how about asking a variety of questions about whether national parks are indeed "vital priorities" or an essential function of the federal government?

Can't states—which already do the same thing—or private conservation trusts handle this sort of thing? There's something on the order of 397 parks, 582 natural landmarks, and 2,461 historical landmarks paid for with $2.75 billion in annual appropriations. The one thing we know for sure is that national parks suffer from bad management and have billions of dollars in deferred maintenance that they will never get to.

You'd expect that Tea Party Republicans to be among the loudest voices for offloading this stuff to states, local governments, or interested nonprofits. But as with so many things related to first principles about limiting the size, scope, and spending of government, you'd be wrong.

Related: "GOP 'Anarchists' Now Talking About Reopening…National Parks?"

NEXT: "Silk Road" Shuttered, Alleged Operator Arrested: Shutdown Government Still Managing To Destroy Honest Commerce [UPDATED with Soliciting Murder Accusations and How He Was Caught]

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  1. Look, parks are a right, just like health insurance. It says so right in that constitution thingy.

    And not only that, but if you are going to visit a park, you need armed thugs to watch you and make sure you aren’t disturbing any pebbles or weeds, or anything pertaining to mother Gaia, or something like that.

    1. Also, if anyone except the federal government could run the national parks, the federal government wouldn’t have had to step in and do something. Therefore, only the federal government can provide trees and open space. Mr. Gillespie, why do you hate trees and open space so much?

      1. If a private corporashun ever were allowed to operate a national park, the first thing they would do would be to cut down every tree to sell for profit. Then they would intentionally dump oil sludge into all of the rivers. Do we really want that?

        1. Well, that depends. What will the trees be made into?

          1. Meth – to sell to children at unauthorized, non-government grade schools.

            1. Bath Saltz, to be given to home-schooled teathuglican Young Taliban.

    2. You absolute have to have access to a flush toilet and a souvenir shop near the entrance. Without such things, hikers are likely to go on murderous rampages and torch the forests.

    3. my classmate’s step-sister makes $84/h hourly on the internet. She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her pay was $20791 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site.. Bay89.com

    4. my classmate’s step-sister makes $84/h hourly on the internet. She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her pay was $20791 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site.. Bay89.com

    5. my classmate’s step-sister makes $84/h hourly on the internet. She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her pay was $20791 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site.. Bay89.com

    6. my classmate’s step-sister makes $84/h hourly on the internet. She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her pay was $20791 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site.. Bay89.com

  2. OK, so here’s a story about the Honor Flight guys breaking down the barricades and getting in to see the WWII Memorial. But the interesting part of the story is buried.

    FTA: Transportation Safety Administration employees were still working at Toledo Express Airport on Monday, but when WNWO called the TSA to find out if they would be affected, there was a message that said the public relations representative did not have access to her voicemail or email due to the government shutdown.

    Three questions: Why does the TSA in Toledo need a “public relations representative”? Why would a shutdown take away access to electronic communications that cost nothing to maintain once they are set up? Was the public relations representative still working and the communications to him/her cut off for political reasons?

    Too bad this reporter was a retard. This story could have unearthed some more mandacity at the hands of our benevolent executive branch.

    1. You don’t expect reporters actually to uncover facts, especially facts that call into question the holy narrative, do you?

    2. Dude, even the National Park websites are shut down. Because websites cost so much to maintain? No, so old people who vote and visit national parks will blame the Republicans.

  3. Monsters, those poor plants and animals in the national parks have to work 24/7 entertaining the visitors and these politicians won’t even give them a few days off.

  4. Where is Welch to give credit to Republicans for good gov shutdown politics?

    Waiting……………….

  5. The entire front page of the Chron is given over to stories of horror such as the gal from So. Cal who is being denied the ride to Alcatraz!
    Sell it to Disney; let the pros run it. It’ll get a whole lot better and it’ll be open.

    1. Oh, and great alt text opportunity gone begging.

      1. “What do you mean I’m Pregnant?!”

        What was yours?

      2. Who’s going to pay for my boob job.

    2. The Federal government runs Alacatraz? I thought either the State or city of San Francisco did.

      1. You’ll notice the ‘closed’ government somehow spent the money to shut down the web site:
        http://www.nps.gov/shutdown/index.html
        (they also spent the money to make the web site cycle, so you may have to wait to see the ‘Alcatraz National Park Closed’ sign)

    3. Give it back to the Indian and AIM.

      Isn’t it about time the Italian, Chinese, Irish, Korean, etc. return to their motherland?

      The great experiment is a failure?

      1. Indians? You mean Siberian-Americans?

        1. I thought the first migrations were from Asia Minor.

          No matter. The rise of the planet of the apes will happen soon, you filthy humans.

