No representation without taxation

No, the title of this article is correct.

We had our monthly Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation meeting last night.  I’ve been the treasurer since the end of the ice age.  Lots of good folks on the OVLFF board.  We don’t always agree but we seem to get things done.

The Foundation has been blessed of late with more income than expense.  Funds provided by the community let us support the three branches in the Ojai Valley by providing equipment, building improvements, and programs that augment what the County spends.

The Wright Library is located in Ventura and is not in our sphere of influence.  Hard times have hit Wright as County tax revenues have fallen.  Cuts have been made.  Wright has been targeted for closure even though it is an active, busy place.  As with any change, those most affected by it have risen to Wright’s defense.  The Friends Foundation in Ventura that supports Wright has taken on a herculean task to keep the doors open.  The community is up in arms, money raised, ballot propositions written, sales tax increases contemplated, and commitments extracted from elected representatives.

Ray Bradbury even rolled in, headlined a fund raiser, and the NY Times wrote about the library’s plight.  Nevertheless, Wright may be wrong.  It may all be to no avail.

At last night’s OVLFF meeting, one of our board members who’s done much for the Ojai libraries, has a good heart and a strong community commitment, offered a suggestion.  “Since OVLFF has some bucks, maybe we could donate a few of them to Wright’s cause.”  A reasonable idea.

Now I’m no book-burner.  And I obviously have a soft spot for libraries.  But I think the idea of writing a check to keep the library open deserves closer examination.  Let’s put aside the issue of “what do we do next year after we save Wright this year.”   Instead, let’s focus on who’s responsible for keeping libraries open.

Is it a small group of committed individuals who dig into their pockets every year and subsidize staff, books, lights and heat?  While the rest of us sneak in, borrow books, use computers, ask the librarian questions, attend community meetings, provide supplemental schooling to our kids…and then bad mouth the tax collector.  Better keep those committed individuals healthy and happy…and pay heed to their values and politics, good or bad.

Or is it the community at large that’s responsible?  Doesn’t the entire community benefit from the library?  Even if half of them never set foot in it?  I have a confession.  I never borrowed a book from the Ojai Library until last year.  Shame on me.  Would I care if the library shut its doors?  Do I want to dumb down kids and adults only to have them be a bigger problem than they are now?  Perish the thought.

Would I have a fund raiser for Sheriff Bob’s police department if the money ran out?  Would Sweetie bake cookies for it?  No.  I’d camp out in Sacramento or the Ventura Government Center until they paid attention.  I’d oust my elected representative.  I’d vote.  I’d pay taxes.

Quiet, you say.  They’ll hear you.  They’ll raise our taxes.  The scoundrels that we put in office.  The ones who are supposed to make our community better.  The nerve.

And that’s why I don’t want to give money to the Wright Library.  And that’s why I don’t want to subsidize the basic services of schools through auctions, tea parties and private solicitations.  I want the Government to do its job.  I want there to be such an uproar in the community that we will actually force our elected representatives to raise our taxes.  To pay for things that benefit the entire community,  just like my folks did.

Sure, my dad complained about taxes.  And so do I.  It’s the American way.  But so is responsibility.



5 Responses to “No representation without taxation”

  1. 1 Leo June 24, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Thought provoking….as always.
    Thank you Fredila.


  2. 2 Harry Levin June 24, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Fred, Well said, I totally agree. Our elected officials aren’t doing their job. Our government is supposed to provide for essential service. Those services are provided by taxes. If increases are required -so be it. Over site is also a function of our lawmakers to make sure that those tax dollars are wisely spent.


  3. 3 Nancy June 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I heard a story on NPR this morning that one of the things that is getting the ax in the State budget is the Poison Control Center. You know, the one you call when your kid injests Grandma’s medicine. They are open 24/7 and take over 1000 calls a week. In over 90% of those calls, they advise the caller that they don’t need to go to the hospital.

    Now imagine if half, or even 25% of those people who would now call instead decide to take Suzy to the ER because of what she swallowed. I think we can safely assume that the cost for ER services will be much higher than the cost of the call center. Not to mention adding to the crowding issue. But the state says we can’t afford it so . . . (just one of many of the same type of preventative program examples up for cutting).

    And to make it worse, other states are looking at what we are going to do and contemplating shutting down their own Poison Control Centers. Nice to know that California makes the national news and is a trendsetter for this kind of forward-thinking initiative.


  4. 4 Jon June 24, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Again, you allow a kernal of truth to rise through the chaff of rhetoric and hyperbole.


  5. 5 Dick and Toni July 1, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Dear Fred:
    I could not agree more with what you wrote. Nevertheless, a library is the collective inherited wisdom of the folks whose community supports it. To see one closing is a real tragedy even if it is used by relatively few. I suspect that poison control is used by relatively few also, but few would argue that it is a good idea to get rid of it..( a few notable exceptions exist I admit, but they are not unexpected).
    The closing of a library takes a resource away from everyone in the community, but there are some who have no alternative means to obtain information and it is these who are disproportionatly hurt by such closings.
    That said, the question of support of libraries outside of represents a difficult issue. My view is that the folks who have contributed to our library do so because we want a local library…for whatever reason. I would expect that our contributions would be used to that end…particularly in these times where few folks are so well fixed that their future ability to make charitable contributions is a forgone conclusion.

    We would naturally deplore the closing of any library but the government we have elected has got to do their part to prevent these things.
    Dick Matthews


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