September 9th, 2010 // 12:23 pm @ Oliver DeMille
High school civics classes for the past century have taught that America had a two-party system.
And up until the end of the Cold War, this was true. Each party had clear, distinct values and goals, and voters had simply to assess the differences and choose which to support.
Such clarity is long gone today, and there is no evidence that this will change any time soon.
We are led today by the contests and relations of seven competing factions, or parties. These major factions are as follows:
6. Special Interests
Neither party knows what to do about this. Both are plagued by deep divisions. When a party wins the White House, these divisions are largely ignored.
During a Party’s time in the White House, the underpinnings of the party weaken as differences are downplayed and disaffection quietly grows.
Fewer people wanted to be identified as Republicans with each passing year under the Bush administration, just as the Democratic coalition weakened during the Clinton years.
This is a trend with no recent exceptions. Being the party in power actually tends to weaken popular support over time.
Governance v. Politics
The emerging and improving technologies of the 1990s and 2000s have reinvented government by forcing leaders to constantly serve two masters: governance and politics.
Governance is a process of details and nuance, but politics is more about symbols than substance.
As I stated in The Coming Aristocracy, before the past two decades politics were the domain of elections, which had a compact and intense timeline.
After elections, officials had a period to focus on governing, and then a short time before the subsequent elections they would return to politics during the campaign period.
Now, however, governors, legislators and presidential administrations are required to fight daily, year-round, on both these fronts.
Both major parties struggle in this new structure. Those in power must dedicate precious time and resources to politics instead of leadership.
Worst of all, decisions that used to be determined at least some of the time by actual governance policy are now heavily influenced by political considerations, almost without exception.
Power facilitates governance, but reduces political strength. Every governance policy tends to upset at least a few supporters, who now look elsewhere for “better” leadership.
While Republicans and Democrats accomplish it in slightly different ways, both alienate supporters as they use their power once elected.
The Loyal Opposition
The party out of power has less of a challenge, but even it is expected to present alternate governance plans of nearly everything — plans which have no chance of ever being adopted and are therefore a monumental misuse of official time and energy — instead of focusing on their vital role of loyal opposition which should ensure weighty and quality consideration of national priorities.
The temptation to politicize this process is nearly overwhelming — meaning that the opposition party has basically abandoned any aspiration or intent to participate in the process of governing and become all-politics, all-the-time.
As a result, American leadership from both parties is weakened.
With the advancement of technology in recent years has come the increased facility for individuals to not only access news and information in real time, but to participate in the dialogue by generating commentary, drawing others’ attention to under-reported issues and ideas and influence policy through blogging, online discussions and grassroots campaigns.
An immensely important consequence of this technological progress has been the fractionalizing of the parties.
Republicans: The Party of Nixon vs. The Party of Reagan
Reaganites value strong national security and schools, fiscal responsibility, and laws which incentivize small businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises.
Nixonians value party loyalty over ideology, government policy that benefits big business and large corporations, international interventionism and winning elections.
A third faction in the Republican community are the populists.
Feeling disenfranchised by the loss of the Party to the Nixonians, the populists want Americans to “wake up,” realize that “everything is going socialist,” and “take back our nation.”
Identified with and defined by talk-show figureheads with shrill voices, the populists are seen as more against than for anything. They believe that government is simply too big, and that anything which shrinks or stalls government is patently good.
A Bad Day To Be A Populist
The populists are doomed to perpetual disappointment, since any time they win an election they watch their candidate “sell out.”
It is hard to imagine a more thankless job than that of the candidate elected by populist vote; once she takes office she is consigned to offend and alienate either her constituents or her colleagues — most likely both.
She is either completely ineffective at achieving the goals of her constituency, or, if she learns to function within the machine, she has no constituency left.
Any candidate who tries to work within the system will lose her appeal to the populists.
If such a candidate stays focused on principle, like the iconic Ron Paul, many populists will admire his purity but will criticize his lack of substantive impact — his accomplishments are seen as almost exclusively symbolic.
