Paying For Libraries

growup THIS.

I don’t use my local library like I used libraries when I was younger. But I want my local library, in no small part because I recognize that I am fortunate not to need my local library — but others do, and my connection with humanity extends beyond the front door of my house. My life was indisputably improved because those before me decided to put those libraries there. It would be stupid and selfish and shortsighted of me to declare, after having wrung all I could from them, that they serve no further purpose, or that the times have changed so much that they are obsolete. My library is used every single day that it is open, by the people who live here, children to senior citizens. They use the building, they use the Internet, they use the books. This is, as it happens, the exact opposite of what “obsolete” means. I am glad my library is here and I am glad to support it.John Scalzi

Libraries are not obsolete, Mr. British Author Who Shot His Mouth Off And Is Getting Publicly Schooled By Scalzi, Among Others. (Who I am not going to link to because 1. he is an ass and 2. he won’t get any traffic from me.)

This is also how I feel about public education. Even if you don’t have children, if you are able to read this (i.e., if you are literate) you are a product of public education. (If you’re homeschooled–who do you think pioneered the textbooks/teaching aids you used, and made them economically viable for companies to produce on a mass scale? Even private schools suckle at the tax teat, and if you don’t know that, YOU SHOULD.) If you are able to read, to balance your checkbook, or attempt any of a hundred daily tasks, you have not reached the end of what public education has given you. You still owe to the public who invested in you, whether in schools or libraries or crosswalks.

Which reminds me. You use the roads? You rely on postal or package delivery services that use the infrastructure? You rely on public health (drinking water delivered reliably that doesn’t sicken you, for one) or public safety (stop signs, sidewalks, city or county contracts with ambulance companies, I COULD GO ON AND ON) at all? These things cost money (i.e., taxes) and if you don’t like your tax burden, are you paying attention to where the money goes and writing to your Congresscritter or state legislature representative, or calling the city hall to politely but firmly register your opinion? If you are, great, keep it up, if you’re not, well, why are you bitching? You’re the one in charge here, and if you use the services, well, you owe. Unless you’re homesteading in a shack out in the middle of nowhere. (Even then, if you can read this, you’re using the infrastructure that brings the Internet to you.)

Infrastructure is not free. Just like ebooks aren’t free to produce, but some jackasses feel entitled to steal–thinking you don’t owe for libraries or schools the same jackassery, writ large. Libraries and schools are not free either, and you know what? If you even start the right-wing bitching about poor or brown people (don’t think I don’t know all your dog-whistle words, I grew up in a household of bigots, I know them) using the schools “I’ve paid for”, shut your pie-hole. We’re goddamn America, and we invest in the poor and huddled masses because when they’re given a chance, they work just as hard as the rest of us and make everyone’s life better. (I grew up blue-collar and ended up poor for most of my adult life, I worked my ass off, and now I don’t complain about paying my goddamn taxes for this very reason.)

And we also invest in libraries and schools because it’s the forward-thinking, fair, just, and goddamn smart thing to do. We owe and we pay back, because we haven’t reached the end of the help that schools and libraries built by others has provided us.

Lili OUT. *drops mic, does fist-jab, walks away*

  • hollyabbie

    Glad you did not provide link. Every child should have the tactile adventure only experienced in a library, shame on the people who think it is not necessary. Yes, the digital age is here, but a mind must be fed by all of the senses.
    H

  • martian moon crab

    I would go to the Library every day it was open, to take back the books I had read to get books I hadnt.

    It was a place of magic, it had books!

  • CathiAG

    If you’re not paying for schools and libraries you’re paying for jails.

  • Vickie Remo

    Agreed, for most of the years between childhood and adulthood the library was a safe haven for me. I spent as much time there (and incidentally away from home) as possible. Dorothy Dunnett (The Lymond Chronicles) and Andre Norton and all the others swept me away from all the things I physically couldn’t get away from. As for public schools-I, like many, decry the poor performance of many of them; but am aware that much of the problem is not the schools themselves – there are a myriad of problems that no one really wants to tackle. I can afford to send my child to private school, but that doesn’t give me an excuse to shirk my fair share in taxes- it just makes me thankful I can afford both! There are way too many people running around with the attitude that they got theirs and to hell with everyone else. It is a shortsighted way of thinking, the better everyone in society does the better we all are. When too many are deprived of the chance at education, decent housing, jobs etc… is when you see societies start to implode. When that happens the ones shouting that they pay too much already are the first ones to cry for help! Civilization costs, but it is better than the alternative.

  • weyodi

    It seems as though I have been telling people this on a constant loup for the last 5 years. I am so glad to hear it from you, I don’t feel quite so alone.

  • Funny, I was thinking of this from a different tangent over the week-end thanks to a discussion (er, disagreement is more like) between my friend and another person about immigration, societal rights, patriotism, and nationalism. Sad to say, I think my friend is at best really naive about reality and at worst in the wrong.

    It does get me bent when people who have grown up with all of the advantages their society has to offer do their best to yank those same privileges away from others.

    As a very conservative family member put it, paying taxes means I live in a society where things like decent roads and a basic education is available to all and we should be thankful we can do all those things via taxes.

    What I mind is misuse of taxes, but I don’t believe that making information available to a free thinking society is misuse…I think it’s an investment with a guaranteed, positive return.

  • Nina

    Go Lili!!

  • *stands up clapping emphatically* *continues clapping after everyone else has left the building in dazed awe of your verbal slap to asshats everywhere*