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You Want How Much For That Campsite?!?


Ahh, you have to love Americans' capitalistic tendencies. I mean, where else can you spit in the face of someone hoping to enjoy a low-cost stay in a national park by reserving a $20 campsite in Yosemite National Park and then putting it up for auction for $249 on Ebay?

OK, to be fair, that price is for three nights in that campsite, so the person auctioning site No. 48 in the Lower Pines campground in the Yosemite Valley is only seeking $189 for his trouble in securing the site via the federal government's nation-wide recreation system. And if you can't find time to head to Yosemite from August 24-27, site No. 402 in the North Pines campground is reserved for August 12-15 and being offered for a mere $174.

Another seller with a conscious is offering a campsite in the Upper Pines campground July 25-26 for a mere $27.

Park officials say there currently is nothing they can do.

“Apparently it’s been going on for a couple years. It’s not just us. It’s anyone on the reservation system. There’s nothing that says that sites aren’t transferable," Yosemite spokeswoman Adrienne Freeman tells me. "We don't condone this. We’re looking for ways to prohibit this, including working with Ebay. But it doesn’t fall under the penal code for scalping.

"The bottom line is these sites should be available to the American public for a reasonable price. That’s what camping is all about.”

Thanks to Glenn Scofield Williams for tipping us to this story.


Gary, and tell 'em "Anonymous" told you so... ;-)

-- Jon

hi gary- aside from respectfully suggesting you might want to check your tone (see the last paragraph in your comment, re-read and please reconsider...) i would also like to suggest that you might actually want to investigate the cash (at least the national forest reservation system) extortion fees charged (minimum night stays, reservation fees, etc.) by the concessionaires and then possibly consider writing your congressional team (skip the nps/usfs folks) and direct your passion in that direction. it's the government, not the commenters on this site, degrading the overall values in our cherished national park system by allowing the "concessionaires" to "profit" by running the reservation systems...

I'm a bit astonished at some of the reactions. This being a National Parks site, I thought there would be folks here who have an appreciation that we even have such resources. Instead, I see greed and capitalism-at-all-costs professed as "how it should be". What are you guys doing here, anyway, looking for some way to profit from the national park and forest system? I'm glad you weren't around when they were established, we'd have a bunch of McDonald's and Holiday Inns instead of a national heritage.

Sure, call in and buy up the campsites that you know will be in demand, because it is summer and that's the only time some folks can get off work to go there. Then sell it to the richest SOB you can find, boy, yeah, that's America in action! Get yours, to heck with everybody else, right? Even though you added absolutely nothing of value to what you're selling, call in early and get what you can, then gouge what you can out of some poor working guy who couldn't get through on the phone for his reservation because you and the other profiteers had the lines jammed up. Now THAT's putting our national parks to good use in the good old American way...for your personal profit, yup boy.

And what's this about a can of worms being opened by making the reservations non-transferable? You make your reservations; if you can't go, you call and they refund all but $10 of your money, big deal, what's so difficult about that? So you can't give them to your buddy, if he wants to go then go with him, or have him call and make his own reservations. If that's a "problem", I'd hate to see what happens when actual real problems come up.

I'm glad that this forum doesn't represent the norm, at least out in our part of the west. Many of us here consider Yosemite a national treasure, and are grateful that folks had the foresight (and the fortitude to battle greedy capitalists who saw only dollars, sound familiar?) to at least try to preserve it for future generations.

That's right, encourage profiteering from anything you can find; grab up those campsites and auction them off. Then we'll see a bunch of spoiled yuppies in their rented motorhomes filling up what used to be a nice place, no doubt traipsing through everyone else's camp, leaving out their food for the bears, and working at their laptops while the kids watch DVD's from their campsite, so they can keep up with their ebay sales and investments.

Some of you don't deserve to have national parks; you deserve what would be the product of your dream, a bunch of paved strip malls where people can do what's really important, make money.

I wasn't making an assumption; I was speaking to a hypothetical situation. But, as for yard sale items, there's nothing that says you couldn't just give them some money, share the profits of your ebay sale (though that sale in itself is rife with difficulty), or organize with them against a system that puts you at odds with them and judges success and value by a profit margin. You had plenty of other choices, and plenty of other actions possible to you. Most of us with any kind of privilege at all do (if only to organize), but as long as we live with the veil of powerlessness, we are going to think that all we can do is live to maximize our goods at the expense of everyone else. And, that's a travesty on so many levels.

But, let's take what you are saying seriously for a moment. It's true that I breathe and move, and I don't understand whether my breathing and moving is for good or for bad. I breathe anyhow. Fair enough. What I don't do is build an economic system where I pretend that my success at breathing is an honest-to-God value whose capital should be maximized and re-invested. In the natural world, we breathe, and we let the chips fall as they may. We take action because of what we are prone to do by nature. In the capitalist world, we see that we are breathing, turn our breath into a commodity, and do our best to maximize that value as though no other alternative could possibly be worthwhile. That's not nature; that's abstract at its worst. It leads to relative powerlessness for most and the sad fact we as a world haven't lived anywhere near our potential. In making a commodity of one aspect of our existence, we've forfeited much more coherent values. Instead of breathing, it's the price of our breath (or our life, or our iPhone, or our progress, or our eBay item) that matters. And, that's why we are talking about such obtuse things as whether a campground spot should be re-sold instead of the birds of the air and the touch of our lover's cheek.

