This just came in over the transom via email.
WASHINGTON, D.C.///February 20, 2013///Sequestration will cut visitor access to the rim of the Grand Canyon, significantly delay the spring opening of key portions of Yellowstone and Yosemite, reduce emergency response help for drivers in the Great Smoky Mountains, limit access to the beach at the Cape Cod National Seashore, and impair the experiences in many other ways for millions of visitors at America’s national parks. In addition, local, regional and state economies that depend on national parks will take huge hits as visitors are either turned away or skip visits due to the impact of the mindless sequestration budget cuts.....
CNPSR Spokesperson, Joan Anzelmo, former Superintendent of Colorado National Monument said: “Congress might just as well put a big “Keep Out !” sign at the entrance to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Cape Cod Seashore, and every other iconic national park in the U.S. This foolhardy path tarnishes America’s ‘crown jewels’ and is a repudiation of the nation’s national parks often touted as ‘America’s best idea’. Millions of Americans depend on national parks for their vacations and livelihood. Those Americans are being told that national parks don’t count … that people who use national parks don’t count … and that people who live and work near national parks don’t count.”
A few observations:
- It's a 5% freaking cut. I bet Wal-Mart is a more tightly-run organization than the NPS, and I further bet if I forced an immediate 5% cut at Wal-Mart they would do it without cutting store hours or service to customers.
- Again, we see government officials cutting the most cherished, visible services, rather than the chaff, in order to maximize citizen outrage rather than do their freaking job and set priorities
- It's a freaking 5% cut. Did I say that already?
- I could cut huge chunks from the NPS budget while improving service by having private companies perform many operating functions. Our company runs nearly 175 parks and in every one we have seen something like a 50% reduction in cost over government operation while simultaneously increasing staffing in the parks.
- This is absolutely boilerplate from every single agency and constituency that gets threatened with even the tiniest budget cut -- "you are telling XXX group they don't count." Barf.
- I was going to make some observations about their budget over the last few years, but all their budget detail pages online seem to be down
I am currently as depressed and cynical as I have ever been today due to this absurd reaction to a trivial spending cut. I have about zero hope that Federal spending will ever be reigned in. Politicians of both parties and the special interests that support them will spend and spend until we find ourselves calling Greece asking for a bailout.
Hey, why make expensive investments when the government will just give you access to your competitor's infrastructure?
Federal Communications Commission has decided to mandate data roaming by a 3-2 vote. Simply put, major carriers like AT&T and Verizon will be required to let you check your email and perform VoIP calls over their federally-licensed airwaves even if you're actually paying a regional carrier for your cellular coverage instead -- just as they've been required to do for voice and messaging since 2007. As you can imagine, Big Red and Ma Bell aren't exactly jumping for joy at the news, with both threatening to slow expansion into niche markets if they'll be forced to share their infrastructure. The victorious members of the FCC claim that this doesn't constitute common carriage because the big boys still get to negotiate "commercially reasonable" rates. Considering that two dissenting commissioners say that it is, indeed, common carriage, though, and thus beyond the powers granted to the FCC, we imagine we haven't heard the last of this debate.
By the way, the commercially reasonable rate piece is so much BS. I can say from experience that there is no such thing as a true price negotiation when one party is forced to make a deal. In one of my great moments in not reading the fine print, I signed a commercial lease with the National Park Service in which the fine print demanded that I buy the personal property used in that operation from the former tenant.
Well, you can imagine what happened. The contract said I had to buy it at a reasonable market price, but at the end of the day, if they guy insisted on selling me a pile of useless junk for $100,000, my negotiation options were limited because I could not just walk away. Just to really hammer the lesson home to me about being careful in such deals in the future, the former tenant really went the extra mile in taking advantage of the provision. He stripped out every good asset from the operation and shipped in every non-working piece of junk equipment he could find in his other operations -- after all, I seem to have given him an open-ended "put". Only his, shall we say, excessive creativity in the latter eventually saved me, as trying to sell property from other operations (there was even some old couches from someone's house sitting in the boat repair shed) was considered by the NPS to be a violation of the rules and they eventually released me from the requirement.
Tom Nelson has a pretty funny set of articles on the White House vegetable garden. Michelle Obama told a group of kids it only cost $180. Tom links a variety of videos and articles showing:
- Five NPS workers digging in the garden, with a tractor, tiller, and hand tools.
- A job posting for a college grad for the position of "White House Farmer."
- A job description of an assistant White House chef who currently overseas the garden.
Farming is cheap if the serfs (ie US citizens) provide all the labor and equipment for free.