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SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for President

September 15th, 2014 // 10:34 am @

Diverging Paths

Constitution We the People 1024x371 SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for President

The good news is that the 2016 presidential election has the power to put America back on the right track.

The bad news is that same election could make things a whole lot worse for us.

If the United States votes for eight more years of a White House philosophy that believes in more big government, 2016 will be the year we officially endorsed the decline of America.

In a recent article I suggested that Rand Paul or Mitt Romney have a real chance in the next election. I received a lot of responses to this article—more than usual.

Some of them agreed, others showed support for these or different candidates (Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, etc.), and still others suggested that the Democratic party is our best hope.

In all this, nobody addressed my main point. It went something like this:

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we elected a president who actually believed in following the letter of the Constitution? How refreshing! What a great boost that would be for freedom—in the U.S. and around the world.”

Freedom President

election 2016 canstockphoto20144380 300x204 SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for PresidentI suggested that Rand Paul would likely be that kind of leader, and I’m convinced that Mike Huckabee, Mike Lee, and perhaps others would fit this mold.

Think about it! What a powerful concept: A president who reads the Constitution and simply follows it. Now that’s a truly great idea.

The problem is that presidents don’t do this anymore. Worse, the American people don’t even expect them to do it.

The truth is that most recent presidents would tell you they did follow the Constitution, but when they say this they’re talking about the Supreme Court’s definition of the Constitution. That’s not what I mean.

I’m referring to following the Constitution the way the American founders used the phrase: by reading what it says, and following it. Not by using Supreme Court rulings or Attorney General letters as excuses or grants of executive authority.

This is a really big deal. If we don’t read the document and just follow it,* we aren’t really benefiting from what the Constitution is all about.

And freedom will continue to decline.

Contrast Politics

For example, when President Obama announced major airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, he made sure to point out that he had the authority to order such military operations without any vote from Congress.

He called this following the Constitution, but it isn’t. The document is very clear: only Congress can vote for long-term military operations.

The president can act to stop a direct, immediate threat to the U.S. homeland, but anything beyond that requires a decision by Congress.

In contrast to Obama’s words, when Rand Paul was asked if the president needed Congressional authority for his long-term military plan, he responded that yes, this is exactly what the Constitution says.

It was refreshing to hear a top potential presidential candidate refer to the authority of the Constitution instead of the interpretations of the Court.

Sadly, Americans aren’t accustomed to hearing such words. Politicians refer to past precedents, the War Powers Act, Supreme Court decisions, earlier Congressional approvals that could be interpreted to apply in the current situation, and other policies—and all these distract from the real point.

The framers wrote the Constitution so the regular people could read and tell—with no help from experts—when their government officials were following it and when they weren’t.

False Authority and Failing Checks

It has become commonplace for the White House to simply ignore the Constitution, to intervene when and where it chooses, without regard to the document, and to claim that the Court gave it such power or that Congress allowed it such powers.

But the Constitution doesn’t give the Court or Congress the authority to grant the executive any powers. The Court can check the Oval Office, as can Congress, but neither have the Constitutional power give the Executive additional authority.

The people, not the Court, are the final experts on the Constitution. Presidents routinely pay little heed to the Constitution because the people let them get away with it.

The people keep electing candidates who openly say the role of the president is to go beyond the Constitution—especially in foreign relations, but also in domestic policy. As long as we keep voting this way, we keep losing more freedom.

Recent presidents from both parties have egregiously ignored the Constitution. And among the current potential candidates for president, it is commonplace to speak of following the Constitution and mean the modern, Beltway view of the president’s powers—ignoring the actual words in the document itself.

That’s why I’m so impressed when I hear Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee talk in a totally different way. Or Mike Lee, though he’s shown no interest in the 2016 presidency.

Again, wouldn’t it be great to elect a president who doesn’t consult Washington insiders but rather the pages of the U.S. Constitution when an issue arises.

Imagine a president who would tell Congress that we need serious military action but he won’t take it without their approving vote.

That kind of leadership is sorely missing in America, and one of the top causes of our decline.

Keepers Above the Law

One root of the problem is that most Americans today don’t really believe in limits on government. For example, just watch how the police behave in almost every cop-oriented television drama and movie.

They frequently don’t wait for a warrant, they smash in doors of homes and apartments with guns waiving and SWAT units swarming. The good cops, the best officers in these shows, are the ones who push the law to its furthest limits and even break it when they deem it “necessary.”

The more they ignore or circumvent the Constitutional guidelines and get away with it, the better cops they are. Or so they are portrayed.

