What You Owe

Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.
– Robert A. Heinlein

I found this Heinlein quote yesterday, while working on the article for PJmedia (I know most of my Heinlein quotes at a remove, because I first read them in Portuguese, so I need to check every time to make sure I don’t mangle them.) At first sight this resounds a lot with Mister Obama’s statement that “Sin is being unfaithful to my principles” — which given the changeable nature of the left’s principles means that “sin is what I feel like it should be today.”

Of course, that is not it, and if you look at it, it’s quite a different sort of thing.  I’d never, at least consciously, come across that quote, but I’ve been living by it for years, partly because I absorbed its ethos from Heinlein’s books.  Stuff like, if you save someone’s life you’ve assumed a Chinese obligation for that life.  It was that principle that would not allow us, when we moved across the country, to do the common thing of giving away our cats, and just getting kittens after moving.  Instead, we orchestrated a three part move to a new city, with cats shipped in two batches after us (and Pete, the difficult case, moving with us, in the car.)

It causes us to pay on contracts, even when it’s not convenient.  It causes me to feel an obligation towards Baen, even in these days when Indie would pay me more.  It causes us to drive through the night to go help a friend, even when it’s the LAST thing we want to do.

This is because we’ve assumed those obligations voluntarily, as we did the obligations for our children, the obligations for our own upkeep, the obligations to employers and friends, to neighbors and places where we shop and the obligations to this country, like my freely sworn oath to defend the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.

What doesn’t it cover?  Well, it’s not my duty to make the TSA’s job simpler.  I might choose to do it, because the alternative is jail, but I don’t feel a DUTY to do it.  It’s not my duty to pay the maximum tax I can owe.  I can use deductions and loopholes (we don’t use loopholes, because we’re too poor to afford the lawyers, but you get my point.)  It is not my duty to “provide for those who make less.”  It might be my duty to exert Christian Charity, again freely assumed, but that’s QUITE something else from giving someone a portion of my paycheck simply because on paper I have more money.

We run into these situations all the time.  The public schools where my kids went tried to convince everyone it was their duty to volunteer.  No, it’s in fact not.  The schools get funding from our paychecks, and they should make do with what they have and not conscript parents to come copy papers or whatever.  It is my duty to see my kids educated to the best of their ability (and mine) but it is not my duty to do it the way the school wants me to, or to help the school fill their heads with mush.

It is not my duty to bear the burden of a society where other people who work less or make less effort want part of my earnings.  It might be the government’s bright idea that’s my duty, but it’s not.  I have not agreed to be conscripted to pay for others’ easy ride through life.

But if I still have to do things, even though they’re not my duty, because otherwise they’ll put me in jail, what is the point of saying that.

It’s a very great point.

At various times in history, humans choose to comply with force, because they don’t have the means to fight it.  But unless they internalize force as “right” they remain free to disagree with it, and free to overturn force in the future.

If the founders had thought that England had the right to impose taxation without representation and, as good British subjects, they’d thought it was their duty to comply with his majesty’s whim, we wouldn’t be here.  Sure, some people paid because they had to, and the road to the revolution was long and complicated, but the seed was there, as not internalizing  as your duty things you did not and would never agree too.

Fulfill those duties you freely assumed, yes, even unto death, because that’s the price of your honor and your adulthood.  But those obligations imposed on you by force majeure?  Accept the need to do it, if there is no other alternative, but do NOT under any circumstances internalize it as your duty or feel guilty for not fulfilling it.  Down that path lie socialized medicine and your obligation to die when the government wants to guarantee your “death with dignity.”

Living and dying free demand a lot of sacrifice, and for those of us of an honorable disposition, taking care of the weaker people in our sphere influence.

But they prevent your being a sheep for your betters’ shearing.  And they allow you self-respect.



190 thoughts on “What You Owe

  1. The two works by Heinlein that I believe every thinking person needs to read and keep handy as reference are Channel Markers, his presentation to the cadets at Annapolis, and The Notebooks Of Lazarus Long, the collected sayings from Time Enough For Love.
    As for the American Revolution, had King George treated us as British subjects with the same representation they enjoyed, well, today we’d probably be part of Canada.

    1. I am Canadian who spent much time idly wondering why United States got better constitution, system of government. Lots of Americans didn’t support the revolution and around 100,000 people left, or were forced out, when revolution ended.

      Maritime provinces were basically founded by Loyalists, people who still supported God, King and Country and Canada as we know it now, started to develop. Very conservative people arrived in Canada while more liberal minded people stayed in America.

      There were minor rebellions in 1830s to change political system but they were not well supported and easily quashed.

      It is interesting to speculate about how North America would have developed without American revolution, I think there would have been more than two countries formed.

      1. The Americans sat down and wrote their own Constitution instead of waiting for permission.

        You also have to remember that after the Revolutionary War, a *lot* of people decided the new boss was worse than the old boss, packed their belongings, and moved north. (the history books my school used didn’t mention Shay’s Rebellion or the Whisky Rebellion) There were enough political refugees to bump Canada’s population between 25 and 50 percent, depending on whose figures you believe. That’s a lot of royalists to quieten any active dissent.

        I expect some number of Canadians meandered south, but I’ve never seen even a guess as to how many.

        1. “The Americans sat down and wrote their own Constitution instead of waiting for permission.”
          We sat down and wrote ours in 1864 (the Charlottetown Conference). Nobody asked permission, as we already (1841) had internal self-government. The Act required in Britain was so instantly acceptable to their Parliament that one wag called it “the Ten Minutes Bill”. We chose “a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom” with our eyes open, and we are as much a democracy as any other country in the world, with just as firm a rule of law. As a firm lover of freedom, I don’t buy jwl’s assertion at all.

          1. And then you rewrote your constitution 15 times, according to the whims of the moment.
            Yeah, you’re a democracy. A constitutional republic, OTOH, is a different beast.

            1. We chose ‘a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom’ …

              Per About Britain:

              The UK has no written constitution. Nor does England have a constitution, neither written nor formulated. The United Kingdom is one of the few countries of the world that does not have a written constitution: it just has what is known as an “uncodified constitution”.

