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The Main Source of the American Decline

January 23rd, 2015 // 7:04 am @

Land of the Free  Land of Decay

Colosseum in Rome Italy   April 2007 The Main Source of the American DeclineThese days, the word “decline” is frequently used to describe the United States. Where “China” is often paired with words and phrases like “rising,” “new superpower,” and “number one,” a different set of adjectives show up when the U.S. is discussed.

This trend recently reached a new low when the cover story on Foreign Affairs was entitled, “See America: Land of Decay and Dysfunction.”

Wow! And we thought “decline” was bad. But decay? And dysfunction? That’s hitting below the belt.

It gets even more interesting, however.

The Players and The Played

The article goes on to suggest that the cause of this “decay” and “dysfunction” is the power of various special interest groups. This is a popular argument, mainly because almost everyone loves to blame special interest groups.

But this proposition bears scrutiny. Indeed, if special interest groups really are the reason for America getting off track, it is one of the most important topics of our time.

In reality, however, something else is at play here. Yes, of course, special interest groups are a serious problem to the precise extent that they “control” government. But why do they control our government? Who allows this? It certainly isn’t written in the Constitution.

Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the Foreign Affairs article, notes that the classic book The Semisovereign People gets to the heart of our challenge. In short, voters are highly swayed by the two big political parties, by the media, and by special interest groups. Special interest groups “control” Washington because they set out to control the parties and the media.

The Madisonian idea of sovereignty in the people (that the voters have the final say in who their leaders are, and what their leaders can and can’t do) is undermined when voters are easily swayed. Period.

Semisovereignty—where the voters do what special interests convince them to do through the media and political parties—is an entirely different political arrangement. It is more like an aristocratic, elite, oligarchy than a democratic republic.

That’s where we are today. And, in according to this analysis, it is the source—not merely a source, but the root—of our decline, decay, and dysfunction. The voters, in this view, don’t know better than to vote as they are told by the interest groups, parties, and media.

This causes them to mistrust government, vote against higher taxes, and remain frustrated with Washington—no matter what it does. The touted “solution?” Be more like a European parliamentary system.

Sadly, too many people are buying in to this flawed narrative.

The problem with this entire analysis is that it is partially true, but not actually true. Meaning what?

Let’s get specific: The fundamental reason for decline, decay, and dysfunction is not a lack voter influence, but rather the exact opposite. American voters—the majority, at least—want more government services than they want to pay for. They want other people to pay for them.

Where We Build From

america crumbling The Main Source of the American DeclineThey want their government services, and they want them on Henry the Fifth terms. In other words, the typical American voter (let’s call him Tom) wants Washington to cut other peoples’ government programs—but none that directly benefit Tom or his family. That’s the crux of our decline and decay. Pure and simple.

Tom votes for the candidate promising that Tom’s favorite government programs will be protected while Alice’s “socialistic” programs will be cut. Alice, in turn, votes for the candidate who supports her “essential” government benefits while promising to cut Tom’s “greedy” or “imperialistic” programs.

Political parties, special interest groups, and media only dominate American politics because Tom and Alice—and a majority of other voters—take this approach. And our decline is assured if the cost of our government programs continues to depend primarily on debt.

Until Tom and Alice, or a majority of voters are willing to elect candidates who will end our debt-dependence and spend within our means (however hard the choices), the parties, lobbies, and media outlets will continue to sway the vote.

Don’t let the media, or anyone else, fool you. We are in decline because the electorate refuses to make the hard choice of fiscal and moral responsibility. Until we do, we’ll be a nation based fundamentally on debt—not principle.

Such a nation is…always…a nation in decline, decay, and dysfunction.

 

For solutions, see Oliver’s new book: The U.S. Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom

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odemille The Main Source of the American Decline Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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America’s Looming Crash: Special Report Parts I, II, III

January 9th, 2015 // 7:56 am @

I am an optimist. I believe the best of America and the world are still ahead. But we’re only going to get there by dealing with the reality that the United States is now in an era of significant decline. Specifically, at least two things happened this year that are major problems, and a third serious problem is gaining increased support among many world leaders.

Part I

america crumbling 300x163  Americas Looming Crash: Special Report Parts I, II, IIIFirst, our federal debt went over the $18 trillion mark in 2014. Someone is going to have to pay this back, and that means we’ll be paying for it for the rest of our lives—and so will our children and grandchildren.

That’s approximately $58,065 for every man, woman, and child currently in the United States. If you have a family of four, you now owe around $232,260. This debt must be paid in addition to whatever other taxes are needed for national security, services, and all other government programs now and going forward–not to mention your family’s living expenses.

To be more realistic, the truth is that many people will never pay any taxes toward this amount—because they won’t make enough. This means you’re likely to end up being charged at least twice this amount. Some people will pay a lot more. So you really owe more like $116,130 or $464,520 for your family of four.

