Breaking News: George Bush Hates America

The people, sure…the air and water, of course…but the land, too.

The Bush administration has ordered America's national parks to show that they can function at 80 percent or less of their operating budgets, which is forcing some parks to cut services for visitors as summer approaches…

President Bush is proposing to cut an additional $100.5 million from the parks' $2.1 billion budget next year. According to a report this month by the Government Accountability Office, the parks have an estimated $5 billion maintenance backlog, and even before the cost-cutting began, many of them had moved from slashing back-office operations to trimming visitor services.
And some of them are raising prices, like campground fees, which just annoys me to my very core, since it’s just another potentiality to widen the gap between opportunities available to the wealthy and those available to the poor.

Because my parents were both teachers, we spent our summers traveling around the country, four of us in one small car, and by the time I was 16, I’d been in every state east of the Mississippi, and most of the states west of it. One of our most memorable trips was driving out to Yellowstone, where we spent a week hiking about, checking out Old Faithful, having our senses brutalized by the beautiful but incredibly stinky sulphur pools, being amazed by our proximity to all manner of interesting creatures, and generally enjoying one of our most stunning national parks. At that time, my mom was a stay-at-home, so the four of us lived on my dad’s salary alone; we weren’t a well-off family. But we got to do lots of cool stuff on little money, and the National Parks were one of the best sources of a great adventure for a bit of cash.

Slashing the budget is having the effect of reducing park services (and even closing some parks), which is bad enough, but it’s also going to inevitably exclude more and more people from enjoying them at all—and that’s tragic. The country we live in is now one in which some people can enjoy huge tax breaks at the expense of our National Parks, and thusly may one day be the only people who can fully enjoy the Parks at all. Yay America.

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