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Losing Our Legacy

MAILANDER MUSINGS: Shuttering 70 State Parks for a year is the most disturbing budgetary action the California legislature has undertaken in decades.
Of all the wonders California has to offer, perhaps none occupy such a pleasant part of our consciousness as do our State Parks.

Given their special place in our psyches, the fact that 35,000,000 people can't find a way to keep 70 parks open in 2012 [link] round speaks extremely badly for our State as a whole.

Worse, the action will certainly lead to further congestion of the parks that remain open.

Cutting such services to the people--parks are the perfect example of the State providing a service that no corporation can (or should) provide--is the consequence "Reagan economics" and those who pandered to it in both parties. It's the consequence of vilifying our civil services for decades, even while promoting prison construction as an economic engine.

How did it come to be that we elected legislators who believe that our State Parks aren't a State priority? It happened through our own ever-increasing tolerance for budgetary malfeasance and shortsightedness in what we expected from legislators.

In the chart on the left, the sliver of light blue at 11 o'clock is what we spend on California State Parks, and the turquoise swath from 9:30 to 10:30 is what we spend on prisons and rehabilitation. This chart represents spending for the past year, already after some prison trimmings; even so, this coming year the ratio will be worse. Cf. State of California Franchise Tax Board.  [link]

A broader question might be: Why haven't we begun to question the way we are living our lives? Technology--especially in this State, which has long led the Information Age--has not made our lives easier, nor our social consciences more informed. In fact, it has enabled the stingiest among us to shutter access to some of our natural wonders, and make the common man and woman's life a far less ponderous place.

Find a list of Parks facing closure in 2012, as well as "Parks closure methodology [link]

(Joseph Mailander is a writer and an observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He blogs at where this column first appeared.) –cw

Tags: State Parks, park closures, budget, California

Vol 9 Issue 55
Pub: July 13, 2011