              Thus the only “British Constitution” that exists is a set of rules and regulations constituted by jurisprudence and laws (English and Scottish law), and by various treaties and international agreements to which the United Kingdom has signed up. This uncodified constitution has largely developed out of historic English law, since many of its founding principles and essential laws go back to charters and bills that were drawn up by the English parliament long before the creation of the United Kingdom.

              “Similar in principle” indeed.

              1. If I remember my history correctly, there was no Canadian constitution before Trudeau pieced one together. Before then we were a commonwealth nation that had achieved “independence” through the British North America Act that allowed us to govern ourselves mostly, after awhile, eventually (post WWI for those keeping track). In fact the current constitution we reside under hasn’t been properly formalized fully due to problems with Quebec and the Rest of Canada. As well, our constitution needs provincial consent from all provinces to make changes. Which means practically never since Quebec likes doing things their own way.

                1. Fairness mandate acknowledgement that in the United States the existence of a Constitution seems mostly to be honored in the breach. When Progressives hold power it means whatever they can interpret it to mean, even if (especially if>) their interpretation is contrary to the actual words constructing the clause.

                  Judge Posner remains an ass, but he is not unique among America’s judiciary.

                  From NRO’s Bench memos today:
                  Silly Slate Hit Piece on Justice Thomas
                  By Ed Whelan — August 3, 2017

                  In a so-called “cover story” on Slate yesterday, Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern complain that Justice Thomas’s “fingerprints are all over the executive branch,” as “he’s trained a small army of acolytes”—his former law clerks—“to implement his larger project of shrinking the regulatory state and fighting back against the supposed chokehold of political correctness.”

                  Earth to Slate: It’s not news that former Supreme Court law clerks often go on to positions of significant influence in ideologically compatible presidential administrations. If you take a look at the Obama or Clinton administrations, you’ll find more than a few. That doesn’t mean that they’re out to “implement” some imagined “larger project” of their former bosses.

                  Justice Thomas has been on the Court for more than 25 years, so he has 100 or more former law clerks. Lithwick and Stern identify a grand total of eight who they say are now in the Trump administration. On a quick check, it appears that two of those eight are still awaiting confirmation and remain in private practice.

                  Lithwick and Stern also identify two former Thomas clerks—both state supreme court justices—who are “awaiting appointment to the federal judiciary” and two others—my Bench Memos colleague Carrie Severino and Laura Ingraham—who they complain are working from the outside to assist the Trump administration.

                  Lithwick and Stern can’t even bother to get basic facts right. They assert that Justice Thomas “is the only sitting justice never to have brought on a clerk who previously served under a judge appointed by a president from the opposite party.” They cite a seven-year-old New York Times article in support of that proposition. But a quick check of Wikipedia would have revealed that Thomas has hired three clerks since then who had clerked for Democratic appointees. (Plus, one of Thomas’s first clerks had previously clerked for JFK appointee Byron White.) More broadly, on the topic of ideological rigidity, what’s the record of liberal justices in hiring Federalist Society members. (Federalist Society membership is a far better indicator of conservative or libertarian judicial philosophy than a record of having clerked for a Republican appointee to a lower court.)

      2. I think there would have been more than two three countries formed.


        I’ve no doubt. The Amerindians would likely have coalesced into a separate nation occupying the Great Plains and possibly the Midwest. Texas and California would have remained separate republics, the tribal cultures likely would have retained the Pacific Northwest, from Oregon to Alaska (possible Russian colony?) and the mountain states might have remained either unclaimed or have joined California. What effect Louis Riel’s separationist effort might have had, if any, depends on how things would have fallen out after Quebec formed its own nation.

        1. The Indians would NOT have”coalesced “. Read a little history. Suchas “Empire of the Summer Moon”

          1. I have read more than a little history. It seems likely that Tecumseh would have been able to unify the tribes of the Northwest (Ohio & Indiana) territories, especially with British cooperation.

            The Plains Indians would have therefore have been under reduced pressure and could easily have joined in a loose confederation primarily in opposition to American British expansion into the Great Plains — particularly in the absence of any recognized agricultural value, given there were not plows capable of tilling those fields.

            Louis Riel was successful in organizing the Métis, less successful fighting the English but with the advantage of no colonial presence to their South he might well have been able to establish a Northern Plains nation.

            With California as an independent state and a vast wasteland stretching from the Mississippi to there it seems unlikely railroads would have crossed that expanse anywhere near as early as happened in our History, thereby also reducing the pressure to oust the Amerindians from their territory. The threat of a slowly encroaching European derived nation would surely have a) enhanced arguments for a unified First People’s polity and b) allowed sufficient time for the requisite political bonds to grow.

            We are talking about a very different History that that which is discussed in Empire of the Summer Moon and some speculation is required.

      3. Off the top of my head,you had about a third who were gung-ho enough to fight for either Patriot or Loyalist sides, with the remaining third not really wanting to get involved. Something that may clarify it somewhat is that those in the colonies who went Loyalist did not necessarily have no grievance against the Crown, but opposed a revolt. The same can be said for those who just wanted to keep their heads down.

        Another thing is that the US is on it’s second constitution. The first, the Articles of Confederation, didn’t work so well. You might say we had some practice before hammering out another.

        1. There are those among us who argue that the current Constitution has resulted in the tyranny of the oligarchy, whereas the Articles of Confederation actually worked quite well for we the people and not so well for the mercantilists whom we now serve.

          1. You have no idea what mercantilism means, do you? Why should we take note of your uninformed opinions, sir?
            And that symbol you’re using is a stalking horse of communists, just FYI

            1. “An insult is like a drink; it affects one only if accepted. And pride is too heavy baggage for my journey; I have none.”

              We share a common hero, if not a common lexicon.

              1. I’m NOT insulting you. Mercantilism is a DEFINED economic theory. I think you mean it in the sense of “traders” and if you think Heinlein despised those… oh, brother.
                Trade is the engine of civilization, other than war. I know which I prefer.
                A) if you think you’re “enslaved” your understanding of history is seriously deficient. b) who would you rather climbs to the top? Someone who got there by commerce or by “birth?” c) state your case. What was superior about the articles of confederation? Show historical examples as to why this is superior.

