Letter to the Editor: Shutdown; can’t have your cake, eat it too – demanding parks stay open when closure hits home

LETTER TO THE EDITOR – It is said that pain is the great teacher. That being the case, Utah in all its red glory, is learning a painful lesson.

The government shutdown illustrates the crisis that ensues when an unchecked ideology undermines the system and runs amok. Our Founding Fathers put into place a system of checks and balances designed to minimize the chances that a minority would impose its own interests on the majority, but the House Republicans, being led by Senator Cruz, are trying to do just that.

In 2009 Congress passed the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA) and the president signed it into law. Some who did not like the bill tried to shut it down by trying to prove that it was unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court found that it was in fact constitutional. Now that the law is set to take effect Republicans have decided that their only option to stop the law is to dig their heals in and not do their job, effectively shutting the government down; however, it was a short-sighted plan that is turning out to look more like gambling than strategy, and now that we can see their hand, proves to be a weak one at best. Whatever you think of the AHA, this shutdown is about the rule of law and the roles and duties of our governing bodies.

In the aftermath of their gamble Republicans are now trying to have their cake and eat it too by asking for government concessions on the National Parks while keeping the government shut down to try deflect responsibility away from them so that the consequences of the shutdown don’t make them look as bad as they do.

Utah has been in the process of suing the Federal Government for all of its public lands, but if this shutdown illustrates anything, it is that shutting down recreation and tourism brings the state of Utah to its knees. People come here for the clean, pristine, beauty found here, not for oil and gas platforms.

What everyone is up in arms about is access to those lands. I don’t see anyone crying about shutdown leases for oil and gas development. I don’t see people rushing to Vernal to vacation in the oil and gas boom town. What we are getting is a lesson in is good old fashioned environmentalism.

Turning our lands over to the state in the name of economic benefits from extractive industries only sounds good on paper. Utah has been poking this beast long enough to actually see it awaken in all its fury and now the state is back-peddling. Watching Republicans scramble around now to keep those lands open is amusing at the least and hypocritical at the worst.

What we are seeing here in Utah is that people live and recreate here because of the canyons, mountains, and activities that come with them, not because we offer the lowest tax rates for corporations. What we are seeing is that this land has real intrinsic, as well as economic , value and it is the health and wellness of that land that ensures it. We are getting a real lesson in economics that when something is gone, there is a real cost to its loss.

We are seeing that like freedom is not free, neither is the environment. We see that when you contaminate land during the boom, no one visits after it goes bust. That health and a clean environment actually produce positive things in an economy and that ignoring the costs of a contaminated landscape and a sick population really does impact the economy negatively. It is only after the government, government employees, and non-profits come in and clean up contaminated sites and restore them to a healthy state that people return. This should be an eye opener for our elected officials and those who complain about all the public land in this state.

Like parents who let the natural consequences of bad behavior by a child teach a lesson, the President is doing the same to the minority group of Republicans in the House and by so doing, like the parent who knows that the other siblings will learn as a result, is letting the public feel the effect of a closed government.

While there are certainly abuses and policies that are not good for this country, there are laws and processes in place to fix or undo them, which happen to provide the right way for the House to fix the problem. Like the repeal of the Volstead Act, if the AHA is as horrible as many believe it to be, then Congress can repeal it, the right way by proposing a new bill and getting a majority vote in Congress. Beyond that, we see that the government does provide many services that we take for granted. We see that the government’s management of public lands pays dividends for the communities and businesses that surround them. We have come to realize that our safety and well-being is ensured by all the park rangers, rescuers, and land managers who work tirelessly for us. We see that nothing is free, not healthcare, not recreation, and not access to public land.

We now see that a country determined to make profit the bottom line in all decisions cheats us all out of the spiritual, soul restorative activities that come from a government that works to ensure the common good for the entire commonwealth, not just wealth for the few at the expense of the many. Hopefully Utah’s Representatives will see that they are undermining the very document and process they claim so often to cherish and will put our government back to work.

Blaming the President or Democrats for the shutdown they perpetrated looks not only bad, but childish. It is time for Utah’s Representatives to stop playing games with our public lands and natural resources, stop paying lip service to fiscal responsibility and the economy, and show some humility and foresight by dropping their foolish and zealous efforts to take public lands that provide so much for this state in the name of States rights, or to hold our country hostage in name of denying healthcare to the masses.

Often my sons will tell me they will obey if I give them something in return, it doesn’t work for my sons any more than it should for the House Republicans. This is going to be a hard lesson for Utah and other Republican states to learn, but hopefully one that will bear good fruit that puts us back on track to living healthy, simple, humble, and abundant lives.

Submitted by Greta Hyland

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Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.


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  • Craig October 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    You need to talk to Oprah.

