Creating Change

Requoted from Letters of Note –

Late-1850, Abraham Lincoln‘s step-brother, John D. Johnston, wrote to him and asked, yet again, for a loan with which to settle some debts. Said Johnston:

I am dund & doged to Death so I am all most tired of Living, & I would all most swop my place in Heaven for that much money […] I would rother live on bread and wotter than to have men allways duning me […] If you can send me 80 Dollars I am willing to pay you any Intrust you will ask.On previous occasions Lincoln simply would have agreed to such a request. This time, however, sensing an opportunity to impart some wisdom, he responded with the following letter of advice and a proposal.

(Source: Lincoln and His World: Volume 3; Image: Abraham Lincoln, via.)
January 2, 1851

Dear Johnston:

Your request for eighty dollars I do not think it best to comply with now. At the various times when I have helped you a little you have said to me, “We can get along very well now”; but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again. Now, this can only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are not lazy, and still you are an idler. I doubt whether, since I saw you, you have done a good whole day’s work in any one day. You do not very much dislike to work, and still you do not work much merely because it does not seem to you that you could get much for it. This habit of uselessly wasting time is the whole difficulty; it is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children, that you should break the habit. It is more important to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit before they are in it, easier than they can get out after they are in.

You are now in need of some money; and what I propose is, that you shall go to work, “tooth and nail,” for somebody who will give you money for it. Let father and your boys take charge of your things at home, prepare for a crop, and make the crop, and you go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any debt you owe, that you can get; and, to secure you a fair reward for your labor, I now promise you, that for every dollar you will, between this and the first of May, get for your own labor, either in money or as your own indebtedness, I will then give you one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars a month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a month for your work. In this I do not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines in California, but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you can get close to home in Coles County. Now, if you will do this, you will be soon out of debt, and, what is better, you will have a habit that will keep you from getting in debt again.But, if I should now clear you out of debt, next year you would be just as deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your place in heaven for seventy or eighty dollars. Then you value your place in heaven very cheap, for I am sure you can, with the offer I make, get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months’ work. You say if I will furnish you the money you will deed me the land, and, if you don’t pay the money back, you will deliver possession. Nonsense! If you can’t now live with the land, how will you then live without it? You have always been kind to me, and I do not mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eighty times eighty dollars to you.

Affectionately your brother,

A. Lincoln

And that is what education is about.  Not just voting, but being an educated voter.   I am looking for leaders who implement solutions to dollar-for-dollar … minute-for-minute.  Such as for every dollar that is given in food stamps, one minute is given working in community gardens to grow fresh food.  Or one minute is given reading to your own children and your neighbors.  Just returned from my volunteer school tutoring.  One child told me she had 12 sisters and 1 brother.  Another said she had not read one book all summer and spent her time playing video games.  Thinking maybe my time should be spent on home visits to train parents on how to tutor their kids and create container gardens. I was talking to a charter school coordinator at the 2018 Children at Risk Summit and she said every teacher is required to make a home visit. Wonder if there is a volunteer opportunity to support teachers in home visits. Wonder if we can find a “Power of Ten” solution. Something worth more than eighty times eighty dollars.

And there is the 2020 Democratic debate on “Medicare for All” –  Yes, preventative checkups should be paid for.  But, how about some personal responsibility added such as daily brushing and dental flossing, and replacing sugary foods with apples, and fast foods with healthy foods.  Maybe it is time to tax pleasure foods to pay for that Medicare for All. And includes boxed cereal.

Lets continue that to parents turning off screen time and reading to their children, building, playing games and talking. I tutor 2nd graders in SBISD and thought the math process could be enhanced.  In brainstorming a change it was decided based on feedback from other tutors to focus on addition facts.  I asked if these student were new to SBISD as they should have mastered this in 1st grade.  I was told the majority went to the SBISD Early Childhood school and Houston.  I suggested parent education and was told they would not do it, as there is not a PTO at the school.  Gee …

I am a realist, looking for politicians who are doers.  Politicians with a track record of implementing action plans.  Does not matter if Republican or Democrat.  Although I lean to Republican philosophy, I did support and vote for Hubert Vo who defeated Talmedge Heflin, as Hubert volunteered in our community and continued to help me with my first SBOE petition to get math count as a math credit.

Scott Pelley on united we stand and political divisions.

Listen to This! … Lets have kids create their own civics lessons beyond ICivics video games.  Lets model manners in school.

The importance of planning for the future: