Clearing Your Conscience

insomnia-1547964Are you unable to sleep at night because your conscience is bothering you? Your conscience is the feeling you get or the voice in your mind that tells you you’re doing wrong. If your conscience is bothering you, you’re feeling guilty (with a feeling of having done something wrong) about something.

Instead of taking sleeping pills, what you might need is the Conscience Fund. The Conscience Fund is an account (place to collect money) the United States Treasury Department (the government department in charge of the country’s money) created to accept gifts of money from people. The U.S. Treasury created this fund or account for people who have stolen money or have committed fraud (crime of cheating others out of money) against the U.S. government and have a guilty conscience. To make ourselves feel better, those who have committed fraud can donate or give money to the Conscience Fund without giving any details or identifying who they are.

The Conscience Fund first began in 1811 when the government received $5 from someone who said he had defrauded (cheated) the government. Since 1811, the fund has collected over $7 million, receiving about $200,000 a year. The money is put into the government’s general fund and used for general expenses (spending).

Most people send in money anonymously (without giving a name or revealing their identity). Some money is sent without any note at all, as in the case of a $155,000 gift from someone in 1990. But others have included a note to explain their transgression (wrong action; action against the rules or the law).

Most money received is in small amounts. For example, one person sent in money and included the note: “Please accept this money for two postal stamps I re-used.” Stamps are those small pieces of paper you purchase to be placed on letters and packages to be mailed. They’re intended to be used only once, but this person used two stamps twice.

Another person sent in this note with their money: “About eight years ago I took from a railroad station an item worth about $25 and this has been on my conscience since, so I’m enclosing $50 to clear my conscience.” To clear (one’s) conscience means to do something to correct something wrong one has done or to recognize one’s mistake so that one no longer feels guilty.

My favorite is this note from a person with a guilty conscience:  “‘Dear Internal Revenue Service*, I have not been able to sleep at night because I cheated on last year’s income tax. Enclosed find a cashier’s check (a piece of paper that can be exchanged for cash, a way of sending money in the mail) for $1,000. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send you the balance (the remaining money; the rest of the money).'” It’s not clear whether this guilty person ever sent in the rest of his or her ill-gotten gains (money earned by cheating or through crime) or if this confession (statement of having broken the rules or committed a crime) was enough to allow for a good night of sleep.

The Conscience Fund is an indication that, as a nation, we value honesty (being truthful). But the relatively (fairly) small amount it collects each year suggests that we are either a nation of very honest people or very dishonest people.

~ Lucy

* Internal Revenue Service = the U.S. government department that collects taxes

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17 Responses to Clearing Your Conscience

  1. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Great, Lucy. Congratulations. Good topic. There is an interesting lesson on this subject.
    From Brazil

  2. Tania says:

    Our conscience…clear it to sleep better…
    We don’t have a Conscience Fund but it is a good idea.
    I avoid to cheat someone. I did it once and I paid for it buying a lot of medicines next week.
    I considered it a sign, so I don’t cheat.
    Very nice topic and funny.

    Best wishes,


  3. Tania says:

    Jeff explained us video about Internal Revenue Service in Learn English Magazine.


  4. Tania says:


    On my PC, Mozilla Firefox Start Page used as icon “The Scream ” , the painting by Edvard Munch.
    I recognized it.
    Thank you, dear Lucy.

  5. Tania says:

    Different ways to describe hot days… all new words to me.
    Thank you, dear Warren .

    Best wishes,


  6. Tania says:

    Dear Emiliano,
    At last, good news from you and Cuca.
    Your dreams come true.
    We wish you to be in good health together with Cuca.
    And of course, with Gatufo.

    Best wishes,


  7. Tania says:


    September 24th is coming… It’s Jeff’s birthday!

    As I like very much the novel “The Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe (English Cafe 519/ 2015),
    I use some quotes from it to express my gratitude to you.
    May I?
    I wish you and ESLpodcast team to be not “the Master of the Universe”, but the Master of the English Podcast.

    “But as our company credo says , the core of our mission is to help the world invest… better.
    It’s not all fun and games having more fun than anyone else while we do it.”
    The core of your mission is to help the world learn English… better.
    It’s not all fun and games having more fun than anyone else while you do it.

    “For fifty years… Homicide had been an Irish enclave…
    The Irish had given Homicide their stamp.
    The Irish were stone courageous . Even when it was insane not to,
    they never stepped back.”
    Even when it was insane not to, you never stepped back.

  8. Tania says:


    To Jeff

    “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

    Benjamin Franklin quote (English Cafe 542/ 2016)

  9. Tania says:


    To Jeff

    “I can never read all the books I want; I can never train myself in all the skills I want.
    I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and… experience
    possible in my life.”

    Sylvia Plath quote (English cafe 557/ 2016)

  10. Pete says:

    Dear Warren ,
    A few moons ago , you were kind enough to list us the most commen terms and expressions describing various mood of heat in an given senario.
    I must say I found it very practical and interesting.
    I was wondering if u could find it in ur heart to do the cold for us too.
    I like ur posts very much !!
    Honest , I like your posts better than chief abd Lucy ‘s posts.
    Typically , I copy and paste them on the note app on my iPhone and study them further.

