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The Latch-Key Generation & Independents

September 16th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

The rise of Independents isn’t an accident. It is the natural result of both major parties emphasizing politics over principle and ideology over pragmatism.

A third reason for the rise of Independents is the widespread loss of blind faith in man-made institutions (like government and corporations) as the answers to society’s challenges.

These institutions have failed to perform, over and over, causing many of even the staunchest state- and market-loyalists to feel skeptical.

Fourth, the e-revolution has created a technological power of the citizenry, at least in the ability to widely voice views that diverge from the mainstream parties.

The Internet gave Independents (and many others) a voice. People who believed in common-sense pragmatism and principled choices over party loyalty have been around for a long time, but the e-revolution was needed to give them group influence.

But all of these reasons are really just after-the-fact justifications for why so many people are no longer channeled politically through one of the top parties.

They explain why people aren’t Republicans or Democrats, but they don’t explain why Independents are Independents.

Some Independents are actually from the far right and just anti-liberal, and others are leftists who are Independents because they are anti-conservative. Some are one-issue Independents, emphasizing the environment, feminism, race, the gold standard, etc.

A growing number of Independents, however, are Independents because they believe in a shared new ideal.

They have faith in both government and the market, but only to a certain extent. They are truly neither liberal nor conservative, but moderate. They want government and markets to work, and they want to limit both as needed.

Still, they are not just moderates, they are something more.

Three Versions of Management

What makes these Independents tick? They are motivated by a new focus, a set of goals surprising and even confusing to anyone who was taught that American politics is about right versus left, conservative versus liberal, family values versus progressivism, religious versus secular, hawk versus dove, and all the other clichés.

Independents are something new.

Daniel Pink argues that business is going through a major shift, that the entire incentive landscape of employees, executives and even owner-investors is changing.

Our ancestors were motivated mostly by “Management 1.0,” Pink says, which was a focus on physical safety and protection from threats.

“Management 2.0” came when people learned to produce things in a routine way, from planned agriculture to industry.

People became more motivated by a “carrot-and-stick” model of “extrinsic motivators.” Managers, teachers, parents and politicians created complex systems of rewards and punishments, penalties and bonuses to achieve results in this new environment.

In this model, conservatives are 1.0 because they want government to limit itself to protecting its citizens from external threats, to national security and legal justice.

Liberals support a 2.0 model where the role of government is to incentivize positive community behaviors by people and organizations, and also to enforce a complex system of punishments to deter negative behavior.

In education, 1.0 is the one-room schoolhouse focusing on delivering a quality, personalized education for each student.

In contrast, 2.0 is a conveyor-belt system that socializes all students and provides career rewards through job training, with benefits doled out based on academic performance.

The problem with 1.0 is that education is withheld from some based on race, wealth and sometimes gender or religion.

The 2.0 version remedies this, ostensibly providing democratic equality for students from all backgrounds; but the cost is that personalization and quality are lost, and a de facto new elite class is created by those who succeed in this educational matrix.

On the political plane, 1.0 promoted freedom but for an elite few, while 2.0 emphasized social justice but unnecessarily sacrificed many freedoms.

Version 3.0 combines freedom with inclusion, and this is the basis of the new Independents and their ideals.

It may seem oxymoronic to say that pragmatic Independents have ideals, but they are actually as driven as conservatives and liberals.

Independents want government, markets and society to work, and to work well. They don’t believe in utopia, but they do think that government has an important role along with business, and that many other individuals and organizations have vital roles in making society work.

They aren’t seeking perfect society, but they do think there is a common sense way in which the world can generally work a lot better than it does.

Mr. Pink’s “Management 3.0” is a widespread cultural shift toward “intrinsic motivators.” A growing number of people today (according to Pink) are making decisions based less on the fear of threats (1.0), or to avoid punishments or to obtain rewards (2.0), than on following their hearts (3.0).

This isn’t “right-brained” idealism or abstraction, but logic-based, rational and often self-centered attempts to seek one’s most likely path to happiness.

