Suggested Reading

NPS CORRUPTION

Ranger Bob, a retired NPS employee who authors the Retread Ranger Station, discusses his experience with careerism in the NPS:

The common element is clear: the guys who are getting ahead put a lot of effort into self-promotion, and were quite willing to dump their workload onto colleagues. Conversely, the ones who worked hard and picked up the slack eventually got discouraged and looked for work in other agencies.
Read how those who got ahead did so in Bob's full post, The World's Not Fair, And The NPS Suffers.

In "Crooks, Crooks, Everywhere," Bob exposes the corruption he's observed in the NPS. Beamis, a former NPS ranger, notes that "when your operating revenue is derived through coercion (the tax code) you set up a dynamic from the very beginning that is bound to be more corrupt than a system that is based on voluntary transactions."


THE POLITICAL STATE OF AMERICA

In Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working, Jonathan Rauch describes the calcification of our government caused by a parasitic, transfer-seeking economy and hyperpluralism. Rauch states:
This book is not an apocalyptic tirade. It is not about the imminent death of American civilization or democracy or prosperity; I believe in no such thing. It is, rather, about a profound change in American society and behavior over the past thirty or so years which is compromising Americans' ability to govern ourselves and to solve common problems. It is an attempt to show how American society has reordered itself so as to make politicians less and less able to meet the expectations of the citizenry. It is about a social game in which Americans have trapped each other: a game of beggar-thy-neighbor and get-mine-first that damages the economy and chokes the government.

We cannot cope with the game, and mitigate its ravages, until we understand how it captures and uses us. Resentful scapegoating of liberals, conservatives, government, business, foreigners, wealthy elites, the poor, politicians, and everyone else does no good at all. A nation of expectant whiners cannot see through the trap that I am about to describe.

THE POLITICAL STATE OF THE NPS

The NPS is subjected to the same hyperpluralistic forces Rauch describes and analyzes. In the last decade, the NPS has been lobbied by hundreds of interest groups including:

Alaska Professional Hunters Assn.
Intl. Snowmobiles Manufacturers Assn.
American Motorcyclist Assn.
National Park Hospitality Assn.
Blue & Gold Fleet
Helicopter Assn. International
Verizon Communications
Edison Electric Institute (an electric utilities group with lobby expenditures topping $11 million)

See the full list at the Lobbying Spending Database.


REMOVING THE NPS FROM THE POLITICAL ARENA

Removing management of national parks from the broken political system and placing their management in trusts provides a viable alternative method for preserving our national treasures.

John A. Baden outlines the problem and solution in National Parks’ Future Lies in Trusts:
A public treasure does not inherently require governmental management. Public, nongovernmental trusts present sensible alternatives to federal management. Both Mount Vernon and Monticello are clearly "public" and both are run by trusts rather than government agencies.

Endowment boards, like those running museums, hospitals, and private schools, would operate under a legal charter to steward individual parks. After receiving a one-time Congressional endowment, each park's individual trust would be "on its own." The board, established by local environmental groups, business leaders, and citizens, would promote ecologically sensitive economic activities as part of their trustee responsibility.

Creative mechanisms such as a "Friends of Old Faithful" program could entice membership, dues, and democratic feedback from park lovers everywhere. Park trusts would free our parks from their precarious dependency on national politics, encourage long-term planning, and reintroduce accountability in management.
People automatically and falsely assume deregulating national parks equates to surrendering them to "evil" corporations. In fact, national parks were long ago surrendered to corporate management. Concession operators charge big bucks to stay in federally-funded lodges and return only a microscopic (some as low as 2% of profits) franchise fee to the parks. With trusts operating the parks, a larger percentage of in-park sales could be retained to help finance park operations and maintenance.