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Parks problems a symptom of something bigger

Editorial

 


The two letters below on separate problems at nearby state and national parks illustrate a larger problem with a policy stance the entire nation has adopted through its politics.

For decades now, the drumbeat, originating from the Chicago School of Economics in early 1960s, has insisted the solutions to all our problems can come from cutting government budgets and subjecting every government service possible to the forces of the open market gods, which can do no wrong.

The adoption of that economic religion has led to some good and some bad policy. Unintended consequences abound, and the letters from our readers point out tiny examples.

Gone are the days when the federal government accomplished most of its charges with government employees. Outsourcing to the private sector is the order of the day. From parks to prisons to military functions to national security, we are at the mercy of the profit motive embraced by every lowest bidder.

And as downsizing the federal government became the big push, duties once handled at the federal level often dropped without funding down through the states to the counties and cities, as squeezed budgets demanded answers at the lower levels. Our state’s misguided attempt to force State Parks into self-funding through the Discover Pass system is another example.

It’s not all bad and much of it could certainly just be an eventual adjustment in our expectations. But we may simply have to get used to streets not as clean, pavement not repaired as often, parks not mowed or watered enough, sewer maintenance put off too long and social problems being foisted on schools, which are then blamed for declining student achievement.

It’s not at all clear, however, that those insisting on those changes can see the connection of those policies to the weeds growing on the sidewalks, evidence of what they may perceive as a decline in American pride.

Perhaps it’s time to consider it evidence of something else entirely.

Scott Hunter

editor and publisher

 

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