Indeed, disdain for the “secure career path” has become widely engrained in our collective mentality and is associated with being shallow, losing one’s way, and ignoring your true purpose and self.

This mindset is now our culture. For example, watch a contemporary movie or television series: The plot is either 1.0 (catch or kill the bad guys) or 3.0 (struggle to fit in to the 2.0 system but overcome it by finding one’s unique true path).

Settling for mediocrity in order to fit the system is today’s view of 2.0.

In contrast, the two main versions of 3.0 movies and series are: 1) Ayn Rand-style characters seeking personal fulfillment, and 2) Gene Rodenberry-style heroes who “find themselves” in order to greatly benefit the happiness of all.

Where the Greeks had tragedy or comedy, our generation finds itself either for personal gain or in order to improve the world.

Whichever version we choose, the key is to truly find and live our life purpose and be who we were meant to be.

And where so far this has grown and taken over our pop-culture and generational mindset, it is now poised to impact politics.

Few of the old-guard in media, academia or government realize how powerful this trend is.

Generations

Independents are the latch-key generation grown up.

Raised by themselves, with input from peers, they are skeptical of parents’ (conservative) overtures of care after years of emotional distance.

They are unmoved by parents’ (liberal) emotional insecurity and constant promises. They don’t trust television, experts or academics.

They don’t get too connected to any current view on an issue; they know that however passionate they may feel about it right now, relationships come and go like the latest technology and the only one you can always count on is yourself.

Because of this, you must do what you love in life and make a good living doing it. This isn’t abstract; it’s hard-core realism.

Loyalty to political party makes no sense to two generations forced to realize very young the limitations of their parents, teachers and other adults.

Why would such a generation give any kind of implicit trust to government, corporations, political parties or other “adult” figures?

Independents are more swayed by Google, Amazon and Whole Foods than Hollywood, Silicon Valley or Yale.

Appeals to authority such as the Congressional Budget Office, the United Nations or Nobel Prize winners mean little to them; they’ll study the issues themselves.

Their view of the experts is that whatever the outside world thinks of them, they are most likely far too human at home.

Officials and experts with noteworthy accolades, lofty credentials and publicized achievements make Independents more skeptical than star-struck.

They grew up with distant and distracted “corporate stars” for parents, and they aren’t impressed.

Having moved around throughout their formative years, never allowed to put down deep roots in any one town or school for long, why would they feel a powerful connection to country or nation?

If the government follows good principles, they’ll support it. If not, they’ll look elsewhere.

They understand being disappointed and having to move on and rely on themselves; in fact, this is so basic to their makeup that it is almost an unconscious religion.

If this all sounds too negative, consider the positives. The American founding had many similar generational themes.

Raised mostly by domestic help (parents were busy overcoming many out-of-the-home challenges in this generation), sent away to boarding schools or apprenticeships before puberty, the founders learned loyalty to principles over traditions, pragmatic common sense over the assurances of experts, and an idealistic yearning for improving the world over contentment with the current.

Today’s Independents are one of the most founders-like generation since the 1770s. They want the world to change, they want it to work, and they depend on themselves and peers rather than “adults” (experts, officials, etc.) to make it happen.

Independent Philosophy

There are many reasons why Independents don’t resonate with the two major parties, but this is only part of the story.

Most Independents aren’t just disenfranchised liberals or conservatives; they are a new generation with entirely new goals and views on government, business and society.

This is all hidden to most, because the latch-key generation isn’t vocal like most liberals and conservatives.

Trained to keep things inside, not to confide in their parents or adults, growing numbers of Independents are nonetheless quietly and surely increasing their power and influence.

Few Independents believe that there will be any Social Security monies left for them when they retire, so they are stoically planning to take care of themselves.

Still, they think government should pay up on its promise to take care of the Boomers, so they are happy to pay their part. Indeed, this basically sums up their entire politics.

