Today I received an email alert from American Trails warning about proposed federal budget cuts that will have a profound impact on trails.
The U.S. House budget proposal would reduce funding for trails, parks, and land conservation by 90% out of the Land and Water Conservation Fund - virtually eliminating funds that are appropriated to states.
Major cuts are also proposed in the current House budget for a wide variety of construction, maintenance, and supporting programs on federal public lands. This includes trails and recreation areas on National Forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, US Fish & Wildlife Refuges, and the National Parks.
To me, it wasn't too hard to imagine this happening. Almost a year ago I published a blog detailing how several states were beginning to close parks, reduce services, or increase fees at several state parks around the country, all as a result of mounting dept. I pointed out that budget cuts will be much too easy for local, state and national parks in a debt crisis.
Right now, the United States owes more than $14 trillion. Or, to put it another way, every single tax payer in this country owes roughly $128,000.
To put that $14 Trillion figure in perspective, five years ago, at the end of 2005, the total national debt was "only" $8 Trillion - an increase of 75%. But the real scary story is that the projected national debt will balloon to nearly $21 Trillion in just 5 years. That's nearly another 50% increase!
To illustrate how completely insane government spending has become, the Internal Revenue Service said today that it needs to hire 81 workers, at a cost of $11.5 million, to make sure tanning salons pay the new 10% excise tax that was implemented as part of the healthcare reform. What's the ROI on that spending?
I don't mean to harp on this subject, but we have a huge problem on our hands, one that many politicians don't seem to be taking seriously. There are really two choices we can make at this point. We can make some tough cuts right now, and give up some skin in the game. Or, we can kick the can down the road for a few more years, at which point we'll have to pay with a couple of arms and legs.
You could say that Washington D.C. is spending like a drunken sailor, but that would be a disservice to drunken sailors around the world. At least a drunken sailor will stop buying drinks once he runs out of money. Government officials, on the other hand, keep spending on the taxpayers pocket book.