          2. … the Articles of Confederation actually worked quite well for we the people…

            Dude, even in histories written by avowed anarcho-capitalists (like the one I’m in the middle of reading right now, James Madison and the Making of America by Kevin R.C. Gutzman) the Articles were clearly deficient and unworkable.

            As but one example, they left no clear way for foreign creditors, of whom we had many following the revolution, to ensure that they got their due, because there was no legal process in place for them to pursue them. There weren’t really federal courts, and the competing state courts churned up already muddy waters, leaving a mexican stand-off mess of conflicting legal judgements and opinions.

            How, pray tell, would it benefit we the people to have no foreign citizens on the planet willing to engage in any trade with us because they had no confidence in our legal system according them anything like justice?

            And that is but one example.

            Perhaps next time you can refrain from commenting on things you don’t actually know about.

            1. Worse, at that time a smaller nation that didn’t pay its debts to a larger nation could expect the larger nation to send their armies to “collect on the debt”.

              Who would be willing to help the early US if France sent an army to act as debt collector?

              Britain might but the price the US would have to pay Britain would be very high.

          3. There are those among us who argue that slavery is a tolerable evil, that human sacrifice was beneficial, and that males rape females by a mere lustful glance.

            The fact that people argue a position is not, itself, an argument. It is a mere assertion that an argument can be made and communicates nothing about whether the argument is valid, sound or holds water. If you want to argue the Articles of Confederation frickin’ worked> howzabout you proffer some actual evidence or a, y’know, argument in support of that position?

            Absent such substance all that is available as rebuttal is NO, they did not work.

            1. Example: Trying to do a moat and bailey argument arguing that Article I is still in force, because we are the United States of America.

              That would have a small amount of substance, even if poor and pathetic.

    2. Actually, if George had treated the colonies as British subjects we’d have controlled Parliament by 1850 and I doubt us, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand would be sovereign states but additional kingdoms of the UK. I’m sure self-governance would have come as a practical manner.

      Imagine a world where the invasion of Belgium and not unrestricted submarine warfare had been the trigger for US involvement in WWI? How different would it have been and for the better or for the worse?

        1. Probably an uprising at least, though the timing might have been a bit later. The debt from financing their part in our War of Independence and their materiel aid to our cause exacerbated their existing budgetary woes, but they were already pretty woeful. IIRC, the steps taken by the French government to raise revenues to pay the interest and attempt to pay down some of the debt, combined with a poor harvest, brought about the chain of events leading to the French Revolution.

          1. The French were always having uprisings and revolts. But when a third of the peasants were living off acorn flour, there was not much energy for peasant revolts. It was usually nobles on the outs.

      1. What would have happened if the U.S. had been involved in WWI from the outset is an interesting question indeed.

        My Mother, the history teacher (hugh school for girls) always maintained that much of what made WWI so horrible was prefigured by the American Civil War. The effects of increased firepower on troop movements, the reality of trench warfare (Vicksburg) and so on.

        I’m not completely convinced. It seems to me that one of the biggest problems was the unwillingness on both sides to accept tactical losses for strategic advantage. Maybe some student of Grant could have persuaded the Allied command to focus on destroying the German army even if it meant giving ground. But my knowledge of the issues and personalities of WWI is spotty, so I may be barking up the wrong tree, or even in the wrong forest.

        1. If there were examples of an entrenched force being dislodged by direct assault in the US Civil War, they weren’t very many of them. The standard response to such a force was to maneuver around it. Once the Western Front stretched from the Channel to the Alps the generals should have gone to the politicians and said “we can no longer win by force of arms, it is up to you to negotiate an end to this war.”

          1. This. I wonder what would have happened if the U.S. *hadn’t* intervened in the ‘Great War’. After all, the family squabble in Europe really was no business of ours.

            Would an equitable peace, negotiated after such a long and brutal stalemate, have sowed the same seeds for the second round of World War? Would the second round have been caused by the rising Bolsheviks attempting to spread their system to the rest of the continent? Would the Western European democracies, horrified and appalled by the slaughter of the GW have had the means, or the will, to resist?

            Absent our entry into the GW, would the U.S. have had the unenviable position, or the motivation, to step into the vacuum of power left by the reduction of the European powers? With Wilson in charge, perhaps so. Speaking of whom, how many terms would he have served? After all, he truly would have ‘kept us out of war’.

            1. Assuming his medical problems still occurred, I think a third term was highly improbable. Absent the medical problems, I still find it unlikely, though. The two-terms-no-more tradition set by Washington was a fairly strong one – until FDR overthrew it.

            2. I’ve sometimes wondered what would have happened if we, under a different President, had offered to mediate the conflict starting in 1915. Would there be any possible compromise, or would the psychology behind the conflict have shifted from national pride to “something’s got to come from all this slaughter” too quickly for there to be anything but total victory?

            3. “Would an equitable peace, negotiated after such a long and brutal stalemate, have sowed the same seeds for the second round of World War?”

              Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen. By early 1917, the Germans were going to settle for no less than hegemony on the European continent. They’d lost far too much for anything else to be acceptable.

              1. They went into debt to fight the war, on the principle that once they had won, they could force France to pay reparations, and use that to pay off the war debt.

              2. An equitable settlement in 1917 would have at the worst for Germany moved the border in the west back to the start line. Having destroyed the Russian Empire no equitable settlement could have included the removal of German territorial gains in the East.

                Given even at the real armistice the German army was still in France I’m hard pressed to see how the Germans in 1917 couldn’t have claimed equity in France be based on the facts on the ground. They couldn’t conquer all of French but France but the entire British Empire couldn’t dislodge them from the parts they occupied plus Belgium.

                1. They could have easily claimed that, but at that point you’re dealing with French revanchism instead of German–especially considering that northeastern France was where the majority of France’s industrial plant was located.
                  My bet is that we would have ended up fighting alongside the British, French, and Italians against the Germanic Mitteleuropa sometime in the 1940s.

            4. If, perchance, you meet Col. Kratman at a con he can entertainingly inform you of the likely flow of events. I had that conversation with him some time ago and would not attempt to summarise it beyond asserting he strongly thinks our intervention ranks high among America’s Stupidest Acts.

