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Old 04-24-2020, 02:48 PM   #1
chairrock
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Earth Day and money

https://www.perc.org/2015/01/20/payi...sPy9gYZfYqSxtI
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Old 04-24-2020, 02:59 PM   #2
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As someone who very much fits in the "hiking and camping" crowd and very much does not fit into the "hunting and fishing crowd," I would love to see a similar tax on hiking and camping equipment, with the proceeds used to fund maintenance of backcountry recreational infrastructure (trails, campsites, lean-tos, outhouses, etc.).

On the flip side of the coin, however, I do worry that the enaction of such a tax would only further the "drive to the bottom" with regards to plummeting budgets for the management of public lands. As much as a "recreational equipment tax" could be a viable piece of a comprehensive effort to address the shortcomings that management of our public lands currently faces, I think it's important to remember that it would only ever be just that- a small (but important) part of a multi-faceted approach to bettering how we maintain public spaces like the Forest Preserve. It is somewhat foolish, I think, to suggest (as some do) that this could be a magic pill that will solve all problems with the maintenance (or lack there of) of public recreational infrastructure.

FWIW, I do also try to "put my money where my mouth is" in other ways- via fee membership of various hiking organizations, and through the purchase of the DEC's Trail Supporter Patch.
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Old 04-24-2020, 06:30 PM   #3
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"New" fees and taxes will just go into the government pocket in the general fund. Study after study has shown this.

As a frequent user of the outdoors, I would gladly pay more. But only if it actually increases the funding for land stewardship. Taxes and Fees NEVER do this.

I would rather do volunteer trail work. When I clean up a section of trail, I am certain that my contribution is actually going to stewardship of that area. Cash just goes to to the taxing center, never to be seen again.
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Old 04-24-2020, 08:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD View Post
As a frequent user of the outdoors, I would gladly pay more. But only if it actually increases the funding for land stewardship. Taxes and Fees NEVER do this.
Hypobole doesn't usually bother me too much but in this case I think it's worth pointing out that the article directly cites two examples of taxes that are incredibly well known in the conservation field for the direct financial benefits they've provided for land stewardship over the past number of decades. Pittman-Roberston and Dingell-Johnson are huge points of pride for the hunting and fishing recreational communities, and the financial support for land stewardship that has been possible via the taxes levied under these acts cannot be understated.

To overlook these substantial contributions that have been made towards wildlife and fisheries habitat improvement projects is to diminish these efforts.

From the article (emphasis is mine):

Quote:
Between 1930 and 2010, Pittman-Robertson funds provided $6.4 billion for wildlife conservation.
Quote:
From 1952 to 2010, the program [Dingell-Johnson] distributed $6.6 billion back to the states for a wide variety of habitat improvement, access, research, and education projects.
$6.4 billion and $6.6 billion for wildlife and fisheries habitat improvement projects, and for access for hunting and fishing recreational users. That's $13 billion total raised through taxes alone (and not counting the additional funds that the states themselves must put up to be eligible to receive the funds). So much for "taxes and fees NEVER" increasing "the funding for land stewardship."
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Old 04-26-2020, 09:01 AM   #5
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I know those numbers look impressive, but be careful to do a complete analysis. I have not done the analysis in this case, but what you are seeing here is really often a "shell game," and you risk being taken in by it.

It's common (in fact typical) that a particular resource is getting a steady budgetary allocation for years. A new tax or fee is introduced, and touted as raising a certain great-looking number of dollars. But when you look at what is actually getting accomplished on the ground (number of direct service employees working IN the resource area (not in offices in the capital), amount of material purchased, projects completed, etc., you find that no more is being accomplished now than was accomplished before, because as soon as the "new" money is added, the "old" money is pulled away into other areas, or just plain into waste.

This has been shown in studies of various fee demonstration projects, lottery money, etc..

I know that sportsmen pay a lot of fees that we hikers and paddlers do not pay, and I do think that there is room to correct that. But until I see a detailed analysis, I will withhold judgment on just how much those dollars actually accomplish. And my default position is to oppose sending any additional dollars to a capital (such as Albany) unless there is a guarantee that the funds will actually help the resource. We live in a state where we have a $300 million environmental protection fund; but the state cannot hire rangers, build parking lots, or perform trail maintenance; but they CAN manage to build a $16 million toilet. You will have to pardon me for remaining skeptical about sending more money to Albany.
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Old 04-26-2020, 12:03 PM   #6
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But it is a really nice toilet.
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Old 04-26-2020, 12:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
Hypobole doesn't usually bother me too much but in this case I think it's worth pointing out that the article directly cites two examples of taxes that are incredibly well known in the conservation field for the direct financial benefits they've provided for land stewardship over the past number of decades. Pittman-Roberston and Dingell-Johnson are huge points of pride for the hunting and fishing recreational communities, and the financial support for land stewardship that has been possible via the taxes levied under these acts cannot be understated.

