As a taxpayer, I'm always happy to raise fees on others, especially when they use public lands for profit. But it seems to me that in our society-wide quest for efficient markets, we have a habit of squeezing out the little guy. Collecting mushrooms is a pretty low-tech way for somebody who hasn't had the benefit of education or access to capital markets to still make a buck.
I agree regulation could make the market more orderly, safe, and efficient. But at the price of accessible? After all, there are few people who would move a five-person family into a tent for the summer, even for occasional revenues of $800 a day. Wouldn't higher permit prices mean that somebody with more capital would buy the permit and skim off the profits?
Anthony says the current situation sounds a little like the Wild West. I think that's OK. The Wild West stays in our national consciousness because the notion of making your way in emerging markets is so central to the American experience.
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