Some of the most influential populist pundits (like Rush Limbaugh) have lost “believers” by being outspokenly populist when it supports the party agenda (like during the Clinton Administration and later in rejecting McCain’s presidential candidacy as too moderate/liberal) and then switching to support the Party (backing President Bush even in liberal policies and supporting McCain when he became the Republican nominee).
This is seen by detractors as manipulative, corrupt and Nixonian at worst, and self-serving, hypocritical and opportunist at best.
Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Populism is considered “crazy” by most intellectuals in the media and elsewhere.
This is probably inevitable and unchangeable given that the same things which appeal popularly (such as alarmism, extremism, labeling, using symbols, images, hyperbole and appeals to sentimentalism) are considered anti-truth to intellectuals.
Indeed, part of training the intellect in the Western tradition is to reject the message of such deliveries without serious consideration, and dismiss the messenger as either unfit or unworthy to have a serious debate on issues.
Wise intellectuals look past the delivery and consider the actual message. This being said, even when weighed on its own merit the populist message is unpopular with intellectuals.
Populism is based on the assumption that the gut feelings of the masses (The Wisdom of the Crowds) are a better source of wisdom than the considered charts, graphs and analysis by teams of experts.
This hits very close to home for those who make their living in academia, the media or government. So our system seems naturally to pit the will of the people against the wisdom of the few.
Crazy Like a Fox
It is interesting to compare and contrast this modern debate between the wisdom of the populists and that of experts and officials with the American founding view.
The brilliance of the founders was their tendency to correctly characterize the tendencies of a group in society and employ that nature to its best use in the grand design in order to perpetuate freedom and prosperity.
In fact, the American framers did empower the masses to make certain vital decisions through elections. Madison rightly called every election a peaceful revolution.
And, the founders did empower small groups of experts: the framers had senators, judges, ambassadors, the president and his ministers appointed by teams of experts.
Only the House of Representatives and various state and local officials were elected by the masses, and the House alone was given power over the money and how it was spent.
In short: The founders thought that the masses would best determine two things:
1. Who should make the nation’s money decisions, and
2. Who should appoint our other leaders.
Riddle: When Is A Democracy Not A Democracy?
The founders believed that most of the nation’s governance should come from teams of experts, as long as the masses got to decide who would appoint those experts and how much money they could spend.
Such a system naturally empowers and employs both populism and expertise.
If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It
Compare today’s model: Senators are now elected by the populace and the electoral college has been weakened so that the popular vote has much more impact on electing a president than it once did (and than the founders intended), thus increasing the power of the popular vote.
Yet many of the same intellectuals who support ending the electoral college altogether ironically consider populists “crazy” and “extremist.” The incongruity is so extreme that is no wonder many conclude that there must be some dark, conspiratorial agenda driving this trend.
The reason for this seeming paradox is simple: Where the founding era actually believed in the wisdom of the populace to elect, modern intellectuals seem to believe that few of these “crazies” actually believe what they say they believe.
Many intellectuals think that populists, conservatives and most of the masses are simply following the views provided by talking heads.
For them, populist “wing nuts” have been duped by the sophistries of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, or some other “self-serving anti-intellectual.”
But at its core, the alarmist and wild antics of populist pundits are not the real reason many intellectuals question the sanity of conservative populists.
The deeper reason is that few intellectuals believe that sane people don’t want more government.
They understand Nixonian Republicans and their desire for more power, government support of Big Business and less regulation of corporations. They may not agree with these goals, but they understand them.
They also understand poor and middle class citizens wanting more government help.
And they even understand the Reaganesque vision of fiscal responsibility along with strong schools, security and increased incentives for small business.
Does No Mean Yes?
What intellectuals struggle to understand is lower and middle class voters who don’t want government programs.
For example, few of the populist “crazies” who oppose President Obama’s health care would be taxed to pay for it, and most would see their family’s health care benefits increased by Democratic plans.
So why would they — how could they — oppose it?
Rich right-wing leaders who would bear the costs for health care must have convinced them.
This is a logical conclusion. Rich people opposing higher taxes makes sense. Lower and middle class people supporting increased government aide makes sense.
Rich talk show hosts telling people Obama’s plan is bad makes sense. The people being duped by this makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense, what few intellectuals are willing to accept, is that large numbers of non-intellectuals are looking past alarmist talk show host antics, closely studying the issues and deciding to choose the principles of limited government over direct, personal, monetary benefit.
