A Nerd Girl's Perspective

My Thoughts on News, Politics, Food, Crafting, Geek Culture, Sociology, and Much More —— Courtney C Horne

Tag: government

Public Libraries- My Favorite “Socialistic” Public Service

I know it has been said many times, in many places, over and over, but the public library is the perfect example of something socialistic in our society.

Some people say this to bash libraries. (I think they are probably not terribly clever) Some people say it to show we can have free market and socialistic institutes co-existing without some sort of terrible totalitarian take over of society.

Socialism can be defined by a communal, societal ownership of goods. That is what we do with public libraries. As a city, or parish, or state we own books, dvds, a building, etc. We as a group pay people to work in that building and make things run. We as a society create those jobs. Barney Frank likes to say that government is the word for things we can do together better than we do individually. Creating a library is a perfect example of this. Together we create an amazing resource.

People like to make critical remarks about libraries. They call them things of the past and claim they are dying. They probably believe this because they don’t bother to use the resource available to them. They don’t go to the library and see it full of people. They don’t ever look into the non-book resources offered by the libraries like classes and e-books and dvds and activities for children. Instead they just mutter something about print being dead. As if the library was just a warehouse of books and not a community center and a place of learning.

I went to the library today. The library that my parish taxes pay for and that I would gladly pay extra tax to support if it was in need because it is so important. It was full of people and the workers were more than willing to help me find which section a new book had been shelved in. Our library is far from dying. We are lucky enough that we are getting a new main branch. One that is larger and will provide more opportunities for community and learning. Opportunities that are open to everyone in the community even if they have extremely limited means.

Seeing the construction gave me hope that we can work together as a community and build resources for the common good. Resources like our library, parks,  schools and public transit.

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A Closer Look

After reading other states policies, crafting a petition on change.org, arguing on facebook a little, and tweeting links at various people more followed than I am on twitter, I decided I wanted to write a closer look at the list of things Louisiana says certain state workers can not do. The list I am using is from the Louisiana Dept of State Civil Service website. 

It applies to all classified state employees and they explain on the website that “The Louisiana State Constitution defines the classified service as all employees of state agencies, except those specifically listed in Article X, Part 1, Section 2(B).  There is also a provision authorizing the State Civil Service Commission to add positions to the unclassified service.  The last provision of that section states: “additional positions may be added to the unclassified service and those positions may be revoked by rules adopted by a commission.” 

That is a bit unclear so I looked at the job listings on their site. They list around 380 positions and around 60 of those are listed as unclassified. For those other 320 jobs, people have a very real concern when they look at that job listing as to how it will effect their freedom to express their beliefs.

Now to the list..

(and a bonus chart link of all states policies on this)

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Free Speech? Not if you work for Louisiana

I was poking around a job search site and noticing that the state of Louisiana is hiring a lot of people. I ended up on their website and came across this list..

Classified employees shall NOT do the following:

Become a candidate for nomination or election to public office.

Become a member of any committee of a political party or faction.

Make or solicit contributions for any candidate or political party or faction.

Take an active part in the management of the affairs of a political party, faction or campaign

Attend any fund raising function of a candidate or political party or faction even if someone gives you a free ticket. A function will be considered a fundraiser if it is advertised that anything – including food – will be sold at the function – even if you do not plan to buy anything.

Solicit votes for or against a candidate or political party or faction.

Publicly announce, in writing or otherwise, support of or opposition to a candidate or political party or faction.

Prepare or distribute campaign material for or against a candidate or political party or faction.

Contribute or volunteer time, effort, property, or any other thing of value in support of or opposition to a candidate or political party or faction.

Display a bumper sticker on the vehicle you drive in support of or opposition to a candidate or political party or faction.

Place a sign on your property supporting or opposing a candidate or political party or faction or allow anyone else to do so, unless it is your spouse or someone other co-owner who is not a classified employee.

Contribute or loan money in support of or opposition to a candidate or political party or faction.

Vote at the caucus or convention of a candidate or political party or faction.

Wear, use, display, or distribute T-shirts, hats, stickers, pins, fans, water bottles, or any other material in support of or opposition to a candidate or political party or faction.

Classified employee is very broad. Secretaries, office workers, people whose political support would give a candidate no appearance of state sanctioned support all fall under it.

Essentially if you want to work for the state of Louisiana you have to give up a huge chunk of your freedom of speech. Corporations are people according to our government for purposes of political contributions but evidently state employees not so much.

On their website, they have a blurb about how the supreme court says that their policy is okay. The blurb says to me “we understand people find this immoral but hahahaha they said it was legal.” Their remark feels like they are twisting the knife in the gut of the middle class workers by going “there is nothing you can do about it either.”

I find it deeply troubling that a large number of workers are robbed of their right to speak out by our state. This policy alone is enough to prevent me, and I am sure many others like me, from even considering work as a civil servant in our state.

Believe this is wrong? 

To contrast, check out how things work in California. 

How to Talk to A Conservative about … Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

I am starting a new series of posts for my blog called “How to Talk to a Conservative.” Each one will feature my approach to talking to a conservative about a specific issue. Some of this draws from real life conversations I have had and some of it is merely a theoretical approach. All in all these posts are about how to frame issues in ways that will connect to your conservative family, friends and coworkers. Hopefully without starting any yelling matches, though I place no guarantees.

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