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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window - Tax Dollars at Work

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,



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Paying taxes is one of the least popular things " even in the Bible, one of the world's oldest books, there are numerous examples of negative references to tax collectors and taxes. (Interestingly enough, the star of the Bible's New Testament, the founder of Christianity, does not share this negativity when he comments on such things.) My mindset is to look at this issue differently, and notice and appreciate things our (collective) tax dollars (at least, those of us who do pay taxes) do for the benefit of all. One of those things is public libraries.

I grew up in a household of readers, and my father took us to the original Stephenson Library in Marinette fairly often on Saturday mornings. This was an outing we all looked forward to very much, and the cost fit right into the family budget " it was free to use because it was taxpayer supported. We got to pick out our own books, and later in the week swapped our piles of books out with those of our siblings for fresh material. We read for fun, and it helped all of us with school. Having rock-solid reading skills positions children for academic success, and the best readers of all are those who enjoy reading. The most noticeable effect of good reading skill is that it is a predictor of solid and correct writing ability " another asset for a lifetime for children.

As a young adult I had pretty well read my way through the Stephenson Library but my two years at UW-Marinette gave me fresh stacks to browse my way through; and once I was working, a move to an apartment in Menominee got me started on the library there. When we moved with our two kids to Oklahoma, I continued the tradition of taking my kids to the libraries in a metro area where there were four separate libraries within a 30 minute drive in different directions. We were like the proverbial "kids in a candy store" working our way through hundreds of books. They were as excited to make a library outing as they would have been to go to a movie, and the books they checked out kept them entertained way longer than the time it takes to watch a movie.

And now, freshly retired, I got myself a new library card and checked out six books, which should hold me for the next couple of weeks. I feel like a rich person with a stack of interesting books ready to enlighten and entertain me.

Some people think libraries are no longer needed in an electronic age and if you think that, you haven't been to a library recently. They have plenty of computers available for people to use, some of whom don't have access to computers at home; or who need a quiet and controlled environment for study. You can still check out paper books like I did, of course, but you can also find movies, e-books, "books on tape" for your long car rides and reference resources which are obscure or in foreign languages. If you need a book they don't have; they will order it from another library for you and notify you when it's available locally via e-mail. The customer service is outstanding. Whether you need help with the computers, ideas or assistance with research, or want to reserve a copy of that new best-seller, they are there to help you. There is no admittance fee, no rental fee, or bill for the librarian's time; because our tax dollars support the asset a community library is. Access is available to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.

I agree you can find nearly anything you'd want on the internet, but there is often a charge for it, and the quality stinks. I am astonished at the factual errors, misspellings, repeated words, insertion of opinion as facts, and the disguising of commercial messages as "news" I encounter. My blunt assessment is at least 50% of the "news" I find on the internet is absolute rubbish. (I exclude from this opinion on-line newspapers from reputable publishers.)

Perhaps the speed to "publish" (get things on-line first,) gets in the way of fact-checking or decent editing; or maybe accuracy is no longer valued; but for whatever reason, I fear for the writing skills of our young people if all that they read is on-line trash.

My drive to the library was about 20 minutes, on excellent secondary roads and a highway, maintained by our tax dollars. On my way there, I passed two law enforcement officers and a fire station, there because we pay taxes for public safety. I won't be ranting and raving about taxes, because my wonderful country, and yours, would be the less if they didn't exist. It's because "most of" us pay taxes, that we enjoy the very high standard of living (as compared to the rest of the world) most of us have. It's the mindset, and how you choose to look at it, when it comes to taxes.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com


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