Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Duty

(Source)
Yesterday I expressed my opinion as to what government should and should not be (or do). I am in favor of a limited government, no cradle to grave socialism for me. Thanks but no thanks. I like free stuff as much as the next fellow but as I still have a conscience, I will forego living off others while providing nothing in return. (In reality we all live off somebody, those of us who believe in working for a living do that by providing something that people want or need. A service or product is provided for which others pay. Willingly I trust.)

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.

(Source)

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...

Term limits.

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 ...

FWIW and YMMV...




34 comments:

  1. I disagree about the draft, but not vehemently. I would change Heinlein's voting requirement to "No vote unless you actually pay taxes". Not have taxes taken out of your paycheck and you get them all back (and maybe more) at the end of the year. If you pay in, more than you get back, you get to vote. Skin in the game. Additionally, I'd do away with the withholding. Taxes are due the second Monday in November, in full. Just to make sure the voters realize what this government thing is really all about.

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    1. I hear you on the draft issue. While I don't like it, it probably is a necessary evil. I agree with you on the "no taxes paid, no vote allowed" thing. With no skin in the game it's unconscionable to allow people who don't pay taxes a say in where other people's tax money gets spent.

      I would love to make withholding go away, might make government a little more careful of how they spend the money.

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  2. Require those who represent us to have a clue about how the rest of us live

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    1. Term limits might help in that regard. If you've had a real job, then you have some clue as to how the majority of the citizens live.

      Professional politicians don't get it, never will.

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  3. Another great post Sarge.

    If we were to hew to the Constitution and expect our friends, neighbors and selves to bow to the self-evident truths no tinkering would be required.

    If we get through this "firetruck everybody else, I'm special" phase, I see a return to shaming and time spent in the pillory and the stocks.

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  4. I agree with all you say here. One problem we have today with Government, is how do we lend a hand to those who need it without encouraging others to take advantage of people's good intentions.

    Regards good citizens I would add the physicians creed, "First do no harm."

    As paying taxes to be able to vote, I get it but I have to reluctantly disagree, everyone needs to have a voice. Would you agree to proportional voting, where a billionaires vote carried 1000x the weight of a construction worker?

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    1. You make some good points Joe. I particularly like "First do no harm."

      Proportional voting? No. One human, one vote. But somehow we have to make voters accountable. If you vote to give yourself free stuff, who's to pay for it? Problematic, I know.

      As to lending a hand to those who need it, another knotty problem. I see a definite need for it, how to prevent people who don't need it taking advantage of it is a real Gordian knot. I don't have the answer there but recognize the need.

      Welfare is only something to scoff at it if you don't need it.

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  5. Agree to disagree on Heinlein, who, by the way postulated that one had to serve (in some capacity) to vote. One could quite happily make fortunes, keep wheels turning, raise food etc without serving--but to vote one had to demonstrate commitment to the nation by service.

    I rather favor that over having hordes of welfare recipients continuously voting themselves ever greater benefits.

    Besides, he was a naval officer ;-)

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    1. In my younger days I did agree with Heinlein. I would argue that keeping the wheels turning and raising food are forms of service. Yes, one can make money from doing that, a lot money. Most will not get rich by serving in the military but we don't do that for free, we still got paid. (I know, not much but I was comfortable. The Missus Herself would, no doubt, disagree with that statement.)

      I would argue that while on welfare, one does not get to vote. Harsh perhaps but the only way I can see of preventing those who don't wish to work from voting themselves more free stuff. Of course, I would also make it illegal for Congress to vote themselves a raise. Make that a national ballot issue.

      I will recuse myself from making comments positive or otherwise on Mr. Heinlein's naval service as the progeny were/are all officers in the Naval Service. That is, I could get in trouble on that score.

      Besides which, we all know how we devious enlisted types feel about officers, neh? (I kid, I kid!)

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    2. Concur all on the welfare issue.And Congress.

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  6. Another excellent post. So many good points. I had listened to Washington's Farewell Address recently, and I was gobsmacked at how prescient he was (should not have been surprised). So many core issues that we currently face (National Debt, Foreign Entanglements, National Defense, Duties of Politicians and Citizens,....). It has probably been over 40 years since I last read or listened to his Farewell Address. As a lay person I think that, with just a little work, it is easy to know what our Founding Fathers intended for our Republic. Shamefully our Politicians either do not, or more likely, just do not care as long as they stay in power. And, Sadly, at least half of our Supreme Court choose to pull out of the Constitution and its supporting documents whatever they want to buttress their political, partisan agenda. It is embarrassing how few people that do vote have no idea about half (or more) of the people that they vote for. Jeez folks, download a sample ballot for your voting precinct, spend 1 hour on Google and find out all you need to know in order to make an informed vote. How bloody hard is that? I'm reading another book on TR, this one pretty much focused on TR the naturalist, environmentalist, conservationist et al. What a man he was, burned the candle on both ends.