We are active beings by nature; we don't need a mechanical system to dictate our actions for us - all the capitalists and socialists and the liberal hybrids (perhaps, a pun intended) should be very careful of losing sight of the trees that make up the forest.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

I am curious why your first assumption is that the reservation was sold to some "rich guy"? It may very well have been sold to a group of Tibetan monks or bought by a church charity to be given to a poor family from the projects or maybe even to a downtrodden Native American from Pine Ridge, SD.

"Now, the rich have access, and those who have a special skill for snapping up campsites have a business." Well maybe. I've made a lot of money on eBay selling things I've bought at yard sales from people who could've probably used the extra money. What should I have done? Passed up the opportunity because I knew I'd be haunted by the dictum: "There is never an end to the story of even the smallest action we take in life."

You know, your world view can get to be a bit paralyzing.

Real life requires real actions.

0r as Prince Hamlet once said "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

No, it's not the end of the story. If I might have gotten that spot for $20, but you snapped it up and sold it to some rich guy, then what am I supposed to do? I didn't ask for that reality. Now, the rich have access, and those who have a special skill for snapping up campsites have a business. And, everyone else is left out in the cold. A lot of people aren't happy, and that's just the single issue of the campsite itself (there are a lot of other intertwining things as well).

Again, your market is not the vacuous paradise you'd like it to be. There is never an end to the story of even the smallest action we take in life.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

Bottom line, if someone wants to pay for a campsite reservation that another person obtained legally, well then, that is just fine with me. Both parties are happy, end of story.

"You can become decidedly 'unfree' if you aren't at the top of the trading chain." I disagree. I am certainly not at the top of the trading chain, nor do I aspire to be, but the free market offers me a virtually unlimited set of options with which to innovate, collaborate and grow that have nothing to do with climbing some hierarchal ladder of domination and control.

How unlimited are your options? Anyone can find unlimited options, in a manner of speaking, from within a prison cell. They can count sheep, they do push ups, they can scratch themselves, they can imagine all the things they aren't doing. From the standpoint of number, even the smallest atom has within it unlimited numbers of options. But, that's to equivocate, no? When we say unlimited, we mean something else, and if one thinks that Bill Gates, the President of the United States, you, a child dying of AIDS in subsaharan Africa, a prison inmate, a woman on the Pine Ridge reservation have the same unlimited choices, you'd be guilty of a blind delusion. If you mean to say that within our own limits, we have so much we can do, that's a truism. It says nothing about justice, especially whether we can justify our particular range of choices as opposed to someone else's.

All of society's innovations and advancements come from the free market.

A most startling thing to say! What can make you so sure? Let's keep reading.

Toyota is building hybrid cars because its customers and the market demanded it, the iPhone, which is about revolutionize personal electronic communications, was invented because the market place was ready for it and needed it and getting around the country cheaply via Southwest Airlines was accomplished because they saw that the old hub-and-spoke design of conventional air travel was expensive and inefficient, so they just came up with a new point-to-point system that has revolutionized air travel to the benefit of its customers and the economies of the areas they serve.

Wow, quite remarkable. These are the great innovations and advancements of civilization under capitalism? I'm quite impressed. These apparent innovations and advancements only make my own case stronger.

I'm very happy to have the choices that I do in a the free market of ideas and capital. All transactions are voluntary. I can participate up the point that I feel comfortable and then opt out when I feel like that enough is enough.

You know that's nonsense, and I allude to my example in my first response to you. People are deeply affected by the choices of others through no choice of their own. Freedom does not exist in a vacuum (nor does anything else in nature). We cannot atomize relational choices into their component parts and see how they move as though nothing else in the system matters. So, each of our choices causes an involuntary reality for some other being. Even if you and I trade voluntarily, the new reality where that trade happens and affects everything and everyone else, came quite involuntarily. Perhaps, that's why we live in a world where iPhones and hybrid cars are mistaken for human progress. Who set the market on determining those values? More importantly, who didn't? Who was left out?

With government's ability to levy (confiscate) my wealth to use on destructive things like unjust wars, farm subsidies, theft of people's land (Grand Teton & Shenandoah N.P.) and the illegal detention and spying on of innocent and un-indicted persons is something I have little to no control over. As the old reggae songs says "No matter who you vote for, da government always gets in."

That's only because there isn't a movement of solidarity strong enough to stop it in part because we are cannibalizing each other using this myth of free trade. My notion that public interests are easier to resist than private actually is an adaptation of Aristotle's views on the subject, someone you libertarians love to quote. I've just inverted the purpose.

Your idea of small-scale collectivism is never a good road to go down because it never stays small and by forcing anything in that direction always distorts it and eventually destroys it. Just like in nature, economics is a force for efficiency and growth. The collection plate at my church is where small-scale and voluntary collectivism works best, but here we are answering to a much higher authority.

I'm not looking for a world without struggle or trying to control the fate of our world. All collectives will break down just as all our bodies break down in death. Just the fact we live in a universe where we can't know the full implications of a single one of our actions should make us humble about trying to understand what allows for "efficiency and growth" much less trying to determine the specific application of those values. The question isn't whether small collective ownership is infallible but whether it is rational given humanity's relatively blind place in the universe. For a lot of reasons too myriad to explore here or at this time, I think that it is the most rational and most consistent with our experience. Everything else is far too large for us to grasp and control.

Anyhow, this is interesting, but people here will want to know we really do care about campground fees in the parks. I will assert again that there is another path between the right of public control over spaces and so-called free market control. And, if we see this issue in isolation, we will never get at the larger implications. I mean, aren't people tired of these issues constantly popping up like weeds? No matter how you answer this question by itself, you are going to be pissing a lot of people off.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

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