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Trump administration: parks to stay open to public during shutdown

Compare and contrast: Unlike the Obama administration, which went out of its way to inconvenience the public during government shutdowns, to an extent that it actually cost the government money, the Trump administration is leaving the national parks open to the public during the shutdown, even as it shuts visitor centers.

The link describes the National Park Service’s policy at Saguaro National Park here in Tucson, but this is apparently the policy nationwide:

“When you arrive at the park, both visitor centers will be closed. This is because due to the lapse of appropriation, we do not have money to pay for staff, so any facility that requires staff presence is going to be closed,” said Andy L. Fisher, a park ranger at Saguaro National Park.

That includes the contact station, the education building and programs, and ranger-guided walks and hikes.

“If you come out to one of the trail heads and plan on going for a hike, we’re not go to close the trail heads. We’re not going to chase you off the trails, the roads are going to continue to be open,” said Fisher.

This approach by the Trump administration is the morally correct one. The shutdown means they don’t have the money to run the government. It does not mean the parks can’t be accessed. They belong not to the government but to the American people. If there is no money to pay the government workers, that just means there will be no government workers at these parks. The parks themselves should remain open for public use.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • commodude

    If the shutdown of part (not the whole) government affects things as seriously as some in power say it will, then we’ve given far too much power to the Federal Government. The overarching attitude towards a shutdown should be “meh, whatever”.

    That having been said, the continual shirking of responsibility by Congress (passing a budget, one of their most basic functions) is appalling, and should be grounds for recall.

  • wayne

    Good stuff.

    They (Congress) haven’t held budget hearing’s for 10 years, it’s all been continuing resolutions.

    Unless and until Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, and WIC payments aren’t processed, the “government” isn’t shut down. 75% of all federal employees/department’s are considered ‘essential’ and everyone gets paid, no matter what. (no matter what lies they spew to the contrary)

    Everyone will get their SSA checks on January 3rd, and everyone’s SNAP & WIC benefits will be loaded onto their cards per-schedule, and their free-cell phones will continue to function (and be reloaded).

    The Federal Government closes every Friday at 5pm.

    And I doubt anyone was planning on showing up on the 24th, or Christmas, or for the rest of this week, for that matter, and then we have New Years.

    I heard a radio fake-news report (CBS ‘news’) lamenting that federal workers, “weren’t on duty” on the weekend—as if they ever are. The spin was a contortionist dream.

    (I interact with our local (State) Department of Social-Services on a regular basis, and 1/2 of the case-workers are on pre-scheduled vacation-time for the next 2 weeks. We have 3 people applying for emergency assistance and those applications will not be processed one bit, until the vacationers return to work on January 7th, and none of this is Trumps fault.)

    Mark Levin
    “On the Government ‘shutdown'”
    December 17th podcast, excerpt

  • Phill O

    Manitoba, under the Philman government, used reduced work weeks to work within budgets. The affectionately were called Philman Fridays. It worked and was liked by employees. Just think how much the federal employees are enjoying an extended Christmas holiday season this year.

    And YES, the difference is drastic.between this and the previous administrations.

  • mike shupp

    I’d look at this the other way — if you can close down parts of the government without anyone much caring, then maybe one can argue those parts aren’t especially critical, and perhaps the government shouldn’t be performing those functions. The overarching attitude towards a shutdown in that case ought to be panic. (I’ll not go along completely with this; I can think of areas like cancer research and weather forecasting where shutdowns wouldn’t immediately impact society but would over time.)

    What I actually see, however, is politics and manipulation. The Obama administration did not want a government shutdown; closing down parks inconvenienced people who hopefully would complain to their Congresscritters and bring the shutdown to an end. The Trump administration is perfectly willing to have a long shutdown. on the theory that Democrats will eventually capitulate because some things have to be paid for, no matter what; keeping the public mollified by keeping the parks open leaves the voters satisfied while squeezing Congressional Democrats.

  • Col Beausabre

    Weather forecasting? Hmmm, ever hear of The Weather Channel and Accuweather (the forerunner which I was a very minor part of as a senior in college)? Heck, I’ve got Weather Bug installed in this very computer. What with cube and microsats, every TV station in the country can have its own private weather satellite. Privatize, man, privatize.

