A kind Michigan reader sent this on. Some librarians in Michigan are upset, but they’re not quite sure what specifically is upsetting them. One of them is protesting in an unusual way, and that’s upsetting me a little. "Gov. Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order last month to close the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries and split its duties among seven other departments." No one knows specifically what this will mean for libraries. Regardless, librarians are protesting, and there’s nothing more comical than a protesting librarian. You don’t believe me? Here’s part of the protest:
"Sue Kuhlman feels so strongly about the possible changes in Michigan’s library system that she painted, ‘keep our state’s libraries open Gov. Granholm’ across her car."
Boy, she’s really serious about this protest. She painted her car! Sort of. Turns out it’s not much of a sacrifice. The rest of us will be making the sacrifice.
"The assistant librarian plans to trade the car in through the Cash for Clunkers program. But, for now, it sits in the parking lot of the Algonac/Clay Township Library, where Kuhlman works, touting the message scrawled in green spray paint."
That’s right. Soon she’s going to take advantage of that program that uses our tax dollars to reward people who chose to buy gas-guzzling American cars years ago and prop up a mostly Michigan-based industry devoted to producing gas-guzzling cars, an industry whose inability to sustain itself led to the decline of both itself and the tax base that’s no longer there to support Michigan libraries. Do I sound unsympathetic? Michigan libraries are great, but how many Americans outside of Michigan have to pay the price for their support? It turns out the rest of us have libraries, too.
I’m not exactly what one would call a car buff. In fact, I’m not even much of a car driver. But a friend of mine said the car in the picture accompanying the article looks like a Buick Roadmaster, and according to Fueleconomy.gov, the last model of the Roadmaster gets about 15 MPG in town driving, which seems pretty darn low as far as I can tell. As I understand the Clunkers program, only cars with such low gas mileage are even eligible. Since the program is funded out of Federal tax money, all of us, whatever we drive (or don’t drive), are handing money over to people who chose to buy cars like that in the first place.
This is also a car that, along with SUVs and such, contribute to increasing gasoline prices, even for people who choose to drive economy cars. The gas guzzlers demand more fuel; increasing demand without increasing supply increase prices; therefore, those who drive gas guzzlers increase gas prices for everyone. Thanks for nothing, gas guzzling Americans.
The American auto industry has devoted itself to producing these sorts of cars for decades, specifically catering to the demands of big Americans who don’t care whether their behavior increases gas prices for everyone or encourages American dependence on foreign oil and all the political problems that can bring. (And that’s without even bringing up the environmental debate.) The state of Michigan has benefited for decades from this ultimately unsustainable behavior, and now billions of dollars of American tax money has been used to bail out these automakers and support this industry that couldn’t support itself.
Putting this all in a larger perspective, what do we see? We see a librarian who has personally and professionally benefited from tax money based on the American auto industry protesting when this industry’s decline erodes support for her library (if that’s indeed what it’s doing). She’s protesting by painting her big, American, gas-guzzling car that she’s then going to trade in for a Federal handout rewarding irresponsible car buyers and builders. She’s done her part to increase gasoline prices for us all. Her state’s main industry has done its part to increase gasoline prices and dependence on foreign oil, while running itself into bankruptcy through incompetent management. Her self, her state, and its irresponsible industry are now being directly benefited by Federal handouts.
This must be a protest only a Michigan librarian could love. How seriously can anyone outside of Michigan take this? Goodness, hasn’t this librarian and her library benefited enough by treading on the backs of other Americans?
She and other Michigan librarians are protesting a reduction of state support for their libraries. Well, I have a protest, too. I protest that part of the support these libraries are getting at all comes at a cost to every American who pays taxes and never bought a big, gas guzzling American car, and that this librarian is protesting by painting a car that she can then trade away for a Federal handout. Maybe I’ll take her protest more seriously when she buys a new Prius and paints political protests all over that. Oh, and when she starts protesting how much of the state library support has ultimately come from the pockets of non-Michigan residents paying out the nose to bail out her state’s unsustainable industries directly and indirectly. Unfortunately, that much protest probably won’t fit on a small car, so I don’t think I’ll see that happening.