Jim Hightower explores the consequences of closing down state parks in his column, “By Axing Parks, Politicos Are Stealing The People’s Property:”
“Sorry, we’re closed.” In one of the saddest signs of the times, this message is popping up all across the country, as governors and legislators are cutting off funds (and shutting off access) to one of the finest, most popular assets owned by the people of our country: state parks.
More than 6,600 of these jewels draw some 700 million visitors a year to their grand vistas, historic sites, abundant wildlife, majestic forests, cascading waters, expansive beaches, nature trails, campgrounds, educational centers and lodges. Parks are a tangible expression of America’s democratic ideals, literally a common ground for every man, woman and child to enjoy, learn, absorb … or just be. Especially for the middle class and the poor — the great majority of our people who can’t jet off to luxury resorts for a getaway for vacation — these spaces offer a form of real wealth, something of great value that each of us literally “owns,” knitting us together as a community and nation.
Yet so many spiritually shriveled, small-minded and short-sighted state officials are snuffing out this invaluable, uniting social force. They are stupidly treating parks as nothing but a budget number or a piece of the “nanny state” to be axed in the name of ideological purity. Worse, they are sacrificing parks in order to keep the tax-dodging moneyed elites who pay for their campaigns from paying even a dime more in taxes.