    Second of all, shutting down the parks is known as the Statue of Liberty strategy. Every time Interior has its budget threatened, the first thing to go on the chopping block is the parks. The first parks to close are the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island, Yosemite and Grand Canyon. Any private enterprise faced with a funding cut would reallocate its funding to keep its most popular attractions open and minimize the staffing at its least popular (I will agree the park police are needed to prevent damage and vandalism. Sad, but true in this age)

    Four day work week…During the depression, the railroad my granddad worked for had its back against the wall. It needed to reduce its operating expenses, which would mean lay offs. The president of the line called the local union reps to HQ and told them that all executives were taking a cut to a dollar a year until the crisis was over. Then he gave them a choice. By contract lay offs would be by seniority, which meant some men (railroaders were overwhelmingly male, even in office jobs)would be entirely out of work. But the railroad had an idea. It wouldn’t run on Wednesdays, everyone would get one less day of pay a week, but the jobs would be saved. He said he was going to leave the room and let the union bosses figure out what they wanted to do. They came back a couple of hours later and said to go with the reduced work week even though it violated that most sacred of all cows, union seniority (few unions were as rigid and bound to their perks as the Brotherhoods). Several years later, after the worst had passed, the line went back to normal.

  • commodude

    Cancer research is supported by block grants on the private side, and NIH will still be at work, just unpaid until the children receive their needed surgery to separate their 4th and 5th points of contact.

    Point being, there is nothing being done by the Federal Government which SHOULD impact your day to day life outside of a few needed services, which will continue regardless, as in some cases they are non-appropriated funds (PXs, etc on military bases will still be open, that isn’t money from the budget), USPS isn’t funded by the budget, SS and other entitlements aren’t affected by this portion of the budget.

    The entire shutdown drama is much ado about nothing.

  • wayne

    Phill O / Mike / Col Beausabre-
    Good stuff. (great Depression Era story as well.)

    (I wouldn’t worry about Cancer research….)

    “Don’t Worry About The Government”
    Talking Heads: 77

    “I see the states, across this big nation,
    I see the laws made in Washington, D.C.
    I think of the ones I consider my favorites,
    I think of the people that are working for me.
    Some civil servants are just like my loved ones,
    They work so hard and they try to be strong.
    I’m a lucky guy to live in my building.
    They own the buildings to help them along.”

  • wodun

    Saw some talking heads trying to stoke up fear that the parks were going to be closed. When Obama shut down the government, he closed the parks to inflict as much PR pain on Republicans as possible and the media went along with it. The parks didn’t have to close, it was a choice. It probably cost more money to have rangers drive around closing gates that are always open and putting up barrycades than normal operating expenses. But now, the media says all the parks are going to be closed, to hurt the GOP with PR again but the parks wont be closed.

    The media never accurately explains the situation but they do always choose a narrative that helps the Democrats.

    When was the last time the media mentioned the last time a budget was passed and why CR’s are such a problem? Democrats want CR’s and don’t want budgets so don’t look for anything in the media until it can be spun to attack Republicans.

  • Edward

    You wrote: “the continual shirking of responsibility by Congress (passing a budget, one of their most basic functions) is appalling, and should be grounds for recall.

    Although having a budget is not in the Constitution, it is the responsible way to run the finances of anything from a personal or family lifestyle to a national treasury. Congress’s continuing resolutions raise the question: how can we have a balanced budget if there is no budget to balance? In many ways, Congress is running the country irresponsibly. As wodun implied, it is also irresponsible of the news media, in general, to not report on the shameful way Congress operates.

    wayne wrote: “until the vacationers return to work on January 7th, and none of this is Trumps fault.

    But wait. Those poor federal workers are unnecessarily burning vacation time when each of them could have been on paid furlough along with everyone else in their office. That unnecessary loss of vacation time is most definitely and without any doubt whatsoever solely Trump’s fault.

    Or is it still all George Bush’s fault? I keep forgetting.

    mike shupp wrote: “if you can close down parts of the government without anyone much caring, then maybe one can argue those parts aren’t especially critical, and perhaps the government shouldn’t be performing those functions.

    Interestingly, many of those non-critical functions are “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution“; they “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (per the Tenth Amendment). The federal (or more appropriately: national) government has usurped many of the powers that the Constitution is supposed to protect for We the People and for our state and local governments.

