Following Congress’ inability to work itself out of the sequester, the government will be forced to undergo a series of drastic budget cuts to numerous programs. Nearly every government agency will face cutbacks as the U.S. government faces $85 billion in automatic budget cuts between now and Sept. 30. In a fine display of irony the same lawmakers that were unable to resolve the financial mess that forced these cuts in the first place recently took turns blasting the National Park Service for failing to make adequate changes to their programs to deal with their budget deficit. During a recent House Oversight hearing on forced cuts at parks, museums and archives, California Representative Jackie Speier took aim at grandma and grandpa while questioning National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis.
Perhaps she forgot that old people vote in droves and contribute to political parties like no other group. That or she knows her constituency well enough to say “pony up Esther.” Perhaps, not unlike millions of Americans, she has seen her inheritance drying up as mom and dad spend all “her” money trying to live forever while maintaining erections into their nineties while flying a kite. Hey, I don’t script Cialis commercials.
Ms. Speier questioned the present policy of allowing those over the age of 62 to pay $10 lifetime entrance to our National Parks, just one of the many perks seniors receive in this country before hitting the early bird special and falling asleep at 7 pm to “Matlock” and “Murder She Wrote” marathons.
“$10? At age 65? I think we need to look at that,” Speier said. “There’s a lot of people who can pay more than $10 for the rest of their lives.”
A standard annual pass for adults is $80. Annual, not lifetime. Single park admission rates vary from $5 for smaller parks to $25 for parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite. She grew genuinely angry during her questions and her indignation with old people getting off easy with a $10 fee for the rest of their increasingly long lives into 391 national parks, monuments, battlefields, military or historical parks, seashores, recreation areas, rivers and trails was palpable.
In 2012, the National Park Service sold 500,000 senior passes, raising $5 million, the agency said. Doubling the seniors’ pass to $20 could generate $10 million.
Why only double it? The National Parks Service faces a budget deficit of over $150 million, so why not charge seniors $100 annually? It still presents a huge savings while acknowledging that older visitors don’t see and hear the happenings in the park as well as younger visitors who pay more.