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Education

Should We Have A Constitutional Convention or Not?

November 18th, 2014 // 9:49 am @

(The Only Way We’ll Ever Get America Back on Track)

Months ago I wrote an article about competing views on holding a Constitutional Convention to help get America back on track. I listed some of the pros and cons of both views, and asked readers for their thoughts.

Constitution We the People 1024x371 Should We Have A Constitutional Convention or Not?

Two Surprises

I was surprised by two things: 1) the huge number of responses to my article, and 2) the extremely strong emotions people shared about how we must avoid a Convention at all costs, and, alternatively, how without a Convention America is truly doomed.

I knew people felt strongly about both sides of this issue, but I didn’t realize just how passionately many people feel it.

I got hardly any responses that were lukewarm. Everything was ice-cold hatred of the very topic of a Convention, or boiling-hot support of its absolute necessity. The most interesting thing about this is that pretty much everyone who responded—from both sides—is deeply committed to freedom, to the principles of the Constitution, and to the vital importance of America’s future freedom.

I mentioned in my original article on this topic that I had my own opinion. I read each response carefully and with an open mind to see if anything swayed my views. After reading them all, I remain committed to my original viewpoint. And I’m ready to share it.

The Reality

For those who are adamantly supportive of either side, my thoughts are likely to be frustrating. I see the value of both views. I think a Convention is either a wonderful idea or a terrible idea, and we won’t truly know which until after it is held (if it ever happens, that is). Thus, we should either not hold it at all, or we should hold it but be sure there is a real chance of it doing the right things.

This view isn’t very helpful if your focus is on whether or not to have a Convention. But there is a method to my viewpoint. There is a bigger reality at play here, and too often the people supporting or opposing a Convention don’t realize just how important it is. Let me explain.

One respondent wrote: “Our form of government was made for a moral people…. We need the people to change, not the Constitution!”

Powerful words. I would add two words to make this even more poignant: “Our form of government was made for a moral and wise people…. We need the people to change, not the Constitution!”

This is dead right. Those who oppose a Convention use this to make the case that “Since many of our people and leaders lack morality and wisdom, a Convention will simply throw away the best thing we have going for us—the Constitution.”

armwrestling copy 200x300 Should We Have A Constitutional Convention or Not? In contrast, supporters of a Convention use this same idea to argue: “Our lack of moral and wise people and leaders is causing us to reject more and more of the Constitution with each passing year. If current trends continue, we won’t even be following the Constitution within a few years—not even the little bit we are following now. A Convention is the only chance of fixing this.

“Yes, it might backfire and we’ll lose our freedoms, but without a Convention we’re definitely losing them—and nobody realizes it enough to stop it. At least with a Convention we have a chance to turn things around, and if we don’t, if it makes things worse, at least everyone will know it—openly and immediately.”

Both views have real merit.

But there is a solution. It will work if we have a Convention, and it will work if we don’t have a Convention.

It isn’t easy, but it is possible. It can happen. It will be difficult, but without it we will lose our freedoms—regardless of whether or not we have a Convention.

What is the solution? We need at least 3% of the populace to really understand the Constitution. That’s approximately the percentage of people who actively participated in the American founding. Today we need at least 3% to deeply, truly understand the Constitution and the principles of freedom—at the level Madison and Jefferson and the Americans of their generation understood them.

If that doesn’t happen, a Convention won’t help. Likewise, if it doesn’t happen, avoiding a Convention won’t help either.

We are losing our freedoms. Quickly. Consistently. And much of it is happening in secret, in policies, laws, and programs the public doesn’t bother to read and understand.

But How?

How can we get 3% of the populace to understand the Constitution? Honestly, this is really very simple. There are five books I know of that teach what is needed. A person who reads, studies, and really understands any of the five will know enough to be part of the 3%. The five are:

Of course, reading more than one of them, or even all of them, is better. But really knowing the principles taught in any one of them will make a person part of the 3%. And when 3% or more of the people really know the Constitution, we’ll have enough critical mass to truly influence a return to its principles.

Of course, there are many other good books on freedom. What these five books have in common is that each one provides a comprehensive overview of the freedom principles needed to get our nation back on the right path. And after you read 1-5 of these, read LeaderShift by Orrin Woodward and myself. This book specifically outlines what we need to do to change our governmental structure right now—either through a Convention if one is ever held, or without a Convention by influencing elections and policy.

Whether readers agree or disagree with the principles in these books isn’t the point. What we need is 3% of the people who are seriously thinking and talking about how to apply these principles of freedom in our time. Right now. So, agree or disagree, but get focused on the principles of freedom!

The Only Way We’ll Ever Get America Back on Track

Freedom matters. We are losing it. The loss is rapid and the pace of our national decline is increasing. And there is really only one solution. In the whole history of the world, the regular people have only been free when they have demanded it. Governments don’t just hand it out. Elite classes don’t just gift it to the masses.

In all of history, the only times the people have been free are when they simply insisted on it. And this has only happened—only happened!—when at least 3% of the population really understood the principles of freedom.

That’s it. Period.

If 3% doesn’t understand, we’ll lose our freedoms.

