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*