          2. The thing is, either side could have allowed to other to adavnce into a,pre-prepared pocket, and then attacked on three sides.

            I gather from my cursory reading that neither side would.

            1. That’s one of those strategies that would only work once, and pulling off a retreat under fire is the most difficult thing a military unit can do. Add in that in order to be useful, the strategy would require the attacking side to be dumb enough to fatally weaken their line of departure and the retreating side having enough troops on hand to take advantage of that weakness.

    3. “As for the American Revolution, had King George treated us as British subjects with the same representation they enjoyed, well, today we’d probably be part of Canada.”

      I’m not so sure that Canada as such would have come into being had the American Revolution not taken place. I admit I don’t have a structured, reasoned argument to present for this; it’s more a gut feeling. I suspect it’s much more likely that – barring other events – pretty much everything from the Arctic Circle down to the Mexican border would be the “Dominion of North America” or something similar.

      1. I suspect what is affecting your thinking is the idea that, absent the American Revolution, it is unlikely Canada would have developed as it did. The Brits clearly learned a bit about the care, management and abuse of colonies and changed their policy to avoid driving Canada, Australia, India and other colonies to the same extremities.

        1. For one thing, the American Revolution produced more refugees than the French, and most of them went to Canada — a massive increase in population, and still more in the English speaking population.

    1. Ah, the mandatory volunteer hours. A favorite of earnest idiots everywhere.

      Most people just lie. The high schools rapidly learned to not investigate “volunteer hours” too closely, lest their graduation statistics suffer.

      Individual result, kids learn how to game the bureaucracy at a younger age than before. Societal result, net increase in overall corruption.

      1. The point of such requirements, as Ayn Rand pointed out, is not to derive productive labor from you but to get a violation which can be held to your head to keep you in line.

        “You don’t like our teaching little Susie’s Second Grade class that masturbation is healthy? We notice you haven’t contributed your full quota mandatory volunteer hours … we would hate to have to kick her out of our school.”

          1. A perfect example of negotiation judo. If you can turn every point of leverage that they think they have on you into a point of leverage on your side, then their threats become powerless and they’re much more likely to give in and give you what you want.

      2. I’ve already decided that if mine has to do mandatory volunteer hours I’m going to just my own charity.

    2. My school has a community service requirement. You can do it however you like, with whatever organization you prefer, so long as you turn in proof of the hours by the last month of school. Everyone knows this coming in, everyone agrees to it as part of attending the school. We see it as part of encouraging students to get out of the classroom and do stuff. It can be religious, secular, scout-related, what have you.

      What makes me fume is when someone springs the requirement on you. “Oh, didn’t you know? Every year you have to participate in the company fun-run/walk. Here’s the sign up list. Unless you’re dead, be there.” I had someone try that in college and I was seriously ticked off, even though I was spending 16 hours a week or so doing volunteer work of my own free will. Nope. Add it for the next year so everyone knows and can find a work-around if they need to.

      1. I’ve seen the company bit
        [ ] I will be there.
        [ ] I cannot attend.
        They were a bit bewildered when I added:
        [X] I refuse to be there.

        (They had a ‘refunded fee’ that said they didn’t trust my word. So I didn’t trust them back and refused to go.)

        And then the look they (school folks) get when they insist they need a signature that you refused X and get told, “I’m not singing anything.” I wonder if they called the folks. If they did and got Pa, he’d have told them, “If he said he’s not signing it, he’s learned well. Stop bothering him with your crap.” or something close to it.

      2. Yeah, good points.

        Up-front expectations phrased as required/mandatory service rather than required/mandatory volunteering sound like a suitable level of honesty.

      3. A former employer pulled people out of work to line up outside at the Red Cross bloodmobile. When I found out what was going on I went back inside. No, there’s no “voluntary” when they order you to do it, and their veiled inferences that future employment depended on it were met with less-veiled inferences that the Labor Board might be interested.

        Similar thing, years later, when HR at a different employer decided every employee would support the company’s selected charity, United Way. They put the payroll deduction forms in with our checks, needing only our signature. 15% off the top; about 25% of our after-tax salary. As far as I know I was the only one who didn’t take a 25% haircut on his salary.

        1. I had someone try something like that, again with a blood drive. “I can’t donate.”
          Of course you can. Are you squemish?
          “I am not permitted by the American Red Cross to give blood under their safety guidelines.” What I was thinking can’t be printed here, but it was close to ‘sod off, jerk.’ The person didn’t know what to make of that statement and went to annoy someone else.

          1. I have no problem donating blood, but nobody can answer my questions about the drugs I’m taking. So, I’m keeping my blood to myself.

              1. I know. And what about all the military personnel who were living in Germany and England and who still give blood within the armed forces? But no, no, I hit the six-month time-in-Europe wall and no more donating.

              2. I couldn’t donate for a year because after my hysterectomy, they found I had (grade 1,stage 1) cancer.

              3. Yeah. I’m banned for life because I was on my LDS mission in Scotland right before and during the time they finally figured it all out.

                1. I’m banned because of where my husband comes from. Never mind that as a Naturalized Citizen he’s had more HIV tests than anyone but military.
                  Of course, I also have blood pressure in the range that causes medical personnel to turn pale, ask if I feel faint or have fallen recently, and attempt to get me to lie down.

          2. I’ll donate every once in a while, but I had a couple of experiences where I felt faint afterward, and one where I was rejected because they couldn’t find my veins. Thus, I learned to eat plenty of iron beforehand, drink lots of fluid, and even then, be prepared for faintness and weakness.

            I cannot just show up at work one day and be told “go donate blood”.

            1. I was faint after they tried apheresis on me, so I went back to giving whole blood. Four gallon (almost five) donor now. Started giving after Mom went in for surgery on her first deteriorated shoulder (rheumatoid arthritis).

              1. I had a similar reaction to apheresis. The senior tech suggested it was probably a reaction to the anticoagulant they use for that process. It’s apparently not common, but not rare either.
                Tangentially, I’d donate more if they wouldn’t call every two days to try to schedule me. I understand I’m a valuable donor (O+, big, easy to get veins, very short donation times [though I still can’t quite get it under five minutes]), but I do not care for being nagged.

