I didn't notice any personal or angry attacks in this thread. Who attacked whom? Patrick and i just voiced the extreme end of the debate. He coming from his perspective, mine coming from my (way more than 9 years of studying to practice my craft, can't afford trailer homes, tends to hitchhike to the parks since after taxes, union dues, and expenses i basically end up at poverty level) perspective.
Thing is, the validity of both lines of reasoning points to some combination of all three sources of funding: tax-based, private, and user fees. We can and do constantly adjust and debate the proportion of those 3 sources. But i'm in a position of being especially sensitive to what happens when one source is eliminated entirely. With ONLY user fees and private funding, the parks cease to be EVERYone's parks. They then, by influence of where the $ comes from, evolve into something that caters specifically to a constituency. (I see that process happening in my own line of work. Why go to poor communities and give parks and ed concerts, when those people will never make donations or buy tickets?) When i'm old and invalid, i want the parks to be taken care of for the sake of the wildlife and the future. Not only for the sake of the users and private donors.
p.s. thanks Patrick for past route advice! i had a great time in the SE last spring.