Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mommy, Why is that Mean Man Shouting at Me?

Ebenezer Scrooge is alive and well and living in the Chicago Suburb of Oak Brook.

Broke is Beautiful, which could not conceivably been written without the help of librarians, includes a chapter I titled Librarians: A Love Story. (In my book, it's a real love story, not like Michael Moore's love story about capitalism.)

It was the radical Benjamin Franklin who came up with the notion of the lending library. Franklin’s Library Company, which he referred to as the “public library of Philadelphia,” was formed with an idealistic view to break down class distinctions and allow artisans to become as well-read as the well-born. It was an early manifestation of The American Dream and its ideal of a true meritocracy and social mobility.

"These libraries have improved the general conversation of the Americans, made the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps has contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privilege,” Franklin wrote in his autobiography.

Constantine "Connie" Xinos is perfectly fine with class distinctions. He once successfully blocked a permit for a senior's home, stating, "I don't want to live next to poor people. I don't want poor people in my town."

As reported in The Daily Herald, Xinos, the president of the home-owners' association in a gated community, hates such socialist instutitions as libraries--He reportedly worked to elect an Oak Brook village council who would shut down the town library, which he also campaigned against-- and thinks little children should be taught a lesson in personal responsibility.

When local kids showed up at town meetings to ask that their library be left open, he is quoted as saying, "I don't care that you guys miss the librarian, and she was nice, and she helped you find books."

When he brought a little girl to tears, he was not fazed. From the comfort of his Mercedes-Benz, he later told Daily Herald reporter Burt Constable: "I wanted that kid to lose sleep that night... This is the real world and the lesson, you folks who brought your kids here, is if you want something, pay for it."