                1. I’m considering giving the Red Cross a call just to confirm that I’m “safe” after just one year away from West Africa. Then I recall the repeated phone calls since I’m in a similar valuable donor pool…and postpone initiating a call. I feel guilty about it, but do not like the nagging.

              2. I have done the apheresis thing a few times, but generally decline the invitation for two reasons.

                1. I have miserly veins and tend to cause phlebotomist nightmares. The larger needle required for apheresis is likely to cause problems and result in their getting less than their hoped for amount.

                2. I donate every nine weeks, faithfully. If I do apheresis one blood drive then it will be eighteen weeks before they can draw again, if then: sometimes the drives fall at seventeen weeks and I have to wait another cycle before I can donate. If I donate whole units then they will net at least as much from me in that period as apheresis would provide.

                I do not know what my donation total is; for a number of years I didn’t make the effort, but having a semi-rare type* I routinely go, and passed the five-gallon pin several donor ID cards ago.

                *Those who’ve read my comments can guess how much I giggle when presenting the Red Cross card identifying me as A Negative. Some folk are a positive, but I …

                1. I donate often and have very difficult veins. I just ask for a “charge nurse”. That’s someone who has been around and knows how to find the vein. Usually no problem.

        2. United Way? Aren’t they the ones who place limits on what their beneficiary recipients can raise on their own? And don’t they require those recipients to adhere to codes of conduct which might violate their fundamental principles? Aren’t they the charity whose president was found to be raking in exorbitant salary and expenses and living in multiple penthouse apartments leased at the charity’s expense? How did they do on their audit, anyway? Do they even meet basic standards of efficiency?

          1. The big trick that the United Way uses is to say that you can designate which charity your money goes to. What they don’t tell you is that in return for the limits on seeking donations from other sources and adhering to the code of conduct they commit to coming up with a minimum donation amount. Any designated funds go to satisfy that minimum.

            Therefore, if you designate the Boy Scouts (assuming you aren’t in a region that removed the Boy Scouts from the charity list) your designated funds, and the designated funds of all of the other Boy Scout supporters go towards meeting the minimum. The net result is that there is more money out of the general kitty that goes toward supporting the things that you don’t want to see supported. Your designation of the Boy Scouts (or whatever) doesn’t result in the Scouts getting any more money than they otherwise would have.

            The Left is very fond of trying to bury the idea that money is fungible.

            1. Years ago now, they didn’t even pretend to isolate… at least where I was. They did have a line about “why punish some because you don’t like one.” which I merrily ignored. If a problem hides amongst non-problems… isn’t called a War Crime?

            2. And, back in the day, when getting a deduction from your paycheck was harder to arrange, and there was no such thing as online banking and paypal, United Way made some sense with making it easy to give and to disperse your contribution to multiple donors.

              Now? Why on earth wouldn’t you just set up regular small donations through paypal or at your bank? And totally bypass the you’re-donating-to-everyone-UW-donates-to concept entirely?

              1. Because then your Warrant Officer In Charge wouldn’t be able to report to his Colonel that HIS unit had 100% participation.

        3. I was doing contract work at a corporation, when the “100% voluntary” United Way drive was happening. Last time they tried that, since my work mate’s father was a labor lawyer…

          Then there was the “100% voluntary” “team building” Habitat for Humanity exercise in futility. We noped out of that crap too.

    3. Some parishes have started requiring it for Confirmation.

      Yes, you read that right– with-holding a sacrament unless you file paperwork “proving” you provided charity. Of an approved sort, of course.

      1. Time to leave that parish, I should think. Or at least time to have a strong talk with the bishop about theology and clerical obligations.

        1. #understatement

          Sadly, not infrequently that is from the Bishop’s office.

          As is a delay until 13 before you can START the confirmation process.

          Complete with wails about why are so many kids leaving their faith….

          1. Not to proselytize, but in the Orthodox church we don’t see anything like that. The withholding of a sacrament for some administrative reason would literally be anathema (and I use both the words “literally” and “anathema” accurately).

            1. Appreciated, and I’ll take it in the spirit offered, but keep in mind the old joke….

              A merchant in the middle ages had a Jewish friend, also a merchant. After years of discussing religion, the Jewish guy got curious and went to Rome… his friend was beside himself. After seeing the corruption, the pettiness, the general jerk tricks that got pulled in ROME, what ever would his Jewish friend think?

              Well, his buddy came back. Cautiously, the merchant asked how it had gone.
              “I converted.”
              “You WHAT?”
              “Any church that can survive that leadership is clearly God’s own.”

              1. Oh, I would never claim the Orthodox church (in it’s numerous hierarchies) is without fault. Serious financial misconduct is a good part of the reason I left the OCA (Orthodox Church in America) for ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia). So I think we can play in that ballpark too (surviving occasional less-than-saintly leadership). 😀

              2. G.K. Chesterton actually decided the Catholic Church was for him after his umbrella was stolen from the vestibule. He figured it was actually a place for sinners instead of a bunch of pious folk who thought higher of themselves than their fellow man.

                1. this — church has been characterized as being properly a hospital for the walking wounded.

                    1. Not that way– there’s at least a rumor that Muslims who are the wrong race have a bad habit of disappearing on the way to Mecca.

                      Kind of like there’s a mysterious spike in Christians on refugee boats or in refugee camps vanishing.

                    2. What I was laughing at (and I literally did laugh out loud) was that your line is the equivalent of the Emo Phillips quip:

                      “I think the whole concept of monotheism is a gift from the gods.”

                1. I vaguely recall such a tale of Malcolm X, explaining why he split from the Nation of Islam (predating Calypso Louie) and renounced their ways … and why he was assassinated.

            2. It is simony, one of the Big Sins — only providing Sacraments in exchange for money or services. Canon law says it is illegal, canon lawyers fight it, and the Vatican clearly states that it is a no-no.

              But bad bishops and pastors are pretty hard to stop, and they know _those_ sections of canon law by heart. And it’s for the children, donchaknow.

