Brethren and Sistren, I am taking a break from my usual in-depth evaluations of gaming and fiction and wizards and such to talk about a very real problem that I am seeing all too often.
I am a frequent patron of the Chesapeake Public Library system. My most frequent activity at my library is the checking out of recorded books. As a person that commutes to work I have between an hour and two hours a day to listen to books on CD, depending upon traffic conditions. I have managed to read many books thanks to this service. Like so many busy working adults I just don't have to use the restroom enough to get much reading done and this is a fantastic way to do it. With a book playing through the speaker system of my car I can relax more in traffic knowing that any delay is simply giving me more time to "read".
Thus I say that it hurts me greatly, in an emotional sense, to find that so many of the CDs I check out are scratched, often to the point that whole sections of the texts are unable to be heard, much less enjoyed.
I say now to everyone who uses their local library:
THOSE BOOKS, CDS, DVDS, PERIODICALS, MP3S AND COMPUTERS ARE NOT YOURS; STOP FUCKING THEM UP.
Now a public library is a library that is supported by the public and for use by the public and is intended to serve the public trust. Your taxes, my taxes, the taxes of the people go to build, staff, supply and maintain that institution. It is, in essence, everybody's library. Since no one person owns it you can say, quite correctly, that we all own in a public trust. The library does not restrict membership to only those citizens who pay taxes, however. Indeed the library restricts membership based upon local citizenry. That is to say that in order to obtain a library card you must show proof that you belong to the community the library serves. The Chesapeake Public Library system has 7 branch locations throughout the city of Chesapeake. Chesapeake is an independent city in Virginia of 351 square miles that boarders the state of North Carolina and has a population of over 222,000 persons. All of them are served by but 7 libraries.
Public libraries, like public schools and public parks, are examples of the essential failure of Socialism. You see Socialism stands opposed to private ownership. What everyone owns, no one owns. As anyone who has rented a car or hotel room knows, if you don't own something you are not apt to take very good care of it. What is worse is that a public institution carries the further problem of being the "government's" responsibility to maintain in trust for the people. If your city park gets trashed, covered in litter and has its playground equipment and benches defaced who is responsible for the clean up?
Why the government of course, they own it!
But they don't own it. You own it. You pay for it with your taxes. Yet, you do not own it alone. You share ownership with every other citizen of your community tax payer or not. What we do not own you do not protect. The attitude, evident from the abuse and destruction I see every day in public parks and the library, is that "someone else" will take up the slack. "Someone else" will pay the cost.
Ownership brings with it responsibility. If you own something it is yours and you cannot look to another to replace it or supplement it. Should you damage or destroy what you own you have to pay the cost to replace that thing or live without it. Not everyone treats their property with the same care and concern, but too many of us treat the property of others, including shared public property, far worse than we would our own.
Where we hold no stake we hold no concern.
Take a thief. A thief steals the property of others and then must fence that property. Whether it is through pawn, private transaction or another thief who specializes in the disposition of stolen goods the thief accepts far less than the value of the item from the fence. This is of little concern to the thief for he attaches no real value to the item stolen.
Lack of ownership breeds apathy at best and disdain at worst.
That's what Socialism is, a system in which those who have nothing, produce nothing and desire to produce nothing share in equal ownership with others who do produce and desire. That corrupt system will not work unless someone in the group does produce, but always that production will be undercut and debased by those that do not.
If you want to see it in action, at its worst, go check out a recorded book from your local library.
Every skip, every scratch, ever second of the text lost to you is but a symbol of what will be lost to you in greater terms should you become a part of that corrupt system. That book, even if it is a work of fiction represents knowledge and the destruction of the medium robs you of that knowledge. If another person will so callously destroy that medium, because that person sees it as "somebody else" responsibility, that person will take from you simple joy and knowledge. Would you put all of your existence into those hands?