I’m not saying that the Hollywood version of police actions is always accurate in real life (though the increased militarization of law enforcement is a serious, growing threat to regular citizens).

I am saying that these TV dramas and movies are a very real portrayal of how most Americans believe the cops are and should be.

This is what our culture has come to consider good police work—finding ways to sneak around or get away with just ignoring Constitutional limits, protections, and due process.

Vice as Virtue

Most Americans won’t say it in so many words, but they are used to thinking of police officers as above the law in many—if not most—situations, and of expecting the good cops to bend the “annoying” Constitutional limits and just do whatever is needed to go get the bad guys.

And if this is how they see the police, consider how much more they admire this same bravado in the President.

Of course, both parties whine when a president from the other party exerts unconstitutional influence or executive orders to expand his power. But they frequently defend their own party’s president in the same, or worse, abuses.

It’s literally endemic in our modern system. It bears repeating until we realize what a major threat this is!

Hawaii Five 0 2nd Season Cast 300x168 SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for PresidentThe way our majority culture now sees it, the best cops and government leaders do whatever it takes, even bending or ignoring the Constitutional rules, to “do the right thing.”

Think of the most popular police dramas and movies—the main character(s) is always the “good guy” who breaks the Constitutional boundaries in service of the greater good.

NCIS, CSI, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-0, Law and Order, Chicago PD, Arrow, Bones, Castle, Criminal Minds, NCIS Los Angeles, Agents of SHIELD, Scandal, Covert Affairs, 24, The Blacklist, and many others, all follow this plotline.

These aren’t obscure programs; they are among the most popular in our era. One or more of them is almost always playing on American prime time, and our culture is inundated with their messages.

The Power of 2016

This is how we see government officials, and especially the government agents who carry guns or work in the Oval Office. Again, I’m not saying people openly support this view in polls; I’m saying it is now part of our gut-level cultural expectation.

A majority of Americans now think government agents can and even should routinely push and even break Constitutional limits.

Yes, some people watch cop shows or government dramas and think, “That’s terrible! How can our leaders consistently get away with just disregarding and even flouting the Constitution? They should be reprimanded and removed.” But such Americans are a small minority.

Most of the electorate considers such behavior by police and top executive officials as the norm, and as what is needed to get the job done.

When someone they personally know or identify with gets pushed around, they cry unfair. But when it’s just other people suffering at the hands of abusive government actions, most voters turn a blind eye.

Would I like something different, a president who reads the Constitution to see if he has the authority for a certain action and then realizes he doesn’t and chooses to stay within the bounds of that great document? You bet I would. The future of freedom depends on it.

The thing is, I think we actually have the power to elect such a leader in 2016. Watch what the potential candidates say. So far, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee are excellent examples of leaders who talk a lot about following the Constitution and really stand for this approach. Regardless of political parties, that’s the kind of President we want.

                                                          

* Of course, the people have made changes to it over time, including the Amendments and the end of slavery and reduction of racism (there is more work to be done on this). Note that these changes were made by the people, not the federal government, and following them is in keeping with the people overseeing their leaders and holding them to the Constitution.

 

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odemille SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for President 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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SPECIAL REPORT: Mitt Romney Will Run and Win- Oliver DeMille

September 11th, 2014 // 10:50 am @

(A Tale of Four Candidates)

Prediction: Mitt Romney is running for president. And, if current trends continue, he’s going to win.

640px Mitt Romney by Gage Skidmore 6 SPECIAL REPORT: Mitt Romney Will Run and Win  Oliver DeMilleRand Paul and Hillary Clinton are running as well. It’s just a matter of time until all three of these future candidates announce, but in the meantime something interesting is happening to this election.

It is being determined by stealth, and the major players are world events—especially in Russia, China, and the Middle East.

In the 2008 election Hillary Clinton was the unanimous frontrunner.

But she lost the nomination because she promoted a strong, aggressive foreign policy while newcomer Barack Obama promised to get America out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Guantanamo.

This gave candidate Obama the natural lead in a war-weary nation frustrated about the lack of WMDs in Iraq.

Clinton and McCain talked aggressively about foreign affairs, but the voters wanted to get out of world conflicts and refocus on the home front.They voted for Obama.

In a very similar way, the next presidential election is already gearing up. With the recent resurgence of threats from Putin and Russia, along with continual crises in Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Israel, Syria, Palestine, and now the constant news coverage on ISIS, Americans are increasingly seeing the need for a strong leader in the White House.

