"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Maybe library doesn't rate as high priority

Our library is a chilly place these days. (B.W. photo)
I had occasion to see the Morris newspaper Saturday (6/14) at a restaurant. I don't buy it because I don't want to deal with disposing all those ad circulars. We only make about two trips to Alexandria per year. So, there really isn't much cause for us to get the Morris paper. It's owned by a non-local company that I feel operates in a Machiavellian way. But its Saturday issue which I consumed for free shed a little light on the fallout from the library debacle.
Political conservatives will say we don't need libraries. Chris Christie gave a speech at the start of his new term as New Jersey governor, in which he said government should strive to provide the best possible service "for the people who pay for it."
It's well and fine to respect taxpayers. Democrats tend not to see the government's role in such stark "business/customer" terms. Government exists to provide services in ways the private sector cannot. That in fact is its raw definition. An institution like our Morris Public Library - don't type "pubic" - attracts many people who Republicans would see as "freeloaders." By definition, many of the library patrons are in fact freeloaders. They do not have to demonstrate that they are supplying material support for the library.
I have been unemployed for eight years. The library has helped fill a void in my life. I really don't ask that much of it. Typically on a weekday afternoon I'm there for anywhere from one to one and a half hours. I see many other familiar faces. I know someone known to take naps there, or at least he snores.
I know of people who cruise by the library to scan a newspaper or other periodical. Problem is, the library serves the broad public - everyone - and no one need demonstrate they're "productive" or contribute materially to public institutions. Anyone can walk in the door.
It sounds like the kind of institution that promotes political liberalism. It treats everyone like they're equal. So maybe they're Communists.
We live in a time when political conservatives have a harder edge than ever. I think they'd like a system where people pay directly for library privileges. If this were the system, maybe the physical plant of our library would be better taken care of. The "customers" would have to be served. The water damage to our library is an abomination. We read in the paper that a roofing company screwed up and caused all this. So, can we assume that it is an uncontested fact that the roofers' insurance company will be paying 100 per cent for all this?
Well, we read that the city's insurance company is "in negotiation" with the roofers' insurance company. Hell hath no fury like an insurance company scorned.
You know what I thought was weird? How the roofers went back to work in the week after the disaster, as if nothing had happened. So, we'll wrap up the work on the roof while underneath us, everything went to hell because of us. Would we ever see such Keystone Cops disarray with anything but a government-supported institution?
We hear about the V.A. Hospital system fiasco. Chuck Todd of MSNBC says no government agency could survive real scrutiny from the media or investigative arms. That's because government doesn't exist on private sector principles. We need both in a healthy society: government and private enterprise. The latter is truly more important and sets an example, no doubt. But the rabid conservatives of today, the ones leading the pack from the right, the ones that threw out Eric Cantor, won't cut any slack for the public sector. It's in their DNA to frown and scowl about a public institution like a library, where anyone can just walk in off the street and use its services. They'd equate it to Castro's Cuba.
We saw a conservative or libertarian newspaper on the UMM campus this past school year that was like a rabid animal with its pronouncements, going right off the scale of civility.
The conservative movement wasn't always like this. Richard Nixon was interested in power and in exercising hubris - he was hardly ideological at all, except with his rhetoric that he used to win elections.
Today conservatives don't just talk a good game. They still want to throw out "Obamacare" in its entirety. We're the last industrialized nation to make provisions for proper health care for the citizenry. Conservatives don't like it.
We as a society are awakening way too slowly to the machinations from the right. We still elect Republicans. A pox on all of us.
Oh, I can learn to live without the Morris Public Library, easily. (Some people say "libery.") I have adjusted my lifestyle before. In the 1980s I ran about 70 miles a week and did three marathons, not that marathoning was ever my goal. I did the long ones as a kick. (It's a kick to see TV helicopters overhead.) Because of 15 or so years maintaining that avocation, of keeping my weight low (down around 175 pounds), I have reasonably good health today. Otherwise I might be dead. Librarian Melissa Yauk has no idea what I look like weighing 175.
I haven't even signed up for MnSure which is Obamacare at the state level. Michele Bachmann would be proud of me. Well, a pox on her too. It's no way to live.
I see campaign signs around town that indicate we should toss Jay McNamar out of office. Why? He gave a speech at the dedication for the University of Minnesota-Morris green dorm. A Democrat, he believes in public institutions.
Democrats are on the defensive these days. We're waiting for the worm to turn. Fox News still rules. MSNBC has the lower ratings and is forced to play defense.
Yes, there will be finger-pointing about what happened to our library. It seems to have already begun. But the fact is: If our community leaders truly cherished the library, this water accident wouldn't have happened, IMHO. People in the appropriate roles of authority would have overseen that physical structure meticulously.
Blaming contractors doesn't impress me. Water issues were not new at the library. Appropriate measures should have been taken before. But after all, it's only the library, which caters to all sorts of bums and riffraff, the sweepings from the street, people with nothing better to do than to browse for DVDs or read newspapers. Why can't they buy the Morris newspaper and send that money back to Fargo? Why can't they buy their own DVDs and support some local business? This is what Republicans are inclined to think.
Republicans tend to think of public welfare programs as tantamount to feeding vermin. Our public library probably fits that criteria. All I am is an observer. I did contribute to the Morris Public Library Foundation. I talked up the Foundation in a blog post. I now see the futility in all that. Librarians belong in Castro's Cuba, not in our great USA where everyone ought to pull his own weight. God bless America because God must be a Republican.
I think the rhetorical tool I'm using here is sarcasm. Seriously, Republicans at the very micro level, I'm sure, appreciate government things that serve people. My brickbats are for the likes of Ann Coulter, people who belong to what David Frum calls the "conservative entertainment complex." Let's turn a hose on them.
 
Some things are inexcusable
It's fine to see the city manager standing there so self-assuredly, chatting with a local prominent medical professional as other bigshots observe the "disaster area" of the Morris Public Library, fans humming loudly in the background. That disaster area should never have been allowed to happen. It would never have happened at the courthouse. Could you imagine the courthouse being closed for an extended time? But we can endure this with the library. Come to think of it, it was kind of nice when county offices were at City Center Mall. Many people commented on this - the ease of doing our county business at that location. It made too much sense?
Did the library have one-of-a-kind items that were destroyed in the incident? Or, other items that for whatever reason can't be replaced (the hundreds of DVD cases)? Will the fans keep running so as to disperse any odor? What a mess.
I tell my friends: don't trust Republicans. Just don't trust them. They can seem like such nice people. Don't be fooled, don't let the wool get pulled over your eyes. You'll find out what they stand for soon enough. They represent rich people who can buy their own books.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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