3/09/2010

Creating Power, Creating Community

My wife and I attended an event at a small St. Paul Library last night. This was an old Carnegie library building in one of the older parts of the city, so it's one of the many libraries on the Ramsey Country Library Board's chopping block. This old library reminded me of the primary purpose of public libraries; creating communities.

This local library has been, obviously, starved for resources, but it still keeps attracting neighbors and serving the local community. In fact, the only way to stop a library like this from being used is to close its doors.

This community-building value is a purpose that modern politicians have either forgotten or one that they oppose. It's hard to tell which. For example, our local library politicians are creating a monolith of a library that will be a monument to government excess and community consolidation. When it's finished, the new Roseville Library will suck resources from every other Ramsey County Library until the library board begins to close those small libraries to make room in the budget for the one-and-only-library the country will be able to afford to keep open. Ramsey County is following the incompetent example of Minneapolis, because that's what mismanagement does. One mistake deserves another.

All of this is a good thing for the overpaid, underworked, completely useless bureaucrats who mismanage the country's resources. A giant building means giant management salaries, which means larger salaries for the politicians who mismanage the bureaucrats, which means higher taxes, which means a more stressed, less connected community, which continues the cycle of abuse and incompetence.

As in the business world, the word "leadership" has lost all meaning in government. Conservative characters like Pawlenty gabber about "responsible government" while building monuments to bureaucratic incompetence as fast as they can borrow the money to do so. Their only concern is packing the pockets of their supporters and themselves, while doing as much damage to communities as possible. The weaker, the less informed, the less educated the voters are, the easier they are to mislead. Shredding the value of public libraries to local communities is just part of this tactic.

In a few years, when the United States becomes a minor world power, broke and stagnate and paralyzed by incompetence and politics, the rest of the world will study how we came to such a low state and wonder how anyone could have not anticipated this future. The route from superpower to disaster zone is one of history's most repeated stories. Here we go again.

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