Monday, May 29, 2006

Raping Our National Treasure

A recent article by one of my favorite columnists, Jim Hightower, was about Bush’s mendacity when dealing with one of the public’s most beloved institutions: America’s network of national parks. Survey after survey reveals our national parks to be perhaps the most highly regarded government program by the American public and this deep love cuts across all political persuasions.

Knowing how highly regarded the national parks are, Bush has used them as backdrops for ads in both his presidential campaigns, promising to increase their funding. But once the campaign is over, this promise like so many others is forgotten in the greed and hypocrisy that are the hallmarks of this administration.

Apparently, believing the American public has a very short memory the administration instructed the parks guides in the election year of 2004 to never use the phrase “budget cuts” but to refer to them in the Orwellian phrase, “service level adjustments.” Can you just see the hand of Rove in this hypocrisy?

Now, the axe is being applied again. Under the radar, Bush has asked each park service superintendent to give him a budget which will cut funding by a third over five years. This comes at a time when there is huge backlog of needed repairs and a severe shortage of park rangers.

When visitors to our parks ask why they are paying more for less such as reduced hours, fewer rangers, and deteriorating facilities, the park service has been instructed to respond with this “new speak” sentence: “The National Park Service, like most agencies, is tightening its belt as our nation rebuilds from Katrina, continues the war on terrorism and strives to reduce the deficit.”

Unbelievable, this administration which has let billions in unregulated contracts to Cheney’s favorite charity, screwed up the response to Katrina, embroiled us, through lies and deceit in an unprovoked invasion which has cost 300 billion and counting dollars, cut taxes for the rich, and as result given us the largest deficit in history wants to use these debacles as an excuse to rape the best-loved government program: the national parks. Maybe just maybe this time it has gone too far and the public will rise up in protest and throw the bums out.

David M Goldberg