Monday, October 3, 2016

In which Primo and I argue about what constitutes Giving Back

Primo: This guy is just retiring and is running for office. His wife is not happy.

Me: Yeah. I can see that.

Primo: Their kids live in [the capitol city] and she drives there a lot to babysit. She wants to move there.

Me: To be a free babysitter?

[I have no children and my bonus grandchildren are halfway across the country, so I clearly don't Get It.]

Primo: He said no - that the community had always been good to him and it was time for him to give back.

Me: So what's he going to do?

Primo: Run for office!

Me: Running for office is not giving back!

Primo: Yes it is!

Me: No! It is not!

Primo: Yes it is!

Me: No! Running for office is an attempt to impose your worldview on others - which is fine! You are allowed to do that! But there is no noble personal sacrifice in running for office. It is not giving back. Giving back is volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or coaching a Little League team or tutoring little kids in reading. Those are all totally non-partisan and require a sacrifice. Running for office is about power.

Primo: For your side.


  1. Power knows no political party.

  2. I'm on Primo's side typically in elections and I agree with you. Since the dawn of human history, politics has boiled down to who has the power to do what. (Granted, I think there are people like Primo who go into it with noble intentions, but I don't think they are effective at their jobs if they don't succumb to the power game.)

    I give back through work with the MSPCA. I volunteer with my local city representative to State government because I want his ideas, many of which I share, to be made into law. Totally different things.

  3. I don't think it counts as"giving back" if you're gaining a paycheck.

  4. I like Primo but that is a load of crap. His side created the "nanny state" which is all about control.

  5. I have to agree with Primo. Most folks I know that enter politics (I"m on the same side as Primo) do it to give back and to improve their communities at a larger level than they can via other forms of volunteering.

    1. I agree with there being those trying to improve things by running for office. But in the end they get more out of it then those they claim to be trying to help. And they don't always follow through.

  6. I think it can be about levels too. If you're running for President of the US, it's not really about giving back. But if you're running for your local School Board? Could be about giving back. Sure, Habitat might have more concrete results, but for some (for many, at the beginning) the intentions really are there.

  7. I'm with you on this one Goldie.
    There is a difference between serving and giving back.
    Serving often comes with a paycheck and other tangible benefits. Firefighters, politicians, clergy fall into this category.
    Giving back rarely results in tangible benefits. Volunteering at a food bank one day a month, becoming a big brother or big sister, buying someone down and out a couple of gallons of gas so they can get to work. It may come around back to you eventually, but it's nothing you count on.
    Both serving and giving back can result in personal satisfaction and changing your community, maybe just a tiny bit, maybe a lot, for the better.

  8. Yup. That "give back" thing is a total line... the real reason to stay right where he's been all these years is because the people already know him there and it'll be easier to get elected "at home."

    This I don't mind, but at least be honest about it, you know?

    Here's how we know it's not Giving Back: he has to run for election. If there is literally anyone else willing to do the job, then the job is going to get done and you can safely move on to sweeping streets or sorting recycling or ladling soup for the homeless. The mere fact that you have to press and jostle for the position means that you want something else more than to serve, more than simply to see the job done - you want it done YOUR way, according to YOUR standards and values. Nothing wrong, as you say, but... call a spade a spade.


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