It’s not enough to merely oppose privatization of Nevada County’s library system. Those of us who oppose privatization must come up with some concrete, positive ideas for solving the budget crisis, and soon. The budget crisis is real.
The elephant in the room is the “Salaries and Benefits” line item in the library budget. The figure on that line — a full 72% of the total library budget for 2009 — grows relentlessly in good times and in bad, while in bad times the revenues shrink.
Statements — at Board meetings, at rallies and in Op-Eds — in support of the traditional and democratic nature of our public libraries are heartfelt, sincere and moving. But they don’t matter a bit in preventing privatization, or moving us toward a viable solution.
The only way we can prevent privatization is to come up with some concrete ideas for taming that elephant.
I don’t like saying this, but it may be that the only way to prevent privatization is to accept some draconian cuts in services — a la Mary Ann Trygg’s proposed cuts — until the recession has run its course and revenues begin to rebound of their own accord.
Those of us who oppose privatization need to ask ourselves whether we are so opposed to it that we prefer such cuts. At least the public nature of the institution would be preserved.
Or, alternatively … what?
If you have an idea for solving this budget crisis, and preventing privatization, feel free to describe it in the comment section below.
If we can’t identify a concrete workable solution, my guess is that privatization will happen, whether we like it or not.