Over the weekend, an economist and writer for Forbes put forward an idea that’s received a great deal of well-deserved criticism and skepticism.
— Panos Mourdoukoutas (@PMourdoukoutas) July 21, 2018
Personally, I believe libraries are one of the most valuable assets to ever belong to the American public. On a practical level, it provides an indoor public space where people can relax, read, or access vital resources. It provides Internet access for underserved communities. Libraries create a public meeting space that’s sheltered from the rigors of outdoor weather and are a vital meeting point for community programs. As a child, my love for reading was ignited by summer reading programs and extracurriculars at the local library.
And, of course, libraries provide books to the public.
About 1 in 5 libraries cost the public less than $50,000 to run, and around 43 percent cost between $50,000 and $399,000 to run. Yes, they cost taxpayer dollars. I believe they are worth the relatively few dollars that are spent to run them.
Beyond that, the notion that Amazon should privatize libraries is aligned to the Chicago School/Milton Friedman agenda: privatize public assets, deregulate the market, and eviscerate social programs. The central premise of which is that corporate hands should be free to buy and transform public assets as they want.
I don’t have the means or the time to challenge the premise right now (well, except for one: no, Starbucks is not a community space—it’s a private space that demands patronage for every use), but the whole idea reminded me of a John Adams quote I wrote down in Boston last year:
The social science will never be much improved until the people unanimously know and consider themselves as the fountain of power…the whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people, and must be willing to bear the expense of it.
Must be willing to bear the expense of it.