Can a Convention help? Only if at least 3% of the people truly understand the principles of freedom. Can opposing a Convention help? Only if at least 3% truly understand the principles of freedom.

This is true.

This is real.

This is incredibly urgent.

One final thought. A lot more than 3% of the people deeply love freedom. We all need to do whatever we can to help more of them truly understand the principles of freedom. Whether or not we succeed in this endeavor will determine whether our children and grandchildren are free…or not.

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

odemille Should We Have A Constitutional Convention or Not? 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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Education Exposed

October 28th, 2014 // 3:24 pm @

Hire and Higher and Hire

123 ed 300x225 Education Exposed Just read the following quote. It is incredibly powerful:

“Universities…have been absorbed into the commercial ethos. Instead of being intervals of freedom, they are breeding grounds for advancement. Students are too busy jumping through the next hurdle in the résumé race to figure out what they really want…. They have been inculcated with a lust for prestige and a fear of doing things that might put their status at risk. The system educates them to be excellent, but excellent sheep.”

This is a profound and all too accurate description of our current educational system. It was written in the New York Times by David Brooks, as a summary of a William Deresiewicz’s essay in his book Excellent Sheep.

Let’s briefly consider each main point:

  • “Universities…have been absorbed into the commercial ethos. Instead of being intervals of freedom, they are breeding grounds for advancement.”

This is true of schools in general today, at all levels. Most people now see the goal of almost all schools as job preparation, as Hire Education instead of Higher Education.

In this model, the quality of learning isn’t important. Job placement is the goal, and it drives the whole educational system.

Moving Backwards

Sadly, it drives it down, not up. As the quality of education decreases, so does the quality (and availability) of jobs for most people.

  • “They have been inculcated with a lust for prestige and a fear of doing things that might put their status at risk.”

The conveyor-belt approach to learning trains followers, not leaders. It makes our students and workers risk averse, not creative or entrepreneurial. Our economy is losing jobs by the thousands to nations where initiative, ingenuity, and innovation are rising. In these vital things, our failure rates are growing.

  • “The system educates them to be excellent, but excellent sheep.”

Our education system of “students follow, while their superiors tell them what and when to do things—from Kindergarten through graduate school” is creating a populace that obediently takes its marching orders from the media, experts, and government officials. But free societies only stay free when the people are watching things and telling the officials and experts what to do.

We’ve got it backwards. Most of our current educational system is designed for a socialist nation, not for a free one.

Leaders or Drones

There is a solution, and it is for parents and teachers to deliver Leadership Education and teach young people how to think—not what to think.

This has been the focus of our work with TJEd (Thomas Jefferson Education) for over two decades. It’s tenets are simple: classics rather than rote textbooks, mentors rather than professors, personalized learning rather than the conveyor belt, quality rather than conformity, etc.

It all boils down to inspiring students to passionately choose the work of getting a great education, not requiring youth to do the rote behaviors of mediocre learning—or even the rote actions that bring high test scores but turn students into excellent sheep.

In The Atlantic, Sandra Tsing Loh called this “high-class drone work.” Note that she was referring to the prestigious but rote careers that such education leads to, not to the schooling.

Leadership Education is a better way. For everyone.

Simplicity and Success

Just consider another powerful quote, this one from Luba Vangelova writing about the non-traditional revolution in modern education:

“Every day, veteran educator Scott Henstrand walks into his history classroom at the Brooklyn Collaborative secondary school, jots down a few conversation-starters on the blackboard, then takes a seat amongst the 14- to 17-year-olds. He does the same work as they do, and raises his hand when he wants to speak.”

This sounds like a formal school modeled after an excellent Leadership Education homeschool:

  • “Inspire, not Require.”
  • “Simplicity, not Complexity.”
  • “You, not Them.”
  • Mixed ages.
  • A mentor learning right along with the students.
  • Readings and lots of discussions.

Great education is really quite simple, after all, as successful homeschoolers can attest.

For help in engaging your education, and mentoring others in their learning, join us for Mentoring in the Classics >>

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

odemille Education Exposed 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 Guide to Jury Duty

October 21st, 2014 // 2:15 pm @

“I’m going to serve on jury duty,” my daughter told me. “Any thoughts?”

A Problem and A Solution

123 300x170 A Guide to Jury DutyThis will be short. Share it with anyone who might serve on jury duty. Save it to reread whenever you get called to jury duty. It is powerful information about freedom and being a leader in our society.

First, the American framers made juries a central part of the judicial system because they didn’t trust anyone else to keep the government in check.

Think about it. Nations with no juries still have judges, lawyers, and court cases. They arrive at verdicts and mete out punishments. But they do it all with two entities: the government and the accused.

The founders wanted something different. They didn’t trust government. “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” as Lord Acton put it.

The founders had seen what the British government did with its judges and courts. They had read about judicial abuses in Rome, Greece, Israel, the German principalities, and nations down through history. They knew that in almost all judicial systems, throughout history and around the globe, an accused person had very little chance for justice.

Their solution? Juries.

Specifically, juries made up of regular citizens like the accused, who would naturally be on the side of the accused “regular” citizen if the government tried anything pushy, or at the very least not automatically choose the side of government.