Intellectuals could respect such a choice; lots of citizens refusing government benefits to help the nation’s economy and freedom would be an amazing, selfless act of patriotism.
But they don’t believe this is happening.
Instead, they are concerned that the “wing nuts” are following extremist pundits and unknowingly refusing personal benefit. That’s “crazy”!
This view is reinforced by the non-intellectual and often wild-eyed way some populists act and talk about the issues.
In this same vein, intellectuals also naturally support the end of the electoral college because it would naturally give them, especially the media, even more political influence.
The most frustrating thing for intellectuals is this: The possibility that these “crazies” aren’t really crazy at all — that they actually see the biased focus and struggle for power by the intellectual media and don’t want to be duped by it.
Such a segment of society naturally diminishes the potential influence of the media, and is treated by many as a threat.
By the way, many conservative populists claim to be Reaganites. In fairness, they do align with a major Reagan tenet — an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, anti-insider, anti-government attitude. These were central Candidate Reagan themes.
However, once in office, President Reagan governed with big spending for security, schools and the other Reaganite objectives listed earlier.
This is a typical Republican pattern. For example, compare the second Bush Administration’s election attacks on Clinton’s spending with the reality of Bush’s huge budget increases — far above Clintonian levels.
Democrats: Leftists, Leaders and Special Interests
The three major factions are similar: those seeking power, those wanting to promote liberal ideas, and the extreme fringe. Let’s start with the fringe.
Where Republican “fringies” call for the reduction of government, Democratic extremists want government to fund, fix, regulate and get deeply involved in certain special interests.
And while conservative populists are generally united in wanting government to be reduced across the board, Democratic special interests are many and in constant competition with each other for precious government funds and attention.
While Republican extremists see the government, Democrats and “socialists” as the enemy, Democratic radicals see corporations, big business, Republicans and the House of Representatives (regardless of who is in power) as enemies.
Republican extremists like talk show hosts and Democratic extremists like trial lawyers.
How’s that for stereotyping?
A Rainbow Fringe
The Republican populist group is one faction — the anti-government faction. Radical Democrats are a conglomerate of many groups — from “-isms” like feminism and environmentalism to ethnic empowerment groups and dozens of other special interests, large and small, seeking the increased support and advocacy of government.
One thing Democrat extremists generally agree on is that the rich and especially the super-rich must be convinced to solve most of the world’s problems.
Ralph Nader, for example, argues that this must be done using the power of the super-rich to do what government hasn’t been able to accomplish: drastically reduce the power of big corporations.
Because Democrats are currently in power, the extreme factions have a lot less influence within the party than they did during the Bush years — or than Republican extremists do under Obama.
The call for a “big tent” is a temporary utilitarian tactic to gain power when a party is in the minority. When a party is in power, its two big factions run the show.
Call the two largest factions the “Governance” faction and the “Politicize” faction.
For Democrats, the Politicize faction is interested in maintaining national security while trying to reroute resources from defense to other priorities; increasing the popularity of the U.S. in the eyes of the world and especially Europe; promoting a general sense of increasing social justice, racial and gender equality, improved environmental and energy policy; and improving the economy.
A major weakness of this faction is its tendency toward elitism and self-righteous arrogance.
Is That Asking Too Much?
The Governance faction has to do something nobody else — the other Democrat factions, the Republican factions, the Independents — is required to accomplish. It has to bring to pass the following:
- Keep America safe from foreign and terrorist attacks
- Pass a health care bill that convinces Independents of real reform within the bounds of fiscal responsibility
- Bring the unemployment rate down — preferably below 7% within the next year
- Keep the economy from tanking
Capturing The Middle Ground
If the Democratic Governance faction accomplishes these four, it will achieve both its short-term governance and its political goals. If it fails in any of them, it will lose much of its Independent support.
The Obama Administration will maintain its base of Democrat support basically no matter what. And the Republican base will remain in opposition regardless.
But without the support of Independents, the White House will see reduced influence in Congress and the 2010 elections.
