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Constitution

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.

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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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Friends of Foes? (Obama’s Liberal Detractors Grow) by Oliver DeMille

June 30th, 2014 // 6:57 am @

President Versus

Modern citizens tend to see what happens in Washington as mainly partisan, timesup 746x1024 Friends of Foes? (Obamas Liberal Detractors Grow) by Oliver DeMilleand certainly party disputes are a major part of our governance. But they aren’t the only conflict in play.

In fact, James Madison pointed out in Federalist 10 that freedom is protected when factions, parties, government branches, and even levels of government are pitted against each other.

When Democrats in the White House find themselves arguing with Democrats in the Congress, for example, or when House Republicans face off against conservative governors and other state- and local-level Republican officials, the normal power of partisan politics can be reduced.

Everyone tends to benefit when this happens, because it creates an additional check on any part of government seeking too much power.

If anything, it is unfortunate that this doesn’t occur more often.

Right now the Democratic Party is dealing with just such an internal battle. It takes the form of the President versus Congressional candidates who are running for office this year and need to break from the White House in order to get enough votes. Also the President versus Hillary Clinton and other potential Democratic presidential candidates who are trying to build their own following.

It also includes the President versus various Democratic Washington insiders who feel that his more controversial policies are hurting the Party. And the President versus past members of his administration, current members who keep “leaking” inside scoops to the media, and the usually liberal media that is now pressing the President more aggressively than at any point since his election in 2008.

Freedom is protected 2 945x1024 Friends of Foes? (Obamas Liberal Detractors Grow) by Oliver DeMille

Fighting Allies

In short, it seems to be the President versus a lot, if not most, of his own Party—not just in Washington but in many states and locales as well.

George Will noted that the President has faced strong opposition among his own party in a number of major crises during the past year. Such conflicts include sharp criticism about the failures of the Obamacare website, the Snowden revelations about government spying on its own people, the IRS scandal, the White House “negotiating with terrorists” and swapping prisoners with the Taliban, the President’s seeming weakness in dealing with Putin and the Ukraine, the controversial EPA rules, Democratic opposition to Presidential appointments (e.g. Larry Summers), Democratic resistance to the President’s attempts to use force in Syria, etc.

All in all, the President’s own party is rendering his policy agenda and even his responses to national crises very difficult. Oh, and no surprise, the Republicans are doing their part to oppose him as well. But it is the division in his own party that is really creating a problem for him—the word popping up now in the press is “incompetence” or “a lack of presidential competence.”

Most national Democratic leaders are quick to verbally support the President in conversations with Republicans, but among their constituents and on Capitol Hill they are increasingly going their own way. Even when it directly conflicts with the Administration.

As the elections heat up for 2014 and in preparation for the big one in 2016, many Democrats are finding that Obamacare and perceived problems with the Obama Administration are hurting them among voters. They are naturally distancing themselves from the Oval Office, and this trend is spreading.

Lasting Wisdom

amazing constitution 773x1024 Friends of Foes? (Obamas Liberal Detractors Grow) by Oliver DeMilleMadison wanted a divided government (3 branches competing against each other, as well as the state and federal levels closely watching the excesses of the other), and the constitutional system is at least partially still working in this way. To have Democrats checking Democrats and Republicans checking each other brings an extra smile to many independents. If a Republican were in the White House, a major international crisis could bring the GOP together in support of the President, but it doesn’t seem likely that anything similar will help President Obama. In fact, international affairs seem to be the focal point of the Democratic divisions.

The most powerful “Tea Party” work seems to be occurring among a growing number of Democrats who are committed to checking what they consider to be excesses of the current Administration.

The Constitution never ceases to amaze! Even as Washington grows to massive levels and most Americans agree that the government is deeply broken, the framers’ wisdom still manages to keep even the most powerful office in the world from exerting truly unchecked influence. This must be frustrating to those in power. Bravo Madison, Dickinson, Franklin and all your colleagues. Bravo!

Of course, if the framers were here today, they’d no doubt point out that this will only last so long. If we don’t become the kind of citizen-leaders they were, we will lose the rest of our freedoms—sooner rather than later.

(If you haven’t read Oliver DeMille’s new book, We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident, this is a great place to start! This may be one of the most important books so far in the 21st Century. It is truly a Must Read!)

 

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odemille Friends of Foes? (Obamas Liberal Detractors Grow) 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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Where Do You Stand on a Constitutional Convention?

June 3rd, 2014 // 11:18 am @

An Invitation to Join the Current Debate

Please participate in a conversation with us. Here goes:

Background

I received the two emails within a week of each other, and they really made me think.

