Monday, April 5, 2010

Harrangue -- Unintended Consequences at a State Park

harangue: An impassioned, disputatious public speech; A tirade or rant, whether spoken or written; To give a forceful and lengthy lecture or criticism to someone.

On Good Friday of Easter weekend, I rode to some familiar places, one of which was Caesars Head State Park. It is not far from home, and the road is pretty good with lots of twists and a steep elevation change, but with generally good visibility around most of the bends. I have gone there several times.

The view from the park is quite good, looking over the nearly sheer drop of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. You can see quite a distance if it is not too hazy. It makes a good stop when traveling further north, say to Brevard North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Waynesville, or beyond. Today, I just want a place to spend a few minutes looking at the scenery and having a snack.

I walk to the overlook and gaze into the distance for a while, go on through Devil's Kitchen, a narrow walkway through a fissure in the giant rocks, then sit down at a picnic table to eat some trail mix, and have a drink of water.

The trail mix has some chocolate coated stuff in it, and it has partially melted while my bike sat in the sun. My hands and face are sticky brown and in need of a cleanup. The trail mix wrapper is also covered with sticky goo now, and I want to get rid of it.

I look around for a trash can. There are none to be found. I go to the restroom to search for one, being the good steward of the environment that I am.

...Now the restroom door handle is sticky brown too. The sinks are covered over because of a water shortage, so I can't wash my hands. Hmmmm. Now what?

I notice that there is a sign on the door that says there are no trash cans because the bears get into them, but that there is a trash bag in the visitor's center. Fair enough, those bears can be pesky, but do the bears go into the restrooms (with out-swinging doors) to get the trash? Maybe. What do I know?

I venture over to the visitor's center and wander in. On my way, I notice an empty soda pop bottle sitting on top of a newspaper vending box. I mutter to myself how thoughtless the person was who left it there instead of disposing of it properly.

I go in, but cannot spot the trash bag. One of the women at the desk asks if she can help me. I tell her that I am looking for the trash. She says that they now have a policy that you must take your trash with you when you leave the park. She comes across as very smug about this policy, as evidenced by the tone of her voice and her body language. It seems as though she is almost giddy about this breakthrough in environmentalism.

Well, at first blush that sounds like a good rule. They don't have to spend money emptying trash cans and disposing of the trash. Albeit, it is a small cost saving, but these days, lower government costs are certainly in order since all other government spending is out of control.

So let's recap my situation: My hands are covered with melted chocolate so I can't put my gloves back on. Everything I touch spreads the sweetness. My mouth is smeared with chocolate so I look like a child. The restroom door handle is sticky from my opening it with chocolate-covered hands (the bears will love it). And I still have the messy trail mix wrapper and empty water bottle to do something with.

Here is what is worse:

Yep. People throw their trash on the ground (or leave it on top of newspaper boxes) in the park and along the road if they don't have a place to dispose of it properly. Now, the state must not only get rid of the trash, but must go around and pick it all up from the ground. It doesn't take a genius to figure this one out ahead of time.

It is another example of unintended consequences of government policy. I am sure that the costs to the taxpayer are higher now, the park and the roads are littered up, and the public is not well served. Next I suppose that they will put on more park police to arrest people who don't want to take their chocolate-covered candy wrapper or their kid's dirty diaper home with them in the car.

Imagine what the unintended consequences will be of all the new government regulations and laws that have been enacted in just the last year or so. Staggering, and almost unfailingly detrimental to our well being and to our wallets, if the past is any indication.

Yes, I resisted the temptation to give my used up candy wrapper to the woman at the desk. Instead, I finally found a drinking fountain to wash off my hands and mouth. I stuffed the candy wrapper into the water bottle and took it home.


1 comment:

irondad said...

Another example of intelligent government thinking. Entertaining story. As a side note, I hate it when the chocolate in my trail mix melts!