They disdain the political debate that so vocally animates liberals and conservatives, and as a result they have little voice in the traditional media because they refuse to waste time debating.

But their power is drastically increasing. The latch-key Independents raised themselves, grew up and started businesses and families, and during the next decade they will increasingly overtake politics.

Like Shakespeare’s Henry V, they partied through the teenager stage, leaving their parents appalled by generational irresponsibility and lack of ambition, then they shocked nearly everyone with their ability and power when they suddenly decided to be adults.

Now, on eve of their entrance into political power, few have any idea of the tornado ahead.

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

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

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 : Business &Culture &Current Events &Generations &Government &Independents &Politics &Technology

Health Care Reform in the Era of the Expert Plan

September 9th, 2010 // 11:46 am @

The debate on health care reform is presented as Democrat versus Republican. In fact, this is only marginally accurate. The truth is that this is all about Expert Economic Planning versus the principle of strong but limited government.

In the latter view, government should effectively use its power to protect inalienable rights and do nothing else. Of course, many more things are needed for society to succeed, but government isn’t expected to do everything.

Communities, businesses, academia, churches, voluntary associations, service clubs, families, artists, scientists, non-profit organizations, social leaders, and other groups, people, and institutions are necessary to do all that is needed for civilization to flourish.

Government has its part to play, but it is only a part of the whole.

This entire concept now seems to be considered outdated. If it is important, the new mantra goes, then government should do it. If it isn’t important enough for government, it is still best to regulate it just in case. This is the new “wisdom.”

The Experts Know Best

healthplanorganizationalchartEnter the Expert Economic Planners, who always work in teams. They generate detailed plans, graphs, charts, projections, predictions and promises.

Anyone questioning their assumptions, methods or conclusions is labeled uneducated, insincere, uncaring, or an “idiot.”

Only detailed plans with graphs, charts and projections are considered worthy of merit.

Democrats and Republicans who like Expert Economic Planning present varying options, debate, regulate, tinker and sell. Common sense is called unintelligent.

“Where is your expert plan?” is the only question. Even pragmatism is ignored in the drive to polish and promote the Expert Plan.

The Planners include some good ideas, but much that is vital is sacrificed to the format.

“At least we’re trying.” “Any plan is better than no plan.” “We must have a plan.” “Only Experts can create a good plan.” “The Experts get to decide who is an Expert.” “Ideas from anyone not an expert can’t be considered.” “Expert Plans are in progress — so relax. It will all turn out well.”

This is the Era of the Expert Plan.

Who Should Make the Decisions, & How?

What is the basic question? Whether government should fix health care. Who is conducting all this planning? The government.

Is there any doubt what the government will decide?

As long as the government is deciding whether government or free enterprise should run something, the decision will nearly always be for government.

This was the case even with the Clinton health care plan. It failed as a bill in Congress, but convinced Congress to drastically increase its regulation of health care from that point on.

This same model applies to almost every issue and is followed by both the Democrat and Republican parties.

There is a fundamental flaw in all this. In a truly free society, the people determine their will and then send representatives to implement it within the bounds of what government should do. The polar opposite occurs where a dictator seizes power and imposes his will on the people.

There is another alternative to free society, which occurs when the people elect representatives who then meddle in and control many or most aspects of society. In this environment, everything becomes a branch of government and the private sector weakens.

The biggest problem with free society is that it is based on popular support of principles of liberty rather than on teams of expert economic planners and the reams of detailed plans they generate.

To such experts, concepts as simple as “keep a separation between business and state” or “the Constitution doesn’t give the federal government any power over certain things” are seen as simplistic, uninformed, misguided. If such ideas had any validity they’d be supported by teams of experts with elaborate plans.

In this worldview, a document of just a few pages like the U.S. Constitution is clearly sophomoric at best. Fortunately teams of expert judges have written many volumes telling us what the document really meant, or should have said.

Such is the view of the Expert Plan.

