Conservative Legislator Calls for the Government to Fund Free Beaches

The Jersey shore was devastated by Sandy.  We all know that.  It was a potential knock-out punch to thousands of homeowners, vacationers and businesses, one they had no means to prepare for other than purchasing insurance and hoping for the best.  It's simply not their fault, not due to their negligence, that their communities, homes and resources were squashed into nothingness.

Many people are calling on the state and federal government to provide funds to help them recover.  One of the primary calls is for money to rebuild the beaches so that businesses can have summer traffic, rentiers can have renters, and vacationers can have beaches and boardwalks.

It's a reasonable, rational use of our collective wealth, our common wealth, as a people.  The folks who live at the shore cannot afford to recover from this disaster on their own, so we help them to do so by pooling our resources from ME to AK, from FL to HI.  It's what government is for, taking care of the things that we can't take care of as individuals.

Now uber-conservative Assemblyman Mike Doherty says that if we do use federal and state funds to restore our beaches the beaches should be free to use.

I've long believed that the state's beach tag system unfairly limits access to a public resource which has been the beneficiary of a great deal of state and federal investment.

And Bob Ingle calls that "uncommon logic and good sense."  Which it's not.

The Jersey Shore is a state and national resource, not just a resource for the people who live there.  It brings incredible local, state and federal tax dollars to the state through tourism; is one of our state's largest industries; and is a natural resource that is of incalculable value. It is perfectly reasonable to expect that governmental levels above the local to fund regular beach restoration that is beyond the ability of local property owners.

Why that means the beaches should be free I don't know.  Ingle points out that we're the only state that charges for public beaches, but that's kind of off point.  Federal dollars go to support private beaches in many states -- including ones Ingle mentioned in his blog post -- that no one but homeowners on the beach have access to.  At least in NJ we don't have publicly funded private beaches.

And one of the ways we do that is by charging people who use the beaches to offset the costs of lifeguards, litter patrol, sand raking, boardwalk management and the other ongoing costs that the people who use the shore accrue.

Ingle and Doherty have it completely backwards.  The American people are funding the expenses of building the beaches, and likely will fund the recovery from the worst storm to hit the Jersey shore in recorded history.

So why should the American people also fund the daily costs of beaches they'll never use?  Funding the beaches themselves makes sense since they are state and national treasures, but most of us won't ever use a lifeguard, have our trash picked up, arrive at 8 a.m. to a raked beach.  Those costs are on top of building and repairing the beaches, additional costs not currently born by the state and federal governments.

Yet after funding the beach themselves, Michael Doherty says we should also fund people's vacations!

Now, as a liberal I can understand that idea.  I don't really have a problem with it.  If we can lower the cost of middle class vacations I'm supportive, since we've done everything else we can to prevent them from owning vacation cabins, having enough time off from work to have vacations, etc.

But as a radical conservative Doherty is supposed to want people to pay for their own way.  For him to support additional funding for beaches is a betrayal of everything he professes to believe.

And that's because he doesn't believe it.  He's a faux populist, someone who pretends to be about the little guy but is really about wrench throwing.  He knows that we're going to fund beach recovery so he decides to bitch about something else.

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