          The real statues of liberty are Half Dome, Cathedral Peak, Marin Headlands, Grand Tetons and Sisters National Forest near Bend, Oregon. “America’s best idea” indeed.

      2. And the Europeans?

  6. As long as the fight is about the shutdown now, how about asking a variety of questions about whether national parks are indeed “vital priorities” or an essential function of the federal government?

    They’re Republicans, not libertarians. The better message is to focus on how “public property” that used to “belong to all Americans” is now “Federal property” and the gov is putting up no trespassing signs and threatening violence against the citizens who “own” said property.

    1. That would be a nice tack to take. Too bad Republicans are the Stupid Party.

    2. Logically, if the Federal government lacks the funds to open parks to the public, they also should lack the funds to interfere with efforts by responsible local authorities (eg States, municipalities) to keep them open.

  7. As long as the fight is about the shutdown now, how about asking a variety of questions about whether national parks are indeed “vital priorities” or an essential function of the federal government?

    Why would you expect Republicans to make that argument? They don’t have any problems with the government managing Federal land as national parks.

  8. The weird thing is that some of these parks charge admission that is supposed to cover maintenance and the employees and everything else. But what is shutdown has nothing to do with saving money.

    1. And even if they dont cover the entire park, as long as the fees cover the variable costs, they should be open.

      The fixed costs are, well, fixed.

      1. Yes, precisely.

    2. They closed “National Recreation Areas” that are nothing more than access points to a commons with a (pay/permit) parking lot. Fed LEOs who do nothing more than check to see if everyone pays now have to check to make sure no one is cutting the locks.

  9. This whole shutdown thing is like watching two people with Down’s Syndrome fight over who gets the last thing of fries at McDonalds. You hate yourself for watching, but you can’t look away.

    1. I was going to say something about ‘theater of the absurd’, but you win Hugh, hands down.

    2. People with Down’s Syndrome deserve better than being compared to Congress.

  10. Here’s Rep. Jason Chaffetz pounding on his question mark key via the Twitter:

    Voted to fund Veterans, Parks, Monuments and even D.C. Dems vote NO. Who really wants a shut down???

    This is at least somewhat related to national parks in Chaffetz’s congressional district, including Arches Natl Park. Lot of money from tourists being lost when those parks shut down.

    It seems kind of petty to shut those parks down, BTW — seems like the $25 entry fee should cover the costs of keeping them open.

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/UT/3

    1. Man, those people’ll turn for a chocolate doughnut!

  11. 2.2 billion for 16,500 employees means the average NPS makes $130,000.

    1. “I wanna be a Park Ranger when I grow up!”

      1. “I wanna be a Park Ranger when I grow up!”

        Who wouldn’t want to be? I mean, you get to carry around weapons and act like a militarized thug. You can beat up little kids for tossing stones in the water. By the time you grow up, you many even get to shoot pets for fun like a real police officer!

        1. Fuck the game warden!

    2. Are you sure? With the Department of Math shut down, how can we ever know for sure during the #governmentshutdown???

      1. So that’s why my calculator app froze this morning every time I hit the + button.

      2. Nonsense, the Thousanders would never let this happen.

    3. I don’t think that is all for salaries. I doubt if the pay is that high. A lot of park rangers are in very low cost of living areas. And ranger jobs are so desirable and so many people want them, I don’t think they pay that much. They don’t’ have to.

      1. Do you think they care about market forces?

      2. That’s the line item for FTE on 2012. Probably some is for PTE, but they didn’t break it out. 3.6 billion total, and 2.2 is going to salaries.

        1. Labor charges don’t all go to salary. There are benefits as well.

          1. OK, good point. Forgot about the lavish benefits.

  12. Why is it we need the federal government to keep parks and monuments open and in good condition?

    They do this at Monticello in VA, they receive no government funding at all, it all comes from private donations and tour fees. There are around, I think, 1000 acres to the estate and it is in immaculate condition.

    I would rather pay to get into a park than to let the federal government have anything to do with it. In fact, I’d like to get the federal government out of 90+% of what they are involved in.

    1. Why is it we need the federal government to keep parks and monuments open and in good condition?

      *** meekly raises hand ***

      Because it’s the law?

      1. So is the debt ceiling limit.

      2. The Law? I AM THE LAW.

        – Barry O

    2. Right, why can’t they just leave the gates open and let people run wild?

      No government means armed thugs locking you out of forests? WTF?

      If the Park Service is such a benefit, I’m sure that the lack of trail maintainance or forest fire or whatever will eventually turn up.

      Why is the default alternative to funding the NPS a complete lock-out from public lands? Shouldn’t it be total openness?