And when Democrats create scandals like Clinton’s handling of his affairs or the Obama Administration’s “war on Fox News,” Independents see them as Nixonian, responding by distancing themselves both philosophically and in the voting booth.
Independents are powerfully swayed by “The Leadership Thing,” and Obama clearly has it (as did both Reagan and Clinton — but not Bush, Dole, Bush, Gore, Kerry or McCain). It is doubtful that Candidate Obama will lose in 2012.
But “The Leadership Thing” runs in candidates only — not parties.
Obama won because so many independents supported him. Independents are a separate faction that truly belong to neither party.
Indeed, President Obama united most Democrats to support health care reform — partly by taking on Republicans. If a reform bill takes effect, he will likely win the support of Independents by taking on his own party on a few issues and playing back to the middle.
This is power politics.
The 7th Faction: Independents and Independence
Who are these people that vacillate between the parties? Are they wishy-washy, never-satisfied uber-idealist pessimists? Are they the weakest among us?
Why don’t they just pick a party and show some loyalty, some commitment, like Steelers fans or staunch religionists?
Actually, independents are the most consistent voters in America. True, they fluctuate between parties and seldom cast a straight party ballot, but they vote for the same things in nearly all elections.
In contrast, party loyalists stick with their party even when it adopts policies they patently disagree with. Some might argue that this is a more “wishy-washy” way to approach citizenship and voting.
Independents watch the issues, candidates and government officials very closely, since they don’t rely on party platforms to define their values or on affiliations to bestow their trust.
What They Want
Independents want strong national security, open and effective diplomacy, good schools, policies that benefit small businesses and families, social/racial/gender equality, and just and efficient law enforcement.
They see a positive role for government in all these, and dislike the right-wing claim that any government involvement in them is socialistic.
For example: Taxing the middle class to bail out the upper-middle class (bankers, auto-makers, etc.) is not socialism; it’s aristocracy.
Independents are unconvinced by Republican arguments that government should give special benefits to large corporations, or Democratic desires to involve government in many arenas beyond the basics.
Independents care about the environment, privacy, parental rights, reducing racial and religious bigotry, and improving government policy on immigration and other issues.
A Tough Sell
On two big issues, health care and taxation, Independents side with neither Democrats nor Republicans.
They want good health care laws that favor neither Wall Street corporations (a la Republican plans) nor Washington regulators (e.g. Democratic proposals). They want health care regulations that are truly designed to benefit small businesses and families in order to spur increased prosperity.
Independents want government to be strong and effective in serving society in ways best suited to the state, but they expect it to do so wisely and with consistent fiscal responsibility.
They tend to see Republicans as over-spenders on international interventions that fail to improve America’s security, and Democrats as wasteful on domestic programs that fail to deliver desired outcomes.
They want government to spend money on programs that work and truly improve the nation and the world. They are often seen as moderates because they reject both the right-wing argument against constructive and effective government action and leftist faith in more government programs regardless of results.
They want to cut programs that don’t work, support the ones that do, and adopt additional initiatives that show promise.
American Independents & American Independence
The future of America, and American Independence, will be determined by Independents.
Interestingly, Independents come from all six of the factions mentioned in this article. The one thing they all have in common is that they don’t see themselves as part of a specific party, but rather as independent citizens and voters.
What we do with this increase in our potential power remains to be seen.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
September 9th, 2010 // 11:46 am @ Oliver DeMille
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
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:
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
September 9th, 2010 // 11:42 am @ Oliver DeMille
The bestseller vampire story Twilight and its sequels swept American teen reading circles, and these books were also read by a lot of adults. When the movie came out, millions watched and book sales once again soared.
Knock-offs followed, and vampires are now a rapidly growing part of American pop culture. From libraries and bookstores to HBO and regular network channels to the movie theaters, vampire stories are growing in popularity and quantity.
This mainstream and even super-stream popularity of vampires is new to America. Even relatively obscure vampire works are now more popular than the highly-touted Dracula was in a past generation.
Heroes & Villains as Cultural Indicators
You can tell a lot about a culture by its heroes as well as its villains. Cowboys were the quintessential American heroes — leading sales of fiction books, movies and television programs for the bulk of the 20th Century.