To overlook these substantial contributions that have been made towards wildlife and fisheries habitat improvement projects is to diminish these efforts.

From the article (emphasis is mine):





$6.4 billion and $6.6 billion for wildlife and fisheries habitat improvement projects, and for access for hunting and fishing recreational users. That's $13 billion total raised through taxes alone (and not counting the additional funds that the states themselves must put up to be eligible to receive the funds). So much for "taxes and fees NEVER" increasing "the funding for land stewardship."
Definitely without those programs much would be very different.
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Old 04-26-2020, 01:45 PM   #8
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TCD, I am genuinely perplexed as to exactly what point you're trying to make here. I'm hoping you can help me to better understand your viewpoint.

You use language that explicitly indicates that you feel that I am not seeing the full picture here- and on the surface of it, it appears that you're attempting to take a stance that directly contradicts what I have to say:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD View Post
I know those numbers look impressive... but what you are seeing here is really often a "shell game," and you risk being taken in by it.
Yet your argument in support of my failure to see the full picture appears to pretty closely mirror the exact reservations I included in my initial response:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD View Post
It's common (in fact typical) that a particular resource is getting a steady budgetary allocation for years. A new tax or fee is introduced, and touted as raising a certain great-looking number of dollars. But when you look at what is actually getting accomplished on the ground (number of direct service employees working IN the resource area (not in offices in the capital), amount of material purchased, projects completed, etc., you find that no more is being accomplished now than was accomplished before, because as soon as the "new" money is added, the "old" money is pulled away into other areas, or just plain into waste.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
On the flip side of the coin, however, I do worry that the enaction of such a tax would only further the "drive to the bottom" with regards to plummeting budgets for the management of public lands. As much as a "recreational equipment tax" could be a viable piece of a comprehensive effort to address the shortcomings that management of our public lands currently faces, I think it's important to remember that it would only ever be just that- a small (but important) part of a multi-faceted approach to bettering how we maintain public spaces like the Forest Preserve. It is somewhat foolish, I think, to suggest (as some do) that this could be a magic pill that will solve all problems with the maintenance (or lack there of) of public recreational infrastructure.
I'm honestly confused here. Are you agreeing with me or disagreeing with me?

Further more, your post seemingly cites a perceived failure on my part to "do a complete analysis," yet in the very next sentence you freely and openly admit to a failure on your part to do the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD View Post
...be careful to do a complete analysis. I have not done the analysis in this case...
What gives? Why are you free of the burden of careful "analysis" of the facts before passing judgement, when others are not? Serious question here: How can you expect your input to be taken seriously when you begin your post with a set of diametrically opposed assertions such as these?

Last edited by DSettahr; 04-26-2020 at 03:20 PM..
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Old 04-26-2020, 04:25 PM   #9
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Sorry, DS, if this appears confusing. In large part, I am agreeing with your post #2 in my post #3. You very correctly captured the phenomenon I am talking about; I was reinforcing your point.

But in your post #4, you throw out dollar amounts, defending various tax programs, without a full analysis.

You have to understand that there are at least two layers of deception commonly used in measuring Government "performance."

One of the common measures is to measure success by how much taxes were raised. "Look at all this money we collected!"

Even once you get past that deception, the next common measure is to measure success by how much was spent. "provided $6.4 billion for wildlife conservation...distributed $6.6 billion back to the states..."

Neither of those two measures means anything at all with regard to the real "success" of such systems. The only measure that matters is what happened on the ground. Did we hire more Rangers? Did we perform more maintenance? Did we complete some kind of worthwhile wildlife or forest restoration project?

When you look closely, the answer is usually "no." The additional money stayed in the Capitol.

So I agree with your post #2, but I disagree that the numbers in your post #4 mean anything at all, without an analysis of "what really got accomplished." (And that analysis is usually very difficult to get.)

Thanks for engaging in this conversation!
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