      1. If the top men in charge used any kind of logic, yes.

  13. Running national parks on Federal land is one of the least irksome aspects of our current situation. There are a lot of alternative methods of operating the parks, but on the whole they don’t offend me as much as say – the TLAs (Three Letter Agencies) and their longer acronymed Cousins.

    1. They should be put into trusts and run by self sustaining corporations. People happily pay money to get into these places thinking the money goes to keep them up. No, the money goes to the general fund and then whatever Congress wants to give back is used for upkeep.

      We would have better maintained parks if we would get rid of the park service as we know now it.

      1. But wait, John. I thought orgs like The Nature Conservancy were teh evilz?

    2. I’d prefer the parks were privatized, so they could be run more efficiently — built a few hotels and restaurants there so more people could enjoy the views — but a federal park that has all of its funding from fees from visitors to said park would be an OK alternative.

      1. Why does a park need any funding at all?

        It’s not like the land is going to run off and attach itself to a different country if left unsupervised.

        Just leave it as unmaintained land, and see if avid hikers form volunteer groups to do trail maintainance on their own.

        Fuck the souvenir shops and the restauraunts.

  14. Libertarian purity aside, I’d be more comfortable casually suggesting to non-libertarians that we should legalize heroin, end professional licensure,or make food and drug inspection private and voluntary than that we sell the National Parks to Disney.

    1. This is one area where Libertarian purity is a waste of time. People love the national parks. Fully privatizing them is never going to happen. But creating public corporations would be a better option than what we have and something people might be willing to support.

      1. In my case, it’s not so much the principle. I’m just tired of watching amateurs screw up what could be a pleasant experience:
        ‘No, you can’t walk on that trail. The (union) groundskeepers haven’t cleared the rock fall from 4 years ago.’

        1. You realize they have no authority to actually stop you from walking on (or off) any trail you want, right? If you want to hop over a rockslide, go for it.

          1. Indeed.

            Trail ‘closures’ are largely intended to keep the casual clueless hiker from getting in over their head.

            AFAIK the only time they will actually fine you for going on a ‘closed’ trail is if its closed because of bear activity.

            1. That’s all well and good, guys, but WHY IN HELL ISN’T THE ROCK FALL CLEARED?

              1. Because moving 1000+ tons of rock by hand is impractical.

      2. LIke the post office you mean?

        1. At least people actually pay at the parks.

      3. A “public corporation”… Like Amtrak or The Post Office?

    2. Fuck selling them to Disney… just leave them unmaintained wilderness areas. People can make their own trails.

      All the park service should be is a small group of back country rangers that rides around on horseback and makes sure nothing is on fire.

      1. Actually, letting stuff burn is better.

    3. I think libertarians should start saying something like: un-illegalize, or un-prohibit or something that acknowledges the idea that all activities are legal unless prohibited.

  15. when did people become too stupid to go into national park without the oversight of some bureaucrat?

    1. Sometime around 1933. It wasn’t on my watch!

  16. theparklands.org

    They try to sidestep exactly how much government funding they got to get them started (but only $1.5MM from the city), but it is supposed to be 100% maintained from private funds.

    1. 21st Century Parks raised more than $120 million in its Capital Campaign in order to acquire land and construct the park system. This includes $70.5 million from private sources and $49.5 million from public sources. The public money includes $38 million from the federal government, $10 million from the state and $1.5 million from Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government. The annual funding of The Parklands, expected to be about $4 million per year, will be supported by annual membership, private donations, in-park revenue and an endowment. The Parklands will not receive tax-payer support for annual operations.

      McConnell porked up a transportation bill for the $38MM.

  17. The “shut down” government must be busy moving a shitload of those metal barriers out west, given that about 85% of the state of Nevada is federally owned land.

    1. I thought the radiation and permanant fencing kept people out.

  18. Rand Paul just tweeted this: “@BarackObama sent 7 security guards to #WWIIMemorial this AM to keep out our vets. Sadly, that is 2 more than were present in Benghazi.”

    It is fucking ON, bitches!

  19. I think a more interesting question is to ask why national parks must actively lock the public out rather than letting them enter for free.

    They can’t afford to pay for park rangers? Ok, camp and hike at your own risk!
    Can’t afford to staff the gates? Ok, leave the gates open and stop collecting fees!

    What exactly are you afraid of unsupervised visitors doing?

    1. Go ahead and closed the visitor centers and the bathrooms. Nobody gives a shit about the stupid souvenir shop anyway.

    2. But they want it to hurt. Otherwise people might realize how useless most of the government actually is.

    3. Finding their hidden secret lairs and bunkers filled with treasures and artifacts throughout history?

      And what Brandon said.