The Freedom Alternative

The health care debate will be won by a team of Expert Planners. As such, it will be confusing, frustrating and seriously lacking. This will provide job security for the Expert Planners who will be amending it for decades.

There is an alternative. A majority of people can understand freedom so well that they start truly restraining Congress to its constitutional role. If this sounds radical or impossible in 2009 it is only because teams of expert planners say so. There is a name for such a system:

Aristocracy.

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

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

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 : Aristocracy &Constitution &Current Events &Government &Liberty &Politics

What Does the Health Care Law Really Mean?

March 27th, 2010 // 1:28 pm @

If you listen to conservative leaders or Fox News, the passage of the Health Care bill that President Obama signed into law is, and I quote, “the apocalypse.”

Democrats and MSNBC, on the other hand, are hailing it as everything from the greatest legislative accomplishment since Civil Rights to a modest first step in a long line of needed government interventions in our society.

Pundits from the right are calling it the advent of a new era of worsened socialism, while liberal icons like Al Sharpton say that if it is socialism, then we voted for socialism in the last election—because the Obama Administration is simply delivering what Candidate Obama promised.

The sides are as furiously divided as when Jefferson and Hamilton laid into one another or when Nixon left office.

Liberals announce that Republicans hate children and families (or they would have supported the Health Care Bill) while Tea Parties urge their supporters, “Don’t Retreat; Reload!” Weekly network and cable news shows are full of experts heatedly or rapturously speaking in extreme terms—depending on which party they support.

As for the official political parties, they are vocally gearing up for the 2010 mid-term elections. One side claims the momentum of victory, while the other promises to “Repeal and Replace” the new Health Care law—and both provide long anecdotal lists of offenses as they protest the lack of civility.

But what does this all mean for the regular people, citizens, families, entrepreneurs, small businesses and workers of America? News reports, periodicals and websites from both sides of the aisle and numerous other organizations give answers to this question. Again, those that lean left tend to expound the great benefits of the new law while those that tend right outline its failures and even perils.

A Different Viewpoint

I’m coming at this from a totally different outlook. I’m hoping that all of us, whatever our political views, will realize that the passing of the Health Care law signals something much bigger than political parties. It is even bigger than the future of our economy, or of liberalism or conservatism.

It isn’t Armageddon, and it’s not the end of our challenges and time to wildly celebrate. It’s something different, something very real, and something every American should know about.

One of the great imperatives of a classical leadership education is innoculation against the political or expedient fury of the moment, to acclimatize the individual to a broader view in the context of history and principle—because as important as any event may be, it is best understood in the larger perspective of broad historical flows, patterns, waves and cycles. The passage of Health Care is no exception.

Indeed, the one thing that both sides and pretty much all independents and moderates agree upon is that passage of the Health Care law is incredibly important. This is true. It becomes even more significant to us when we see its real place in the patterns of history. So, what are the broader patterns and trends that point to the real significance of this law?

The Fourth Turning

 height=For well over a decade I have been recommending a modern classic by the name of The Fourth Turning. If you’re familiar with it, feel free to skip down to the next section.

For those who have never read it: authors William Strauss and Neil Howe describe a historical cycle where periods of Crisis are followed by a new Founding, then an Awakening where people challenge the principles of the Founding, then an Unraveling where two sides engage in culture wars, and finally another Crisis.

Then the pattern repeats—again and again for centuries of recorded history, and likely before.

Strauss and Howe call each phase of the cycle a “turning,” with Founding eras as first turning, Awakening and then Unraveling periods as second and third turnings, and Crisis eras as fourth turnings. Each era, as they documented, typically lasts about 15 – 25 years.

Thus the Civil War crisis was followed by Reconstruction (first turning), the Progressive era (second turning), the Roaring Twenties (third turning), and then the crisis-era fourth turning of the 1929 stock market crash, the descent into the Great Depression, and World War II.

