In another in our series on the government’s deliberate efforts—abetted by the media—to maximize the pain wrought by the sequester, we find an article in the Washington Post about the effect on Yellowstone National Park, which will be forced to curtail services this season.
The article, complete with a photo of the pristine mountains, trees, and buffalo, laments the hard choices that a 5.1% cut will force park management to make, possibly even posing “a risk to public safety.” The article is actually a balanced and (seemingly) fact-based case study of the trickle-down effects of the sequester; it dutifully represents the highly focused strategy from the executive branch to make the spending cuts as painful as possible outside the beltway so that a majority of citizens rise up and demand tax increases. We likely won’t see any efforts by the administration (or articles in the Post) about how agencies are laying off desk-bound bureaucrats, attacking welfare fraud, cutting grants to favored special interests, or otherwise addressing the government waste and market distortion that are the real drains on resources. Nor does anyone seem interested in raising user fees at places like Yellowstone so, heaven forbid, customers who actually value the services can pay for them instead of redistributing everyone else’s money into the morass. (How about privatizing national parks? Couldn’t Yellowstone exist on a commercial basis?)
The park’s constituents are not all just hapless locals trying to earn a living. Park superintendent Dan Wenk “offered to plow [a certain important] road first, but the snowmobile industry balked: Paved roads mean less business. Now the plow crews won’t arrive until the end of May, angering other businesses who want the road cleared.” Every government program has its clients who know how to work the system. Instead of channeling their creativity into productive commerce, they’re forced to duke it out in the political process. Their cynicism certainly tempers our sympathy for them.
Kudos to Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Jackson Hole mayor Mark Barron for putting the savings in perspective. Rep. Lummis applauded the cuts in a highly public manner, and made exactly the right point, rarely articulated in the land of government-bestowed milk and honey: “federal agencies will be forced to consider which positions are crucial and make their decision based on necessity rather than luxury.”
We don’t blame Wenk, whose budget cut was passed down from Washington. Rather, the bureaucrats at the National Park Service—who, no doubt, will spare themselves any pain—probably figured that Yellowstone was a juicy target: a program that most Americans support, which will hurt earnest middle-American tourists and workers, and in a red state no less. Perfect case study for the Post!