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Dear Sister... I Believe in God and 13 Principles

Jane Franklin Mecom is in despair. Her crazy brother, Benjamin Franklin, has abandoned Puritanism and rejected Calvinism. He believes that good works are more important than prayer! But Benjamin Franklin assures his sister that he has not abandoned God. He has written a collection of devotionals that he consults daily. And even though he has rejected the many mystical ideas promoted by formal religion, he is more than happy to let Jane pursue her own religious ideals. All he asks is that she extend him the same courtesy. Benjamin Franklin has also put together a table with 13 principles listed down one side and the days-of-the-week across the top. His table of 13 principles is printed on 13 pages. He focuses on one principle a week in turn until the 13-week cycle is completed. (Wash. Rinse. Repeat.). He is not a fanatic. He is creating a good habit. Benjamin Franklin's list will vary slightly over the years, but there is nothing magical about his principles. Anyone can do it. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Benjamin Franklin was practicing something that 20th century philosophers called "Pragmatism." Pragmatism is non-doctrinal. In other words... whatever works... do that. Don't worry about whether it fits into a greater systematic structure. What you are looking for is an immediate and practical result. This is the basic principle behind Alcoholics Anonymous. People of conflicting religions can meet to solve their common problem because they never focus on doctrine. They only focus on what works for them. "Take what you need and leave the rest." They are like shade-tree mechanics who check the gas, replace the battery, and change the spark plugs. They get the car started and in most cases that is enough. If more is required, they get the car going enough to limp to the nearest master mechanic. Do what works. That's all that matters. The philosophers that made this idea popular were William James and to some extent, Karl Jung, but don't read their books. They are not very practical. (I wish I were kidding, but I am not.) Read the books that make use their principles. [5] [6] [7] [8]

French Forced Labor and Shovel-Ready Jobs

The French director of Bridges and Highways has come up with a brilliant idea to improve the roads in France. He requires each subject to devote 14 days a year toward road building and maintenance. This scheme works in the sense that French roads will become the best in the world. For French subjects it doesn't work very well. The French word for this requirement is "corvée" (KOR-vee) meaning "drudgery". The 14-day forced labor requirement will become one of the grievances that sparks the French Revolution. After the Revolution, the forced labor requirement will return. French citizens will be required to work 3 days a year on behalf of the state for the privilege of voting. (Sigh.) [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
From time-to-time we hear of our obligation to "give back" or "you didn't build that" as if the roads were built by forced labor rather than paid professionals. The United States promotes volunteer programs such as the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps, and as long as they are volunteer programs, then I have no problem with them. However, I object when someone suggests that citizens be REQUIRED to participate in such programs as a condition of their citizenship... or be forced into the military. That is forced labor and without an obvious need it is always resented. Even with an obvious need such as during the Great Depression, it has never worked out. A work relief program called the W.P.A. meant more than "Works Progress Administration". People of the time said that it meant: "We Poke Along" or "We Piddle Around" or "Whistle, Piss and Argue." And there is the classic Soviet Union joke, "As long as they pretend to pay us, we will pretend to work." [12][13] [14] [15]

More Major Events

* King George the 3rd of Great Britain is born. He is will be the King on the throne during the American Revolution. [9]
* Ethan Allen is born in rural Connecticut. He will lead the Green Mountain Boys, and join in the American Revolution but he won't make any furniture whatsoever. [16]
* The Cuckoo Clock is Introduced in Germany. It is probably not the first cuckoo clock, but it is close. [17]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1738, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684807610. “Footnote 43: ..."There are some things in your New England doctrines and worship which I do not agree with, but I do not therefore condemn them . . . I would only have you make me the same allowances."” 
  2. Franklin, Benjamin. "IX Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection", Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The. The Macmillan Company. “I determined to give a week's strict attention to each of the virtues successively. Thus, in the first week, my great guard was to avoid every the least offense against Temperance, leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first line, marked T, clear of spots, I suppos'd the habit of that virtue so much strengthen'd, and its opposite weaken'd, that I might venture extending my attention to include the next, and for the following week keep both lines clear of spots. Proceeding thus to the last, I could go thro' a course compleat in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year.” 
  3. Franklin, Benjamin. "IX Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection", Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, The. The Macmillan Company. “
    These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:
    1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
    2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
    3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
    4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
    5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i. e., waste nothing.
    6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
    7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
    8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
    9. Moderation. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
    10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
    11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
    12. Chastity.
    13. Humility.
  4. Jane Mecom - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 24 February 2016. “Jane Franklin Mecom (1712–1794) was the youngest sister of Benjamin Franklin and was considered one of his closest confidants.[1] Mecom and Franklin corresponded throughout the course of their lives, and some of their letters survive.”
  5. Pragmatism - definition of pragmatism (2016). Retrieved on 24 February 2016. “action or policy dictated by consideration of the immediate practical consequences rather than by theory or dogma”
  6. Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. ISBN 9780916856182. 
  7. Frankl, Viktor Emil. Man's Search for Meaning. Pocket. ISBN 9780671454623. 
  8. Harris, Thomas Anthony. I'm OK, You're OK. Quill. ISBN 0060724277. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 340-341. 
  10. Philibert Orry - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 24 February 2016. “As director general of Ponts et Chaussées (bridges and highways), Orry finished the Crozat canal and maintained and developed France's road system. He sent to the intendants, in 1738, a detailed instruction on the duty (la corvée royale) for all inhabitants to spend a fortnight a year on the construction and maintenance of transport routes, classed in five categories. The corvée made France's major road network the finest in Europe, and before the Revolution, a great part of the public roads existed thanks to this institution.”
  11. Corvée - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 24 February 2016. “Counterrevolution revived the corvée in France, in 1824, 1836, and 1871, under the name prestation; every able bodied man had to give three days' labour or its money equivalent in order to be allowed to vote.”
  12. Alex Shrugged notes: Ancient streets are sometimes marked with patterns that designate the area of responsibility for the property owner. (Sweep your own side of the street.) In the modern day, home builders "grant" a portion of their property to the city so that the they can maintain it. No one thinks of it, but all of those city streets were once private property.
  13. Works Progress Administration - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 24 February 2016. “The organization's initials were said to stand for 'We Poke Along' or 'We Putter Along' or 'We piddle around' or 'Whistle, Piss and Argue.' These were sarcastic references to WPA projects that sometimes slowed down deliberately because foremen had an incentive to keep going, rather than finish a project.”
  14. Historical Timeline of Vienna (PDF). Expat Center Vienna. 2014 [last update] (TIMELINE) Quote: "1738 First imperial patent for the cleaning of streets. ."
  15. Laughing at the Contradictions of Socialism in America "Old Soviet-era jokes work now in the U.S.". freerepublic.com (2016). Retrieved on 24 February 2016. “As long as they pretend to pay us, we will pretend to work.”
  16. Ethan Allen - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 24 February 2016. “Allen's name is the trademark of the furniture and housewares manufacturer, Ethan Allen Inc., which was founded in 1932 in Beecher Falls, Vermont.”
  17. Franz Ketterer - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 24 February 2016. “There is no single conclusion to the question of who invented the cuckoo clock, but it is probably true that Ketterer was a major player in their development.”

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