Bonds, Parks, and Libraries

In November, Houston voters will be asked to approve a $495 million bond referendum. Mayor Turner wants $159 million in public safety bonds, $104 million for parks, $109 million for general government improvements, and $123 million for libraries.

Apparently, Turner thinks that the city’s irresponsible management of taxpayer money is justification for getting more money to mismanage. Rather than approving the bonds, voters should be demanding that the city quit wasting our money on things like parks and libraries. Both parks and libraries should be privatized. That alone would eliminate nearly half of the money Turner wants to take from Houstonians.

It is immoral to force taxpayers to subsidize the recreation and education of others. Those who wish to use parks or libraries should be the ones paying for them, not taxpayers.

There are countless examples of privately operated parks and libraries. Disneyland, Sea World, and Thousand Trails are a few examples. And consider The Woodlands, just north of Houston. This privately developed community has 125 forested parks and two hundred miles of hike and bike trails, in addition to dozens of lakes and ponds. Encompassing 23.4 square miles, The Woodlands has nearly eight thousand acres of green space.  Similarly, developers across the nation frequently include parks, walking paths, and lakes in their developments. If taxpayers weren’t forced to pay for our socialized park system, they would have more money to spend on visiting private parks.

The same is true of libraries. The first lending library in America, the Library Company of Philadelphia, was founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin. Supported by subscriptions, members were motivated to join the undertaking as a means to pool resources for the purpose of purchasing a collection of books that they could not individually afford. The Library Company continues to operate as a subscription library today.

Similar libraries were established throughout colonial America. For example, the Charleston Library Society was founded in 1748, the Providence Library Company was established in 1753, and the New York Society Library was founded in 1754. These membership libraries were seen as a way for individuals to voluntarily work together to the mutual benefit of all involved.

Or consider Kindle Unlimited, which is a lending service offered by Amazon. For $10 a month, a reader can have up to ten books at a time. If he wants to borrow another book, he simply “returns” one.

Returning to the bond referendum, Mayor Turner wants $109 million for “general government improvements.” The best way to improve government is to limit it to the protection of individual rights. And a step in that direction would be privatizing parks and libraries.

Those who value parks and libraries will voluntarily pay for them. And those who don’t value them should be free to spend their money as they choose.


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