Golf and Governing

Foreign affairs are once again foremost in the American electorate’s emotion center (with worries about China still simmering just under the surface)—but the emphasis is on standing strong and facing down threats instead of getting away from them.

If the storyline shifts by 2016 and the American people once again want to get out of foreign interventions and focus more on the home front, Rand Paul will receive the kind of huge popularity boost that propelled Barack Obama to the White House in 2008.

But right now we’re witnessing something very different. Each recent move from the Obama Administration has been met with major opposition from Democrats as well as Republicans.

If the president plays golf during a crisis, Congressional leaders from both parties criticize him.

If he dresses in his power suit and fills thirty minutes of prime time television announcing a major military initiative, looking straight into the camera and talking tough, national leaders from both parties spend the next three hours and days arguing against his plans—filling the airwaves with every conceivable criticism.

Short Power, Short View

There is a general lack of trust in the president right now, no matter what he does, and it comes from both parties and also the media, even many of the media outlets that have historically been very supportive of the Obama Administration.

Moreover, the president has a low approval rating and a very high level of American voters who mistrust his leadership.

Part of this stems from the fickle nature of the American electorate. Americans overwhelmingly supported going into Afghanistan, and also Iraq. A few years later they overwhelmingly supported getting out.

Today strong majorities want to use our military against ISIS; the more we do, the more likely it is that most Americans will soon be clamoring for us to bring these same troops home.

As a nation, we seem to like the idea of using our power—we just want its use to be short and decisive.

The same thing happens with domestic programs. A majority demanded health care reform; once it passed, the criticisms began. The longer we’ve watched Obamacare roll out, the less support it has among the electorate.

This is repeated in many ways in current U.S. politics.

But there is a bigger reality at work here. The nation is tired of the direction we’re taking. In 2008 the voters blamed it on Bush and put Obama in office. Today the electorate blames it increasingly on Obama.

And with the rise of general concern about foreign threats, both Clinton and Paul will be seen as a bit soft on foreign aggressors. They’re not, but the populace still sees it this way.

Bigger Power

During all this there is one powerful, recurring thread: President Obama is frequently broadcast in the media at his worst and weakest, and Mitt Romney appears on one news program after another—constantly commenting on what we should be doing in international conflicts. His answers are refreshingly different from Obama’s, and he sounds both credible and wise.

Indeed, Romney has accomplished something he never pulled off during the campaign—he projects a consistent, confident message of American strength.

Romney looks a lot more presidential in these clips than the president in his golf clothes. Indeed, the television optics during the last few months of Russian and Middle Eastern crises constitutes a major victory for Romney.

After all, Romney told Obama during the 2012 presidential debates that Russia was a major threat—and Obama scoffed at him. Romney warned of a slowed economy that would need serious free enterprise action to get moving again. Obama sneered at this view. Romney was right; Obama wasn’t.

The electorate is now sneering in the other direction. It has largely lost faith in Obama. And when it sees Romney responding to the latest international problem, he oozes competence while Obama and Hillary evoke immediate skepticism.

If the election were held next week, Romney would win.

But we’ve got over two years until the next presidential election, and a lot will happen between now and then. Not the least of which is the 2014 midterm congressional election.

Foreign and Domestic

randpaul 300x263 SPECIAL REPORT: Mitt Romney Will Run and Win  Oliver DeMilleWith all that said, world events may well be the biggest influence on who becomes America’s next commander in chief. If foreign problems maintain their current pace, Romney will most likely be the next president.

If not, we may be faced with a very interesting situation, where a Hawkish Democrat (Hillary Clinton) faces a more non-interventionist Republican (Rand Paul).

While I personally agree with the less interventionist view and would love to see a President Rand Paul lead a White House that actually believes in following the U.S. Constitution, I think world events make this unlikely. Sad.

Ultimately, there is a lot more to this than mere politics. America’s power in international affairs won’t be as important to the future of the nation as whether or not the next president rekindles freedom in our economy.

This is what Romney or Paul offers. Hillary Clinton, or Elizabeth Warren if Hillary falters, will likely keep acting like Washington is the center of our business and economic success. This is the battle: freedom versus bigger government.

This is the great American decision of 2016.

The importance of this choice is almost impossible to overstate!

Ironically, this vital decision will probably be made by foreign aggressors, by what they do or don’t do, and how their actions influence the American electorate in the months and years just ahead.

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odemille SPECIAL REPORT: Mitt Romney Will Run and Win  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 New Ivy League by Oliver DeMille

August 27th, 2014 // 6:34 am @

The New Ivy League DeMille road to entrepreneurialism 1024x726 The New Ivy League by Oliver DeMille

The Dinosaur Reality

The day of turning a college degree into a ready job and high pay is over. That was then. The new economy is different now, and many graduate schools are taking note.

