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The Socioeconomics of Librarian Protest

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.

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Comments

  1. BiblioBlond says:

    In the meantime, the act of turning her car into a mobile billboard is raising awareness for the cause of libraries. Considering how little publicity there is for libraries. I cannot see how this is a bad thing.

  2. hrcrh says:

    She probably has the clunker she could afford to buy on her measly librarian’s salary. The clunker program will allow her to get a real car that has better mileage. I sincerely doubt she bought it new. The program works and it helps people who otherwise could not afford money down on a good vehicle.

    What’s silly is protesting something when your concerns are vague.

  3. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    I agree. I think the AL went off on her own rant on this one. I would have found it more of her flavor to talk about the vagueness of the protest.

  4. provocateur says:

    splendid, anon. that librarian is emblematic of the narrow-minded, narcissistic attitudes and practices that created this mess in the first place, and her supporters are self-centered nincompoops.

  5. c85bb says:

    *She probably has the clunker she could afford to buy on her measly librarian’s salary*

    Well, it is a Buick which is a luxury marque–and if she bought it used, how can she afford a new car payment?

  6. dsnd3 says:

    Heaven knows, no one on this blog is narrow-minded or narcissistic. We’re all ready to drive a mile in someone else’s car, so to speak, before we judge them.

  7. John says:

    Great rant, AL.

    It would be smarter for these librarians to update their resumes. Their protests won’t keep their jobs from evaporating. Gotta go where the cheese is being moved.

  8. wassup says:

    >handing money over to people who chose to buy cars like that in the first place.

    I feel your pain, AL. And, 2 of my vehicles missed the cut-off to qualify for CFC by a measly 1 mpg.

    >along with SUVs and such, contribute to increasing gasoline prices

    In theory, you would be correct.
    However, oil usage in the US has dropped off dramatically, but interestingly enough, the price at the pump has not dropped proportionately. Plus, fewer gallons sold also = less tax $ going into the highway fund to maintain roads.

  9. sidney says:

    Something tells me the AL just doesn’t like cars. That’s positively unAmerican!

  10. Gman says:

    ‘However, oil usage in the US has dropped off dramatically, but interestingly enough, the price at the pump has not dropped proportionately.’

    Have you seen the price of gas in Europe lately? Perhaps if gas were priced realistically in this country we would have light rail and suv’s would never have existed and we would be less involved with oil producing countries, and,and,and….

  11. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    I drive an SUV…and have for 15 years now….I travel, drive my parents, grandparents, family around & go camping 2-3 times a year. But my SUV gets 18-20 around town and 21-25 on the highway. I was thinking of trading it in, but the hybrid SUVs don’t do much better than that…and until I stop hauling people & stuff around the Western States…I guess that’s what I’ll continue to drive.

    Be careful though, when I’m in my 60′s I’m gonna get ma a really Hot Convertible Sportscar! Whoo hoo!

  12. kprnh says:

    *Have you seen the price of gas in Europe lately? Perhaps if gas were priced realistically in this country we would have light rail and suv’s would never have existed *

    European gas prices are heavily inflated by TAXES–even more so than our gas prices. If you like living in societies where you have little choice in life based on the whims of some tyrannical bureaucrats in Brussels, planes leave daily.

  13. Gman says:

    ‘European gas prices are heavily inflated by TAXES–even more so than our gas prices. If you like living in societies where you have little choice in life based on the whims of some tyrannical bureaucrats in Brussels, planes leave daily.’

    A brilliant response, would you like to give us your thoughts on health care, or do you still have insurance?

  14. bdpdk says:

    At first I thought the librarian spray painted the governor’s car, which would have been a much more interesting protest.

  15. Mr. Kat says:

    There have always been cars from Detroit that have great economy. In 1960 you could have purchsed a brand new Ford Falcon with a S-6 140 CID that could seat 6 thin adults and that car had an EPA rating or 30 MPG. 1960, AL, 1960.

    The truth is, AMERICANS want BIG vehicles with LOTS OF POWER!!!

    First, Americans are big people. Look at our average height and compare it to the other nations like Japan. We are Big And TALL people! We need vehicles that are equally Big and TALL!

    Nowadays many of us have become big, tall, and Fat. Hence, bigger vehicles.

    And finally, as Americans we want to be able to cart anything and I mean anything we see home with us. That means we need cargo room!

    Detroit makes tha cars Americans want. Detroit was in a slump not because of a poor qulaity product alone [there is weight to this, though] but because Americnas could no longer AFFORD the cars made by Detroit. And when the expensive Domestics were put alongside the cheap imports, the answer became obvious for many Americans.

  16. n7sn6 says:

    *A brilliant response, would you like to give us your thoughts on health care, or do you still have insurance? *

    I responded to this but LJ deleted it for no reason whatsoever. Nice. I guess some of that stimulus money went to hire some moe LJ commissars to censor dissenting opinions. Makes me feel a bit less upset about cancelling the print sub to LJ this year.

  17. European Librarian says:

    Well, last time I looked we had both freedom to choose and a universal health service over here. Though if Americans go on using the world’s resources at current rates we’ll all be fried. Guess you’ll keep your air con going until the end though!

  18. dwatkins9 says:

    I must agree with the comment that the librarian probably did not buy the Roadmaster new, unless she has another source of income besides her librarian salary. It was an expensive car that later became a cheap used car, and now is becoming a semi-expensive “classic car.”

    Kat, they sold the heck out of those Falcons, not to mention the Mustangs they later put on the Falcon chassis

  19. wassup says:

    European Librarian:
    >Though if Americans go on using the world’s resources at current rates we’ll all be fried.
    >Guess you’ll keep your air con going until the end though!

    Um, much of the electricity to run our AC comes from US coal– you’re not actually laying claim to that, are you?

    Oh, and don’t forget which country gave you the ability to post and communicate online via the invention of the PC & the Internet– the good ‘ole USA!