              However, the trend is receding in many places. Referring to it as “forced labor” or “indentured servitude” tends to make an impression.

      2. The difference is that the Roman church says you are supposed to actually put your faith in practice, right? And the second table of the Commandments is summarized “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” So, show that you understand it by doing some charity work.
        They also require that you actually show up for Mass, right? (The first table of the commandments.)
        I don’t see why that’s an issue for a religion, when you claim to agree with its tenets, and those tenets involve charity.

        (That’s not bashing you. I’m asking this sincerely.)

          1. Getting my eldest through First Communion came with a lot of annoying things, but at least the sister in charge said that they don’t take attendance at Mass, because what’s the point? You know, and God knows, and anyone else is superfluous.

        1. The Sunday obligation is utterly unrelated.

          Short version– remember Jesus’ rant about doing stuff for others to see?

          There are a lot of other problems– see Banshee’s comment– but that’s the most succinct form.

    4. That issue had me wondering, who the hell thought THAT was a notion free of controversy?

      Also, tech the little yard-trolls to read and write FIRST. THEN worry about teaching good citizenship.

      But that goes to the core of what I think is wrong with Public Schools; teaching the basic skills of reading and math is dull. Much more fun to play social-worker and unlicensed shrink. Or lecture the little barbarians about the Cause of the Day.

      It’s the whole “learning should be fun” idea from the other side. HAVING AN EDUCATION is fun. Acquiring one, at least at first, involved a lot of dull work. But the Professional Educators have accepted as a matter of faith that this needn’t be so.

      1. Back in the day, with McGuffey, they taught them simultaneously. Literature selections included historical documents and great speeches, as well as true stories of historical heroism.

      2. Oh, definitely. Just read the piece about the “professor” fired at Montclair (who apparently previously “taught” at Rutgers).

        The assumption is that they didn’t want him around as a lightning rod after he tweeted his wish for the POTUS to be shot.

        Which is believable, as when they hired him, they must have known how he “taught” at Rutgers. Every day, all class time, he showed Beyonce videos. No homework. Self-graded.

        I’m sure that is “fun.” Although not ~$2,500 worth of “fun.” (Myself, I’d be gibbering and chewing the carpet before the end of the first class. Then I’d be filing a civil rights violation case…)

        1. I wonder whether one can sue a university for failure to deliver contracted services? All it would seem to require as proof would be to take the SAT after graduation and provide a lower score.

          “Your honor, we intend to prove our client came out of that school dumber than when he went in and that it is a direct result of the school’s educational and social policies.”

          1. Don’t know if it would be possible without a sympathetic judge.

            Probably wouldn’t help all that much, anyway. I saw a figure once, that over 90% of the fraud complaints that the FTC receives are not filed by the victims of such – they are made by their relatives (or people who weren’t taken in, but did their “civic duty” by reporting the attempt).

            People don’t like admitting when they have been idiots.

    5. Well, they don’t mean “giving freely” when they use volunteer, they mean “unpaid work”. And, if it’s mandatory, that means it’s involuntary. And I could have sworn involuntary unpaid work was abolished in this country some number of years ago with this thing they call an “Amendment”…..

  2. … given the changeable nature of the left’s principles means that ‘sin is what I feel like it should be today.’

    The Left’s principles are unchanging; it is their camouflage that varies.

    1. Exactly. There is essentially only one leftist principle: Our control over all of society is essential and uncompromisable, and anything done to ensure that control is both justified and required.

    1. Sure they do . . . anything they think YOU aughtta pay or do is YOUR duty and honor, and as such YOU have an obligation to do as they say. Themselves? Not so much.

        1. all people not exactly like them, rich or poor, Big or little. Sometime they even think one of “theirs” are to be held accountable, but that is on a Calvinball sliding scale of variability, to encourage correctness of thought. if not action.

          1. And how dire the need for a 15 minute hate while normal targets are not in sight.

            Seriously, even the most hard core gooner doesn’t seem to have the need for thier thing close to SJWs and a 15 minute hate.

        2. Those concepts are for the guidance of the unenlightened. See Thomas Sowell, esp. A Conflict of Visions.

  3. I saw a question the other day “As liberals, what do you find offensive about conservatives?” and the answer I saw was “Arrogance: Paul Ryan became educated because his father died and left his family money, but he refuses the same opportunities for everyone else!”

    I couldn’t help but think that there’s all sorts of arrogance hidden in that answer, though:

    So you really think all of us want to, or even can, become Speaker of the House?

    You want all of us to lose our fathers so we could pay for our education from our inheritances?

    Considering that the country is in debt, with no balanced budgets in sight, you want to pay for the education of those who want it, on the backs of our future unborn children (via debt), and on the backs of those who decide they *don’t* want an education (those who decide to pursue blue trades) and on the backs of those who *can’t* get an education (criminals, in particular, who likely would have a very difficult time getting past admissions)?

    Heck, even the mere suggestion that you can only have opportunity if you have a college education is arrogance in itself!

    Now, this isn’t to say that Paul Ryan isn’t arrogant — because in certain ways, he certainly is — but I can’t help but think that liberals have a certain arrogance of their own — and it’s a blind arrogance.

    Having written this, I couldn’t help but wonder, what does all this have to do with duty? I had a vague sense that it was related somehow, and I think I understand now: the notion that government owes its citizens unlimited free stuff, whether it be retirement, or health care, or education, isn’t just arrogance — it’s forcing a duty on people, who often can’t bear the duty, or can bear it, but don’t want anything to do with it. And for this “duty”, we have $20 trillion in debt, along with $1.2 trillion in student loans — a lot of which are for degrees that people have no business getting in the first place, for the “value” they provide the students and potential employers!

    And this, because of the arrogance of observing that successful people often have a college education (ignoring that people with “grit” are going to succeed at college), and concluding that getting as many people as possible a college education will make them successful (at the same time, reducing the “grit” needed to get that education — and thereby reducing their ability to succeed in life in general).

    When someone claims that a certain duty is a right, and demands that the government provide everyone that duty for free, the result is the destruction of the benefits from fulfilling that duty. We see it over and over again — in education, in medicine, in home ownership, in transportation…. Everything that government touches, withers away and becomes a shell of that which it was before….

