Tuesday, July 20, 2010

libraries crucial, *not* expensive

A functioning democracy *requires* an educated public. Doug Muder, in his weekly sift of the news, writes, "Under the early presidents, America built the best postal service in the world, and had one of the highest literacy rates. That wasn't just the result of our rugged individualism or our protestant desire to read the Bible for ourselves; it was social policy. Because, as Jefferson put it, 'If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.'"

Muder continues, "Today we hear a lot from the Tea Party about the Founders and the Constitution and how 'freedom isn't free' -- which always means that we have to fight a war somewhere. To the real Founders, though, freedom wasn't a strong military (quite the opposite) but an educated public with access to high-quality information."

...which is part of the reason he is angered by Fox News Chicago's report questioning the value of libraries: "keeping libraries running costs big money. In Chicago, the city pumps $120 million a year into them...That's money that could go elsewhere – like for schools, the CTA, police or pensions."

Muder also writes about current events, like Mel Gibson and the (now ex-)Tea Party leader, Mark Williams: "Ever notice how often somebody portrayed as an innocent victim of political correctness turns out later to have been a flaming bigot all along?"

...and his "Disinformation Watch" should be required reading.

Thank you, Doug, for your work (and thanks, Tom for the tip about Doug).


At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Amy said...

I have been living in Mexico for six months, in a town that is a rarity here in possessing a library. It makes me appreciate our incredible riches in having ubiquitous libraries--and the foresight and generosity of the people who created them.

Reading on Wikipedia about public libraries, as your post inspired me to do, I came across an incident from the life of Ben Franklin. A town in Massachusetts honored him by naming itself Franklin, and he donated books to the town (which now claims to have the first public library in the US). The article says, "While Franklin had been asked to donate a church bell instead, he declined on the basis that 'sense' was preferable to 'sound.'" Sadly, Fox News thinks the opposite.


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