Then (as cycles do), the pattern repeated: first-turning founding in the late 1940s and through the 1950s, second-turning awakening in the 1960s and 1970s, third-turning culture wars of the 1980s and Roaring Nineties, and an impending crisis. The pattern is quite persuasively established, and offers insight into our present circumstances.

The Fifty Steps of Crisis Eras

Strauss and Howe’s book, written before 9/11, was a warning that a new fourth turning was imminent. They predicted that it would start with a major catalyst event that would shock everyone—just like Pearl Harbor, the election of Lincoln, and the Boston Tea Party started the last several fourth turnings in American history.

They went so far as to predict the kind of catalyst events that could start a new crisis era—one of which was a global terrorist group using an airplane as a weapon.

Remember, they wrote this in 1996.

In 2008 I taught a three-day seminar at on the Fifty Steps of Crisis Periods—from the catalyst event (like Pearl Harbor or 9/11) all the way through 15 – 25 years of challenges, and up to the new legal structures which always signal the end of crisis and the start of a new founding period (e.g. the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, or the establishment of the IMF, World Bank, GATT, and United Nations in 1944-1945).

These broad historical patterns teach us a lot about current political developments and challenges. Those who focus solely on the (admittedly important) issues can tend to miss the forest for the trees.

For example, many of today’s Democrats blame the economic crisis on President Bush’s deficient leadership, while many Republicans point to Clinton Administration pressure on banks and lenders to lower mortgage standards so the lower income buyers could buy homes.

Actually: a larger historical perspective clarifies that a major economic downturn—whichever policies and presidents followed patterns and contributed to the progression—was probably unavoidable, given the societal and historical factors that were in play.

One definition of modernism is the arrogance to believe that we can control everything in our world—that economists, bankers and Presidents can control the economy, fix its problems, and keep everything always growing without waves, cycles or economic recession. We want the economic graphs of history to be up, up, up—never down.

Put simply, this has never happened in history and likely never will.

Indeed, the greatest advances of history come during founding eras; and founding eras only come after crisis periods have reshaped the economic, philosophical and institutional landscape so that the people are prepared to accept and work toward real, positive change.

The delight of summer is sweeter after winter and spring; regions with nothing but cloudless, warm and sunny days are called deserts with good reason.

In that 2008 seminar, I outlined and discussed the fifty predictable steps of crisis eras one-by-one. This dry approach admittedly didn’t drastically alter the way our national leaders responded to events; though, hopefully, it was valuable to those who attended and deeply considered the content.

They were less surprised by the advent of the Great Recession, bailouts, election results and subsequent path pursued by the Obama Administration. Events are closely, almost exactly, following the steps.

I believe we would be following the steps no matter who had won the election. Perhaps we would have varied in the details, but I do not think we would have disrupted the pattern.

Most importantly, those who understand the steps know what to expect in the decade ahead, and how it differs from party-line predictions.

For example, we have arrived at steps 15 – 19:

15. Increased regulation of business (supply your own examples here)

 

16. Many foreign conflicts (again—these are obvious)

 

17. Many government scandals (cynicism is so high on this point that these are hardly news anymore)

 

18. Widely increased stress among citizens across the nation

 

19. An economic downturn which looks bad, but seems to bounce back for a brief time

Steps 25, 26 and 43 are still ahead, along with many others:

25. Major economic downturn (likely to reach depression levels as in the 1780s, 1860s and 1930s)

 

26. A major war begins (replacing smaller conflicts with a war against a truly dangerous enemy like the British in the 1780s, the North and South in the 1860s, and Germany and Japan in the 1940s)

 

43. Leaders establish a new social contract (with a mixture of government and private institutions such as schools, health care, insurance, technology, arts, etc.)

Whatever the specifics, clearly great challenges and opportunities are still ahead in the next fifteen years—give or take. (You can get a pdf download of this article, including a complete list of The Fifty Steps of Crisis Eras, by completing the request form on the right.)

Health Care is the New New Deal

In short, whatever your political views, there is at least one non-partisan way to analyze the Health Care law: The passage of Health Care is the New Deal of our time.