    Col Beausabre wrote: “What with cube and microsats, every TV station in the country can have its own private weather satellite. Privatize, man, privatize.

    Many, most, or all of the non-critical functions that government is now doing could easily be privatized. Competition is a great motivator for finding efficiencies and reducing both costs and prices. Profits are the reward for finding those efficiencies. Governments like to build empires, which tend to be inefficient and ineffective, and that is how our national government ended up with so many unconstitutional, expensive, non-critical functions in the first place.

    A list of most of the critical functions of government can be found in the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, section 8.

  • mike shupp

    Edward …

    “.The federal (or more appropriately: national) government has usurped many of the powers that the Constitution is supposed to protect for We the People and for our state and local governments. ”

    Yeah. it’s fun for conservatives to say this, but is it really true? Did South Carolina try to start up a special library for every citizen to use that the Fed’s shut down in favor of the Library of Congress? What was the excuse used when G-Men busted up Vermont’s innovative patent system? When did the US Senate vote to deny Florida’s emanicpoation statute for former slaves? Why of why didn’t Congress leave manditory schooling for children up to Ohio and other states in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787? Why shouldn’t smallpox vaccinations be illegal for black people in some southern states? It ought to have been North Carolina that cooked up laws that governed aviation in 1903, not those jerks in Washington. We’ll try to stay serene and calm, when Alabama’s got The Bomb!

    You’re super sure. eh, that everything the Feds has taken over since 1776 or so really ought to be in state or private hands rather than controlled by a national government? It’d be RIGHT if all those powers and possessions were in other hands than those in Washington! Maybe. Would it also be BETTER?

    My own take is against this. I think the world got a lot more complicated than the founding fathers ever imagined, starting just about 1776 with Adam Smith’s economics and steam engines and the cotton jin and Whitney’s notions for mass production and Wesley’s Methodism and James Cooke’s circumnavigation of the world and revolutions in France and …. You get the idea. I think successful national governments have to evolve to face new circumstances and make the best of them for their citizens, even in the 21st century.

  • commodude


    The process for updating the Constitution exists within the document itself. If the powers taken by the Federal Government are so important, amend the document and apportion the power in the legal means presented rather than grabbing it through the courts and agitprop.

  • mike shupp


    You’re missing a whole lot of history. There was a long stretch in which the Federal government did stuff that maybe stunk legally and philosophically but which people decided to accept — Jefferson’s Louisiana’s Purchase, Jackson’s expulsion of the Cherokees. Then there was a medium sized stretch in which people argued quite a lot about some issues — the extension of slavery, chiefly — and other issues sat on the back burner — the “internal improvements” which the Whigs advocated back when Abe Lincoln was a Congressman for example, which today we’d call “infrastructure.” And there was a hyperbolic phase, beginning about 1860, when southern states dropped out of Congress (and everything else of course) and northern state Congressmen finally got to pass long bottled up legislation authorizing railroads and other issues.

    Tell you what! There’s a whole bunch of things the government ought to start dealing with just as quickly as possible. We need to straighten out Facebook! There are cures for Global Warming! American=made automobiles ought to get 40 miles per gallon of gasoline! #METOO! #WETOO! Let’s raise children so they’re better behaved as adults rataher than sexual predators! And let’s have a law that makes sure our economy grows faster than than those ugly Chinese! Gosh darn it! Let’s get Congress back in session and start voting on things! We cam fix everything immediately!

    Do you see any problems with this?

  • commodude

    Mike, Where, praytell, did I say anything about speed? The amendment process is intentionally slow, deliberate and difficult, as well it should be.

    I’m not missing any history, I know full well the creeping expansion of Federal power. The Federal government was never intended to have the power it currently holds, it was intended to be a limited body, mainly for defense, with the actual governmental authority held by the states for most things.

    I have no clue where you’re going, however, as you the point of incoherent ranting with various and sundry historical issues just tossed up helter skelter with nothing to bind them into a coherent argument.

    There are limits to Federal power in the Constitution, and the continuous end-arounds on those restrictions have got to end. They’ve gone from being mere annoyances to serious threats to individual liberty.

  • mike shupp


    “slow, deliberate and difficult” …. memory says the founding fathers got the first ten amendments to the Constitution approved in about a week. Well, maybe a bit more, but it was quick — and I don’t recall reading that anyone thought the haste was unjustified. A couple other amendments went through quickly back in the late 1860s, as I recall — with some objections well after the fact that the victors in the Civil War were imposing there will on the losers. I.e., what history records is not that the amendment process HAS to be slow, but that it can be.

