Pay as you go not a good system for parks

Letter to the Editor.

  • Friday, October 3, 2008 3:45am
  • Opinion

In response to your editorial of June 20, “Let users pay to keep parks open,” I have the following thoughts. Why not take this approach to schools? They generate no revenue. They cost a lot of money. Why not charge those who use them to pay? I want to go to the library, charge me to walk in the door. I want to get on the freeway, charge me a toll. I get stopped for having a headlight out, charge me for the police time.

Imagine a world where we all paid for what we used. These are lines we cannot and should not choose to draw, unless we have just way too much money. If I lived in a gated community, cut off from any sense of a broader society, why would I pay for anything? I might pay for roads, so let’s start there. Tolls. I get on the freeway, I pay a toll because I am paying for a service. I have my own, private police force, I have my own fire department, I might have my own library, I might have a private swimming pool. If I fly somewhere I should expect to pay a fee for keeping the intricate aviation navigation system in place that somebody has to pay for and since I own a private jet and rely on this service when I fly, I should expect to pay.

Then there is the park system, that I choose not to go to because they charge me money and I have a nice chunk of my own land so forget the park system. What about those who can’t pay and yet need open space and a place to be outside that will help expand their horizons to the benefit of society? What about children who need access to books and can get them at the library, but not if it costs money to get in the door? Why not rescind the money that funds 911 and only pay for it with charges to those who call to use the service? We all use and benefit from the efforts of others all the time, the majority of which are paid for by taxes and the well-intentioned efforts of government employees from the local to federal level. To expect that every time we benefit from one of these “services” we are expected to pay for it does an incredible disservice to our society and to me as an individual. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Once we try to identify and “tax” each part, the whole is greatly diminished.

Taxes happen to be one of the few mechanisms in our society – society being the operative word rather than personal gain – that redistributes wealth. Libraries offer books and access to the Internet and other services that disenfranchised children may not otherwise access. I am anxious to pay taxes to support the library system because it helps our society, it helps me and it helps my children. I am happy to pay taxes to support parks because the experience of visiting a park is priceless. To be outside, to experience nature, is transforming and will certainly affect enough lives toward an appreciation of this fact that the common good outweighs the personal cost. It is taxes to bomb innocents in Afghanistan, and taxes for corporate largess (Enron paid no federal taxes for four of the past five years) that I object to. A “I have what I need so let me be” approach to society that you so fervently advocate does a disservice to us all.


Mark Joselyn

North Bend




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