  • B Mack October 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    During the government shutdown in 1995, the Park Service was not available to the public but the parks were not barry-caded. This time around, President Obama is throwing a royal hissy fit and trying to make it as painful as possible for people, in order to prove a political point. Utah Rep, Mike Lee said it best – The Obama administration’s response to the shutdown is THE “single best argument anyone could ever make against Obamacare”…..it’s clear that “that which is in the control of the government CAN and will be used against the people as leverage in a political debate”. End of story.

    • Karen October 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Actually, in 1995 the National Parks were closed and barricaded. We had a family trip planned to Arches during Christmas break which we had to cancel. There were plenty of news reports and photos of closed parks on television just like what is happening now. And, just like in the past, the closure of the National Parks had nothing to do with the President’s wishes or “making things painful”. The decision by the Interior Department to close the Parks is standard procedure whenever a government shutdown seems likely. They just pull out the protocols, dust them off, and implement them. Sorry, but there is no nefarious plan by President Obama, just some foolishness by our own Senator Mike Lee.

    • Bender October 8, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      Someone got their clock wound up tight listening to AM talk radio today.

  • Dave October 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Just a couple of comments: First, the relationship between a parent and son (as used throughout your argument) is not the same as the relationship between the President and Congress (particularly Republicans in Congress). The President is not their parent nor ours. He represents one branch of government. For him to say he will simply not negotiate is not what Americans want. We want both sides at the negotiating table.
    Secondly, the ACA that was enacted by Congress has been unilaterally altered by the President in his actions to postpone certain portions of the law but not all. It is the law and not for the President to decide on his own which parts he will enforce and which he will not.

    • Bob October 9, 2013 at 7:37 am

      Dave, there is no question that the relationship is not the same; it’s an analogy. As for negotiating, that was already done and Congress had its opportunity. *Repeal the law to get another turn. While the House may be the part of Congress that can originate spending bills – not to be confused with making spending laws – they are suppose to operate in the public’s best interest. (Read Federalist Paper 58 to understand WHY the House has the power to ORIGINATE tax and spending BILLS. A hint: it wasn’t designed so the House could rule the federal government, as it appears it is trying to do.) The Congressional minority shutting parts of the government down over a law that has been vetted shows itself to not be in the public’s best interest – especially since the ACA law has not yet been fully tested (you can’t claim you know the outcome). May I also suggest you read Federalist Paper 10 on the implications of minority control in our representative democracy.

      • DoubleTap October 9, 2013 at 8:49 am

        Bob: So why is it no liberal will answer the guestion that Dave asks at the end of his comment??
        All the libs can parrot is …”it’s the law, passed by both House and Senate and vetted by the Supreme court”…bs.
        So I will state Dave’s comment again….”It is the law and not for the President to decide on his own which parts he will enforce and which he will not”.
        So I ask you, why is Obama allowed to break/violate the law he wanted so bad? Since when did he become above the law?
        Please explain how you feel it is ok for him to break the law.

        • philiplo October 9, 2013 at 9:26 am

          “Secondly, the ACA that was enacted by Congress has been unilaterally altered by the President in his actions to postpone certain portions of the law but not all. It is the law and not for the President to decide on his own which parts he will enforce and which he will not.”
          This statement does not offer specifics as to what, exactly, the President has done in “deciding on his own which parts he will enforce.”
          Others who say similar things often include reference to the “thousands of waivers” the President has issued for “congress, his family and his cronies.” If this is also to what Dave is alluding, then a well written response can be found in the L.A. Times (Oct. 3). The short answer, however, is simply that the facts don’t support the conclusions that detractors want them to.
          A snippet from the above…
          “What they’re referring to is the number of health insurance plans that the Department of Health and Human Services allowed to set lower annual caps — temporarily — on the total amount of medical bills they would pay for each subscriber. These include plans offered by 722 self-insured businesses, 417 groups of small employers joined in collective bargaining agreements, and 34 unions.
          The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to phase out by 2014 the annual limits. The rule posed a challenge, however, to employers with “mini-med” plans, which charge extremely low premiums but offer truncated benefits and low annual caps. To keep workers from losing coverage altogether while their employers searched for an alternative, HHS granted waivers that let hundreds of mini-med plans keep lower caps in place until 2014.
          In short, the rule enabled employers and their workers to keep until next year the plans they had before the law was passed, even though they didn’t meet the new minimum standards. The move may have saved some employers and unions money, but it also kept workers from losing their coverage abruptly.”
          What? No conspiracy???! Simply trying to do what’s best for people?? How un-American!!

  • Ron October 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I’m shocked that you would print Lonesome George’s ad hominem attack on the Hylands. Lonesome George obviously lacks the intelligence and information to counter Greta’s argument and lashes out instead like a child (or a Congressional representative). Dallas has been very critical of Obama on many issues. But by Tea Party logic, if the President says the sky is blue, you had better say it’s green or risk ostracism and defamation. Suggestion for the editor: print comments that address the issue, not attacks on people who are willing to put their position out there for all of us to consider.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic October 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Suggestion taken, Ron – found and removed. 🙂
      Note to our STGnews friends – may your heat fire on the issues, nice matters.