For example, The New York Times reported:

“On a spring afternoon at Michigan State University, 15 law students are presenting start-up proposals to a panel of legal scholars and entrepreneurs and an audience of fellow students. The end-of-the semester event is one part seminar and one part ‘Shark Tank’ reality show.

“The companies the students are describing would be very different from the mega-firms that many law students have traditionally aspired to work for, and to grow wealthy from. Instead, these young people are proposing businesses more nimble and offbeat: small, quick mammals [entrepreneurial businesses] scrambling underfoot in the land of dinosaurs [oldstyle mega-businesses].” (John Schwartz, “This is Law School?” The New York Times, August 1, 2014)

Many schools are increasingly emphasizing entrepreneurialism in a new economy where the traditionally educated law school graduate faces a dearth of jobs. “With the marketplace shifting, schools have increasingly come under fire for being out of touch.” (ibid.)

Professionals in the Basement

A surprisingly high number of law school and other professional school graduates are moving back home to live with parents, and those who do get jobs are finding the work stifling and unrewarding in an environment with a glut of professionals holding degrees.

Those who don’t like the cutthroat and grinding work are easily replaced.

In fact, a Forbes study recently noted that being an associate attorney is the least happy job in the nation. (See Psychology Today, July 2014) It has relatively high pay compared to most entry-level career paths, but the hours are extreme and the other rewards are minimal.

With the glut of attorneys in the market, a large number of law school grads are ending up as paralegals anyway—which seldom helps them to pay off their huge student loans. (ibid.) Medical careers are nearly as bad for most young people—at least for the first eight to twelve years.

A recent poll of college graduates showed:

“People who take out significant college loans score worse on quality-of-life measures, a trend that persists into middle age…. Even 24 years after graduation, students who borrowed more than $25,000 are less likely to enjoy work and are less financially and physically fit than their counterparts who graduated without debt.

For more recent college grads, the discrepancy is even more pronounced….

“About 70% of college grads have debt (Douglas Belkin, “Heavily Indebted Grads Rank Low on Life Quality, The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2014), and those with graduate or professional schooling have even more debt on average than those with a four-year degree.

“Catherine L. Carpenter, vice dean of Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, tracks curriculum across the country. She said schools are trying to teach their students to run their own firms, to look for entrepreneurial opportunities by finding ‘gaps in the law or gaps in the delivery of services,’ and to gain specialized knowledge that can help them counsel entrepreneurs.” (op cit. Shwartz)

A Return to Apprenticeship

Some of the schools themselves are turning more entrepreneurial as well. The Times reported:

“All law schools, including the elites, are increasing skills training by adding clinics and externships…. [T]he University of Virginia will allow students to earn a semester of credit while working full time for nonprofit or government employers anywhere in the world.” (Ethan Bronner, “To Place Graduates, Law Schools Are Opening Firms,” The New York Times, March 7, 2013)

This kind of non-traditional learning harks back to the time when most attorneys learned by apprenticing with practicing lawyers—usually with no formal law school at all.

A few law schools are also implementing innovative ways to help their graduates get jobs, or work in firms set up specifically for this purpose by the law schools. For example, Arizona State University set up a special nonprofit law firm so that some of its graduates would have a place to work and learn to practice law.

“[There is] a crisis looming over the legal profession after decades of relentless growth…. It is evident in the sharp drop in law school applications….

“[P]ost-graduate training programs appear to be the way of the future for many of the nation’s 200 law schools. The law dean of Rutgers University just announced plans for a nonprofit law firm for some of his graduates.” (ibid.)

Entrepreneurship and Life

Other innovations are trying to deal with the crisis.

“At Indiana University’s law school, Prof. William D. Henderson has been advocating a shake-up in legal education whose time may have come. ‘You have got to be in a lot of pain’ before a school will change something as tradition-bound as legal training, he said, but pain is everywhere at the moment, and ‘that’s kind of our opening.’” (op cit. Shwartz)

“‘This is the worst time in the history of legal education to go to law school,’ said Patrick Ellis, a recent graduate [of Michigan State University]. ‘I am not top of my class, not at a top-10 law school, but I’m confident I’m going to have a meaningful career because of this [entrepreneurial studies] program.’” (ibid.)

Entrepreneurialism is injecting life into many sectors of the economy. In fact, it always has. Without entrepreneurship, free economies cannot flourish. But when the economy is as sluggish as the new market today, entrepreneurs are the main hope.