    1. “— but I can’t help but think that liberals have a certain arrogance of their own — and it’s a blind arrogance.”
      Or were you being charitably understated?

    2. > Considering that the country is in debt,

      Consider most of the people who accomplished that are still alive, and many are still in office. And we have their names and voting records for every single bill that brought the country closer to bankruptcy.

      Listen to the echoing silence of anyone complaining about it.

      Yes, it’s an issue every major election, and there are periodic media flaps, but either nobody seriously expects anything can actually be done, or nobody cares.

      1. Everyone is relying on Keynes famous quip, “In the long run we’re all dead,” and figured the bill would come due in the long run.

        Hell, prior to Trump my rational for voting Republican was the “socialism tomorrow” party would likely stave off economic collapse to after my death while the “socialism today” party would not (and the minor “socialism yesterday” party would accelerate it while the Legalize Pot party, my normal backup, would at least allow me to be too stoned to notice…I keep wishing we had a “socialism never” party but…).

        Society decided I wasn’t worth passing on to the next generation so I really don’t care if the bill comes due on a party I wasn’t invited to.

        1. I remember someone observed that having children is a form of immortality (you might not be alive in 100 years, but your children or grandchildren will be) and then observed that Keynes’s lifestyle, which precluded having children, kept him from realizing that while in the long run, we’re all dead, there’s a bunch of us who have children and grandchildren who *won’t* be dead when the bill comes due…

          Naturally, since I have children, I’m just a tad concerned about their future…

          1. While I’m no fan of Keynes, that particular quote actually has an undeserved reputation. It wasn’t so much about how the long term is unimportant as it was about how the short term is important too:

            “But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task, if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us, that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again.”

            Agree or disagree with him, he wasn’t just saying, “Go ahead and party hearty and ignore what effect your actions have on the future.”

        2. I have no offspring of my own, but I have nieces and nephews whom I would not wish the effects of our current mishandlings upon.

    3. Arrogance, to a Progressive, is not heeding their advice.

      Intelligence, to a conservative, is heeding one’s own counsel, taking into account the views of others according to their demonstrated sagacity.

      I cannot recall ever seeing Progressives demonstrate sagacity.

      1. Heeding one’s own counsel … i.e. retaining your decision-making authority even as you wisely seek the counsel of others … is anathema to those who believe you should always defer to “experts” and “leaders” who, because they are “experts” and “leaders”, MUST be Smarter Than You.

        Why, such lack of deference is a roadblock to societal progress, y’know …

    1. I demand reparations for the socialist invasion of my culture. In communist hearts.

      The coercive power I have to enforce that demand against someone who thinks it unjust? Nil.

      1. You want reparations for the invasions they commit in their hearts?
        Or you want the currency in which the reparations are made to be communist hearts?

        I know which interpretation I prefer.

  4. The public schools where my kids went tried to convince everyone it was their duty to volunteer. No, it’s in fact not. The schools get funding from our paychecks, and they should make do with what they have and not conscript parents to come copy papers or whatever.
    You might say, however, that it is your duty to ensure the school is spending its money properly (since it’s your money), and not wasting it on a bunch of staff positions that aren’t actually necessary to teach all those children. Because, honestly, it’s probably why they need volunteers to photocopy stuff.
    (On top of which – why is anyone photocopying anything? Scan it in, save it electronically, then print however many you need whenever you need them. Been true for at least 10 years now. Do these folks still use ‘dirty purples’, too?)

    1. Actually, it has been my impression that schools need more administration largely because the government keeps increasing the paperwork. Of course that combines with the tendency for admin types to make admin typwmwork for each-other….

      1. It really bugs me how much the government thinks that we’re on the edge of perfection — we just need one more form that needs to be filled out!

    2. My country school had two grades to a room and 20-30 pupils to a grade; four teachers for grades 1-8. The 8th grade teacher was principal. There were two non-teaching employees, a secretary and a janitor. No administrators. No volunteers I know of.

      Just about all our students could read. We did have a 15 year old girl in 5th grade, but she could read. She didn’t comprehend what she read, or not much of it, but she could read. Of course she never finished 8th grade. Her parents were Italian truck farmers; luckily for her the War came and we had Italian prisoners of war, who were billeted out to Italian families. Their POW was a nice young conscript and when she came of age they married, letting him stay in the US and assuring her parents of grandchildren. Last I heard — this was WWII after all– they had inherited the farm, their kids were headed for high school, and he was a citizen whose worst fault was that he drank a bit too much red wine. But that was long ago, in a letter I had from my only friend in Capleville, about 1956 or so.

      But I got a better education in that school than the public schools would have given my boys in Los Angeles.

      1. I went to a two room school (boys and girls) we had class either morning or afternoon. Our teachers (2) taught two classes in the same room, around 30 kids (my class was small, only 12, because of smallpox, but the others were larger.) We all learned to read including Filomena, who was at best educable mentally retarded. She could do sums, too. Last heard of she took in wash and did house cleaning. Her husband (also handicapped) was a handyman of some description. And it must not have been genetic, because all seven of their kids went to college.

        1. Not surprising, in re Filomena. Nearly all mental “retardation” can be traced to environmental factors (influencing the mother, or the child, or frequently both) – not inheritable genetics. Exposure to toxins (including drug abuse), disease, malnutrition, etc.

          Even the most infamous of genetically caused retardation – Downs Syndrome – is only an inherited characteristic for 1% of those born with it. The entirety of the remainder is, IMHO, the “normal” environmental wear and tear on a person (the mother, primarily) – as the chances increase quite a bit as a woman ages.

          1. Mother over age 40 is one of the flashing warning lights for Downs. Mom was part of a long-term study about “elderly prima gravita” and older mothers because she was, ah, ahem, er, *looks over shoulder* older than 30 when Sib and I came along.

            1. Even then, it’s one in a hundred. Not good odds, admittedly, when you are talking about a child.

              Mom was (exactly) 39 when I was born, so was 38 when I was in the vulnerable stage (it has to happen early, being a chromosome replication during cell division). So I was what, 1 of the 109 out of the 110 or so?