If you have big family, say of ten people, you owe roughly $2 million dollars over the course of the rest of your life. Whatever you don’t pay off, the government will charge your kids and grandkids.

Oh, and you need to add to that all the interest still to be charged on this amount, which means that you actually owe between $1.8 million if you have a family of four, or up to around $7 million if your family is bigger. And, yes, if interest rates on the national debt increase (all the trends indicated they will), this amount will go up rapidly.

Most people have no idea what a big deal this is. This is money that has already been spent. It’s owed. And we have to pay it, now and later. We, our kids, and their kids too.

Problems and Booms

How big is this? Multiply your salary by the number of years you have left working (x), and then multiply at least $116,130 by the number of years you have to live (y). If you make more than $60,000 a year, double both amounts. If you make more than $100,000 a year, quadruple both. Then subtract one from the other to find if you’ll make more than you already owe the government.

Too much math? That’s exactly what the government is banking on. The government only gets away with this level of borrowing and spending because very few people do the math or understand what it means to them personally. Granted, these numbers are very basic, and the reality is actually worse, given interest and rising interest rates on the national debt.

So, the United States has a problem. It has a number of problems, actually, but this one is massive. The government owes so much that our economy will struggle under the weight of this debt for the rest of the century. It will dampen every citizen’s opportunities, block every generation’s choices, and haunt our posterity for many decades.

Is there any way out of this? Yes. The answer is simple, in fact. We need a major economic boom. A massive boom would allow us to pay this off much quicker and put the nation back on positive economic footing. Without such a boom, this problem is going to deepen.

How do we get a boom? Again, the answer is simple. I’ll outline it below in Column A.

But first, what happens if we don’t make the choices that will bring a boom? The answer is clear. And drastic. Our economics will rapidly get worse. For the nation, for families, for almost everyone.

Part II

Second, China just surpassed the United States as the top producing economy in the world. It was already the top trade economy, as of a year ago. How does this translate into real life consequences for real people? Well, such a transition has happened before, and there is a predictable pattern that occurs when a new nation becomes the largest global economy.

Here is a rough outline of this pattern:

  1. The new power (e.g. China) has the ability to dictate its own trade rules, which increases the flow of wealth to it—and away from the old power (e.g. the U.S.).
  1. The new power’s currency eventually becomes the lead world currency (replacing the old power’s currency). When Britain lost it’s top power spot, the average British citizen lost 30% of net worth within weeks. In the current shift, the Chinese will likely push for a global currency. (More on this in Part III)
  1. The old power keeps trying to regain its status by engaging in wars and military interventions around the globe, while the new power focuses mainly on economic success. This further weakens the old power, and quickly.
  1. The new power, with its booming economy, is able to enjoy lower interest rates, less debt, fewer expenses for international conflicts, and much higher rates of savings and investment. The wealth of the world flows into the new power as investment capital, lifting the entire new power’s economy. The old power sees its standard of living drastically fall, while the new power watches its standard of living rapidly increase.

In the eighteenth century the old power was Spain and the new power was France, in the nineteenth century the old power was France and the new power was Britain. In the twentieth century the old power was Britain and the new power was the U.S.

Today, and in the years ahead, China is the new power, and the United States is the old power. As Brett Arends put it:

“This will not change anything tomorrow or next week, but it will change almost everything in the longer term. We have lived in a world dominated by the U.S. since at least 1945 and, in many ways, since the late 19th century.

“And we have lived for 200 years—since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815—in a world dominated by two reasonably democratic, constitutional countries in Great Britain and the U.S.A. For all their flaws, the two countries have been in the vanguard worldwide of civil liberties, democratic processes and constitutional rights.” (Brett Arends, “It’s Official: America is now No. 2,” Market Watch, December 4, 2014)

China’s influence will certainly go in a different direction. This may be the single biggest concern of our century.

Can we do anything to reverse this trend? The answer is “Yes.”

Failure by Surrender

There is an irony to how old powers lose their leadership role. The old power usually has the ability to stay the top leader, if it chooses. But is seldom does. Why? The answer is instructive.

Old powers refuse to maintain their leader role because they make a series of bad choices:
Table Chine America Hegemony  Americas Looming Crash: Special Report Parts I, II, III

Both Are…

This is so predictable that following the pattern of decline again in our time is ridiculous. The U.S. continues to follow this path, however. Part of this is spurred by collectivist ideological ideas, but the ultimate blame goes to voters who aren’t willing to back candidates who support truly frugal economic choices to cut government programs and incentivize a free-enterprise economic boom (Column A).

Voters in traditionally powerful nations are accustomed to lavish government programs; they vocally decry government debt, but they vote for more government programs anyway. Conservatives and liberals disagree about what to spend money on, but they both increase the size of government.

One problem is that people from both sides of the political aisle blame the other. Liberals fault conservatives for supporting continued military interventions around the world, and conservatives blame liberals for increased government programs and spending.