Note that it’s not just law school grads who are facing a tough economy. Don Peck wrote:

“The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults…. The economy now sits in a hole 10 million jobs deep…[and] we need to produce roughly 1.5 million jobs a year—about 125,000 a month—just to keep from sinking deeper.

“Even if the economy were to immediately begin producing 600,000 jobs a month—more than double the pace of the mid-to-late 1990s, when job growth was strong—it would take roughly two years to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in…. But the U.S. hasn’t seen that pace of sustained employment growth in more than 30 years…” (Don Peck, “Can the Middle Class Be Saved?” The Atlantic, March 2010)

In addition, to pay for college, many more students are staying home and learning in local schools or talking courses online. (See, for example, Tamar Lewin, “Colleges Adapt Online Courses to Ease Burden, The New York Times, April 29, 2013.)

And over half of college students who go away to earn their degrees have moved back home after graduation in recent years—they aren’t finding jobs, and home is their only option in many cases. (Harper’s Index, Harpers, August 2011).

Deep Holes Around the World

In fact, this problem is prevalent in Europe as well as the United States.

As one report noted:

“By the time the parents of Serena Violano were in their early 30s, they had solid jobs, their own home and two small daughters. Today, Serena, a 31-year-old law graduate, is still sharing her teenage bedroom with her older sister in the small town of Mercogliano, near Naples.” (Ilan Brat and Giada Zampano, “Young, European and Broke,” The Wall Street Journal, August 9-10, 2014)

With few jobs available in her field, she “spends her days studying for the exam to qualify as a notary in the hopes of scoring a stable job.” (ibid.)

The reason the European economies are struggling is the same as the American challenge–with one difference: the media is more open in saying what is really causing the problems in Europe.

For example, “[the young European’s] predicament is exposing a painful truth: The towering cost of labor protections that have provided a comfortable life for Europe’s baby boomers is now keeping their children from breaking in [to economic opportunity].” (ibid.)

Dead or Alive

In the United States, such protections include Social Security, Health Care laws, Government Pensions, other entitlements, and the debt necessary to maintain these programs—along with the high levels of regulation that hamper entrepreneurial ventures.

But why are people turning to graduate school to learn entrepreneurship, when the best entrepreneurs tend to learn their craft by application in the real market? It appears to be a matter of trying to avoid risk—of attempting to do what works in the new economy (entrepreneurship) while hedging one’s bets by still doing what used to work in the old economy (college degrees).

As one interesting article captured this theme: “College is Dead. Long Live College!” (Amanda Ripley, “College is Dead. Long Live College!” Time Magazine, October 18, 2012, cited in Allen Levie, “The Visual Tradition: The Coming Shift in Democracy,” unpublished manuscript.)

Both “college is dead” and “long live college” can’t technically be true at the same time, but today’s students and their parents aren’t sure which to believe. Still, the best road to entrepreneurship is clearly the path of actually engaging entrepreneurialism.

This is a scary reality for a generation that was raised to believe that school was basically the only route to career success.

Watching Results

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that as go the attorneys, so goes the United States. Today the cutting-edge trend in legal training is a huge influx of entrepreneurialism.

Ultimately, as another report put it:

“It used to be that college was the ticket to the top. Now graduates are starting from the bottom—buried by student-loan debt that has skyrocketed to a collective $1.2 trillion” in the United States. (Kayla Webley, Generation Debt, MarieClaire, June 2014) Today’s college students and graduates are coming to be known less as the Millennial Generation and more as “Generation Debt.” (ibid.)

This doesn’t mean that higher education is dead. It means that “hire education” is going to be increasingly judged by how well it works—meaning how effectively its users succeed as entrepreneurs.

As a result, a lot of “higher education” innovation and non-traditional types of learning—many of them informal, self-directed and hand-on-building-a-business—are beginning to flourish.

Those who successfully entrepreneur (in law and nearly every other sector of the economy) are going to be the successes of the future. Entrepreneurship is the new Ivy League.

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odemille The New Ivy League 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 “BIG” Problem by Oliver DeMille

July 30th, 2014 // 7:53 pm @

The Wrong Size

The BIG problem no exceptions 996x1024 The BIG Problem by Oliver DeMille

The “BIG” problem isn’t just hugely important, it’s also the incredible set of challenges that are created when any institution, organization, or endeavor is just plain too big. This problem is predictable, and therefore solvable, but only if the right people are keeping an eye on the right things.