    Moving on, “The Federal government was never intended to have the power it currently holds…” I quite agree. But this is not 1789 anymore. There is US property and US citizens on the other side of the Ohio River. There are more than 300 million people claiming US citizenship,. not 3 million. There are things called tanks and jet planes and battleships and ICBMs which weren’t even dreamed of when the Constitition was originally written — and which still aren’t mentioned in that document, but we have to deak with them today. There are public employees called policemen and FBI agents all over the land, and they were never dreamed of in 1789. There are even federal employees trying to keep immigrants from entering the country, and YOU KNOW FULL WELL that the founding fathers didn’t intend that, and yet I suspect it offends you not at all. There is no place on the Earth that has a government as limited and incapable as you desire.

    My apologies if you find this too sarcastic. I actually don’t want to kick you too much. I was a pretty conservative fellow, for a fairly long time, back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. and then I swung around to libertarianism, and … eventually I became an apostate. Sorry about that. Life changes us all, as I think you’ll find. Or maybe 50 years of living in California finally rubbed off. So …

    I don’t think conservatism is a BAD philosophy. In fact, I think it’s a very good one, an excellent disposition for running one’s life. But I don’t think it’s a philosophy for stupid people, because all too often they reduce it to “MAKE THE WORLD BE LIKE I THOUGHT IT WAS WHEN I WAS A CHILD.” That’s not a sensible thought for governing one’s life, it’s not a principle for gocerning a nation.

  • mike shupp

    Bob Zimmerman:

    Sir. I really apologize. I got off the track. This is primarily a space site, and politics is tangential.
    I’ll try to cool it.

  • wayne

    Just a few quick comments–

    We are so far away from the OEM specs of our Nation, it’s insane.
    (It’s not about jet airplanes, telephones, or the internet— it’s about limiting power of a centralized government.)

    The separate and sovereign States of the Union, created the Federal government. They work for us, not the other way around. (They think they are our Overlord’s, and we let them get away with it.)

    –17th Amendment: effectively breached the firewall between the States and the Federal Government. We don’t need a Senate anymore if they are popularly elected, that’s what the House was for.

    Article 5–
    “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.”
    (if anyone tells you a Convention of States is a “Constitutional Convention”– they are lying or ignorant, or both.)
    16th Amendment: effectively breached the firewall on Federal taxation, by allowing direct taxation without apportioning it among the States,based on population.

    [The Socialist Labor Party advocated a graduated income tax in 1887. The Populist Party “demand[ed] a graduated income tax” in its 1892 platform. The Democratic Party, led by William Jennings Bryan, advocated the income tax law passed in 1894, and proposed an income tax in its 1908 platform. ]

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 1: “The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”
    Article I, Section 9, Clause 4: “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken”
    Article I, Section 9, Clause 5: “No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.”

    “The American Economy and the End of Laissez-Faire: 1870 to World War II.”
    Murray Rothbard
    Lecture 1; The Civil War and it’s Legacy

  • commodude

    Claiming that there are things in existence now which weren’t in existence in 1789 is truly a non-argument. This is precisely why the document was written with an amendment process built in . Unfortunately, the 17th amendment, mentioned above, damaged the document badly.

    As to the amendment process, your tale of the Bill of Rights is laughable. The first 10 amendments were part of the discussion surrounding the Constitution itself, and took until 1792 for the Bill of Rights to pass as amendments, a far cry from the week you claim.

    Your claims on immigration are amusing, as the power of deciding citizenship was long granted to the Federal Government in the original document. The implementation of controls to wield the power granted in the document is subject to the laws passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President, and we’ve been defending the border in one form or another since the beginning of the country.

    Your final ad hominem, considering conservatism to a childish mentality, is somewhat abhorrent, however, I will not stoop to your level and respond in kind.

  • mike shupp: I have no problem. As long as people stay civil and intelligent, I welcome all comments.

  • wayne

    Personally, I come for the Space-Stuff, and stay for the politics.

    I find you to be extremely articulate (and quick witted) and very well versed in the subject matter on which you comment.

