Stupid jerks are breaking into National Parks during the shutdown

Entitled idiots all over the U.S. are proudly defying orders not to trespass in the areas of our National Parks that have been closed due to the government shutdown. These infantile whiners have called upon their fellow countrymen to "Occupy America" by disregarding any and all orders by the remaining park officers who aren't currently on furlough. Most of them argue that the shuttering of these sites is somehow a conspiracy perpetrated by "President Hissy Fit."

So why do we need people to manage these parks at all? What's wrong with just jumping a gate or removing cones placed by those understaffed rangers? Because of a concept that American conservatives used to understand quite well: the tragedy of the commons.


When a shared resource is open to the public (like, say, Zion National Park) people don't treat it as well as if it were their own land. The environment gets abused in a hurry, and pretty soon you have little more than a dumping ground for human waste and fast food wrappers. Eventually, people start chipping off a nose or two from Mount Rushmore to take home as a souvenir because they're able to rationalize their impact as somehow minimal in the grand scheme of things.

Many Libertarians see the tragedy of the commons as an argument for the abolition of public property entirely. But that's not what these bumbling gangs of obtuse brats are arguing for. No, they love having access to the public parks. And no park ranger who's just doing her job is going to stop them.

Occupy Shutdown USA

US citizens are close to facing the second week of a federal government shutdown, and some of us are celebrating in the way we know best: by being jerks and tweeting about it.

US conservatives appear to feel as if they have the right to enter into closed down national parks and monuments. Even though such a thing is a bad idea for multiple reasons, but particularly for one practical reason: most of the time, the staff there aren't working. They're furloughed. This probably means that the US federal government will be partially liable for anyone injured in the parks/monuments during this time, but in most cases is unable to provide any actual support (no one has been eaten by a grizzly at Yellowstone to test this) (yet).

I'm not sure if it's good or bad to break other rules about national parks/monuments. More to the point, as a scientist, I'm unsure if it's good or bad for me to disobey rules about museums.

If families can go to Zion National Park, even though it's closed, can I go to the Smithsonian, even though it's closed? If I can break the rules during this shutdown, can I break the rules during other times? If not, why not?

Maybe I should tweet my congressman. I mean he ain't doing his job so he probably has time to reply to my tweets.