Specifically, our modern government is too big. Period. Until this problem is remedied, we will continue to see crisis after crisis after crisis, each followed by infighting, gridlock, dysfunction, and major mistakes from Washington and both parties. As long as the government tries to do too much on too big a scale, it will continue to do many things poorly.

In fact, our government reached this turning point (too big to be efficient) in the late 1960s. As Micklethwait and Woolridge put it: “By the 1970s, the U.S. government seemed to be spoiling everything it touched…” (Foreign Affairs, vol. 93, no. 4, p. 126) And the size and scope of its endeavors have more than quadrupled since.

The Two Crises

This has created two overarching crises that never seem to dissipate. In fact, they’ll continue to fester and grow as long as the government grows. First, a government too big to be effective or efficient tends to infectiously weaken the effectiveness and efficiency of everything it touches—and at the same time it habitually tries to touch more and more. This dull, inevitable march to control more parts of life and the economy (and inadvertently make them all less effective) has killed every great world power in history.

Its occurrence in the United States is now the defining characteristic of our century—for the whole globe.

Second, the bigger the government gets once reaching this point of inefficiency, the less it fulfills its primary mission. For the framers, the role of what they called the “general government” (meaning the federal government, what we now usually call the “national government” or even, tellingly, “the government”), was national security and the protection of freedom.

The framers saw no other role for Washington. It’s raison de etre was to protect inalienable rights and defend the nation. Nothing else. In fact, the Constitution was designed specifically to ensure that it did nothing else. Worried that they hadn’t quite made this certain, the founding generation then added the Bill of Rights to make absolutely sure that the federal government only did these two things.

Then, just in case they hadn’t made it clear enough, they added the Ninth Amendment to the Bill of Rights. But even then they worried that they hadn’t done enough to limit the federal government. So they added the Tenth Amendment as well: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

“We want the federal government to protect inalienable rights and maintain national security, and do nothing else!” they tried to say (the Constitution). Then, “And we mean it (the Bill of Rights). We really mean it (the Ninth Amendment). Seriously, we truly, totally, emphatically, mean it! (the Tenth Amendment).”

Richard A. Epstein wrote: “…the two central concerns of constitutional law” are “institutional structure and individual rights.” (Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 705) The purpose of institutional structure is to secure individual rights, not vice versa.

The People or the Government?

But when the focus of government becomes too big, well beyond the Constitutional powers of protecting rights and maintaining the national defense, the individual rights of the people become a resource to be bargained, traded or sacrificed in the name of institutional structure. “Think not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do with or without your consent for itself,” becomes the operating principle.

The people, the individuals, are forgotten in this new arrangement. They become a cypher, expendable, unimportant. Not citizens but voters. Not a nation of, by, and for the people, but now people for, by, and of the nation (meaning whatever Washington says). In other words, an aristocracy, where elites run the nation and control the people who live in it.

This isn’t the founding model of Americanism at all. It’s the opposite. It’s top-down government, not Jefferson’s bottom-up democracy. As such, it is fundamentally authoritarian, not a self-governing republic. This has created two natural results: national decline as the world’s sole superpower, and the decline of individual freedoms.

Both declines will continue as long as the “BIG” problem (the government is too big) persists.

The Cause

But what can be done, realistically? The federal government can be held to its Constitutional boundaries. It can be limited to national defense and the protection of the inalienable rights of its citizens. This is why the government was created in the first place, and when it tries to do anything else beyond these two roles it is both unconstitutional and also destructive to freedom, prosperity, and happiness.

The people still have the power to remedy this, in every election, if they’ll choose to vote wisely.

Note that nearly all nations in both the free and the authoritarian world are facing the “BIG” Problem. Following America’s lead, or in some cases simply striking out on their own, modern governments are drastically expanding—not sticking to their wise or constitutional limits. For example, the debt of governments around the world “…reached $50.6 trillion in 2013, compared with just $22 trillion in 2003.” (Ibid. p. 130)

At this rate, the fall of individual freedoms to the “BIG” Problem is all but ensured.

This trajectory isn’t surprising in the authoritarian nations, where elites openly rule the masses. But in the free nations, it is a relatively new development, one that began in the United States with the advent of the GI Bill after World War II. Before this time, education generally emphasized the classics and the great skills of deep reading (e.g. The Federalist), writing and thinking.

The BIG problem Period 1024x858 The BIG Problem by Oliver DeMille

When the government began massively funding higher education, schools changed their emphasis to job and career training, and subsequent generations of Americans stopped learning to read. Of course, they gained literacy, but as a nation we lost our high level of what I’ve called Leadership Education and what E.D. Hirsch called Cultural Literacy—a deep understanding of the same things our leaders read and think about.

