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Volume 18, Issue 2: Meander

Just Standing at the Station

Douglas Wilson

Anything With Willies in the Title Nancy recently bought me a CD at Starbucks, and it was a really fun collection of country music, although it was the kind of country music that you might hear on NPR. Norah Jones sings on a bunch of it. A lot of good stuff and the album is entitled The Little Willies.

Perpetual Losing
Once there were two young brothers, one of them three years younger than the other. He was not only younger, but he was also slighter in build, and, though he was intelligent, he was not quite as sharp as his brother. They played a lot together, but in everything they did, the older brother always had a step or two on him, and any competition was almost always lopsided.

Over time, the frustration over this started to build, and one evening the younger brother burst into complaining to his mother about it. “It is just not fair,” he said.
His mother looked puzzled. “Why should it be fair?” she asked.
It was her son’s turn to be puzzled. “What do you mean? Shouldn’t everything be fair?”
“No,” she said. “That would be awful.”
“I don’t get it,” he said. “What am I supposed to do? Just give up?”
“No,” she said. “Say you are running footraces like I saw out the window this afternoon. You should try to beat your brother with all your might. And if he beats you, you should laugh and rejoice for him. He is your brother.”
“But in the Bible, sometimes the younger brother wins. Like Jacob. I noticed that particularly.”
“Yes, in order to display His sovereignty, God has often made the second-born the first-born. But He also made Jesus, His first born, His first born.”
“You’re confusing me,” her son said.
“Second sons who rejoice in what God has given their elder brothers are blessed second sons. Second sons who chafe under this arrangement are often cast away as sons altogether. First-born sons who act like resentful second sons are set aside also. The key thing is to rejoice in what God has done.”
“You mean that I have to like losing?”
“Yes, if it is a certain kind of losing,” she answered. “But if it is the losing of resentment, you have to hate it. You should never agree to lose in that way. Because I can promise you that that is the kind of losing that never goes away. You know that your father is the oldest of four boys. And you know how your Uncle Peter won’t come to any family events? That all started in the back yard, with footraces just like yours today. Losing one way is blessed by God. But losing another way never stops losing.”

Whodda Thunk?
According to The American Enterprise, here’s an interesting cluster of factoids. You know the general perception that conservatives are hard-hearted and stingy, right? And how liberals are overflowing with largesse? The comeback in debate is usually that their largesse is largely limited to other people’s money, but we now have more than a gut feeling. Turns out there is some data on this.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy has compiled IRS data on charitable giving to analyze which states are the most generous in terms of private, voluntary giving. Guess which state came in as the most generous? That’s right, I didn’t even have to tell you—Mississippi. The tightwad states are the deep blue ones. New Hampshire is #50, and Massachusetts is #49. Connecticut is a little better at # 45. Our own dear Idaho comes in at #11. Who was number 2, right after Mississippi? I don’t mean to insult your intelligence, for I know that Arkansas was on the tip of your tongue. In fact, since I already managed to work Idaho in, let’s just count down the top ten giving states, shall we? 10. West Virginia 9. South Carolina 8. Utah 7. Louisiana 6. Alabama 5. Tennessee 4. Oklahoma 3. South Dakota 2. Arkansas 1. Mississippi.
Yeah, right—this is just because these greedy money-grubbers are angling for their tax deductions. Okay, let’s go over and look at blood donations, which are not deductible, and compare the donations of those who are opposed to government social services spending and those who support it. If all people gave at the levels of those who support government aid, the blood donation levels would drop by thirty percent. And if everyone gave at the levels of those who oppose government aid, the giving to the blood supply would increase by more than a quarter.
Harumph. Let’s try something else—donated time to non-religious community service. Well, it turns out that churchgoers out-volunteered their secularist counterparts by 48 to 22 percent. I wonder what would happen if we included “faith-based” services.

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