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    1. Well Ron, you kind of inspired me yesterday to add new blog pages. One for Washington's Farewell Address and the other for Teddy Roosevelt's speech on the duties of American citizenship which I stumbled across while researching today's offering. Adding links to the text of The Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution were inspired by ColoComment (I'm sure you know who that is, her being a fellow Lexican and all). My readers do make me think. Even when it makes my head hurt. :)

      Getting a sample ballot is an easy thing to do and I do avail myself of that capability. In Little Rhody the state also sends out a pamphlet which contains all the upcoming ballot issues which require us, the voters, to give a "Yay" or a "Nay" to allow the state to spend money on special projects. Makes for some interesting reading at times. Yes, the state is trying to sell me on the idea but through the magic of the internet I can research beyond what the state wants to tell me.

      It's not that hard to stay informed. But then again, one does need to pay attention.

      I have never been a fan of the Supreme Court. Every time someone starts an argument with "well, the Supreme Court ruled that..." I just answer "Dred Scott." They are human, therefore fallible.

      One more thing, if I had my say, appointment to the Federal bench (at any level) would not be for life. Tends to prevent the type of Court we have now, rabid partisans who apparently can't read.

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    2. I completely concur with the limited time on the Bench. When you have no consequences for making poor, or even incorrect decisions based on your wants, rather than the law, it corrupts one's soul. It leads one to believe that you are there to make laws, rather than deciding whether or not they conform to the rules that we run our Government by.

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  7. In other words, I got a refund on my retired pay, so unable to vote? Nah, but draft is a evil that needs to be in place. No exemptions. The only reason I went AF, got my draft letter on the last day of June saying report to fort Detroit for army physical. So AGE, there I went. First year of college down the drain. GMI had accepted me for the second year but such were dreams. Minot, there I went.

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    1. Yeah, I'm not real sure how to work that ensuring voters have a stake in the game thing. One could argue that having worked hard and now living on a pension means that you've already paid your dues (taxes) so you get to vote regardless of not paying taxes anymore.

      I would concur on the draft being an evil that needs to be in place. I still don't like the concept, not at all, but understand the need for it. Definitely agree on the "no exemptions" part.

      Minot. Oh dear. Visited there once on a three day TDY. Fortunately it was in June (1989 - same time as the events occurring in Tienanmen Square, which is why I remember) and the weather wasn't bad. It was the furthest north I had ever been and I marveled that it was still light out at nearly 2200. It was also the flattest place I had ever seen until I drove to Amsterdam.

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    2. Was the refund for the entire amount of your taxes? If not, they you've got "skin in the game". Even if it was, I could probably be talked into a retirement exemption. This is what I'm trying to avoid.

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    3. Juvat - you're getting good mileage from that cartoon. :)

      I would certainly have a retired exemption for voting. They've had skin in the game their whole lives.

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    4. What about tax exemptions for the larger Weasels?

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    5. Congress-critters? (I consider them to be very large weasels.)

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    6. I'm going to stay with the Skin in the Game test.

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    7. Which isn't a bad test, all things considered. The only sticking point is what defines "skin in the game." But I do believe that rational folks could come up with a good definition.

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  8. Jury duty. Tis a duty of the citizen. Our Constitution guarantees us a trail by our peers, and so we have a duty to form that pool of peers. And, while I've never actually been seated on a jury, I do think it is incumbent upon us that if we are called, to consider the facts in evidence, and the law, as carefully as we are capable of to reach a just verdict.

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    1. Good one. I think I blocked that facet of a citizen's duty from my mind because I am in "the pool" this year.

      Not bad though, it's only the second time in 17 years I got "the call" (more properly "the letter"). I did have to show up for three days the first time, didn't get selected for a trial as it was the week before Labor Day weekend.

      Being in "the pool" means they might call you. But yes, a very important duty.

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    2. Use the words "Retired Military", "College Degree", "Interest in History", "Strong belief in Constitution" in the answers to the questions. Augment, if needed, with "Innocent until Proven Guilty" and "Responsible for one's actions".

      Note what happens next.

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  9. Being a Southern lad any discussion of duty reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: General Robert E. Lee
    Duty then is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less.

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    1. One of the reasons I have a great deal of respect for Bobby Lee.

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  10. Aren't we all a bunch of old silverbacks? So thankful many of the youngsters feel much the same way.

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  11. I agree with most of this. The term limits are needed. I would like to see a lifetime maximim for public office to eliminate professional politicians.

    As far as voting my beliefs differ as I feel that if you receive any governmental subsistence you should not have a right to vote. Once you get off the governmental payroll you can vote again.

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    1. I like the lifetime maximum, that is an excellent idea.

      Ditto your idea regarding being able to vote yourself more free stuff. If you get free stuff, you can't vote.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)