  • Char October 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I finid it the height of hypocrisy when the veterans are locked out of the National Mall because of no budget, but the immigration reformers are welcomed with open arms because it is part of the 1st amendment which the veterans fought for……..

    • Ron October 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Char, get your facts straight before you post something that proves you don’t know what you are talking about. The immigration reformers were not “welcomed with open arms.” Many, including Democratic congressmen, were arrested for obstruction. So how are you going to spin that to make look like Obama is catering to them? LOL

      • DoubleTap October 9, 2013 at 9:00 am

        So how do you explain the denial of benefits to families of active service personnel who recently lost their lives in service to this country (and to their Commander-in-Chief)?
        Especially since the funding was approved by both the House and Senate as recent as last week, for this exact benefit.
        So how do you square this disgraceful action by your poor excuse of a president? It IS meant to cause as much hurt as possible by this contemptuous administration. Why military families???

        • philiplo October 9, 2013 at 9:51 am

          It’s easy to explain, but you don’t seem to be open to listening to the answer.
          The benefit has been stopped because the government has been shut down. When congress votes to continue funding government operations, such payments can continue.
          The President did not perform a “disgraceful action.” It appears that the recent legislation designed to make sure military personnel are paid during the shutdown (drafted and passed through congress, and signed by President Obama), did not include a provision for this benefit. Congress is currently acting to correct this.
          If we could put hyperbole and outrage aside for a moment, perhaps more progress could be made?

        • Ron October 9, 2013 at 11:48 am

          Looks like you anti-government types aren’t as anti-government as you think you are. Either that or you don’t understand what the word “shutdown” means.

  • Michelle October 8, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I thought this was a great article and really spot on.

  • Amanda Ballif October 8, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Ideology IS the system. And the loud, liberal minority IS imposing its own interests on the majority through the AHA (aka Obamacare formerly Hillarycare). You have it all bassackwards. In case you aren’t aware, tourism isn’t the only game in town in Utah. Utah isn’t on its knees and never will be. Expound your reading and don’t rely on mainstream media and your next letter might be more factual. All due respect. 🙂

    • philiplo October 9, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Ms. Ballif, are you referring to the minority who elected President Obama for a second term?
      The ACA (Obamacare) does not find its roots in Hillarycare. Rather, the design of the ACA comes directly from Romneycare, the health insurance plan instituted in Massachusetts under Governor Mitt Romney. That legislation was, in turn, based on an outline put forward by a CONSERVATIVE think-tank. .
      At the time it was first proposed nationally, our very own Orrin Hatch was a supporter. Now he’s against it because it was introduced under a democrat? Yes, such a principled man we have as our national representative.

  • Bill Jordan October 9, 2013 at 11:54 am

    It is the duty of our Representatives to speak for their constituents. Republican’s are doing just that. So, in fact, they are doing their job in doing what they can to stop this madness by any means possible. And doing so legally, Ed. Just like the dems that pushed this thru the SC, ‘legally’. Even though everybody knows it is totally unconstitutional. Whats next? Make it mandatory to buy breathing ‘credits’ for the air we breathe? I think a compromise is in order. I say let those that want to participate in obamacare sign up and be taxed accordingly. And those that don’t want to participate, don’t and be taxed accordingly. The American way, not the mandatory way.

    • philiplo October 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      Mr. Jordan, do you have health insurance? If you do, there is nothing you’re being made to do. Up to eighty-five percent of Americans already have health insurance and will not feel any impact from implementation of the ACA.
      This legislation is a godsend for…
      1. People who have been unable to obtain coverage because of a pre-existing condition (including diabetes, occasional headaches, pregnancy, etc.)
      2. People who have remained at dead-end jobs because of the availability of insurance. Before the ACA, leaving such a job made one open to exclusion due to pre-existing conditions or other factors. Also, individual insurance has, for at least a decade, been prohibitively expensive.
      3. People who simply could not previously afford insurance. Either it wasn’t available through an employer, or the individual plans priced them out of the market.
      As someone who has, at various times in life, been in more than one of the above categories, I am very much looking forward to full implementation of this law and, of course, the inevitable tweaks that will be required. Do you think making health insurance available to more than 30 million Americans who were previously shut out of the market is a BAD thing?

  • DiAnna October 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    President Obama is nobody’s hero in this situation, and the House Republicans aren’t either. They are all acting like spoiled 3 year olds denied a snack because they refused to take their nap.

    My idealistic, narrow-minded solution – fire every single one of them, replace them with blue collar workers, remove their ability to vote themselves raises, and make them subject to every piece of legislation they pass.

    Will it work? No way in hell. But it would be nice if they were not in a position to hold themselves separate and above those they supposedly represent.

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