Libraries = Socialism

As if it were not bad enough that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is raising vehicle sticker fees, he’s raising them to keep libraries open.

“Chicago Public Library is grateful for the Mayor’s continued support of the vital role libraries play in Chicago neighborhoods and that he has found additional funds toward continuing that work,” Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey said in a statement. “This plan strikes the right balance, ensures that all Chicagoans -- particularly the children of our city -- have access to library services, and that our limited resources are being used in the most effective way possible.”

I can’t think of a more egregious example of government-sponsored socialism than the public library. Unproductive citizens without two nickels to rub together are given access to millions of books they could never afford to buy on their own -- all paid for with the tax dollars of productive citizens. Does the government pay for people to rent tuxedos for free, sail boats for free, or play golf for free? No, it does not. So why should it pay for people to read books and surf the Internet for free?

The free market should be left alone to distribute books and computers to those who have earned them. With libraries handing out free books, is it any wonder Borders went out of business? Libraries are also repositories for out-of-print books which can no longer make it in the marketplace. Gary can no longer afford to keep its main library open, but you don't see the state bailing it out. That's because Indiana is a business-friendly place that knows how to balance its budget.

In addition, libraries are often used by the homeless to warm themselves during the winter, or to nap during aimless afternoons which might better be spent looking for a job. Advocates of public libraries cite them as “community gathering spaces” -- but can’t the market provide those spaces, too?

As the author of three books, I obviously have a grudge against libraries because they enable the public to consume my work without paying for it. Every time someone checks one of my books out of the library, that’s money out of my pocket. There are 79 public libraries in Chicago. If there were 79 filling stations dispensing free gasoline, don’t you think the oil industry would complain? You bet it would, and it would probably get those stations shut down, because the Petroleum Institute has a much better-funded lobbying arm than the Authors’ Guild.

If the public libraries can’t generate enough revenue to support themselves, they should be closed. Well, not entirely. There is one book that everyone in Chicago deserves to read: Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Perhaps we can all borrow a copy at City Hall.

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