I watched this video the other day and, then, shared it with my local librarian. It's a really good example of what we parents like to call "reverse psychology", wherein, the child wishes to engage in an activity that we believe might not be the wisest or healthiest choice, and we convince them to abandon their goal by agreeing with them - sort of.
The gist of the linked video is that a small, award-winning library was in need of additional funding and was requesting a tax increase of *point* seven percent. Some of the Town's people disagreed with a tax increase to support the library and started a "Vote No" campaign, to which the library supporters responded with their own "Burn the Books" Campaign - with the final message being "Not supporting the library is like burning books."
The campaign was successful. The idea of burning books is so reprehensible. In fact, Heinrich Heine, a 19th Century German poet and writer, is attributed with having said: Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen (translated as: Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings).
I'm a small government kind of person. I believe the less the government intrudes in my personal life, the better. I'm not opposed to paying taxes, but it galls me when my taxes are going to support people who recommend legislation that invades my personal space ... or when laws are passed that would require additional resources to enforce those laws, which increases my taxes. It's especially galling when those laws affect only a small portion of the community, but cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Some things are, obviously, important, but it seems to me that we've reached a level of ridiculousness in legislating our lives. Like seatbelt wearing? Seriously? While it may be true that wearing a seatbelt saves lives, why is it the government's business to "save" my life in that way? And now, not only has the government decided that I WILL wear a seatbelt in my personal car, but I, as a taxpayer, am required to pay for the additional law enforcement personnel to monitor whether or not I am complying with the law.
More and more our government seems to get bigger and bigger and the laws more and more invasive as our leaders take on more of a parental role to the populace.
Throughout history, the most effective way governments had of controlling their populace was in limiting the dissemination of information. In the Middle Ages, people weren't taught to read, and because they couldn't read they were dependent on those who could to tell them how to live.
During the cultural revolution in China, anything related to the West was outlawed. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the government to continue its anti-democracy campaign, if the people were permitted to see the actual way Westerners lived.
Where ignorance is bliss, knowledge is power, and by keeping the people ignorant (as in "unaware", not as in "stupid" - because they are two very different things), governments have a great deal of power, and wield it mercilessly, if they believe it will gain them some advantage.
There is only one publicly funded institution that was, actually, designed to combat total government control, and that's our libraries.
I guess it's not a surprise, then, that the library is also the one institution that is, historically, the most poorly funded, and, when money gets tight, one of the first to see its funding cut.
I'm for smaller government and fewer controls. I'm in favor of smaller schools. I'm in favor of police departments in which the police can worry about true public safety, and not whether or not I'm wearing my seatbelt, or if the plants in my yard are too tall (or the wrong kind), or if I'm drying my clothes outside instead of using an energy-sucking appliance in my house.
But I'm also for preserving and disseminating information, and for that, we need libraries.
Without those ... well, look to past to see our future. It will be very dark.