Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Debt Reduction Fire Sale

This morning, the Washington Post brought to light another revenue generating idea conjured up by the House Resources Committee. A "brainstroming paper" accidentally leaked to the public, details a possible fire sale of federal parklands & historic sites to help lower the ballooning federal debt. The committee Chairman, Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) estimates that such sale of assets could add 2.4 billion in new, one-time, federal revenues. Among the assets suggested to go on the block are Roosevelt Island just off the National Mall, the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House in NW Washington, and 15 other federal parklands. And why not some may ask. After all why should the government spend money preserving the home of a prominent, but little remembered, leader of the Civil Rights Movement when the funds are badly needed to bring democracy to Iraq?

Roosevelt Island promises to be a particularly profitable development oportunity. An interested developer would be able to jam plenty of luxury condo units & small but tastefully decorated retail locations onto the small garden oasis on the Potomac. Prospective residents will no doubt flock to get a piece of the action. Who wouldn't want a condo with sweeping views of downtown Washington, and easy access to nearby National Airport (less than 1/2 mile away). Heck, living directly under the filght path, a resident wouldn't even need to go to the terminal, simply stand on their roof with a prunning hook and snag a jetliner as it takes off. The Post probably sums up the wisdom of this proposal best with a quote by Craig Obey, the spokesman for the National Parks Conservation Association:

The nation undoubtably faces pressing financial obligations, for which Congress must come up with creative measures to address. Putting America's heritage on the block, in order squeeze out a few more pennies (2 billion is a pittance) to meet short-term need is not simply unwise, it is a breach of public trust.

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