First of all, they made me happy. I’m so glad there are two people out there so passionate and studious about a topic that most Americans don’t ever think about.

That’s great.

bilde Where Do You Stand on a Constitutional Convention?

Image Credit: IndyStar.com

The fact that there are two such people actually making contact means there are certainly a lot more engaged with the issue, and actually these were only 2 of dozens of notes I’ve received on the same topic. Wonderful.

We need this kind of citizen participation in order for our freedom to work and last.

The Debate

Second, well…just consider these two notes:

“Oliver, why do you support a Constitutional Convention that will send delegates from each state to rewrite our Constitution? Don’t you know that the participants will be almost entirely today’s politicians and attorneys, and possibly a few famous Establishment Academicians from the Ivy League or Berkeley thrown in, and that they’ll reject everything in the Constitution, get rid of the three branches and the checks and balances and who knows what else? Anyone who supports this just doesn’t understand freedom.”

I had to respond that I have never supported a Constitutional Convention, in fact I have written against it on various occasions. Some readers got confused when I quoted a couple of well-known supporters of a Convention, thinking I agreed with them.

Actually, those who read my full article could see that I quoted them to show that they were up to no good—because these particular supporters of a Convention want to use it to reject the Constitution and go to a Parliamentary system. Bad idea for freedom.

I have to point out, however, that some people who support a Convention do so for all the right reasons. Still, if a Convention happens, its actions will all depend on who gets sent as delegates.

The second note was very different, though similar in tone:

“Oliver, how can you not support a Constitutional Convention? I know you think it will be hijacked by today’s lawyers and politicians and used to throw away the Constitution and replace it with something much worse, but how is that any different from what’s happening anyway? If we don’t hold a Convention, we’ll continue to see the politicians and special interest groups just circumvent the Constitution, and the President, Congress and Court just ignore it when it’s inconvenient.

“This problem is getting worse, and most people really think that we’re under the Constitution. But we’re not. It’s ignored or circumvented every day, and this trend is only growing. At least with a Convention the loss of our freedoms will be out in the open. People will know what’s happening. And there is a chance, a slim one I grant you, but a chance, that the people and states will send good delegates who really do something to refocus on the principles of the original Constitution and help restore our freedoms.

“Without a Convention, there is absolutely no chance of this at all. Why don’t you support at least a chance for freedom? Without a Convention, Washington will just continue to destroy the Constitution piece by piece until our freedoms are entirely gone. A Convention gives us a slim chance for freedom, while no Convention gives us no chance.”

I’ve heard this argument before. In fact, I heard it from one of my mentors, W. Cleon Skousen, who said almost exactly the same words. When he said this back in the 1990s, I argued that the Constitution was still mostly intact, and we should give the natural tension between branches of government the time it needed to correct the problems.

He countered that it was headed in the wrong direction and would soon become unsalvagable without either a Convention or some major world crisis that forced a Convention—or something like it. Most of his predictions have certainly come true, the Constitution is much less followed or valued than it was just twenty years ago when he and I enjoyed in a number of deep discussions on this topic.

For example, the Spring 2014 edition of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy has no less than 8 full articles on how the federal government is right now further ignoring or circumventing the Constitution and drastically encroaching on state’s rights!

Would such states now feel the need to send good, freedom-supporting delegates to a Constitutional Convention just to get their rights back?

Should those of us who have opposed a Convention change our minds before all of Cleon’s predictions happen?

Or will a Convention just speed up the loss of our freedoms and give us less time to do something else—outside a Convention—that really could work? After our long and deep discussions, Cleon and I agreed on how we thought this point would go.

More later on what we decided…

What Do You Think?

So, what do you think of these two arguments? More importantly, where do you stand?

Will a Constitutional Convention help us?

Do you think it gives us a slim chance for a restoration of freedom?

Do you think anything else realistically gives us a better chance?

I have a strong opinion on this, but before I share more about it I want to see what you think. Seriously, what do you think can turn our nation in the direction of freedom (and end our current direction of decreasing freedom and inevitable decline)?

Is a Convention the answer?

What, if any, other truly realistic policy answers are there? Specifically?

I’m excited to see how many people care enough to answer, and what great ideas you have.

How to Share Your Vote

Please don’t just rehash the two views above. If you think a Convention is a bad idea, for the reasons above, just write: “My vote is against a Convention.” If you think a Convention is needed for the reasons above, just write, “I’m for a Convention.”

But if you have any third ideas beyond a Convention that can really fix America, or different reasons for or against a Convention, please share them.

[Be civil and polite in this; I’ll just delete any name-calling or uncivil responses or words toward anyone or any view joining this discussion. Every view deserves to be heard.]