Over time westerns evolved into science fiction and fantasy — fans were entertained by space cowboys, space shuttles and alien cultures rather than ranchers, running horses and various tribes of outlaws or Indians. Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Narnia and so many others featured cowboy plots and characters albeit in new, unique and often fantastic settings.
Later, Americans adopted professionals as our heroes — mostly police officers on television and in movies, followed by doctors, with some lawyers, nurses, politicians, military pilots, firemen and even a few teachers thrown in to the mix.
Like cowboys and space heroes, the professionals met life head on, faced down and overcame difficulties, and showed the rest of us how to live in difficult times. They conquered enemies, lived their genius despite annoying bosses, solved difficult situations, and inevitably they all faced and mostly triumphed over deep personal weaknesses and crises.
Most of these heroes followed the patterns laid out by Shakespeare’s 22 major and numerous minor plotlines, and unique characters from MacGyver, Remington Steele or James Bond to Joan of Arcadia, the Cheerleader on Heroes or Hancock kept fans coming back for more.
Like Plutarch’s Lives, a series of stories that were widely read and studied closely by the American founding generation, nearly all of these pop heroes followed basic heroic patterns — think Hercules or John Wayne.
Vampires: A Different Mold
Vampires are different. They don’t save, they kill. They see themselves as superior, and secretly hold power over the lives of unsuspecting “normals.” They are the opposite of Men in Black; they are not cowboys or even outlaws but something altogether different.
Outlaws were at least the equals of the law-abiding cowboys, whereas vampires are entirely above and even beyond the law.
Back to my original question: What deep societal meaning(s) do vampires manifest? Or more to the point, what profound cultural theme(s) does their popularity indicate? They are too popular not to mean anything.
It is a real question. After all, cowboys, Starship captains, Jedi Knights, comic-book heroes, fantasy kings in hiding (who always carry swords with names), modern homicide detectives, CSI experts, sacrificing attorneys fighting for the little guy, skilled and romantic doctors, caring nurses, inspiring inner-city teachers, top gun pilots and so many more all fit the same heroic model.
But vampires? They are a different plotline, any way you look at it.
Then it clicked. I was researching the growth of class divides in America, and came across a reference in an ad for Harper’s magazine that asked if capitalists and vampires are the same, or something to that effect.
My mind was racing. Vampire. Capitalist. Upper class. Aristocrat.
It’s probably obvious to everyone but me that the growth of vampire-lit popularity coincided precisely with the Enron and following meltdowns of big business credibility.
I think the analogy is a stretch, and I think we are witnessing too little free enterprise rather than too much. I do believe that the worst types of aristocracy are vampirical in nature.
The parallels are numerous. Bloodsucking, powerful beings live and prosper by taking our very means of life from us. We have no power to fight back — they are too fast and powerful. We don’t even know what hit us when one of them attacks.
In such a situation, we are “lucky” to receive a mention of our demise in the newspaper.
Oh, and it turns out that there are bad vampires and good vampires. The good ones find other ways to feed themselves, leaving us mere humans our blood. These ones are our friends.
By the way, this separates American from European vampires. The old-country variety are much more ruthless and, frankly, the bloodier the better.
In contrast, Americans like their vampires to be “vegetarian” like the heroes in Twilight or HBO’s True Blood. Oh, and while European vampires are villains, in America the great heroes are the good vampires who protect humans from the bad vampires.
Reread the last few paragraphs and insert the word “aristocrat” wherever it says “vampire” to see how apt the analogy is.
A Recipe for Apathy & Dependence
The similarities continue. For example, the regular people feel that there is nothing you can do about “them.” “They” control everything, anyway, so why try to make a difference?
The only way to compete with them or fight them is to join them, to become one of them, and that is done by having one of them bite you.
“It takes money to make money,” we are told, or “it’s not what you know but who you know,” or “your wealth and success will be the average of the top five people you hang out with — so if you want more money, get some wealthy friends.”
Here’s my favorite: “It’s just business, nothing personal.” This is the attitude of all the bad vampires in the literature.
Compare the reassuring thesis of the “good” vampires: “You poor people, of course you can’t save yourselves. Don’t worry, we’ll fix everything for you. Trust us. We’re the good vampires. Just go on with your lives. We’ll take care of you.”