In fact, before 1945, the primary focus of American education was for each child, youth and citizen to read the same books and think about the same ideas and questions as their Presidents, Senators, Judges, and leading CEOs.

Allan Bloom called this momentous shift away from cultural literacy “the closing of the American mind,” and he warned that unless we reversed this trend democracy was doomed. We didn’t reverse it, and as a result, as mentioned above, “By the 1970s, the U.S. government seemed to be spoiling everything it touched…” (Op Cit)

In the 2010s, the dearth of leadership education is a wholesale national crisis. Very few people know how to really read the fine print of government any more. In such situations, rule by elites is the only historical norm.

If we are merely voters rather than engaged citizens, we vote poorly. We are swayed by media, photogenicism, and campaign popularity contests. We ignore the fact that candidates lie, or more accurately that once in office they routinely fail to live up to their campaign promises.

We become a nation of children, led around by our elite handlers, rather than a nation of adults who closely scan government actions and keep our politicians and their policies on a tight leash.

Again, the fundamental problem is that we aren’t in the habit of reading or thinking like leaders. For example, consider the following commentary from a contemporary source:

“Freedom of speech” in “freedom of speech, or of the press” means the freedom of all to speak; this suggests that “freedom…of the press” in the same phrase means the freedom of all to use the press. Reading “freedom” to mean “freedom of every person to engage in an activity” when “freedom” relates to “speech,” but reading the same word in the same place as meaning “the freedom of some particular group of people” when it relates to “the press” is not how users of the English language use these kinds of closely connected clauses…” (Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 733)

Most moderns don’t enjoy reading such paragraphs. They wonder what it is about, why it matters, and why they should read it at all. They have to dig to ascertain it’s meaning, and even then they feel a bit unsure. They consider it the kind of reading to be done by experts, not every citizen. Yet this is the argument a Supreme Court Justice used to make the case that everyone has the right to share their opinions openly—against some who argued that the only ones with this right are actually professional reporters and journalists.

This is a huge deal, with massive consequences to our freedom. Yet almost the only people who read such paragraphs are experts. In the founder’s time, the regular citizens read such ideas and discussed them at length. In our day, we don’t.

Then, when we go to the ballot box, we vote very differently than the founders or any other people who actually closely study and understand the fine print. No nation keeps its freedoms when the regular people don’t read, think, and spend time analyzing the same things as their political officials. Every nation that leaves political details to the experts loses its freedom to a professional expert governing class. There are no exceptions in history.

Yet today we are two nations: the masses, who focus on their careers (from kindergarten through retirement) and entertainments, and the elites who read the fine print and understand it—and use the education of their children to pass on these same skills and interests. This is aristocracy, pure and simple. Freedom and democracy cannot last in such a climate.

One more example, though there are thousands that could be used:

“…today we have about 5,000 federal criminal statutes on the books, most added in the last few decades [since the shift of the 1970s]. And the spigot keeps pouring, with hundreds of new statutory crimes inked every few years. Neither does that begin to count the thousands of additional regulatory crimes buried in the federal register. There are so many crimes cowled in the numbing fine print of those pages that scholars actually debate their number.” (Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 747.)

This is the “BIG” Problem in a nutshell. If people don’t know the law, how can they obey the law? If government becomes so big that only the experts know the law, we are living in an aristocracy. But when government becomes so big that even the experts don’t know the law, the nation itself is in danger. Everything the government touches weakens, and the government tries to touch everything. This is today’s America.

The Solution

The answer is to teach the current generation of youth how to read. Really read, in the Allan Bloom, culturally literate, Leadership Education way of reading. Such reading empowers the regular people to think about the same ideas the experts, government officials, and top leaders are thinking about. This creates a nation that is capable of a democratic republic, and of freedom.

No other education allows a citizenry to remain free.

This starts by teaching young people (and adults, where needed) to read the classics. Then to read the scholarly journals and other deep writings of experts and government officials. Without this skill, and this habit, freedom is always lost.

Ironically, most people reject this solution because it takes too long, and can compete with their kids’ career training. This is exactly the short-term viewpoint that is trained into the masses by conveyor-belt schooling. The elites, in contrast, make this a major priority. They ensure that their youth have a leadership education above all else. They know this is the key to their future power. Elite private schools train leadership through the classics.

People who don’t read the classics, the scholarly journals and writings, and important government documents, are part of the masses. Those who do are part of the ruling elites. The goal is to get the majority of citizens reading these things. Only then are the people the rulers, and only then is a nation free.