The truth is that both are right. Liberals adopt Column B government spending and bad anti-business regulations, and conservatives support Column B global military interventions around the world. Both kill the power and economy of the nation. In our day, both of these drastically decrease American prosperity and power and lift China to global leadership.

In simplest terms: Both are bad. But Republican voters hold on to their support of U.S. interventions in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, etc., and Democratic voters refuse to stop promoting big-spending federal programs. In our two-party system, both parties are deeply committed to Column B, though for different reasons.

If the United States keeps following this pattern, our looming crash is inevitable. If not, if we reverse it and move toward an economic boom (by adopting Column A), we’ll reboot and reestablish the top producing economy in the world.

It’s up to us. Boom or crash. The choice seems simple, yet voters keep electing leaders who implement Column B rather than Column A. If we keep it up, we’re going to get what we deserve. A crash.

In all this, the most amazing thing is how simple it would be to create a boom. Column A is direct, do-able, realistic, real. We just have to adopt it, and apply it. But if we won’t even vote for it, it won’t come.

Part III

Third, changes in the world’s currency system are gaining momentum. Few Americans realize how significant these two changes ($18 trillion in federal debt and counting, and the loss of the “#1 producing economy” status to China) will be. For example, just consider the impact of the dollar being replaced by something else as the world’s reserve currency.

While most people prefer to leave currency discussions to the experts, such head-in-the-sand behavior can’t shield them from the consequences. The next reserve currency will be the dollar, if only the U.S. adopts the items in Column A and catalyzes a major American economic boom.

If not, it will be something supported by China. Specifically, look for it to have three characteristics that will drastically restructure the entire world:

  1. It will likely be a global currency, meaning that the international community (with China in the #1 spot) will regulate its use. This could easily result in a drastic reduction of national sovereignty around the world and in the U.S.
  2. It will almost surely be electronic, which will give governments massive controls over people. This amounts to at least some controls from China, not just your national government. The power of regulating electronic currency is almost impossible to overstate.
  3. It will also likely be sold with biotech, meaning that to access your electronic money you’ll need your finger print or eye scan. (See Molly Wood, “Augmenting Your Password-Protected World,” The New York Times, November 5, 2014) This will provide global surveillance at an unprecedented, literally more than Orwellian, level. Again, China will be a top influence (perhaps the top influence) in how this system is administered.

These three massive shifts in our world reality are mostly hidden from our view. They are reported, but few people realize how significant or personally relevant they are.

The future of our nation, our economy, and literally our society (with its God-based ideals, freedom-based values, and free enterprise economics) are at stake. If Column B prevails, an American Crash is assured.

(Oliver DeMille addresses the solutions to these challenges in his book, The United States Constitution and the 196 Principles of Freedom, available here)

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odemille  Americas Looming Crash: Special Report Parts I, II, III Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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This is the Book! by Oliver DeMille

December 18th, 2014 // 6:47 am @

From the desk of Rachel DeMille….

196 Cover 706x1024 This is the Book! by Oliver DeMilleOliver writes a lot, and has published many popular and successful books. But from my vantage point, I could see that his upcoming book is very, very different from all the rest – especially in his mind. I’ve watched Oliver’s intensity and anticipation regarding this work, and wanted to give you a peek into the author’s point of view. He consented to a brief interview…

Rachel: What do you want people to know about your new book, The U.S. Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom?

Oliver: [Chuckles quietly; then grows silent for a moment] This is the book. This is The One. I’ve been working on it for over two decades. It’s ready now, and it can change the world in powerful ways.

Rachel: So you would call it your “Magnum Opus”?

Oliver: Absolutely. Without question. These 196 Principles are not articulated so concisely or collected as such in any other work or body of work that I know of, and I consider them absolutely vital to the future of freedom in our time.

Rachel: I can see why you feel so strongly about this book. How did it come about?

An Important Disagreement

Oliver: To begin, I knew I was deeply moved about the cause freedom when I was very young—well before high school. During those early years my focus was on soaking up as many principles and ideas about freedom as I could. I heard W. Cleon Skousen speak in person on freedom when I was in high school, and I read his book The Making of America. As I listened to him, I knew I’d found my life’s mission.

Sometime shortly after this, the way I studied freedom took a turn. In my readings and as I attended classes, I realized something important: Not only is there a great debate in our society about whether or not we really want to emphasize freedom, but there are also some substantive disagreements about what does or does not promote freedom.

Rachel: That disagreement seems like a pivotal one.

Oliver: Absolutely. And understanding that disagreement reframes the debate over good policy and bad, current events, laws, appointments, regulations, elections, etc. It affects everything in our society.

With this understanding, I started a special file. Every time I came across an indispensable principle of freedom—something that is vital for freedom to flourish, something that directly causes decline when we don’t apply it—I copied it and kept it. I also included quotes and sources that supported these principles. Over the years the file grew into a shoebox, then a bigger box, then a file cabinet. Many of these notes are hand written in the margins and blank spaces of books from many genres.

