Sometimes, its hard to figure where the folks on the far right are coming from in their crusade to sell off our public structures to the highest bidder. For some, plain, old-fashioned greed clearly plays a part, but with columns like this recent little doozy from the Pope-Civitas Institute, it’s clear that something else is at work.
And that something is an amazingly warped view of human society.
According to the Pope-Civitas people, the North Carolina Zoo is the “waste of the week.” And, no, it’s not because there’s been some incident of waste or graft; they simply don’t see any public value in the concept of a public zoological park. Here’s how they put it:
“Few would attempt to argue that a core service of state government is to display animals for viewing in our leisure time. The NC Zoo is still another example of something the state compels state taxpayers to subsidize that should instead be financed through voluntary support.”
To which all a body can say in response is: “Says who?”
Who says that it’s not a core service? And more to the point, who says that “to display animals for viewing in our leisure time” is all zoos are about?
Honestly, do these folks pay any attention at all? As even many fourth graders probably understand, there’s a hell of a lot more to zoos and other such institutions than “leisure.” Good lord, the list of important contributions made to human society by zoos — with respect to education, science, research, history, preserving the environment and endangered species, understanding our place on the planet and just plain making life more livable (and in dozens of other areas) — would take all day to spell out.
If anything, we desperately need more public institutions capable of such important accomplishments. What’s next on the Pope-Civitas hit list? Public libraries?
Happily, most average citizens reject this cramped and extreme view of human society in which critics know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Even our conservative Governor — see below — likes the North Carolina Zoo and seems to understand why it’s an important public structure. Let’s hope this latest broadside, like so many others from the Pope-Civitas people, misses its mark harmlessly wide to the right.