Friday, October 28, 2005

Cannots for Congress

Earlier this week I was talking with a friend about doing some skiing in Minnesota (yes, we have some slopes) this winter which led to a conversation about a snow ball fight when I was at a Boy Scout paper recycling service project back in my home town of Ida Grove, Iowa ( After we were done loading the truck a friendly snow ball fight started which ended when I shattered a window in a building near the truck. My father was on site since he was a Scout leader and was very calm about the incident. Instead of yelling at me or simply writing a check to cover the repair expenses my father instructed me with these words, "......tomorrow you will go downtown to buy a piece of glass to replace this window and you will install it yourself................"

The lesson here?

People must take responsibility for their own actions. Had my father paid for this bill it would have created a potential "slippery slope" (a theme I often explore on this blog) where now at age 40 perhaps I would expect my parents to buy me a new vehicle -- that isn't going to happen!!

Since "personal responsibility" was a central theme for the Reverend Boetcker, a German born Presbyterian minister who emigrated to the USA, when he created his "Ten Cannots" I was reminded of this document this week which I want to share with my readers:

Ten Cannots

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

Footnote: the Reverend William John Henry Boetcker originally published his Ten Cannots in 1916 but 89 years later the majority of our political leaders and unfortunately part of civil society such as the "welfare rights" lobby ( have failed to consider the wisdom of his words.

Teach a man to fish,


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