This is aristocracy at its worst and worst. Bad aristocracy takes, manipulates, forces, feels and acts superior, and sucks away our life and livelihood. In contrast, “good” aristocracy takes care of us like the inferiors it thinks we are.
Some people seem to be saying, “Thank goodness for these good, caring, powerful aristocrats who fix everything so we can just live our lives.” Maybe that’s too sarcastic.
But seriously, the analogy is powerful and should make us think.
The System Sucks
One thing is the same in nearly all vampire stories: the vampires hate their life. Many of them despise what they are. Again, the parallel is profound. Few aristocrats enjoy their system. True, they prefer being aristocrats to commoners, but both groups want something better.
Free, prosperous societies that have learned how to function without the painful traditions of class division have always boasted much happier people. In short, aristocracy is not a great system for anyone — even the aristocrats.
This may be the most frequent theme in English, French, Spanish and Russian literature. And these cultures know aristocracy!
Traditional Horror v. Vampires
I know that vampire and other dark literature has been around for a long time, but it has never been mainstream in America like it is now. In fairness, I am not a fan of any kind of horror. In fact, I don’t remember watching a horror movie since I was in high school.
I just don’t appreciate the darkness. I think movies should be uplifting and inspiring. Happiness is our deepest quest in this life, and I want my entertainment to directly help with this goal.
There is, of course, classic literature like Dracula, Frankenstein, Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, and a number of plays by Shakespeare that deal with dark themes, but in all of these the overwhelming messages are about overcoming temptations and inner weaknesses. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis followed this pattern.
Modern horror, however, seems to be all about the shock value. But I don’t think that most horror movies are about aristocracy.
Vampire works, in contrast, at least the recent stuff that is incredibly popular, are all about how we are starting to notice an upper class growing in the shadows, increasingly perceptible but not yet out in open daylight, and that seems to control so much and be incredibly powerful, mysterious and even scary.
Instead of calling them all villains, as the Europeans do, Americans are hoping that the “good” aristocrats will protect us against the bad ones. And more and more we are hoping to “get discovered,” win a reality-show contest, hit the lottery, or in some other way get bit by success and join the upper class.
Surprised Parents in a Fourth Turning
If this sounds overstated to you, you are in good company. A couple of years ago I mentioned the growing popularity of vampire literature to a group of very involved and caring parents. They were surprised at the topic, and in fact it only came up as I attempted to answer a question posed by a seminar attendee.
When I asked them how many of their kids were reading such works, only a couple raised their hands. I assigned them to go home and ask their kids that night about it, and to report back the next day.
The following morning, it was a surprised group — nearly all the attendees had learned that their children were reading about vampires.
When I got home I told this story to my own kids, mainly to teach them about the struggles of raising kids in some urban area. My oldest three teens started laughing.
“What?” I asked. They had been discussing a popular vampire series the day before I got home. They pointed out a lot of good lessons they had learned from their reading, and I read the books and had some long talks with them.
I would never have assigned these books, and I likely would have discouraged them from the series if I had known sooner what they were reading. Still, we had some positive discussions, and in fact it was this experience that got me wondering why so many youth are now in to vampires.
Welcome to the fourth turning. The youth want the power, speed, mystery and freedom of being entrepreneurs and part of the upper class. They also want to help the world, to increase freedom, peace and prosperity.
Those in the Y Generation (born between 1984 and 2007) don’t want to be Company Men. They want to be The Man, but a nice version of him. To them John Wayne is too selfish and mean, Luke Skywalker is too independent and insecure, and the CSI cops are too poor, bureaucratic and lonely.
That leaves two choices: Be a good vampire, or be the true friend of one. Consult the overwhelming bestseller Twilight and other popular vampire plotlines and characters to find out how to be good at these two roles.
Can We Defeat the Vampire Aristocrats?
Aristocracy is coming to America, and joining it or working for it is the most popular career of the future — unless, of course, regular people can drop their fear of the aristocrats and stand up wisely and effectively for freedom.
To do this, they’ll need the type of education that has always trained leaders — from the aristocratic leaders of Europe to the citizen leaders of America’s first 150 years.