The “BIG” Problem can only be solved the LITTLE Solution: you reading the classics, journals and other deep writings, and government documents—a little each day. If you don’t do this, you will witness less freedom and the major decline of your nation, and even less freedom for your children and grandchildren.

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

odemille The BIG Problem 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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A Missing Piece of Entrepreneurship

July 25th, 2014 // 7:38 am @

What Some Entrepreneurs Are Missing

A missing piece of entrepreneurship Free enterprise rewards A Missing Piece of Entrepreneurship

I write a lot about entrepreneurship, even though my main focus is freedom. The reason for this is simple: free nations are always nations with a strong entrepreneurial sector. There are no exceptions in history.

Put simply, the great free nations of human experience had a flourishing free enterprise. This was true in ancient Athens and ancient Israel, the Swiss free era and the Frank golden age, the free periods of the Saracens and also the Anglo-Saxons, the American founding era and the modern free nations of Britain, U.S., Canada, Japan and Europe, among others.

Take away free enterprise, and a nation’s freedom always declines. Shut down the entrepreneurial spirit, and liberty rapidly decreases.

The main reason freedom rises or falls with entrepreneurialism is simple: 1) to succeed as an entrepreneur, a person must exhibit the character traits of initiative, innovation, ingenuity, creativity, wise risk-taking, sacrifice, tenacity, frugality, resilience, and perseverance, and 2) these characteristics are precisely the things that through history have proven necessary for free citizens to stay free.

 The Hidden Problem

The large majority of responses when I write about entrepreneurship are thoughtful, insightful, and even wise. But once in a while when I write an article pointing out the importance of free enterprise and entrepreneurship to freedom, I get a strange response. I call it “strange” because it shows that some people don’t quite understand what I mean by entrepreneurship. Such comments go something like this:

“I’m a born entrepreneur, and I’ve started dozens of businesses, so I understand that…”

“I have a list of ideas for successful entrepreneurial projects—could you suggest which of these might be the best options…”

“My spouse is constantly starting entrepreneurial ventures and using up our capital in such schemes, and your article made him want to do several more of them…”

These types of sentences are a real head-scratcher. Why? Because this isn’t what successful entrepreneurship and free enterprise is all about. Not at all.

Successful entrepreneurs typically start 2-4 businesses during their life, not dozens, and at least one of them becomes an important enterprise. The free market just doesn’t reward people who start dozens of businesses, frequently jumping around from business to business.

People who are constantly engaged in their latest “start-up” aren’t really following the entrepreneurial path. They’re just endlessly repeating the first part of it. Free enterprise rewards those who stick with a business until it becomes a real success, or who learn from the mistakes of the past and then stick with the next venture until it truly prospers.

A lot of successful entrepreneurs have had a failure or two, but not many of them have spent their years working on dozens of businesses. They soon learn to pick one and do what it takes to succeed. They buckle down and go through the process of turning their company into something.

In fact, many successful owners have suggested that it takes about 10,000 hours, or even more, to become good enough at a business or economic sector to make it profitable. Those who are constantly jumping around just can’t ever get there.

 The Real Thing

When people talk about an entrepreneurial attitude or viewpoint of always starting another business, that’s one thing. But it’s not the same thing as tenaciously persevering until one business flourishes—and then tenaciously persevering as it keeps thriving.

a missing piece of entrepreneurship hard work and tenacity 995x1024 A Missing Piece of Entrepreneurship

This latter approach is the kind of entrepreneurship that builds a nation. It’s more than just a posture or a habit of starting a bunch of businesses. It’s more than liking the idea of business ownership. It’s more than talking about being your own boss.

It takes an amazing amount of hard work and tenacity to make a business truly work. Nothing else really gets the job done—for entrepreneurship, or for freedom.

This might seem like a little thing, like a meaningless play on words, but it isn’t. It is huge! Entrepreneurship doesn’t spur liberty in a society just because some people have an independent, “I’ll do it myself” or “I’d rather be my own boss” attitude. That’s part of it, but there’s more.

Free enterprise is great when the enterprises work. This happens only when the small business owner pays the price to become a successful leader and make the enterprise blossom and grow.

Again, this might not always occur—and it never comes easily—but the leaders who build a free nation are those who hunker down and do the hard work to make it happen. Even if they fail, they make it happen the next time. One dedicated day at a time. Through all the hard times and challenges. Even when everyone else would have given up.

A nation with a lot of such entrepreneurs has a real chance at freedom.

A nation without them never does.

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

odemille A Missing Piece of Entrepreneurship 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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