Growing up, I had an aunt who became a librarian because she dreamed of one day helping liberals push a ruinous boondoggle on a broke America.
Aunt Gladys, if you’re up there and can read this somehow, your dream came true.
The nation’s librarians will be recruited to help people get signed up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Up to 17,000 U.S. libraries will be part of the effort to get information and crucial computer time to the millions of uninsured Americans who need to get coverage under the law…
Libraries equipped with public computers and Internet access already serve as a bridge across the digital divide, so it made sense to get them involved, said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services…
Libraries also have public spaces where meetings can be held. And they already provide health information to 28 million people a year via public access computers, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency, which will coordinate the new effort with CMS. The two federal agencies also worked together during the rollout of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, experience that should help with this effort, Bataille said.
Libraries will be particularly important in conservative states that are not making much effort to promote the health law’s opportunities.
Don’t think of it as conscription, think of it as … repurposing. The more ubiquitous the Internet and e-readers get, the less use people have for libraries and thus the further away from their core function libraries will drift. In theory they’re still about book-lending but credit the feds for recognizing their growing role as places lower-income people can get online for free. Per Gallup’s latest, fully 43 percent of the uninsured have no idea that they’re now stautorily required by Hopenchange to seek coverage. If you’re trying to reach the poor to let them know that they qualify for health insurance subsidies — or, rather, that they don’t qualify — then this is a no-brainer. Coming soon, presumably: Deputizing the postal service, another institution that’s being laid to waste by technology, to start selling policies door to door. Ever heard the expression that the federal government is now really just “an insurance company with an army”? Well, the insurance part of that equation needs an army too.
As for the other big uninsured constituency, how many young adults do you suppose are hanging out at the local public library these days, ripe to be sold by the local librarian on why healthy twentysomethings should crap away what little earnings they have on unnecessary health insurance in an economy as tepid as this one? But maybe I’m underestimating the strategy here: The less disposable cash young Americans are left with after complying with the mandate, the less they can afford to pay for smartphones, laptops, and their own private Internet access. If they’re desperate to get online, there’s always the local library, you know.
Exit question: If government workers of any and every stripe are really just a free-floating labor force for the feds, ready to be enlisted for whatever policy priority the ruling administration has in mind, how come librarians and mailmen haven’t been coopted to coordinate jobs programs for the unemployed?