Tuesday, January 03, 2012

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist cuts have got to go!"

A city hundreds of millions of dollars in debt located within a state that can no longer afford to extend to it earmarked financial support, and further, located within a country that is farther in debt than any other country in the history of the human race, cannot shut down one underused and unnecessary public library without being accused of racism.

Detroit does not have the money to maintain its libraries. It does not have the money to fix its buses, secure its streets, pay its light bill, or haul its trash. (It seems the only money it does have is to pay extravagant salaries and provide extravagant benefit packages to its City Council members.)

Never mind their silly accusations of racism, these protestors have their economics bass ackwards.

Libraries and other unnecessary public institutions are only viable when they are thought of as the fruits of success, rather than the drivers of success. Wealth creators spring up in communities where wealth creation is encouraged--they rarely spring up in locations based solely upon their great libraries and museums.

This wealth is then spread about among those who own work for the wealth creator, enjoy the products or services provided, or live near the place where the product or services are made or delivered. These wealth creators, employees, and consumers of products in turn pay the taxes that can then be used to support extravagances such as libraries and museums.

Don't get me wrong, I think libraries and museums are great. I also like zoos, parks, skating rinks, public plazas, and the occasional mass transit system. Any and all of these things, when viable, should be encouraged within a community.

However, when city operations become so encumbered with costs and administration that their policies begin to punish wealth creation (through higher taxes, usage fees, regulations, etc.) there will be less wealth created. Businesses will leave, scale back, or close altogether and employees, in turn, will leave, lose benefits, or lose jobs altogether. Tax bases dry up and libraries must close.

This is not racism. It is economics.

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