There really is a difference between those who deeply know the classics and those who don’t. History is clear on this point. When only a few really know the classics, an aristocracy always dominates the people. This upper class controls, oversees, manipulates and lives off the blood, sweat and labor of the regular people.
When, in contrast, many study and apply the classics, they elect and oversee their leaders and vigilantly replace them when needed — freedom is maintained and flourishes. It is really that simple.
When the people are as fast, strong and wise as their leaders, no bloodsucking is allowed. When bloodsucking becomes the nature of hero and villain alike, and the young want to be one or the other — anything but the weak, oblivious masses described in Harry Potter and Twilight — a society is in trouble.
We are such a society. The classics are the answer. Unfortunately, telling the youth this is akin to the zealous but impotent religious preachers who fail in most vampire tales.
Youth believe what they are shown, and it is time for two generations of adults to get past their conveyor-belt education hangovers and finally set the example of getting the kind of great education necessary for a free people.
If this is too much for our generation, we might as well bare our necks and welcome the aristocrats.
September 9th, 2010 // 11:39 am @ Oliver DeMille
In my recent book, The Coming Aristocracy, I wrote that the United States now lives in the era of the permanent campaign.
A young pollster in the Carter administration, Patrick Caddell, coined the term back in 1976, and he hit the nail right on the head. America used to gear up for campaigns, elect one of the candidates, and then settle down to let the winner lead the nation.
Now we elect a candidate and then immediately increase the fervor of the debate. We pick sides before an election, and once the election is over we get really serious about the fight.
In the modern era of politics since Watergate, this permanent battle trend has continually increased. It is a new kind of politics, where few things are about leadership or wisdom and everything is about beating the other side.
In the last presidential campaign, I expected Senator Clinton to win the election — and I was surprised when Barack Obama took his party’s nomination. I quickly set out to learn everything I could about him, from original sources — his writings, speeches and public utterances.
What I found was interesting: Obama’s pre-presidential record and especially his book, The Audacity of Hope, was a blend of dynamic-populist leadership with an old-line liberal politics. The Democratic Party hadn’t seen that mixture since JFK.
My prediction was that Obama’s populism would him bring him a victory and then we’d see whether he emphasized leadership or liberalism. If he emphasized the leadership aspect, I said, he would become one of the great presidents of American history.
It was Leader Obama versus Politician Obama, and I was very interested to see which one would win out in the realities of modern Washington.
So far Politician Obama has dominated. This leaves the United States in an interesting place. In fact, it changes everything.
If you watched the historic night of the 2008 election and listened to the now-famous “Yes We Can” speech, you may not realize that this was the height of the Leader Obama.
Politician Obama has changed everything since that night.
For example, Leader Obama did something truly amazing in the modern political era — he carried a majority of the wealthy voters (those who make over $200,000 per year). He was the first Democrat to do so in the post-Watergate era, and this amazing statistic seemed to indicate a new type of politics ahead.
But his hard shift to the left after inauguration has changed this dynamic.
Note that the change isn’t among conservatives — they never liked him and few voted for him. The shift is in the 39% of the voting population that now don’t want to be called either liberals or conservatives.
This tri-lateral divide of the American political landscape is fascinating. There are roughly 28% of us who would donate to the Sierra Club, a competing 28% who would donate to The National Rifle Association, and a whopping 39% made up of two kinds of people: those who would donate to neither, and those who would donate to both!
We have the liberals in one camp, the conservatives in another, and in the largest faction we find a mixed group called independents. The far left and extreme right form their own small camps at the fringes.
“Mr. Head Democrat”
When President Obama took office he had a 70% approval rating — liberals, most of the far left, and nearly all of the independents. By September 1, 2009 his approval rating was down to 50%.
This is the biggest fall in the history of new presidents in so short a time, as David Brooks recently wrote in The New York Times. Brooks also noted that national anxiety is higher now than before Obama took office, and 59% of Americans now think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Three events have underscored just how wide the divide in our nation has become. First was the outcry against President Obama’s address to school children — clearly many saw him as a politician rather than their president.