    There is another thing that just hit me.

    Well , it is not my place to suggest it. But I m suggesting it anyway. U know me , I m not exactly the most tactful person in the bunch.
    U know , you have been educating us with insight and knowledge.tet we never hear u speak with us.
    Why don’t u just come on eslpod main feed and speak with us a bit. For one thing , it would be beneficial for us ,as ur student , to hear the voice and accent of
    Some body rather than chief and Lucy.
    Well , to be brutally honest with , I highly doubt it if u can beat Lucy in accent department. Still , meeting u through ur words is one thing but through ur voice is whole another level.

    Thanks Warren
    I always enjoy your post and walk way from them with fresh material in my bag to boast 🙂


    A learning guide premium member


  11. Pete says:

    Hey Lucy ,
    How have u been ?

    Funny !!
    I have been doing a lot of guilty pleasures and never had a heavy conscious for them. Does it mean that I m unscrupulous!?

    Well , what u refer to as ” a guilty conscious ” is subjective!!
    I mean the perception of it varies from one person to another.

    I have never done a hold up:)
    And nor a petty theft
    Wrong doings are not just limited to being a fraudster or money embazzelment.
    A cheating boyfriend or husband could have a prey have conscious.
    He may loos sleep over being a two timer.
    Well , do u really think sending a bit of money to some state-fund will bring him back a sound sleep at night.
    Quite frankly Lucy ,
    The way I see it , the fund u just mentioned set a very bad example. It is implying that people go out there do bad things and then send the fund a measly amount and redeem yourself. Don’t u think it has a striking similarity with the ronasance area when people were sold lots in heaven.

    If u ask me , the allocated found prescribing people to commit unjustifiable crime and then clear their conscious with paying for it

    Is it me ,or it sounds wrong on every level.

    U cross a certain line u must deal with the consequences. And , no amount of money should justify it.

    I personally think
    It us unconscionably preposterous

    A learning guid premium member


  12. Hilario says:


    This is an account of the united nations organization, sponsored and backed by all the OECD state members to create a solidarity tax on international money transfers and assimilated banking instructions and all kinds of off shore accounts and fake shell companies that operate as ilegal tax heaven.

    There should not exist such a thing as paradises for tax evaders, bribers, narcodealers and rest of nasty and poisoning kinds of criminal traffics. The double aim of this fund crowd has to be to reduce the current huge gap between poor and rich, by conveying most of these balances into micro credits lendings as a net way to foster economic development both not only in those poor countries but also programing substitution of funding sources for the territories involved in such criminal business practices as facilitators.

  13. Jader says:

    In the Brazil had a Conscience Fund as this, surely the politicians here would steal this money too.

  14. emiliano says:

    Not any news about such a thing here in Spain and I have not even the less idea about what you have told us
    dear Lucy.
    But what make me happy is the idea that I dream perfectly well every night, just six or seven hours without
    opening an eye along all these hours.
    What does it means?
    I have to think I have my concience absolutely clean?, no please, every night I have to ask God for His
    forgiveness because I know I could be a better person than I am, even more watching so needed people when
    I walk through Madrid´s streets I know every one of us could do more for aliviate these persons situation.
    What do I do?
    Nothing in fact, so no, I would have to clean my conscience also because I see so much poor people round me
    that some time heart pains and I pass through them giving some coing and no more.
    Life is hard for so much people among us that every day we have to pray and ask for God forgiveness because
    we do not do anything to create a better world.

    Thank you Lucy, interesting topic that give us too much to think about our inside actitude.

    In advance, Jeff Happy Birthday ————– Tania is always aware about this nice subjects.
    Thanks Tania just for everything.


  15. lili:) says:

    Thanks Dear Lucy! I have enjoyed reading this and all the other articles here.

    Looking at the picture in this blog made me very sleepy. This girl’s eyes are bulging and red, she can’t sleep. But the cat on her bed is enjoying a good night’s sleep. I wanted to find out if Lucy drew the picture because she didn’t say where the picture came from. I found a signature on the picture but unfortunately couldn’t read what it says.

    Anyway, I think I’d better quickly write a HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES to Jeff.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEFF! And HAPPY ANNIVERSARY yesterday to this blog.

    I checked the record and found that this blog started on 23 September 2007, Lucy announced Jeff’s birthday on 24 September 2007.

    I must go now, lots to do. I’m going to Canada next week and so very busy right now.

    Best Wishes to you all!


  16. Tania says:




  17. emiliano says:

    Of course HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEFF and a good nice year
    full of surprises that may give you happiness.

    You know quite well what I feel about you dear friend
    and hope it has to be another good year for ESL podcast
    and inside your soul and life dear Jeff giving you all the
    good things you are fond to.

    My best to all ESL staff, specialy to Lucy our unknow
    teacher never seen but allways present.

    Who is that, Lili? absolutely incredible by all means.


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