Remembering back, baby boomers who grew up in the 1950s knew a certain amount of deprivation as kids.
No social services as we know them now, no programs for child care or early childhood education, and few, if any, special education programs.
Lunches were packed or paid for, and the weekly menu at home included increasingly inexpensive dinners as the week wore on, because if the money ran out before dad's paycheck came, it was down to cereal.
A television was an acknowledged luxury, and an automobile moved any family a notch up the social ladder.
True, most everyone was in the same boat and expectations were much lower, but people managed.
One reason was the unquestioned presence of the public library -- in nearly every city neighborhood and village hamlet.
Like the public schools, libraries were -- and are -- the great social equalizer.
In assessing probable state budget cuts, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters ponders whether libraries are more important than a long list of government-subsidized programs that, unlike libraries, did not exist 60 years ago -- and had never existed in the history of mankind.
A historical perspective may thus be in order.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.mercedsunstar.com.