If you haven’t already, please read fellow blogger Mark Cheathem’s editorial on the budget cuts faced by the Tennessee State Library and Archives. TSLA is a fine institution, and it deserves better than having its hours and personnel slashed.
Drop a line to the governor and to state legislators so we can let them know that there are quite a few of us out there who think archives are important. Click here to get in touch with Gov. Haslam, and here to identify and contact your state legislators.
Then, if you’d like to see the kind of attitude that puts archives in a precarious position, take a look at some of the dazzlingly ignorant comments that irate readers have left on Mark’s op-ed. A sample: “Again, the taxpayer is being asked to fund a function to benefit the letter writer. It is exactly this type of expectation that has created the situation we are in as a state and country.”
Yup, that’s how it works. Citizens pay taxes which help fund government services that benefit you, and then you in turn pay taxes to help fund government services which benefit still other citizens. It’s called “society,” and we’re glad to have you aboard.
That was actually one of the more intelligent comments. It’s this sort of thing that helps answer my oft-asked question of why we Tennesseans have such amnesia when it comes to our history.
Look, I’m all for fiscal prudence in government. But maintaining important records and ensuring access to them is simply too important a task to handle in a cavalier, ill-informed fashion. You can’t have a responsible government without an informed citizenry, and you can’t have an informed citizenry without the services that archives provide. If sentiments like those quoted above are typical of how little we Tennesseans regard information about who we were and are, then an unbalanced budget is the least of our problems.