What They Knew

Rachel: Clearly you’re not publishing a file cabinet full of notes…? How did you distill it down?

Oliver: No – and this is why it has taken me years to write it. I wanted to know as much as Jefferson and Madison about government, history, law, political economy, and freedom. Not in the modern academic sense of narrow specialization, but in the Founding Fathers model of broad and truly deep understanding. That’s a tall order, no doubt. It’s one many of us are still working on. It’s a lifetime calling. But our generation needs such people: Regular people who truly pay the price to study and understand freedom at the level the Founders did.

The question I had was clear: What are the essential principles of freedom, the indispensable things that simply must be applied if we truly want a free and prosperous society?

Some of the things I found were simple and direct, like principles listed in Skousen’s Five Thousand Year Leap or Bastiat’s little book The Law. Others were more obscure, like those found in the writing of Solzhenitsyn, Montesquieu, or Aristotle. Some were downright elusive—not because the Founding Fathers and other great freedom leaders didn’t teach them, but because we’ve stopped talking about them in recent decades.

I found some of the most important principles in the 20-volume collected writings of Thomas Jefferson. I found a lot in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers and Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, of course, and other great works like the writings of Blackstone.

The Hidden Principle

I found one hidden away in the writings of Patrick Henry—a principle of freedom that almost single-handedly determines whether or not a society will flourish or move into decline. But this principle is hidden from most moderns; almost nobody today knows it or realizes how truly vital it is.

I searched for the indispensable principles of freedom in every book I read, in every class I took, every seminar I attended, every class I taught, every discussion I led, every speech I gave. Some of the principles came from surprising sources. For example, I found one of the vital principles of freedom in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and another in Owen Wister’s The Virginian. This was unexpected, but the principles are powerful.

I eventually put this list of indispensable principles into an outline and started writing this book. I wrote other books along the way, but I kept working on this one. Seemingly everything I learned influenced this magnum opus—a little or a lot. By 2005 I had it book ready. Or so I thought.

But I kept finding new principles as I read and taught, so I had to keep adding new material to the book. “This isn’t ready yet,” I realized. “I need to go re-read the great classics and make sure I haven’t missed any of the indispensable principles of freedom.”

I went back to the bookshelves and re-studied the great classics, all the Great Books and the Harvard Classics, the Annals of America set, the collected writings of many of the founding fathers, shelves of scholarly journal articles, court cases and commentaries, and the leading books on freedom through history, like the writings of Plutarch, Sydney, Cicero, James Wilson, Lord Acton, James Bryce (wow!), Calvin Coolidge, Churchill, Gandhi, Pufendorf, etc.

A Free Society

I pored through page after page, taking more notes, watching the file cabinet of ideas, quotes, and principles grow. In 2008 and 2009 I again prepared a manuscript, had it read by several excellent editors and thinkers, and got ready to publish. In the process I found a few more indispensable principles of freedom and included them. But finding even just a few more concerned me. “I need to be sure I get them all,” I told myself.

I knew I needed more time. This turned into five more years of close research, additional reading and re-reading of American Founding letters, newspaper articles, sermons, speeches, cases, documents, and more review of the greatest world classics on freedom. This was so much fun!

I wrote and rewrote. Edited, researched, added and cut. After four years of research and digging without finding any more indispensable principles of freedom, I knew the book was ready.

Rachel: So bottom line, give us the one-liner that explains what this book is about.

Oliver: Here’s what this book does: It outlines and explains what is necessary for a society to be free. That’s huge!

To Determine a Future

Everyone realizes that just knowing what makes freedom flourish isn’t enough. We have to apply these things—not just know them. But the first step is to know them, and sadly, in our day most people don’t.

If we don’t know them, we certainly can’t apply them. That’s why this book is so important. It clearly outlines what is needed to be a free nation. It outlines the 196 indispensable principles of freedom. Pure and simple.

If we know and apply these things, we’ll be free. If we don’t, we won’t.

This is powerful. It is real.

Rachel: Thanks, Oliver! Final thoughts for our readers?

Oliver: After over twenty-six years (not including the two years I lived in Spain serving a religious mission for my church) of reading, researching, debating, and analyzing history, current events, the principles of liberty, and the great classics, I’m so excited to put this all together in this important book. It’s been a labor of love: To bring the truly indispensable principles of freedom to the regular people who ultimately determine the future of any society.

The Need

I hope parents will encourage this book with every young person, and that any adult who cares about freedom will read it closely.

I love freedom. I believe it is the way God wants people to live in this world. It brings more happiness, prosperity, opportunity, and family success than any other economic or political system. I have dedicated my life to doing whatever I can to promote freedom—real freedom, not frustrating politics—in the world. I am so grateful to the many people, friends, mentors, writers, thinkers, leaders and others who have directly or indirectly helped clarify these 196 indispensable principles of freedom. They are incredibly powerful!

