What’s more preposterous: the fact that the pretty New Jersey beach town of Ocean City spent over $282,000 last year to pay beach Nazis to roam around and badger people for their tags, or the fact that this same town is preparing to spend $3 million to install a compuerized system to guard against the possibility that even a single sand-covered butt will get in without paying?
I think we can dispense with most of the ancillary promises being made for the system: the stuff about solar-powered garbage cans that notify janitors whenever they get full is tailor-made for The Simpsons or South Park, as is the promise of giving parents the power to monitor their kids’ movements through the ID wristbands everyone will have to wear on the new digital beach. And I’m sure people will be eager to cart their laptops onto the baking-hot beach and risk getting sand in their CD drives. The point of the whole thing is to see if there isn’t a more efficient way to nickel-and-dime daytrippers and tourists who have the temerity to want to go swimming in the summer.
You know, there are civilized parts of the country where the beaches are considered a public resource. Whenever my relatives in California come for a visit, they always return from the Shore astonished by an encounter with some surly beach-Nazi demanding to know why they haven’t forked over some bills in order to pin a scrap of cloth to their swimming trunks. My relatives ask how this situation came about, and I can’t really explain it. Nor can I explain why residents of towns that owe their sky-high property values to government initiatives like the Garden State Parkway, their beaches to federal replenishment programs and their “local control” to heavy subsidies from the state are entitled to shake down taxpayers who have already paid into the sandbox a couple of times.
It’s a New Jersey thang – y’all wouldn’t understand. We don’t understand it in New Jersey, either, when you come right down to it.
Cross posted in The Opinion Mill.