By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – According to a blog item in yesterday’s New York Times, 16 people have died so far this year in Yosemite National Park, close to three times more than the average.

Three of those deaths, notes the Times, came “when hikers went around a guardrail with a warning sign and waded into water that swiftly carried them over a cliff.”

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Listen to Jon’s commentary:

“Many of these people aren’t used to nature, and they don’t fully understand it” a Yosemite park ranger tells the paper.

She says she regularly sees people hiking barefoot on slick trails along a thundering waterfall, and visitors regularly ignore signs that explicitly warn of potentially fatal danger.

Concludes the Times blogger: “The more rangers try to bring the nanny state to public lands, the more careless, and dependent, people become. If people expect a grizzly bear to be benign, or think a glacier is just another variant of a theme park slide, it’s not the fault of the government when something goes fatally wrong.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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But don’t try to tell that to the lawyer who is suing Yosemite for millions on behalf of the family of a man who ignored warnings not to get too close to mountain goats in the park and was fatally wounded by one of them.

Here, we see the appalling convergence of two troubling trends in our culture – stupidity, manifest in the actions of hikers who don’t know what they’re doing and don’t bother to learn before taking risks that ignore extensive warnings; and entitlement, a state of mind in which these fools expect to be taken care of by others and are surprised and litigious when it turns out they needed to take care of themselves.

You can spot those unfortunate trends at the heart of many of our current problems – budgetary, political, social, cultural.

People want what they want but don’t want any responsibility for the consequences of grabbing it.

God gave us brains.

Why are so many of us so reluctant to use them?

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You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Jon Keller