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Charging for what you're giving away Carlos R. Davalos | Fri, May 14 2010 12:05 PM

Plenty of gums were flapping earlier this week when the citizenry thought the city was on the verge of taxing people for getting into fender benders and curb checks that required response from the Fire Department.

Initiated by the CVFD, the idea was yanked from Tuesday's council meeting agenda before any consideration could be given to the matter. What was being proposed and what the public was hearing were two completely separate issues and the disconnect told city staff the proposal needed rewording.

No, drivers who cause run-of-the-mill traffic accidents would not be charged a fee for having emergency crews respond. The idea is to charge those who cause accidents involving hazardous material, for example, pay for the cleanup.

As far as generating revenue for the city, that's not a completely ridiculous idea.

For completely ridiculous ideas come to me.

These libraries that are taking valuable resources by way of salaries and benefits are virtual ATMs waiting to be exploited.

Show me a business plan that gives something away for nothing, and I'll show you a business that isn't around for long.

Can you believe that city libraries actually let people take books home and read them ... for free!? When was the last time you walked into a Best Buy and were allowed to take a laptop home for three weeks and return it at no charge? The place is called Best Buy, not Best Loan. C'mon, municipalities, you go on and on about becoming more efficient and emulating sound business practices and yet you want to promote social causes like literacy for free? No wonder you're all broke.

Give some thought to charging patrons to read your books. A dollar a day per book. A book loan for three weeks is still cheaper than buying the thing.

And for those who want to game the system by reading books at the library for free, no dice. Charging readers, say, 10 cents a page sounds reasonable. After all, charging somebody by the word would just be plain ridiculous.

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