I’ve been reading about the library closings in Charlotte, NC, also reported in LJ. They’ve had to close three branches, and might have to close a dozen more if they don’t get the funding. Things aren’t going well down there in Dixie. In addition to the heat, now they’re cutting off whatever links to education and culture some of them might have had.
It’s not like we’re talking about South Carolina, either, the state that still flies the Confederate battle flag at the capitol building. As far as I know, South Carolina doesn’t even have any libraries, or at least no one in the government uses them. Maybe they stopped buying books in 1864 and don’t realize the Civil War’s over, and they lost. Of course, these days if they tried to secede I’m not sure who would bother to stop them.
But North Carolina was supposed to be different. At least that’s what I’ve always heard, a vale of humidity between two peaks of arrogance. Or was that humility? Probably both. And Charlotte! It seemed like such a civilized place that time I flew through it. After all, any place that puts rows of rocking chairs in their airport can’t be all bad.
The library might be a place people to educate themselves, but it’s pretty clear from the comments that not all avail themselves of this educational opportunity. The comments also allow us to see what kind of vocal yet dimwitted opposition they’re up against.
Take, for example, the commenter calling himself (it has to be a him) "JT Lancer." There’s already something a bit odd about naming yourself after a fictional television character played by a fictional movie character. It shows one’s mind is significantly divorced from reality. Here’s one comment:
"If public libraries were in such great demand by so many citizens, they would survive on their own, without picking the pockets of the people who don’t use the service.
Simply charge user fees to those who do.
However, that doesn’t seem to be the case, does it?"
Boy, howdy, JT sure has put those libraries in their place! You’ll notice from this and the next comment that ol’ JT is fond of the rhetorical question. He attempts to use it as a weapon to stop conversation he can’t deal with.
But that’s neither here nor there. Pay attention to his clumsy use of metaphor. "Picking the pockets of the people," indeed. That’s right, those librarians sneak out into the community at night and pick ol’ JT’s pockets while he’s busy picking his nose. I’m assuming his is one of the "picked pockets," because it’s pretty clear that he’s never set foot in a library. In fact, I’m a little surprised he can read and write. He probably hires a little boy to be his amanuensis.
We could point out lots of things that are in great demand by citizens that wouldn’t survive on their own, even if they charged user fees. Social security. Medicare. Roads. Schools. In some cases, even banks.
Instead of pointing out how silly the statement is, another commenter pointed out that it’s against the law for libraries to charge fees for basic services. This got ol’JT hoppin’ mad, by gum.
"’It is against the law that created NC libraries to charge a fee for basic services.’:
But its OK to confiscate private property from the citizenry by force (via taxation) to pay for the libraries? Makes sense."
I don’t mean to disappoint ol’ JT, because he sure seems like a thoughtful and logical type of person, but it makes a lot more sense than the gobbeldygook he’s spouting. JT must be one of these so-called "tea partiers" who think that ignorance and populist rage make a good combination and that intelligent people should take them seriously, because, you know, they’re hoppin’ mad and all. And they don’t like big gumment. They give conservatism a bad name even among conservatives.
To be fair, I should say I can’t be sure, because I’ve never met any of these "tea partiers." I just know what I read about in the news, like this hilarious article last month from the New York Times. Those who say the MSM has a liberal bias might have some ammunition with this article. It certainly shows a anti-stupidity bias, but that’s not especially common in the media, including at the Times.
The article reports on a poll of "tea partiers" which supposedly shows that "Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public." As the rest of the article goes on to show, that ain’t saying much.
My favorite part of the article is this one:
“I just feel he’s [Obama's] getting away from what America is,” said Kathy Mayhugh, 67, a retired medical transcriber in Jacksonville. “He’s a socialist. And to tell you the truth, I think he’s a Muslim and trying to head us in that direction, I don’t care what he says. He’s been in office over a year and can’t find a church to go to. That doesn’t say much for him.”
If that’s better educated than the general public, then we’re in a sorry state, indeed. What I find hilarious is the thought that Obama’s going to make us all socialist Muslims. Is it even possible to be a socialist Muslim? Don’t you pretty much have to choose between them? I think I’d choose socialist if I absolutely had to, because Muslims don’t drink, but I feel pretty sure I don’t have to choose either.
My next favorite is the end, and I’m sure the Times writers had a great time writing this one.
But in follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.”
Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.
Others could not explain the contradiction.
“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”
Less Government! More Medicare! That’s good stuff. But let’s git back to ol’ JT before he wets his britches. It’s pretty clear that ol’ JT doesn’t like big gumment, or any gumment at all. Maybe he doesn’t even like Social Security or Medicare, and will avoid those services if he reaches his golden years.
If we consider both his question–is it okay for governments to tax citizens to provide public services — and the way it’s put–"confiscating property by force" — then it’s pretty clear what we’re dealing with here. Ol’ JT is a bonehead.
Answering JT is easy. Yes, it’s okay for governments to collect taxes to provide public service. You’d be hard pressed to find an example of a government that didn’t do so. Every government in the history of humankind has done this, and there’s never been a successful, prosperous, and independent society in which there wasn’t a government doing this. Ever. Even the unsuccessful societies tax you; they just don’t provide any public goods.
You don’t want to be taxed? Why don’t you move to…oh, wait…there’s not really any place to move. There might be some aboriginal tribes in the Amazon jungle you could hook up with. If h’de ever read a book, maybe yheou’d know that already.
The problem with JT’s "argument" is that it’s completely irrational and has nothing to do with reality. Other than that, it’s okay, I guess. He can’t be taken seriously as an opponent of libraries, because he’s not a proponent of funding anything, including schools or roads. JT thinks he’s on to something, but he’s just as ignorant and thoughtless as the day he was born. However, it seems these days there’s a lot like him.
So the North Carolina public libraries might have an uphill battle. The more gibbering loons there are out there like JT, the harder it will be to fund libraries or any other public good.