Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

“It is not necessary for park budgets to be threatened during state fiscal crises.”

Good news. The vast majority of states now endure tightened budgets and panicked scurrying to rescue their finances from frighteningly bloody conditions of red.

In this financial environment, cutting non-essential services sometimes seems like a no-brainer. Park funding tends to get hit hard.

A PERC Case Study by Holly L. Fretwell, Funding Parks: Political versus Private Choice — quoted above — looks into a solution that most politicians rarely consider: private management.

Not full privatization, mind you. That’s too tough for most people to take.

Private management of publicly owned parks, on the other hand, makes a kind of obvious sense.

Fretwell looks at Recreation Resource Management, the largest park management operation in the country. The company leases rights to run state and federal recreation sites, managing more than 175 such units in twelve states. In arrangements such as RRM’s, lessees pay “an annual lease, or rental fee, in addition to a percentage of the total fees earned.”

When run by businesses, parks “are not subject to the same political appropriations process” as government-run parks. By leveraging the profit motive — and its associated economies — parks can serve the public without over-taxing us at a time when we are sorely pressed for money. Contracts with private firms can avoid at least some of the problems of bureaucratic incentives.

The bottom line advantage, she insists, is “consistent, quality stewardship.”

Which is surely what we all want.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Drik says:

    40 years of the Department of Education at a cost of a billion a year and not a smiidgen of a difference on test scores. The Department of Education is a jobs program for bureaucrats.
    Unlike the parks, where American citizens get benfit out of their use of them every day

  2. Drik says:

    If the government can’t afford to be running the parks, maybe the parks ought to be in the hands of the states to run.
    Don’t recall anything in the 17 enumerated constitutional reaponsibilities of the federal government that says that they have to be in the parks business.

  3. Rich Osness says:

    Leasing of parks can be an improvement when compared to operation by government employees but it still leaves the opportunity of corruption, leases granted for considerations that are not in the interest of the general public. The best solution for operation and preservation of these national treasures is private ownership through a public auction.

    The primary function of government is to take resources from the general public and give them to the politically favored. Our education system will resist the teaching of this simple truth as long as it is either itself a government entity or beholden to one.

  4. Tj says:

    Hi Paul,

    Here in Washington State, just last summer, the state started charging $10 a day or an annual permit of $35 to use a State Park. I hate it!!

    Tax dollars have traditionally supported our State Parks. Now not only will tax dollars be used but anyone who wants to use the parks has to pay additional money.

    In the meantime the State has money to waste starting a new program to re-introducing Wolfs.

    How STUPID!!!! We cannot afford what we have but we expand to other areas that cost us more money.

    This is the whole problem with our system of government here in the United States. First we cut back on old already established programs then we start some new programs. Excuse me!!! What is the matter with these peoples heads? Don’t start something new if you cannot support what is already in progress!!

    I guess every politician we elect has to make “their” mark with a new program, or law, or something!! I think this country has had about all it can take.

    No. I do not want to see the private sector running our parks. That will just be another cost passed to everyone. Believe me they will not cut taxes because the private sector is now running the parks. Pay and pay again. That is exactly what will happen.

    To try to color this as a good idea is blowing smoke.

  5. Rich Osness says:

    For TJ,

    Your point of new money being wasted is valid, but that is another problem.

    Leasing to a private business puts the cusotmers in charge. To increase revenues the private business has to respond to customers instead of politically powerful special interests such as those who want more wolves. Selling the parks would put even more distance between the parks and politics.

    The OWS protesters have at least one thing completely wrong. The problem is not that the offending financial firms are badly regulated. The problem is that they ARE regulated by political entities rather than the marketplace. The marketplace is a very effective regulator wherever it is allowed to exist. It needn’t be created. It is there. It just needs to be allowed to work.

  6. Marty Keef says:

    The best part of this arrangement is that THE PEOPLE WHO USE IT, SUPPORT IT.

  7. Marty Keef says:

    The best part of this arrangement is exactly that THOSE PEOPLE WHO USE AND GAIN THE MOST BENEFIT from the parks, ARE THE ONES WHO DIRECTLY SUPPORT IT. This has several benefits, only one being that the park can respond to the needs of its patrons. It can only get better from there.

    Constitutionally, I believe the Federal government is given possession (ownership)only of Post roads, magazines, and other military purposes. Nothing about Bureau of Land Management, National Forests, etc. Private ownership benefits each of these areas much better than government (mis)management.

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