  20. Closing down the National Parks for the duration of the shutdown will probably cost taxpayers more than it saves them. Many of these furloughed workers are going to be compensated for their lost hours, and whatever small amount of revenue that these parks make will stop for the next few weeks. Maintenance at taxpayer expense is still going to occur in the future, and the animals at the National Zoo will still probably get fed. I’m as much for privatizing our park system as anyone else, but the current state of affairs is inevitably going to cost taxpayers in this area.

    1. I’m as much for privatizing our park system as anyone else, but the current state of affairs is inevitably going to cost taxpayers in this area.

      This seems like a non sequitur.

    2. Many sites are privately run and in fact generating money tomput in the government coffers. Obama is paying overtime to government employyes and renting barracades to shut those down too. It is vindictive bullshit that is costing the government money not saving it.

  21. “There’s something on the order of 397 parks, 582 natural landmarks, and 2,461 historical landmarks paid for with $2.75 billion in annual appropriations.”

    Better yet, spend your time and money at a private museum, conservation site, or historical site. The one I volunteer at receives no government grants or other bullshit (except for one time that counts as repayment for property that the local government fucked with).

  22. A few years back, the unionized toll booth workers ($24/hour!) went on strike in New Jersey. Governor Whitman did the obvious thing and just opened up the toll booths and gave everyone a vacation from paying the tolls. It was fun driving by all the union goons with the window down and my middle finger up for the few days it took for them to slink back to work.

    I think the Feds learned from this that you can’t just stop policing the roads or parks, you have to actively prevent people from using them if you want it to hurt.

    1. Don’t tell me you stopped giving them the finger when they went back to work.

      Side note: In early 2002 we were driving up the pike or the parkway. A friend of mine, who was driving, decided to say to the attendant “The seething vengeance of Allah knows no bounds” as he drove off after completing the transaction.

      1. EZ-Pass. I buzz right by the empty booths at 15MPH. They aren’t exactly essential employees.

        This was the infamous Bristol exit from the PA Turnpike right before crossing the bridge into NJ. Infamous from the “Roxanne” murder, where the killer threw a stripper out a third-story window, put her unconscious body in the back of his pickup truck, drove through the toll booth and across the bridge, then dumped her possibly still breathing body over an embankment. The idiot was finaly convicted because the camera at the toll booth clearly showed her body in the back of the truck, and disputed his standard “Wasn’t me driving!” claim as well.

  23. “Can’t states – which already do the same thing – or private conservation trusts handle this sort of thing?”

    Wouldn’t the answer to this be no? Didn’t Theodor Roosevelt specifically create parks to protect land from unregulated interests?

    I am about to quote Wikipedia but the section I am quoting has proper references:

    “Roosevelt was one of the first Presidents to make conservation a national issue. In a speech he outlined his views on conservation of the lands of the United States. He favored using America’s natural resources, but opposed wasteful consumption.[99] One of his most lasting legacies was his significant role in the creation of 5 national parks, 18 national monuments, and 150 National Forests, among other works of conservation. Roosevelt was instrumental in conserving about 230 million acres (930,000 km2) of American soil among various parks and other federal projects.[100]”

    SO back the question of Trusts and State regulating parks, States and private trusts already have their own parks, but the land that is protected on the federal level has significant business value and that’s why the answer is no.

    History repeats itself and this isn’t the first time in history that the government has shut down. The earth will continue to spin.

    1. Roosevelt was a douchebag.

      1. Excellent well supported rebuttal, you have restored my faith in the modern American. Most importantly you have restored my faith in humanity and the libertarian party, you my friend are a scholar and a gentlemen. Roosevelt would’ve crumbled under the likes of you.

        1. You use big words and I hate big words.

  24. You know, Nick, yesterday, I could almost understand, but today? After the WW2 vets stormed the barricades? After Rand Paul used it as a bludgeon? After Democrats basically said ‘we won’t negotiate with your negotiating’?

    Now it just looks like you’ve got your head….in the sand.

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  26. FYI:

    Rep. Cliff Steans (R-FL), a birther, one of the leaders of the Solyndra witch hunt and defender of subsidies to Big Oil companies, told constituents at a town hall meeting Belleview, Florida, on February 25 that “we don’t need any more national parks in this country” and that we need to “actually sell off some of our national parks”
    http://thinkprogress.org/clima…..nal-parks/

  27. How long does the government have to go at 80% before the budget balances for the year?

    1. Prolly more than a year. Seriously, it would be nearly the entire year with the “low” deficit of about $650BB.

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  29. It doesn’t cost anything to leave some vacant land open. In fact it costs money to police the land to keep people out. Many of these parks are run by private enterprise and generate money for the parks. It sad when Libertarian extremists are so doctrinaire they can’t even accept reasonable political positions of other close groups like the T-Party. The T-Party groups are right and Nick Gillespie couldn’t be more wrong.

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