How dumb does City Hall think all us little people are? And why do they want to keep us dumb?
Those questions are rumbling through my mind today over City Hall’s latest scheme to pick the pockets of taxpayers: Charging to use the public libraries.
Could anything be more un-American?
Half a century before the country was founded Benjamin Franklin came up with the radical idea of a free public library with the rich putting in some money to buy books and putting them in a public place where anyone could check them out, take them home and read them.
Franklin was quoted as saying “these Libraries have improved the general Conversation of Americans, made the common Tradesman and Farmers as intelligent as most Gentlemen from other Countries, and perhaps have contributed in some Degree to the Stand so generally made throughout the Colonies in Defence of their Privileges.”
In other words, free access to books let everyone become educated and capable of looking after themselves, even if it meant revolting against the inequitous taxes imposed by a tyrannical ruler.
Clearly, an educated populace is against the interests of those who run this city or they would not have let the LAUSD become the Los Angeles Uneducating School District.
So they have come up with a novel scheme, the same one now being applied to garbage collection and other services to the public: Tax people to provide these public services and then start charging them for these same services. In effect, it’s double taxation and undoubtedly goes hand in hand with reducing the services the public has paid twice for.
The specific proposal that comes from the mayor’s appointees to the Library Commission is that library users pay a $25 annual fee for their library, initially applying only to non-residents but we all know how that works. It will soon be expanded to residents, the children, the elderly, the poor, everyone.
What’s most outrageous is the plan to charge $1 a book when a library user orders a book out of the catalogue and has it brought from another facility to their local branch.
That service is actually one of the few innovations in decades that is actually successful and useful to the public and more importantly was the cornerstone of the whole plan 20 years to squeeze nearly $400 million out of the public’s pockets to rebuild every library in the city.
The idea was to build small neighborhood libraries, stock them with only small collections and let people choose from a vast catalogue and have the books delivered to their local branch in a timely manner.
Ingenious, every library didn’t need to buy a copy of every new popular book because they could be moved around quickly. Older books could find more borrowers because people would not have to chase around town to get their hands on the books. The book would come to them.
The scheme worked so well the city started spending less and less on new books, only $3 for every person last year and now wants to cut that to $2 a head.
No one should be surprised that City Hall is gearing up to betray its commitment when it went after the two library bond issues, betray the whole idea that free access to books is an integral part of a free society, betray the public trust yet again.
City Hall is broke. Revenue has been soaring for years and the city has spent all that money and a lot more on inflating already inflated employee salaries and benefits, subsidized developments to benefit billionaires and Arab oil sheiks and connived with contractors to loot the public treasury.
So let me offer answers to the questions I raised at the outset:
They know we are dumb because we let them stay in office instead of putting them in jail or at least throwing them out on the streets where they can cadge with the rest of the bums.
And they want to keep us dumb so they can keep on living high without actually doing anything to make life better for the people who pay the bills, actually pay the bills twice.