Magazine article American Libraries

Fear of Socialism

Magazine article American Libraries

Fear of Socialism

Article excerpt

Two small items in this month's American Libraries really connected for me. On page 34 we have a quote from the San Francisco Chronicle's open reader forum, in which the writer says facetiously, "Of all the current assaults on our noble republic, perhaps none is more dangerous than the public option--specifically, the public library option [which] has undermined the very foundations of our economy." Galling libraries "a menace to capitalism," he mocks an attitude that is all too real to less-government extremists.

Then on page 12 a reader writes presciently that "public libraries are those rare cases where socialism works rather well," adding, "I'm almost afraid to bring this up as it may lead these people to oppose public libraries on general principles and firebomb them."

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The national debate over healthcare has everyone trying to take a position, with some conservatives waving the specter of socialism at any mention of a public option. ALA has taken the position that a public option is essential to a better system and has attempted to share that conclusion with lawmakers in Washington, and so we are tossed by many into the socialism camp.

The fear that all things public are socialistic doesn't often spill over into discussions about the value of public libraries, but at a time when fear mongers will go to any length to further their agendas, it seems to be happening more and more. Meanwhile, cooler heads remind us that it isn't health care that needs reforming so much as it is capitalistic health care insurance. …

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