Again, if we use them, we can restore freedom to any society or nation. If we don’t, we can’t.

So, I repeat: This is the book. This is the one. We need our generation to read it. Anyone who cares about freedom, this book is dedicated to you.

This hardback, high-quality book retails at $ 27.95, but it is available right now at the special pre-print discounted rate of $13.95. To preorder Oliver DeMille’s new book, The U.S. Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom, click here >>
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odemille This is the Book! by Oliver DeMille Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

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The Article of the Year!

December 13th, 2014 // 9:53 am @

The Best…

3 economies 2 258x300 The Article of the Year!Last week Rachel asked me if I was going to write a “best books of the year” article like I have the last few years. “I’m not sure,” I sighed. “To tell the truth, I think it’s getting a little old. I see ‘best books,’ ‘best movies,’ ‘best albums,’ of the year, etc. in most of the national magazines and newspapers each year. In fact, I just recently read a December issue of a magazine that listed the ‘5 best of the year’ in all these categories. I think it’s a bit overdone these days.”

“That makes sense,” she responded. “But the end of the year is a profound time to look back and note important things that have happened. It’s natural, and it is good for us.” She pondered for a minute, then said enthusiastically, “What about a ‘best article of the year?’ Is there an article you wrote this year that you think is the most important one? Something everyone in America and beyond really needs to read?”

I immediately brightened and sat forward in my seat. “Yes!” I said. “There’s one article I wrote that I wish I could send out every week, over and over. I wish every person in North America would read it! And Europe, and beyond. It’s that important.”

“What is it?”

Well, here it is. The “Article of the Year!” If you read it before when it came out, please, please read it again. It’s that powerful. It’s that important. And if you haven’t read it before, now is the time.

The message of this article is extremely important! If you have children or grandchildren who will live, seek an education, and work in the next thirty years, the information in this article is vital. Absolutely vital. If you or your spouse will work in the next year, or three years, or ten years, the knowledge in this article is essential. This is an article on education, on leadership, and on the economy. Nobody should have to face the economy ahead without knowing what’s in this article! Read it! Enjoy it! Share it!

Here goes:

A Tale of Two

There are three economies in modern society. They all matter. But most people only know about two of them. They know the third exists, in a shadowy, behind-the-scenes way that confuses most people. But the first two economies are present, pressing, obvious. So people just focus on these two.

A couple of recent conversations brought these economies even more to the forefront of my thinking. First, I was meeting with an old friend, touching base about the years since we’d talked together. He mentioned that his oldest son is now in college, and how excited he is for his son’s future. I asked what he meant, and he told me an interesting story.

Over twenty years ago he ran into another of our high school friends while he was walking into his community college administration building. The two greeted each other, and they started talking. My friend told his buddy that he was there to dis-enroll from school. “I just can’t take this anymore,” he told him. “College is getting me nowhere.”

“Well, I disagree,” his buddy said. “I’m here to change my major. I’m going to get a teaching credential and teach high school. I want a steady job with good benefits.”

Fast forward almost thirty years. My friend ran into this same old buddy a few weeks ago, and asked him what he’s doing. “Teaching high school,” he replied.

“Really? Well, you told me that was your plan. I guess you made it happen. How much are you making, if you don’t mind me asking?”

When his friend looked at him strangely, he laughed and said, “I only ask because you told me you wanted a steady job with good benefits, and I wanted to get out of school and get on with real life. Well, I quit school that day, but I’m still working in a dead end job. Sometimes I wonder what I’d be making if I had followed you into the admin building that day and changed majors with you.”

After a little more coaxing, the friend noted that he didn’t make much teaching, only about $40,000 a year—even with tenure and almost thirty years of seniority. “But it’s steady work, like I hoped. Still, I’ve got way too much debt.”

After telling me this story, my old high school friend looked at me with what can only be described as slightly haunted eyes. “When he told me he makes $40K a year, I just wanted to scream,” my friend said.

“Why?” I asked.

He could tell I didn’t get what he was talking about, so he sighed and looked me right in the eyes. “I’ve worked 40 to 60 hour weeks every month since I walked off that campus,” he told me. “And last year I made about $18,000 working for what amounts to less than minimum wage in a convenience store. I should have stayed in college.”

That’s the two economies. One goes to college, works mostly in white-collar settings, and makes from thirty thousand a year up to about seventy thousand. Some members of this group go on to professional training and make a bit more. The other group, the second economy, makes significantly less than $50,000 a year, often half or a third of this amount, and frequently wishes it had made different educational choices.

The people in these two economies look at each other strangely, a bit distrustfully, wondering what “could have been” if they’d taken the other path. That’s the tale of two economies.

Most people understand the first two economies, but the Third Economy is elusive for most people. They don’t quite grasp it. In fact, you may be wondering what I’m talking about right now.