They established the jury system for one reason: to keep the government in check, to keep the government from being abusive, to keep the government from having too much power.

Checks and Responsibilities

Juries, the founders felt, were the last line of defense for a person falsely accused (or rightly accused, with extenuating circumstances), or even just to keep the government from having too much power in too many ways.

If juries don’t let the government get away with too much power, the whole nation will be more free. This was the reason the framers gave us the jury system.

Second, jurors do have two roles:

  1. Keep the government in check
  2. Provide a just determination of guilt or innocence

Both of these are important, but #1 is more important than #2. Indeed, keeping the government in check is the reason the founders established the jury system.

Sadly, most modern jurors believe that their main (and only) purpose is #2, to determine guilt or innocence.

The truth is that jurors generally do #2 better than judges, if for no other reason than that they aren’t jaded by facing criminals and lies day after day. They typically have a more healthy, balanced view of people.

Jurors should of course do a good job at #2, and in many cases this won’t conflict with #1. But if it ever does, good jurors choose #1 above #2.

Why? Because it’s more important to keep the government (with its massive resources and power) from abusing power than from stopping one accused person. That one person may hurt people, badly, and deserve real justice – it’s true. But an abusive government will hurt many, many more people—and hurt them a lot worse.

Founders and Authorities

To be a good juror, keep your eye on #1. Keep the government in check. This is your first purpose. Your first duty. Clearly #2 is important, but it is secondary to #1. If possible, do both; but always do #1.

By the way, this is a key message of the great classical movie 12 Angry Men with Henry Fonda. Every prospective juror who wants to prepare for serving should watch and consider this movie. Some of the lessons:

  • Keep the government in check—with the use of your vote about innocence and guilt.
  • Think on your own—don’t be a victim of “groupthink” or peer pressure from members of the jury. Be polite, respectful, participative, and friendly—and don’t be swayed by anything except your own careful thinking. Listen, analyze, and think on our own.
  • As a juror you are using real power. You are using force. Your vote will impact the accused just like a gun with bullets would. Be careful, and wise. Use this power reverently, and with a cautious eye on keeping government power from pushing through things that aren’t truly proven.
  • Don’t see the judge or lawyers as the teachers or experts and the jurors as the students or employees. This isn’t how the founders set up the jury system, even though many people are in the habit of seeing it this way. Instead, get it right by seeing the judge, lawyers and witnesses as students or employees putting on presentations and the jurors as the experts or bosses who learn from the others but make the final decisions.
  • Remember that in our current system, victims and their families aren’t allowed to directly seek justice through fights, duals, or retaliation. You are the hand of their justice, so if a defendant is guilty, it is essential to respond in a just way.
  • Be polite and calm, even when standing up for your view.
  • Do your best to see that justice is done, and that the government is kept in check. To reiterate: If you must choose between the two, keeping the government (with its immense power and resources) in check is more important than keeping one defendant in check.
  • How to deal with the judge: Treat him with respect and obey whatever he says, except when he tells you how to think. Remember, judges are a major part of the government the founders wanted juries to protect against. If he tells you how to think, at all, use your own brain. The founders put you on the jury, not the judge.

Treat this prospect with respect. The founders gave you the jury power because they trusted you more than anyone else—including any government official or judge—to keep the government in check, seek real justice, think independently and wisely, and do the right thing.

Your choices will have real impact on real people. As stated above: You are using real power as a juror. Don’t let this power corrupt. Use it with honor. Be proud of how you used it—for the rest of your life. As a juror, you are using force. Use it well.

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odemille A Guide to Jury Duty 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.

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

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 Three Economies by Oliver DeMille

July 11th, 2014 // 9:42 am @

The Hidden Economy

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

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

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

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

A Tale of Two

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

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

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

After a little more coaxing, the friend noted that he was making about $40,000 a year—even with tenure and almost thirty years of seniority. “But it’s steady work, like I hoped. Still, I’ve got way too much debt.”

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

“Why?” I asked.

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

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

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

That’s the tale of two economies.

II.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A “Real” Job

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

“What happened?” I prompted.

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

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

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

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

He repeated the three heads look. “No. He reads all the time—doesn’t need college for that. I want him to go back to college so he can get a real job.”

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

America Needs to Get It

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

I left his office thinking that he’s so steeped in the two economies he just doesn’t really believe the third economy exists. He just doesn’t buy it, even when all the evidence is right there in front of him.

He’s not alone. The whole nation—most of today’s industrialized nations, in fact—are right there with him. We believe in the two economies, high school/blue collar jobs on the one hand, and college/white collar careers on the other. Most people just never quite accept that the entrepreneurial economy is real.

It’s too bad, because that’s where nearly all the current top career and financial opportunities are found. The future is in the third economy, for those who realize it and get to work. If you’ve got kids, I hope you can see the third economy—for their sake. Because it’s real, and it’s here to stay.

The first two economies are in major decline, whatever the so-called experts claim. Alvin Toffler warned us in his bestseller FutureShock that this was going to happen, and so did Peter Drucker, back when they first predicted the Information Age. Now it’s happening.

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

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

odemille The Three Economies 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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