by Josh T. Smith, Research Manager
Posted January 23, 2019 In Scholar Commentary

Joshua Tree National Park, California

The current government shutdown is now the longest in U.S. history. Because of its length, it’s also turning out to be more painful than any other before it, and government employees face the prospect of a second missed paycheck. And while the government shutdown has exposed that many are unprepared for financial shocks, either economic or political, it has exposed other weaknesses in how we govern. Specifically, increased partisanship has created a propensity for governing by shutdown. This has led to an environment in which the national parks have become a political bargaining chip to be played rather than a public treasure to be enjoyed by all.

The current shutdown’s impact on national parks is notable for a number of reasons. In contrast to previous shutdowns, about 80 parks remain open for visitors even as a compromise on the budget in DC appears unlikely and the National Park Service goes unfunded. Only a fifth of the staff, 4,000 of the approximate 20,000 usually monitoring the parks and assisting visitors, were working…

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CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.