The Third Economy

This brings me to our main point. Ask members of either economy for advice about education and work, and they’ll mostly say the same thing. “Get good grades, go to college, get a good career. Use your educational years to set yourself up for a steady job with good benefits.” This is the advice my grandfather gave my father at age twenty, and the same counsel my dad gave me after high school. Millions of fathers and mothers have supplied the same recommendations over the past fifty years.

This advice makes sense if all you know are the two economies. Sadly, the third economy is seldom mentioned. It is, in fact, patently ignored in most families. Or it is quickly discounted if anyone is bold enough to bring it up.

3 economies 1 290x300 The Article of the Year!A second experience illustrates this reality. I recently visited the optometrist to get a new prescription for glasses. During the small talk, he mentioned that his younger grandchildren are in college, but scoffed that it was probably a total waste of time. “All their older siblings and cousins are college graduates,” he said, “and none of them have jobs. They’ve all had to move back home with their parents.”

He laughed, but he seemed more frustrated than amused. “It’s the current economy,” he continued. “This presidential administration has been a disaster, and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to change things anytime soon. I don’t know what these kids are supposed to do. They have good degrees—law, accounting, engineering—but they can’t find jobs. Washington has really screwed us up.”

I brought up the third economy, though I didn’t call it that. What I actually said was: “There are lots of opportunities in entrepreneurship and building a business right now.” He looked at me like I was crazy. Like maybe I had three heads or something. He shook his head skeptically.

“Entrepreneurship is hard work,” I started to say, “but the rewards of success are high and…”

He cut me off. Not rudely, but like he hadn’t really heard me. That happens a lot when you bring up the third economy.

“No,” he assured me, “college is the best bet. There’s really no other way.”

I wasn’t in the mood to argue with him, so I let it go. But he cocked his head to one side in thought and said, slowly, “Although…” Then he shook his head like he was discounting some thought and had decided not to finish his sentence.

“What?” I asked. “You looked like you wanted to say something.”

“Well,” he paused…then sighed. I kept looking at him, waiting, so he said, “The truth is that one of my grandsons didn’t go to college.” He said it with embarrassment. “Actually, he started school, but then dropped out in his second year. We were all really worried about him.”

He paused again, and looked at me a bit strangely. I could tell he wanted to say more, but wasn’t quite sure how to go about it.

“What happened?” I prompted.

What Really Works

“To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure. He started a business. You know, one of those sales programs where you build a big group and they buy from you month after month. Anyway, he’s really doing well. He paid off his big house a few years ago—no more mortgage or anything. He has nice cars, all paid for. And they travel a lot, just for fun. They fly chartered, real fancy. He and his wife took us and his parents to Hawaii for a week. He didn’t even blink at the expense.”

“That’s great,” I told him. “At least some people are doing well in this economy.”

He looked at me with that strange expression again. “I’m not sure what to make of it,” he said. “I keep wondering if he’s going to finish college.”

I was surprised by this turn of thought, so I asked, “So he can get a great education, you mean? Read the classics? Broaden his thinking?”

He repeated the three heads look. “No. He reads all the time, way more than anyone else in the family. He doesn’t need college for that. I want him to go back to college so he can get a real job.”

I laughed out loud. A deep belly laugh, it was so funny. I didn’t mean to, and I immediately worried that I would offend him, but he grinned. Then he shook his head. “I know it’s crazy, but I just keep worrying about him even though he’s the only one in the family who is really doing well. The others are struggling, all moved back in with their parents—spouses and little kids all in tow. But they have college degrees, so I keep thinking they’ll be fine. But they’re not. They’re drowning in student debt and a bunch of other debts. It just makes no sense.”

He sighed and talked bad about Washington again. Finally he said, “I’ve poured so much money into helping those kids go to college, and now the only one who has any money to raise his family is the one who dropped out. It just doesn’t make any sense.” He kept shaking his head, brow deeply furrowed.

I left his office thinking that he’s so steeped in the two economies he just doesn’t really believe the third economy exists. He just doesn’t buy it, even when all the evidence is right there in front of him. The whole economy has changed. It’s not your father’s or grandfather’s economy anymore. It just isn’t. Sadly, he just doesn’t get that the reality has changed.

Who Gets It

He’s not alone. The whole nation—most of today’s industrialized nations, in fact—are right there with him. So many people believe in the two economies, high school/blue collar jobs on the one hand, and college/white collar careers on the other. Most people just never quite accept that the entrepreneurial economy is real. They don’t realize that there are many less white collar jobs per capita now, and that this trend shows all the signs of increasing. They don’t admit the truth, that over half of college grads in recent years can’t find jobs, and a huge number of those with degrees and without degrees are moving back home just to survive. But the third economy is flourishing.