If you tend to celebrate the legacy of the Roosevelt’s New Deal, you are probably glad Health Care passed.

If you dislike the New Deal, you probably object to the Health Care law.

In either case, it gives us a correlative benchmark in the pattern of history, and may indicate our place in the cycles or turnings.

If you are happy for the new law, note that history suggests that major changes are ahead and that the whole system will be revisited and revised in the next fifteen years. And by “the whole system,” I mean The Whole System, not just health care. A major remodeling of the economy, politics, views on morals, and general societal goals takes place by the end of a crisis era.

Now: for those who are frustrated, scared, or even downright furious about the new law, note that major changes are ahead and The Whole System will be revisited and revised in the next fifteen years.

Whatever your feelings about the current political climate and issues, the real battle is ahead. Indeed, as far as the steps of crisis periods go, the passage of the Health Care law signals the beginning, not the end, of the major domestic debates and internal conflicts of our time.

With the assumption that 9/11 was the catalyst event to a present fourth turning, we are only 9 years into a 15 – 25 year period of crisis.

Of course, I do have strong opinions about the Health Care law. But I hope that in the name of such sentiments I do not fail to recognize and illustrate the bigger picture.

From here on, the stakes will continue to rise and the challenges will increase. The battles ahead are much bigger than those we’ve just witnessed.

The patterns of history are belligerent on this point.

Those who care about the future of freedom would do well not to burn bridges by depending too much on the current two-party monopoly. As the challenges increase, the parties will scream louder and louder but the solutions will become less and less party affairs.

There will probably come a point when anti-partisan cooperation will be essential and even critical to the outcomes for our future.

Freedom Shift Needed!

From medical professionals to skilled laborers, much of our society’s most important work is done in shifts; these shifts often also represent a considered, organized division of labor.

In a broader perspective, the cycles of history, or turnings, are also “work shifts,” and a society’s choices and response to their current events and historical trends represent the labor of a generation in building that society’s future. In America today, a Freedom Shift—with a double entendre implied—is needed in this moment of history.

Citizens, families, communities, entrepreneurs, small businesses and leaders will have to solve things more and more in non-governmental ways. We are reaching the point where the government is overwhelming itself, and if major war arrives during the next decade (as it has virtually every other time in recorded history), government will have its hands more than full.

It will be up to us “regular people” to lead out in reforming societal views and ideas and creating and staffing a powerful and desperately needed FreedomShift.

In each major era of history (each first, second, third and fourth turning), there is a general leaning either away from freedom or toward it. And during fourth turnings, the freedomshift or forceshift, whichever wins out, drastically impacts the focus of the next sixty years. Right now we need a FreedomShift to ensure that the 21st century leans toward freedom instead of force. That decision will be made in the next fifteen-or-so years.

It will be made by you and me and others like us. It will be made by the regular people in our nation. Are we ready for such a choice?

If it were made today, I fear many of us would select any government-compelled program that promised to take care of all our needs—without consideration of the cost to freedom.

As our crises deepen and escalate, the world, our society and our minds will change, and we will have the chance to rethink this view.

Leaders are needed—thoughtful, articulate, visionary and prepared—to make sure our generation shows up for its Freedom Shift, and that a FreedomShift occurs.

If we are indeed following the historical pattern, as have thirty generations before us, we are at a banner point in history: We have now adopted our “New Deal.” This means it is time to prepare for leadership in the depression, war and societal reformation ahead in the next fifteen years.

These predictions may sound as extreme right now as predicting a 9/11 catalyst or a major economic recession did in 1999 or 2005. But the pattern predicted both; and depression, pandemic or war, and a significant societal restructure are coming.

What remains to be seen is whether we will turn these events into a Forceshift or a FreedomShift. It is up to us, and our future hangs in the balance.

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

Oliver DeMille is the founder and former president of George Wythe University, a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd Online.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

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 &Current Events &Education &Entrepreneurship &Government &Independents &Politics

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