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The Article of the Year!

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

The Best…

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

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

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

“What is it?”

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

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

Here goes:

A Tale of Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

The Third Economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What happened?” I prompted.

What Really Works

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Gets It

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

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

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

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

 

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odemille The 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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The Bad Guy in America

December 2nd, 2014 // 9:52 am @

Question:
“How much of the First Amendment would you like us to ignore?”

 Answer:
“How many lives would we want to save?”
State of Affairs television debut

The Enemy?

Hawaii_Five-0_2nd_Season_CastAlmost every police drama and movie has a similar bad guy. The hero, usually a dedicated police officer or government agent with a painful personal past and an interesting partner or sidekick, takes on this bad guy in every possible way.

The more forcefully this great agent fights against this bad guy, the more the audience loves him/her. And the more aggressively he overcomes this bad guy, the higher the ratings.

If the bad guy were a murderer, a terrorist, or a rapist, this would be great drama. Unfortunately, however, in modern American TV and movies this bad guy is almost always the United States Constitution.

At first blush, this is surprising. But to anyone who has watched today’s police dramas, it’s no shock at all. According to most current producers and directors, apparently, the big roadblock to justice in the United States is the Constitution—with its “terrible justice-killing checks and balances, probable cause and warrant requirements, inalienable and property rights, etc.”

Idea War

This system of checks and balances was designed by the Founding Fathers to keep the government and its agents from abusing the people, but on television the checks and balances are pesky, frustrating, justice-blocking bad guys that keep good police officers and federal agents from making everything right for all of us.

As I’ve discussed in earlier writings, this pattern shows up repeatedly on some of the top rated TV shows in our nation—from the Law and Order franchise to three NCIS series, and from Hawaii Five-0 to Blue Bloods, CSI, White Collar, State of Affairs, Chicago PD, and a dozen other very popular television programs.

The lesson is portrayed over and over—the best government officials are those who routinely find creative ways to ignore or circumvent constitutional rules and use government power to bring about their brand of personal justice.

If anyone is watching these programs—and millions are watching, for hours every night—then a chunk of our citizens are learning the false view that the Constitution is outdated or ill-conceived, and that real freedom and justice in society come from Constitution-breaking government agents. The Constitution is almost always portrayed as the bad guy.

This reminds me of two important thoughts. Nietzsche taught that art, entertainment, media, and ideas are incredibly powerful in society, even more powerful than government, because media, arts and ideas have huge influence on how the people see the world and what they want from their government. And, as Victor Hugo put it, “One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.”

What It Is

This is a huge problem for the future of freedom. If the Constitution is the bad guy and these are the kind of police officers and government leaders young people are being trained to desire, imagine what kind of leaders they’ll want in Washington and the White House.

Most people today have already been conditioned to want a government that is never gridlocked, meaning that checks and balances don’t get in the way of government agents, bureaucrats, or top decision makers.

This is the opposite of freedom.

Period.

Where are the artists, producers, writers, and actors who will teach our generation that a good Constitution with effective checks and balances is the best chance of the regular people ever being free?

Exactly the opposite lesson is now mainstream, and its influence is growing.

Not good.

If you or members of your family watch television or movies, it’s important to have a talk with them about this reality. These programs provide excellent examples of how freedom is being lost—if only we’ll look for this lesson and discuss it together. Without such discussion, the wrong lessons are being internalized.

 

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

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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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.

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.”

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 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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Education Exposed

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

Hire and Higher and Hire

123 edJust 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 >>

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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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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

123This 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.

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

odemille How to Fix the Middle East 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 &Community &Constitution &Current Events &Education &Featured &Generations &Government &History &Leadership &Liberty &Mission &Politics &Statesmanship

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