The park service’s senseless giveaway to seniors

Glaciar National Park by Shutterstock.com

Article Highlights

  • The National Park Service offers seniors over the age of 61 the opportunity to purchase lifetime passes for $10.

    Tweet This

  • A one-time ticket to the Grand Canyon, just one of the National Parks, costs everyone else $25.

    Tweet This

  • This policy caters to a specific special-interest group that is chosen to receive benefits no one else receives.

    Tweet This

Subscribe to
The Ledger
Get AEIecon's weekly snapshot of news, views, and economic cues.

First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Zip Code:

The National Park Service currently offers seniors over the age of 61 the opportunity to purchase lifetime passes for $10. That is $10 for perennial access to 410 national parks as well hundreds and hundreds of recreation sites managed by the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

To put this into perspective, a one-time ticket to the Grand Canyon, just one of the National Parks, costs everyone else $25.

This policy illustrates a number of frustrating features of federal government policymaking. First of all, it caters to a specific special-interest group that is chosen to receive benefits no one else receives, in this case the elderly.

Second, much like programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which provide benefits to senior citizens that far exceed the contributions they made to them, it redistributes funds from poor to old under the assumption that Ponzi schemes never fall apart. Third, it is an example of utterly unnecessary spending (or, more precisely, foregoing of revenue) at a time when many agencies, including the National Park Service, are being forced to tighten their belts thanks, in particular, to the automatic budget cuts put in place under sequestration.

Fortunately Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, is on the case. During a House Oversight hearing she told National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarves the following: "$10? At age 65? I think we need to look at that. There's a lot of people who can pay more than $10 for the rest of their lives."

Indeed. It may be peanuts in the grand scheme of things, but if even these kinds of reform are out of reach, all hope is lost for more comprehensive fiscal fixes.

 

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Stan
Veuger

What's new on AEI

Holder will regret his refusal to obey the Constitution
image 'Flood Wall Street' climate protesters take aim at their corporate allies
image 3 opportunities for better US-India defense ties
image Is Nicolás Maduro Latin America's new man at the United Nations?
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 29
    MON
  • 30
    TUE
  • 01
    WED
  • 02
    THU
  • 03
    FRI
Thursday, October 02, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Campbell Brown talks teacher tenure

We welcome you to join us as Brown shares her perspective on the role of the courts in seeking educational justice and advocating for continued reform.

Friday, October 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Harnessing the power of markets to tackle global poverty: A conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz

AEI welcomes you to this Philanthropic Freedom Project event, in which Novogratz will describe her work investing in early-stage enterprises, what she has learned at the helm of Acumen, and the role entrepreneurship can play in the fight against global poverty.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.