    Mike– I understand your point of view, however…. you diagnosed your own situation– living in California for 50 years. If Cali wasn’t connected to the rest of the Union, it would go bankrupt in about 5 seconds.

    American-variant “Conservatism,” has little to do with, say, “returning to 1956,” and more to do with returning to the Principles upon which our Country was founded. Maximum Freedom, within an organized Civil Society. If it doesn’t pick my pocket by force of arms, or break my bones, you can pretty much do whatever you want. (just don’t force me to pay for it)

    Highly recommend this 12 minutes:

    Jordan B Peterson:
    “12 conservative principles in 12 minutes”
    -excerpted from “12 principles for a 21st century conservatism”

  • Edward

    mike shupp,
    You wrote: “Yeah. it’s fun for conservatives to say this, but is it really true?

    Yes. I gave you the relevant portion of the Constitution and a link for you to review the rest of the Constitution.

    It is not so much fun to say, because it means that we are devolving into the tyranny that the Founders were afraid we would, and it means that We the People have accepted this tyranny. You missed the point, with commudude, that acceptance does not mean Constitutional, it is similar to East Germans accepting communism even though they preferred the freedom of the west, as shown by their eagerness to reunite with Germany after the cold war. commudude is correct that the Constitution must be updated, otherwise the power has been unconstitutionally usurped, by definition of the word “unconstitutional,” and against the Tenth Amendment.

    Your examples try to suggest that because there is still some amount of local control then the tyranny does not exist in any way, shape, or form. Even the Soviet Union had some amount of local control. Usurping control does not mean that control is total.

    By the way, Adam Smith did not invent free markets or capitalism. He only managed to produce a lucid description of them.

    You appear to demand immediate perfection in a system that is designed to improve by trying new ways and methods. Part of the problem that we have is that failures tend to be permanently fixed into the system, which is why only the Eighteenth Amendment was overturned rather than include the failed Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments as well.

    The number of people in the country is immaterial to the Constitution. It works well with a wide range of population size. Complexity of the society is also immaterial. The Constitution is not a set of rules to live by but a set of rules to restrict the government’s ability to set rules to live by. You have missed the entire point — the intention — of the Constitution, which is clearly stated in the Preamble: “We the People of the United States, in Order to … secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Every time the any of the levels of government reduces our liberty, the intention of the Constitution has been violated.

    The Constitution even acknowledges that technology was improving with time and that there would be more and better technologies in the future, as can be seen in clause 8 in my link, above. But the ways and methods of governance are not so related to technology that we need to live in a tyranny in order to control how we live with that technology. Indeed, controlling how we live with new technologies reduces our liberty.

    Do you see any problems with this?

    Yes. Your entire list of government-imposed “improvements” limits our liberty. It may seem like a good idea to impose morality and good behavior, but it is much better to allow us the liberty to live as we please but to limit our violations of other people’s rights. Instead you seem to be in favor of violating everyone’s rights “for the greater good” — the government’s view of what the world should be like.

    When you start to favor some people’s rights over the other people, then you create a nation of people, not of laws (the government rewards its friends and punishes its enemies rather than treating everyone equally under the law). This is what tyranny looks like.

    memory says the founding fathers got the first ten amendments to the Constitution approved in about a week.

    Your memory is false. The Bill of Rights was created as a condition of ratification by several of the states. It was greatly debated for years and the Amendments ratified four years after the Constitution was ratified. It was a slow, difficult, and deliberative process.

    You wrote: “16th Amendment: effectively breached the firewall on Federal taxation, by allowing direct taxation without apportioning it among the States,based on population.

    Chief Justice Roberts recently declared that the Sixteenth Amendment may be used by the government in order to direct us as to how to spend our own money — or to direct us to say or do anything — just so long as a tax is associated with such tyrannical actions. The Sixteenth Amendment is now being used by the government to justify its tyranny, just as the Commerce Clause is misused to justify its tyranny.

  • Chris

    When I see this familiar argument I think of the principle of subsidiarity- do things at the most local level.
    If you have a problem – you fix it.
    If you can’t you and your family fix it
    If your family can’t you and your community or church fix it
    If your local government can’t fix it – your state government fixes it
    If the state cannot fix it, then and only then the federal government fixes it.

    The largest entity is at the last for the largest problems and only after the other solutions have been exhausted.

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