It’s too bad so many people won’t admit this, because that’s where nearly all the current top career and financial opportunities are found. The future is in the third economy, for those who realize it and get to work. If you’ve got kids, I hope you can see the third economy—for their sake. Because it’s real, and it’s here to stay. The first two economies are in major decline, whatever the so-called experts claim. Alvin Toffler warned us in his bestseller FutureShock that this was going to happen, and so did Peter Drucker, back when they first predicted the Information Age. Now it’s happening.

I hope more of us realize the truth before it’s too late. Because China gets it. So does India, and a bunch of other nations. The longer we take to get real and start leading in the entrepreneurial/innovative third economy (the real economy, actually), the harder it will be for our kids and grandkids. The third economy will dominate the twenty-first century. It already is, in fact. Whether you’ve chosen to see it yet or not. This is real. This is happening. This is the future. This is the current reality.

Truth is truth, even when our false traditions and outdated background refuse to let us see clearly. The parents who see this, embrace it, and help their kids prepare to take action in the third economy are providing a real education for their family. Everyone else…isn’t.

 

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odemille The Article of the Year! Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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The Law of Liberty

December 4th, 2014 // 2:53 pm @

When freedom is reduced for some, it is reduced for all.

Liberty Bell 253x300 The Law of LibertyAmerican founding father James Otis said in 1764, “The Parliament cannot make two and two, five…. Should an act of Parliament be against any of his [the Creator’s] natural laws, their declaration would be contrary to eternal truth, equity and justice, and consequently void.”[i]

One of the great natural laws we most need to understand today is the Law of Liberty, which says that freedom is truly indivisible because if you take it from some, it ultimately reduces the freedom of everyone. This natural law is sometimes ignored for the simple reason that it isn’t always obvious in the short term, just as the reality that the earth is round isn’t always clearly evident to the naked eye.

Because this law isn’t apparent unless a person understands it, generations of human beings have reduced their own freedoms because they hoped that reductions in liberty would only hurt “other” people. In the same way that government often gets away with spending on things that break natural laws because the citizens think it is spending Other People’s Money (OPM), we frequently give away our rights when we think they’ll only impact Other People’s Freedom (OPF).

One of the most famous discussions about this law came from Christian pastor Martin Niemoller in his recollection of how Nazism spread in Germany, and how few people did anything to stop its takeover of society. Pastor Neimoller is credited with saying:

“First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

“Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

“Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.”[ii]

This is an excellent description of what happens when we ignorantly violate the law of freedom, allowing others to lose their rights while justifying that they probably deserved it and hoping it will never reach the point where it hurts us or those we love.

Note that Pastor Niemoller eventually became the leader of a group of clergymen opposed to Hitler and that he was arrested and held in Sachsenhausen and Dachau prison camps for the crime of not being “enthusiastic” about Nazism. Good for him! That’s heroism. As Thoreau said, in a truly unjust society the only place for a really just man in jail. Niemoller was later released by the Allies in 1945.

When a person loses freedom because he or she has caused harm to another person, and arrest or imprisonment is needed to keep others safe or demand recompense for the harms to a victim, the loss of liberty is within the bounds of natural law. When a person is deprived of freedom for any other reason, it breaks natural law, and this hurts the entire society that allows such a violation of natural law.

Slavery is an obvious example. So is any kind of caste or class system where the laws and government treat a group of people differently because of their religion, race, gender, country of origin, beliefs, etc.

Those who truly understand freedom will stand up for the inalienable rights of all human beings, from all walks of life, because they realize that: “When others are free, then my own freedom is safer, and when others lose their freedoms my own freedom is always in jeopardy.”

The Law of Maturity

A corollary of the law of freedom could be called the law of maturity, which teaches the levels of understanding freedom. The levels of maturity include (from worst to best):

Extreme Immaturity: The desire not to be free, to leave important decisions to others and not have to live with the consequences of your choices and actions. The desire to be taken care of by someone else.

High Immaturity: The desire to be free when it suits you, but to leave many important decisions and the consequences of your actions to others. To get to do what you want, but have someone else fix any problems that arise from your bad choices and actions.

Immaturity: The desire to be free and for others to be free, as long as the others are like you (religion, race, gender, caste, same nation, or other similarities) or deemed to be “on your side,” and the desire for those unlike you or not “on your side” to not have the same benefits “because they don’t deserve them.” To have the government treat you freely, but treat “others” differently.

Low Maturity: The desire to be free and for all others to be free, and to be given forgiveness when you are asked to account for your failures, while simultaneously wanting justice to be applied to others.

Moderate Maturity: The desire to be free in all situations, to make your own decisions and live with the consequences of your choices and actions, and for others to do the same. To be free and accountable, and hope that others will do likewise.

High Maturity: The desire to be free and accountable and help all others enjoy the same. To take a stand and protect the inalienable rights and freedoms of all, including those who are different than you or even your enemies, and even if this requires great personal sacrifices from you and those you love.