This topic is too important to turn impolite.

This is a very important discussion, and I’ll tally the responses and share some that really add to the topic, along with my own ideas on what needs to happen—in a future article.

I look forward to reading your thoughts!

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odemille Where Do You Stand on a Constitutional Convention? 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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Who Will Stand For Freedom

May 21st, 2014 // 11:10 am @

The Destiny of Freedom

In 1961 the great legal scholar Bruno Leoni wrote about freedom in modern times.

manholdingflag 300x221 Who Will Stand For FreedomHe said:

“It seems to be the destiny of individual freedom at the present time to be defended mainly be economists rather than by lawyers or political scientists.”

Why? Leoni’s answer was intriguing:

“As far as lawyers are concerned, perhaps the reason is that they are in some way forced to speak on the basis of their professional knowledge and therefore in terms of contemporary law.”

As a result, since modern law is too often in the business of reducing freedom rather than supporting it, most of today’s attorneys have become experts on the opposite of freedom.

How They Speak

As Lord Bacon would have said, “They speak as if they were bound.” Over fifty years later, the same is true of nearly all today’s economists, teachers and professors. Sad.

The modern intelligentsia has become a body of experts on force. Their expertise is usually focused on how to reduce freedom—though few use these specific words to describe their careers.

Leoni continued: “Political scientists, on the other hand, often to appear to be inclined to think of politics as a sort of technique, comparable, say, to engineering, which involves the idea that people should be dealt with by political scientists approximately in the same way as machines or factories are dealt with by engineers.

“The engineering idea of political science has, in fact, little, if anything, in common with the cause of individual freedom” just as “the contemporary legal systems to which [attorneys are now] bound seem to leave an ever-shrinking area to individual freedom.”

Leoni’s words cut right to the heart of the matter.

When I was in college in the late 1980s, I heard a speaker tell a group of young student leaders how to influence society. I don’t remember his exact words, but his meaning was clear.

He told us, “If you want to make the nation and world more committed to liberal ideals, become a journalist, professor, teacher, or attorney. If you want to promote conservative goals in society, go to business school and become an executive.”

It was a shallow, but prophetic, suggestion. In the three decades since, his recommendation has proven accurate for two whole generations, and today it is part of the rising generation’s culture.

Pushing the Wrong Direction

But what profession(s), if any, stand today for individual freedom? The economists have mostly gone the direction of law—bound too often by their profession’s expertise in how to reduce freedom.

The days when Leoni spoke on the same podium with Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek are long gone.

Likewise gone to the dustbin of history is the era when many business executives advanced the cause of liberty as one of their main goals. Now the drive is to survive in the global economy, usually by expanding one’s company outside of North America and Europe.

This is the overarching focus of most boards and executives.

The economy now rewards growth, not promotion of freedom—just like the professions tend to promote young people who support the push for more institutional controls and power, not more liberty for the masses.

As the divide between the rich and the rest widens, the pressure to impress the Establishment grows. Youthful ideals (such as freedom) are the last thing on today’s executive agenda.

The Factory Model

In the midst of the Charter School movement of the mid-1990s, I spoke on the same stage as a courageous woman who had founded a successful East Coast inner city Charter high school. In a moment together in the Green Room, I asked her how long she thought she could keep teaching the principles of freedom in her cutting-edge school.

She replied that, given the pace of intrusive government regulation over Charter schools (and schools in general), she thought she had 5-10 years before she would have to reject state funds and turn the school private.

Today, over 15 years later, the school has grown into a lucrative business, regulation has shut down the original curriculum and replaced it with one practically identical to the public schools in the same city, and this lady still runs her Charter school.

But where her school once stood for freedom against the mediocrity of the public conveyor belt, it has now joined the factory model.

And she is now “respectable,” not an educational reformer or freedom thought leader any more, but just another of the city’s high school principals—professionally reined in, committed to “the system.”

She has even stopped teaching the freedom classics that convinced her to start the Charter school in the first place.

This professional caving in to institutional pressure is what Leoni lamented in 1961 about his beloved profession of law. But today it is much more widespread.

The “civilizing decline and fall of the professions” is nearly complete. Now most (not all) lawyers, teachers, professors, economists, journalists and executives fight for the same side—big institutions, the Wall Street-White House nexus, the Ivy League-Federal Government connection, the Boston/New York City/Washington D.C. corridor, the big business/big government power elite. The Establishment.

In all this, who will stand against elite rule?

Who will stand for freedom?

Unheeded Messages

Leoni’s book, Freedom and the Law, a fantastic classic, was written in an attempt to convince the legal profession to take a stand for liberty, not slip into the easier current of seeking benefits from big government. Leoni predicted that his outcry would fail to convince enough people to turn down such lucrative promises, but he felt he had to try anyway.

