I am in favor of building genealogy centers. Honoring one's heritage is a great idea. However, the state of Nevada seems to have a proposed project that is of questionable value to the majority of its citizens.
The State of Nevada is in an enviable position: it has a budget surplus. State legislators are squealing like piglets at the possibilities. The lawmakers are practicing the time-honored tradition of dispensing pork amid their policy priorities.
The Nevada State Senate is considering bills to spend millions of dollars in taxpayers' money within the state. Some of the projects sound worthwhile: airport expansion, efforts to combat alcohol and drug abuse among youngsters, and other projects that would seem to benefit the majority of Nevada's citizens.
One proposed piece of legislation caught my eye: $250,000 to create a Basque Genealogy Center at University of Nevada, Reno. In fact, a Basque Studies Library already exists at the University, and you can learn more about it at the Library's web page at http://www.library.unr.edu/depts/basqlib. This bill apparently would expand the present library, making it a genealogy center.
(The Basques are the people who inhabit an area in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain around the western edge of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Early Basques were adventurous sailors, and Basque descendants are found in many areas of the world. Basque settlements are found in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and communities in Idaho, eastern Nevada, and throughout California.)
To be sure, Basques should be able to study their family trees and learn about their heritage in the same manner as all other ethnic groups. But is it appropriate to spend a quarter million dollars of taxpayers' money for this? If so, how about doing the same for Irish, German, English, Italian, Swedish, Lithuanian, African-American, Hispanic, French-Canadian, Cambodian, Portuguese, and other ethnic groups?
I have a radical suggestion: let's return that money to the taxpayers of Nevada and let each individual taxpayer decide where his or her share of the money should be spent.
Yeah, you are right: that will never happen.