In historical times most governments and nations have violated the law of freedom, which is a major reason that true freedom has been so rare in human experience. Governments and laws have withheld or taken away freedom from people based on their religion, beliefs, gender, race, ethnicity, nation of origin, disability, looks, words, ideas, friends, which books they had in their home, what religion they wanted to teach their children, and a number of other things that violated natural law.

And, through history, very few people have been willing to take an active stand for freedom when they were personally free but others were having their rights violated. This has occurred in too many ways and times to list, from the scared Christians who watched Jews slaughtered in Nazi Germany to the fearful Jews who watched Christians butchered in the Roman games, to otherwise good Americans who did nothing to stop the interment of patriotic Americans in the 1940s simply because they had Japanese ancestors or features.

Other examples include otherwise good Americans in the mid-19th century who let women be raped and men killed and children driven into the snow by American troops simply because of their Native American ethnicity, or the otherwise good Americans who allowed slavery and later segregation to flourish in the American south based entirely on the color of one’s skin.

Consequences of Breaking the Law of Liberty

Human history is full of such violations of natural law, and in every case the loss of freedom for the few has eventually decreased the level of freedom for all. When nations imprison their citizens because of their race, the same generation of officials always takes away the freedom of the majority in numerous ways. A government that allows slavery will always allow less freedom for the middle classes as well.

Find any government in history whose soldiers are allowed to rape and pillage with impunity, and you’ll find a central government that is working behind the scenes to increase government power and reduce the freedoms of the people—rich, median and poor alike. There are few, if any, exceptions to this principle in all of written history.

When a government is allowed to be unjust to one group, it establishes a precedent that all of us should carefully consider. Precedent is extremely powerful, either for good or bad. History has proven that even a good policy with a bad precedent will eventually lead to a bad policy.

For example, Caesar Augustus set a limit on taxes, but with this very action he created a precedent that the emperor had the power to establish tax levels. The Senate, which had the power to check this action, did nothing because the tax limit was low. But, naturally, later emperors drastically raised taxes and the Senate couldn’t do anything because they had allowed the precedent of the emperor determining tax rates.

Similarly, in classical Greece the Delian League allowed the great leader Aristides to single-handedly make numerous government decisions and set policies, because they trusted him. He turned out to be worthy of the trust, and the people flourished. A few years later he retired, and his replacements for many years afterwards abused the power of the office. The policy of allowing Aristides to make choices turned out well as long as he was in office, but the precedent of giving one man so much power inevitably backfired. This is one of the examples George Washington looked to when he refused to be king.

No matter how much a nation may think that it is okay to withhold freedom from any group of people (except in the case of crime), the precedent of doing so limits the freedom of everyone. The law of liberty is real. Any government that allows a loss of freedom for some is also planning or implementing additional ways to expand its power over other groups of people (or soon will do so).

Consequences Today

In our day, this should bring pause to any caring and wise citizen. A nation that allows the termination of unborn babies and withholds the freedom of opportunity from immigrants (not for defense, but on the basis of “keeping others out of our country”), is, according to the law of liberty, violating natural law in other ways.

This may be occurring in secret labs, the training of troops to go door-to-door and subdue a populace in its own nation, or in various other plans hatched behind closed doors, but the law of liberty guarantees that something like these things is happening. For example, it is natural that a nation that interred its patriotic citizens of Japanese descent was simultaneously establishing the biggest complex of secret government operations in all of history. Indeed, many of the same national leaders were in charge of both.

In fact, to know what level of secrecy is currently being applied by a modern government, those who understand the law of freedom only need to look at how much that government stands for the freedom of all versus withholding freedom from some groups—whatever the reasons.

Liberty and Justice Come From Indivisible Freedom

Freedom is indivisible in the long term, and only societies that are consistently spreading freedom to more people are trustworthy behind the scenes. Even more importantly, the attitude of the people is a clear indicator of the future of freedom. A nation of people that wants to withhold the opportunities of freedom from any group(s)—including immigrants—is likely to elect officials who will perpetuate governments based on secrecy and power rather than transparency and honest freedom for all.

The law of freedom is a wake-up call to all modern nations. When any group is being treated with suspicion by government or allowed to have lesser freedoms than the majority, the government is not to be fully trusted and the people’s freedoms are in jeopardy.

If this uncomfortable reality hits too close to home in your nation, you know that the law of liberty is probably being violated. The most effective and immediate solution is to look around, find a group that is being denied its rights and opportunities, and help take a stand for freedom—even if you aren’t part o this group. When freedom is unjustly lost for some, it is lost for all of us. Any injustice reduces our liberty.

 

(This article is an excerpt from We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident by Oliver DeMille.)

[i] Cited in Sigmund, p. 102.

[ii] Note that there is disagreement about the way this quote has been quoted and translated over time, and many believe that in the actual quote there were only four stanzas, not five, and that the fourth stanza in the longer quote included here was added later and not part of the original.

*******************

odemille The Law of Liberty Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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