Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Proposal to Keep Cobb's Libraries Safe...

Recently, I got quite a scare.  Cobb County, where I grew up, was considering closing most of its library system in order to fill a $31.5 million budget gap.

Proposed Cobb budget plan would close most libraries, slightly increase taxes

(Luckily, the Cobb government found a way to keep the libraries open, although cutting public-safety was not the ideal way to do it.)

Given I spent many hours haunting the now-closed Merchant's Walk Library (replaced by a new library nearby) and the Mountain View library that would have survived even if the cuts were implemented, this was not something I liked at all.

And cutting libraries is a bad idea for more than just personal reasons.  Given how job applications are increasingly becoming online-only, libraries provide the major opportunity for people who don't have computers (or who have dumped their Internet connections to cut costs) to apply for jobs.  The unemployed finding jobs means tax revenue and consumer spending, which means more tax revenue.  If the county government made it more difficult for those without home computers to find jobs, it would be shooting itself in the foot.

Furthermore, libraries provide a ready source for books for students in the local schools, who will need to use them for required-reading assignments and research for their papers.  This is especially applicable to poorer students who may not have lots of books at home or Internet access and who might not have ready access to a car to get them to a farther-away library.

And finally, libraries provide major opportunities for those who seek to learn outside of school.  I learned a colossal amount of things I would never have learned otherwise if I did not have access to the library system.  Over the years, I probably read thousands of books.  And this wasn't just for pure entertainment or the joy of learning--many of those books had to do with improving my personal writing.  The document "General Writing Tips" on my computer is full of bits of useful advice I'd gotten from books I would not have even known existed if I hadn't gone wandering the shelves--it's a file I really should read more regularly.

Without the library system, I would have never reached my full potential.  And I had parents who cared a great deal about my education and put a whole lot of effort into it--when I was very young, my mother read to me an hour per day.  Someone not similarly blessed would be in need of the library system even more.

Now, libraries are government programs and require tax monies to sustain them.  As a conservative/Libertarian, I'm not a fan of high taxes and generally believe low taxes promote economic growth.

(And lest anyone start, Reagan and Bush 2.0 both spent colossal sums, the former on the military expansion that pressed the Soviets so and Social Security and the latter on the Iraq War, which was truly a massive drain.  The fact both ran up deficits does not disprove supply-side economics, since both were big spenders.  If a tightwad president still ran deficits under a low-tax regime, THEN the anti-supply-siders would have a much stronger point.)

I will admit, there comes a point when taxes are too low to gather the necessary revenue--the far left end of the Laffer Curve.  Although I lived in Cobb County most of my life, I'm not familiar with the tax rates so I cannot comment intelligently on whether or not they're too high or too low.

However, there's a way to increase Cobb County's income without raising taxes per se.

House gives final approval to Sunday alcohol sales bill

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, allowing Sunday alcohol sales could raise $3.4 million to $4.8 million for the state of Georgia.  The AJC quoted the group's vice-president, Ben Jenkins, as saying this was "state tax revenues."  This means there are additional monies to be had for local governments too, on top of the money going to Atlanta.

If Cobb County were to legalize Sunday alcohol sales, it would raise additional funds.  I don't know how much, since I am not familiar with how alcohol is taxed, but in these economic times, every little bit of extra money helps.  Legalizing Sunday alcohol sales would provide additional revenue for the county to provide needed services--not just libraries, but others as well.

I no longer live in Cobb County, so my voice would carry less weight than those living there still.  Those of who do live in Cobb County, if you could contact the county commissioners with this suggestion, it would be very helpful for the long-term future of your community.

1 comment:

  1. Well, closing the libraries would certainly drive me to drinking, so maybe you've got something, there.