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InsiderOnline Blog: October 2013

The Federal Government Is Shut Down, Which Means It’s Busier Than Ever Finding Ways to Annoy You

“If you loved this country, you would not be closing it down,” said Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) last week. Scott was blaming Republicans for the government shutdown. As David Boaz points out, however, Scott was confused: The government and the country are not the same thing; Congress can’t shut down the country merely by failing to fund the government. [Cato Institute, October 3]

It turns out, however, that a shutdown government can be awfully pushy. As many news stories reported last week, the administration’s idea of shutting down means doing things the government doesn’t normally do, like putting up barricades to otherwise fenceless open-air spaces, telling people to leave privately-run establishments that sit on federal land but require no federal resources to operate, and creating “website not available” redirect pages instead of just leaving static content up on federal websites. The stories about Park Service bullying keep coming from around the country:

• The Park Service told Joyce Spencer, 77, and Ralph Spencer, 80, they had to leave their house on Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada. The Spencers own the house, but not the land. [KTNV, October 4]

• The Park Service told private boat operators that they could not operate their own boats launching from their own docks on the St. Croix River, which is designated a National Scenic Riverway. “[P]roviding visitor services within the riverway during a government shutdown is a breach of your (permit), and noncompliance with the shutdown could result in permits not being renewed during the next two-year cycle,” said the Park Service in a letter to boat operators. [TwinCities.com, October 3]

• The Park Service issued a notice forbidding charter boats, tour boats, fishing boats, and paddling boats from going out onto the Florida Bay—i.e., 1,100 square miles of ocean. [Miami Herald, October 3]

The Park Service closed the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including the Foothills Parkway in Tennessee. That closure left some residents in Eastern Tennessee with few good options for getting around: “The closure caught locals by surprise and left the school district scrambling to alert parents that they would need to find a way to get their kids back home. And until the partial government shutdown ends, school buses will not run. That means parents will have to transport their children to and from school using treacherous ‘white knuckle routes.’” [Fox News, October 7]

• Armed park rangers issued John Bell a $100 ticket for taking a jog in Valley Forge National Historic Park. Bell saw a sign announcing the park’s closure, but he also saw other joggers and bikers. Also, there was no barrier blocking entrance to the park, so he figured the sign was meant for vehicles. He was wrong. Rangers were waiting to give him a ticket when he exited the park. [Fox News, October 8]

• A bus carrying senior citizens through Yellowstone National Park stopped briefly when a herd of bison passed by. The tourists got out to take pictures and were immediately confronted by armed Park Rangers who told them that taking pictures was recreating, which they could not do. Later, when the seniors—some from Japan, Australia, and Canada—were sent out of the park on a two-and-a-half-hour ride, they were told the bus could not stop for bathroom breaks. [Eagle Tribune, October 8]

• Volunteer Chris Cox of South Carolina spent a number of days mowing the grass and picking up trash on the National Mall because he thought veterans visiting the war memorial shouldn’t have to trip over banana peels. When Park Police eventually told him to leave, Cox said: “I’m not here trying to make headlines. I’m here trying to prevent headlines.” The officer replied: “Well, maybe there should be a picture of the trash cans overflowing in the newspaper. Maybe that would help us.” [Daily Mail, October 9]

Mark Steyn explains the point of these harassments: “[T]he thug usurpers of the bureaucracy want to send a message: In today’s America, everything is the gift of the government, and exists only at the government’s pleasure, whether it’s your health insurance, your religious liberty, or the monument to your fallen comrades.” [National Review, October 4]

[See also: “The List: Unnecessarily Shut Down by Obama to Inflict Public Pain,” by John Nolte, Breitbart.com, October 5.]

Posted on 10/07/13 05:43 PM by Alex Adrianson

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