Pseudo Legal perspective of National Parks shutdown

The SuperTopo website is a Big Wall Climber focused website. The following is a perspective from a member called TGT, a “social climber from SoCal.”  He sounds like a legal person, but could be making all this up. It related to people getting fined for being caught in the National Parks during the shutdown. I know nothing more.

(The Half Dome cables are down tomorrow – oh, they will still be up due to the shutdown – but the trail crews are on furlough.)

Couple fined $75 for being inside the Arches National Park.

Couple fined $75 for being inside the Arches National Park.

The Park Service — the Interior Department — is in fact the owner-of-record of these public spaces. They are legally entitled and obligated to manage these spaces… but as a trustee, as an owner of record, acting for the actual benefit of the true owner of the property, which is itself, of course, the American public.

If the Park Service actually was both owner-of-record and beneficial owner, they would have unified rights in this regard, and could act on whim and out of obvious self-dealing personal interest (in as much as all Government Workers would like to maximize pressure on Taxpayers to extract money from them), and that would all be legal.

Annoying and horrible, but legal.

But these ownership interests are not in fact united in the Park Service, or the Interior Department. All public lands — and I won’t even bother to look this up, but go ahead and check — are held “for the enjoyment and benefit of the American people.”

They’re held in trust. And when you hold something in trust for the benefit of someone else, you are not permitted to make self-interested decisions about the the use of the property.

A “unified interest” owner could make all sorts of capricious and publicly-harming decisions about his property — and while he might be a dick, he wouldn’t be a lawbreaker.

I can be arbitrary and capricious with my banning policy. That will get me grief, but I do not hold this blog in trust for any commenter. I own it outright, and hence can act capriciously with my property.

But someone who holds property in trust for the benefit of someone else is legally required to:

1) Make all reasonable efforts to afford the beneficial owner of the enjoyment of the property of the trust, and,

2) Scrupulously avoid damaging the interests of the beneficial owner, for example, to personally benefit a third party or the trustee himself.

Here are some other things a trustee cannot do:

He cannot attempt to exert pressure on the beneficiary of the trustee by denying him the enjoyment of the property held in trust (except to the extent that is spelled out in the instrument establishing the trust).

He cannot harm the beneficiary of the trust to “Teach the beneficiary a lesson” about the Important Work the trustee does.

He cannot blockade the property of the trust to put political pressure on a political party he doesn’t favor.

He cannot use the property of the trust for his own benefit and enjoyment.

He cannot capriciously decide that the beneficiary of the trust shall not have the natural rights of enjoyment of the trust, just because he’s Mad at the Beneficiary.

And he definitely, definitely may not block the beneficiary from enjoying the property held in his name to coerce the beneficiary to pay him more for his services as trustee, or to give more freely to charities the trustee favors.

Obama does not own the military, the government, or the national parks, media. Obama instead is the trustee of these things — but is required to oversee them for the benefit of their true owners, the American People.

Lands held in trust are not “owned” by the government in the same way that the Starbucks Corporation is owned by the Starbucks shareholders. Starbucks shareholders not only own a piece of the company on paper, but also own the beneficial interest of that piece of the company. Dividends accrue to their benefit, not some third-party beneficiary of the Starbucks Trust.

This why we on the right make such a big deal over whether these moves “save money” or not – if they saved money, these moves could, arguably, be credited as actually benefiting the trustees, and hence would, arguably, be legal.

But when the government is actually Spending More Money to harass and harm citizens, sorry media, there is no possible way to construe this as “acting for the benefit of the trustees.”

Blockading someone’s view of Mount Rushmore or Old Faithful obviously does not “preserve” the trust, as viewing does not damage the property held in trust.

So no, Media, actually it’s not just like Starbucks, and it’s not business as usual for a trustee to deliberately harm and harass the actual beneficial owner of the property of the trust.

In fact, it’s illegal.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big. – Donald Trump

MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch –

One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome


About Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch

Mr Half Dome. Has written the only half dome hiking guide, One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome. Has hiked it 31 times to day. Lives in San Jose, CA Available for presentations. Carpe Diem Experience, LLC
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