Freedom was worth it.

Leoni made it clear that every loss of freedom is an increase in constraint, and constraint by government is always autocratic. No exceptions. Therefore, every minor decrease of freedom is an attack on the very roots of liberty.

In a sense, Leoni did the same thing Virgil tried to do centuries ago when he saw Rome falling. Virgil warned that a loss of individual freedom here and there would trigger a loss of freedom for everyone in the nation. But he was basically ignored.

In fact, his great work on this topic, entitled Georgics, is still hardly even read or studied today.

Sadly, the message of warning about losing freedom seems forever destined to go unheeded—until it is lost, at which point people get very interested in the topic.

Leoni’s view of freedom takes us back to the basics. He argued that freedom is ultimately nothing more than the Golden Rule, the idea that we should only do unto others what we would be happy having them do to us. To the extent that this is followed in a society, it is genuinely free.

To the level it is ignored, for whatever reason (private or governmental), freedom declines.

Important Questions

To understand freedom, using this definition, just ask yourself: “Who would I give the power to make all my decisions for me?”

Your answer tells where you stand for freedom. If you say, “nobody,” or “God, and nobody else,” you are adamantly a supporter of freedom. If you say “the government,” you are adamantly against freedom. If you say, “my employer, and government, and local committees and boards,” you are choosing socialism.

Note that the question was who would you give the power to make ALL your decisions, not some of them, or a few of them, or certain decisions, or even a lot of them. All of them. The answer tells you where you stand on the freedom question.

Leoni expands this one question into several:

  1. How do you want to be treated?
  2. Are you willing to treat others the way you want to be treated?
  3. Are you willing to voluntarily sacrifice to create and maintain a society where everyone is treated this way?
  4. Who will rule in such a society, who will choose these rulers, and how can these rulers be kept from using their power to treat people in wrong ways?
  5. Why do you allow society and rulers to treat you and others in wrong ways?
  6. What are you doing to ensure that everyone is treated the right way?

These are the questions of freedom.

What are your answers?

 The future belongs to innovation,
not conformity.

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

odemille Who Will Stand For Freedom 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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Category : Blog &Citizenship &Constitution &Current Events &Economics &Education &Entrepreneurship &Generations &Government &History &Leadership &Liberty &Mini-Factories

How to Deal With the BLM (A Modest Proposal)

April 15th, 2014 // 12:53 pm @

by Oliver DeMille

Here a -Gate, There a -Gate

putin bundy How to Deal With the BLM (A Modest Proposal)The IRS targeting scandal and BLM-gate in Nevada hit the news again this week. If you missed these two huge stories, do a quick web search and catch up on the news. Both may be precursors of a Constitutional crisis. Add the shocking turn of events (and aftermath) surrounding Benghazi as well.

The truth is, there is a fundamental problem with the way our government works right now. It is structurally broken, and without a real fix things are going to continue to decline. Washington and its out-of-control agencies and branches will continue to expand—breaking the bank and reducing the freedoms of our nation with every advance.

The problem is that the President and Executive Branch are engaged in domestic policy. Period. The framers only wanted the President to deal with national security.

This is a massive change, and it creates an almost insurmountable national crisis.

As long as this is our system, national crises are going to continue. Like dominoes falling, we’ll witness once crisis after another.

People will wonder why Washington can’t get it right, but few will realize the truth: The federal government simply isn’t well designed to do what it is doing. It is designed to be tough on foreign enemies, to leave interactions with its own citizens to the state and local governments.

What’s Washington “For”?

This bears repeating until every American figures it out:

  • The federal government is designed to stop foreign attackers.
  • It is designed to keep the President from becoming a tyrant while he still has enough massive power to effectively repel any security threats to the nation.
  • It is designed with a congress that has the power to ensure that the states help fund and support whatever it takes to stop any attacks on the nation.
  • It is designed to allow the Court to settle disputes between the states in a peaceful manner.

These are, fundamentally, all the federal government is supposed to do. This is how the Constitution was written.

Today the federal government acts like these Constitutional responsibilities are just minor duties, afterthoughts really–as if funding and managing myriad federal programs in every walk of life and in every small town or valley, home and business across the nation is their real job.

As long as this is the case, America will decline.

On the one hand, we’ll decline because Washington too often uses its power stupidly—sending the BLM to shoot a rancher’s cattle or using the IRS to investigate political rivals. But this is natural to a government that was set up to fight its enemies.

The Executive Branch thinks like what it is: a national security apparatus.

