Today I wish to express my opinion on what I feel are the right and proper duties of a citizen of these here United States. Looking at both sides of things seems fair and the right thing to do. After all, one of our primary duties as citizens is to keep an eye on "the gubmint." After all, it is we who pay those people and fund all of their activities. Perhaps not directly via our taxes but we do pay for it. One way or the other.
Contrary to what you might think based on my own military career and that opening photo, I don't think that military service or some other sort of government service should be required of the citizenry. I actually find the draft to be anathema and do not support it in any way, shape, or form. It is involuntary servitude no matter how you cut it. But enough about that. If citizens do find a calling to serve their country, that's awesome. Volunteers are better soldiers than conscripts could ever be.
So we can put to bed any support anyone might think I have for Robert Heinlein's theory of who should get to vote. Nope. Someone has to stay home and keep the wheels of industry and agriculture turning. If there is no equipment and no food, your soldiers won't be of much use to anyone. Your mileage might vary but that's the beauty of free speech. I have my opinion, you have yours. To paraphrase what Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote (in The Friends of Voltaire), "I might disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
So what do I consider to be the duties of an American citizen?
Have a job if you are able. Do the best you can at that job. Always strive to improve yourself through education and training so that you might find a better job. No one owes you a living, you must do that for yourself.
Be informed. Not of the doings of celebrities or sports teams but of the great events of the day. Heck, stay informed of the little things as well. Is your town in need of a new school or library? Is there an underfunded yet vital local activity which could use help? Donate whatever time or funds you can spare.
Know what is happening in your community and in your state.
Are the politicians trying to float another bond for a new fire house, police station, or state building? Is it really needed? Consider the cost both of building the new facility and the cost of doing without.
Don't buy that old nonsense of "X% of the money will be in the form of Federal funds, this isn't just state money we want to spend." Where do the locals think "Federal funds" come from? From all of the states. It's from you and the other citizens of the land.
Stay informed of events outside of your local area. What is happening in the country as a whole could and probably will effect you and yours. No man is, after all, an island.
What is happening in the world will effect you, eventually, whether you like it or not. Know what is happening so that when the politicians ask for your help, your service, your tax money and perhaps even the lives of your children - you will be able to make a wise decision.
Stay involved, stay informed and vote intelligently. Elections should not be popularity contests nor lotteries of which candidate can provide the most free stuff. Nothing is free. Ever. Someone always pays.
|The County Election by George Caleb Bingham (Source)|
Read and understand the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. If you don't understand those two documents, you are either too young to read or too stupid to vote. If you have the franchise you must exercise it wisely. Otherwise you are wasting your life and the lives of your fellow citizens. (I made it easy for you, there are new links to those documents and to The Federalist Papers up there on the side bar. Also two new blog pages, interesting reads from two of our very best Presidents, George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt. Read those as well.)
One last thing...
Everyone assumes that the "bad" politicians will eventually be voted out of office. Have you seen that happen yet in any meaningful way? We occasionally get a crappy President. Not to worry, he (or she) will be on the street in no more than eight years. But a crappy Representative or Senator? That's the "gift" that keeps on giving.
So your congress-critters are okay, it's everyone else's that suck? No my friend, they pretty much all suck. Representing you in Washington was never meant to be a lifetime sinecure, but many treat it that way. When they spend more time worrying about being re-elected than doing their jobs, we have a problem. Take that stress away from them. You can run for election twice. One time to get the office, one time to keep the office. Then it's hit the road Jack. Get a real job.
Oh yeah, no pensions for ex-politicians. Want to get a lifetime paycheck after working for a few years? Win the lottery jackass. That's how we out here in the countryside do it. Oh wait, that's right, most of us work our entire lives then retire for a small pension.
Be skeptical, be informed, stay alert. And work, work, work. That's how you be a citizen.
Anyhoo, that's ...