            2. I vaguely remembered there being a big asterisk here, so I went digging– initially for Writing Observer’s 1-in-100 rate mention.

              Couldn’t find it broken down my mother’s age, but did find both eugenics pages and support pages that said something like this:
              Strictly speaking, maternal age isn’t actually a warning sign; it’s just the only pattern they’ve been able to find. 80% of moms who have a kid with Downs are under 35, it’s just “more likely” when the mother is older.

              Over-all rate is one in 700 at birth in the US. (Given the pressure to abort if the child is read as possibly having it, I have no idea how contaminated the data is; depending on the test, there can be a really, really high false reading rate… in both directions.)

      2. How much red wine do you have to drink for it to be a *fault*?

        Would it be less of a fault if it was that pale yellow piss they call “wine” that has to be drunk cold?

          1. I would think that for it to be a fault, it would tend to be more than one bottle, because after a while, just one wouldn’t be enough to make a difference, unless we’re merely talking about the financial hit, not frequent drunkenness.

          2. As in it’s a fault because there’s none left to share, or it’s a fault because you had a glass and a half?

            (My mum’s family is Italian. Some of them use 16oz. tumblers for wine glasses. Or used to before they hit their 80s. That means that out of a standard bottle you get a full “glass” and a partial “glass”.)

            1. Hey, I use a tumbler, too.

              Of course, I fill it to the brim with ice, so there’s only about 8 oz of room left before the 80* wine hits it…but still!

  5. Can’t really agree, here.

    You can have a duty to something you never agreed to– doing what you have agreed to do is part of it, but you can accept obligations without knowing it until the rubber meets the road.

    Thing is, just because someone says that you have a duty doesn’t mean they’re right.

    Just because someone says “I didn’t choose to accept this obligation” doesn’t mean they don’t have it.

    It’s just an aspect of what is right. That doesn’t play well with either “right is what I say it is” philosophies, or attempts at pure rationality. And that’s before you get into the problem of what “freely choosing” something is– an awful lot of people will hold that if they take a risk, and lose, that consequence is unfair because they chose to win, not to take the risk.

    1. Quite so. Being a native, I never took the oath that Sarah did. Not having been military, I never took that oath either, as so many here have (and thank you!).

      But I do have the same duty as anyone who has explicitly accepted it. Because it is right thing.

        1. True. Just as most who have spoken it really didn’t need to.

          I thank you for the scrap. Fortunately, only one carried in the heart – I don’t know why I ended up being the designated recipient of all of the flags in the family. (Well, two of them aren’t mine, they’re the wife’s.)

  6. Techdirt has a story summarizing the latest fan feud action at Snopes. It is a great example of what not to do about your fiduciary duties at a company.

      1. I am a yuge advocate of written contracts. It isn’t the being in writing that matters, as a contract remains no stronger than the signatories’ will to abide by it — but it does tend to force the signers to think through what they are committing themselves to do.

        1. to force the signers to think through what they are committing themselves to do
          Unless, like SOOOOO many people, they never bother to read them.

    1. Interesting story. It sounds like it ought to be a Soap Opera: The Liars and the Idiots.

  7. It’s pretty much impossible to convince a large portion of people that a Christian duty is an individual mandate that cannot be fulfilled through governmental action. In other words, yes, you can be a good Christian and support people through your taxes, but you cannot be a good Christian solely by supporting people through your taxes. Caesar may be doing God’s work, but supporting Caesar is supporting Caesar.

    1. Wait, are you saying that ‘give unto Caesar’ is not a moral imperative for Christians to participate in certain types of mass murder?

  8. Similar to my oft-repeated rant: Honoring your commitments is the basis of self-respect. Take care not to make commitments casually, know what you have chosen to commit to, and treat each one as worthy of a best effort up to and including sacrifice.

      1. Although that might be an appropriate title for such a tale, this particular Villians, Inc. is the sequel to “Wearing the Cape”, which has been favorably mentioned here a few times. Resemblances of the fictional Chicago politics and the real thing are intentional, I’m sure…

  9. Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily.

    Hmmmm. That definition isn’t bad to be going on with. I can’t say I’ve ever given much consideration to defining the thing. It just is. If you have a right, there’ll be a duty to go along with it.

    The problem with Heinlein’s definition is that it doesn’t cover my duty to my parents, and there’s no way I had a choice in incurring that debt.

    So… food for thought. Thanks.

    1. In a weird bit of synchronicity, the virtual machine window popped up on the other screen with a message “Configuring popularity-contest” as I was reading the linked article.

  10. This is, among others, one of the reasons why I am utterly and unalterably opposed to anything that vaguely resembles forced military service – the draft, conscription, selective service, call it what you will. *I* owe a duty to my country because that is an obligation I took on, freely, with my eyes open (helped a LOT that my dad was Air Force). I mention this simply because, after forgetting one of the first precepts of the Internet – namely, do not get into arguments with people on the Internet – I was called a commie, a faggot, etc., etc., etc. when I got into it where someone had suggested all illegal aliens should be drafted into military service (how this would do them or the US any particular good was never really explained in any coherent manner, either). Many suggestions were made as to creative and fun things various brave internet warriors recommended me to do to myself or offered to do to me.

    Related to the above, I find I am unable to reconcile the notion of a nation of free people with the government of the said nation believing it has the right to press-gang its citizens (and non-citizen residents) into the military and require them to go into harm’s way. If a nation cannot inspire in its citizens the desire to take up arms when necessary to defend it, then maybe the government of that nation needs to take a long, hard look at what it’s doing wrong, at all levels.

    On a more practical level, I don’t want a draftee or conscript soldier/sailor/airman on my flank when shit gets real, because they are NOT there willingly. Those who have volunteered, who have stood in front of an officer, held up their right hand and said “I solemnly swear to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty…” or other oath as applicable to your country, they know – or ought to know – what they were letting themselves in for. God know the media – in this, at least, they have been useful – has shown, nightly for the past decade or so, the nature of warfare and of soldiers at their trade. Anyone who seriously thinks they can join up and not run the risk of going into unpleasant circumstances is willfully blind.

    Okay – rant mode off.

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