And in the context of security issues, the Congress thinks like what it is: an arm to raise funds for the Executive and simultaneously keep the Executive from becoming tyrannical.

All of this is excellent when it is pointed at real threats to America. How about: use the resources of the BLM, IRS, ATF, FDA, etc. on Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Russia? See how Putin deals with that!

Misdirection

The truth is, the tactics used by many of our federal agencies would be much better suited against Putin’s Russia than our current international policies.

Sadly, they are used more often against our own people than against our adversaries. Sic the NSA on the phone records of China and Iran, not Burbank or Atlanta.

When the national security apparatus (which should be synonymous with “Washington D.C.”) targets Americans, it does so in the wrong way. It was never designed as a government to oversee its own people. The framers structured it specifically for national defense.

The states and local governments were supposed to do the governing of the people. Read the Constitution. Read the Federalist Papers. This focus was clear.

The second problem, the second reason our system is broken, is that in focusing on domestic governance (unconstitutionally), the federal government is less likely to do its real job—national security.

Why do we send federal agents against a rancher in Nevada or conservative groups applying to the IRS, but send nobody to protect our diplomats in Benghazi?

The federal government has forgotten why it exists.

It spies on its own people, but does nothing except bluster as Iran fails one nuclear inspection deadline after another.

Domestic policy and politics get in the way every time the Congress or the Executive Branch want to do what really should be done for national defense.

We let Putin or China get away with, literally, murder and torture because our federal leaders are afraid to take a stand that might jeopardize them politically.

Here’s a thought…

If the federal government only dealt with national defense, including mitigation of disputes between states, it wouldn’t have this concern. It would take Putin on with strength—the way the ATF and BLM deal with American citizens.

The irony here is shocking.

We putter around with true dictatorship such as North Korea and Iran, and try to make friends with raw aggression from Russia.

The federal government talks big against Putin and China, but it only actually bares its teeth when faced by a one of its own senior citizens and a few cattle.

Again, the Constitutional structure is going unheeded. Until we simply follow the Constitution, our decline is assured.

But what can we do? What are the realistic policies or changes that can fix our plight?

It’s great to talk about the ideals of the Constitution, but what about real solutions?

I agree–we need real changes. So here’s my proposal:

Let’s convince the Obama Administration and Congress to round up all agents who carry guns for the BLM, ATF, IRS, NSA, FDA and any other federal agency and ship them to the Ukraine.

This won’t consist of sending “military” forces because they’re not soldiers, they’re bureaucrats.

It won’t hurt the United States, since the absence of thousands of meddling federal officials will likely cause an economic boom in America.

It will be a real blow to Putin’s aggression, however. They U.S. bureaucrats speak his language.

They’ll cite policies, procedures, precedents, and email/phone data they’ve been secretly collecting on Ukrainians for many years. Putin’s people won’t know what hit them.

When the Russians threaten violence, our “Bureau Team Six” will just make up their own laws, agency rules, and executive orders and enforce them.

No matter how the Russian generals respond, they’ll have an answer: “Who cares what the people on the ground think?” “Who cares what the Constitution says?” “Logic and common sense? What’s that got to do with anything?” “Come on, Putin, just do what we say.”

If all else fails, Bureau Team Six will just write up some new policies and print them out on their laser printer. Then they’ll point to these “laws” and tell the Russians that this is agency policy with the full backing of the U.S. federal government.

Indeed, this Corps of Really Armed Bureaucrats (CRABs) is already highly trained in the exact tactics that will put Putin’s power grab in its place.

When they’re done in the Ukraine, let’s send them to North Korea. They should be able to shape things up quickly.

Then on to Iran.

Back at the Ranch

Meanwhile, the economy at home will be booming.

Less regulation will foster more opportunity.

Fewer dogmatic enforcers will encourage innovation and increased prosperity.

International investors will move their money to American businesses, and employment and salaries will increase.

It’s amazing how quickly things can be fixed when we simply follow good principles. The Constitution is actually a really good idea. We should consider following it.

Conclusion

Satire aside, our system really is broken, and nothing will fix it until the federal government gets out of the governing business and gets back to focusing exclusively on national security. If this is too big a change, then the U.S. cannot stand as a free nation.

 

FreedomBundle How to Deal With the BLM (A Modest Proposal)For more on how “regular citizens” can preserve freedom, see Oliver’s Freedom Bundle:

  • FreedomShift
  • 1913
  • We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident
  • The Coming Aristocracy
  • The Four Lost American Ideals

Click here for more information >>

 

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

odemille How to Deal With the BLM (A Modest Proposal) 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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Category : Blog &Citizenship &Constitution &Current Events &Foreign Affairs &Government &Leadership &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Politics &Statesmanship

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