October 2, 2012

READER KEVIN MANLEY SENDS THIS ON Ted Sturgeon and the generosity of Robert Heinlein.

Only idiots — which is to say the vast majority of the press and a smaller, but still significant number of the electorate — think that a belief in self-reliance forecloses a spirit of generosity.

Meanwhile, with the election looming, it’s worth revisiting this Heinlein quote:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Or as some would say: “You didn’t build that.”

UPDATE: Several readers note Heinlein’s generosity to Philip K. Dick:

Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him—one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don’t agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn’t raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to them in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine-looking man, very impressive and very military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I’m a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.

As I said, the notion that a belief in self-reliance cannot coexist with a spirit of generosity is crap. In fact, one is far less likely to find a spirit of generosity among the advocates of governmentally-required “compassion.”

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