Second was the surprising money-raising power generated by Congressmen Wilson shouting “you lie” during the President’s speech (which the Senate rewarded by promptly adopting what Wilson was promoting with the outburst).
Third was the interesting way that President Obama managed to use his speech on health care to effectively accomplish two things: appear totally in charge and at the same time give up on many of the main points the Obama Administration had earlier supported (e.g. deficit spending on health care, no capped tax exemptions on health care, and raising taxes on the rich to pay for health care, etc.).
The strategy seems to be to get any bill called “Health Care” to pass.
These three concurrent events all point to one thing: President Obama is seen less as President of the United States and more as the Head Democrat. Politician over leader.
Ironically, this was the same story in the Bush Administration. Conservatives saw him as the President and liberals as the Head Republican. Today the roles are reversed.
But the telling point is how independents see the president. When they see a president as leader, popularity and support soars; the opposite occurs when independents see a president as politician.
The power resides in the independents, though neither major party has yet to admit it. Independents want three main things:
- Wise use of money by government.
- Strong national defense.
- Decentralization of power along with maintenance of state, local and individual powers.
Independents are more pragmatic than ideological, they don’t engage in emotional party-supporting, and they just want things to work.
Independents want to be safe from international and terrorist attacks, free, and prosperous. They want a strong government that does certain things very well and leaves the rest to the state, local or private sectors.
When the Bush Administration started its tenure with these goals, it won the conservative and independent votes and support, but lost independents when it turned to big government answers and huge spending increases (much higher than Clinton Administration budgets) in its final term.
When Leader Obama promised to cut foreign spending and bring a new era of real leadership to Washington, independents supported his candidacy against the daunting possibility of continued Bush-like policies under McCain.
Where liberals voted for Obama in the 2008 election, many independents voted more against Bush/McCain.
Later, as President Obama shelved his Leadership hat and flexed his Liberal-Partisanship muscles, independents were disappointed and reluctantly began to wane in their support for the Obama Administration. This trend is just getting started.
Independents are also withdrawing their support from the Democratic Congress — as they watch it too turn to party politics and shun leadership.
Of course, liberals still consider the President a great leader, as many conservatives did even when President Bush tried to spend and regulate his way to popularity.
But independents aren’t tied to any one party. They want results, and they’ll support candidates, Presidents and other officials who get the results they seek.
In this environment, leadership means getting support for your projects from your own party plus independents. Anything else fails.
Three issues drive presidential politics in the U.S.: national security, the economy, and a sense of leadership. Win two, and you win the presidency. Win three, like the Republicans did with Reagan and the Democrats did with Obama, and you win the Congress too.
In the fall of 2009, President Obama is winning only one — the leadership thing — and this because he is a superb speaker, and so far independents see no true alternative to his leadership.
He must pass a health care bill, no matter what it actually does or says, just to maintain this leadership edge. Lose that, and the nation will return to a Carter-like period of no-trust and malaise.
A Tipping Point Trend
Of course, liberals naturally think President Obama is winning all three and conservatives say he is losing them all. That’s normal.
The fact that he has also lost the majority support of independents is the issue. He won on the leadership thing, but has turned increasingly politician ever since.
This rise of the independents is creating an interesting tension between the two-party system and the voting electorate.
If the Obama Administration backs away from hard-line liberalism, the expansion of government, and attempting to solve everything through increased regulation, and instead emphasizes leadership and pragmatic policies that really work, independents will swing Democrat in the polls and future elections. If not, they won’t.
Either way, the power of the independents will increase the divide between the left and the right. Indeed, divisiveness is a hallmark of an era of shifting like the one we are experiencing.
The first two such shifts in American history created a new political party — the Democratic Republicans in 1798 and later the Republicans in 1856.
The last time we faced such a major shift we totally restructured government power by creating the Social Security Administration, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, a host of secretive agencies in Washington, and a drastic increase in government regulations and red tape.
Whatever the current shift brings, let’s hope for more of a Freedom Shift than a transfer of more power to Washington.
Some may say that a rebirth of freedom is too hard, that we can’t do it. Our response should be, “Yes we can.”
In truth, it is a matter of leadership over politics.
If independents keep being stifled in both of the major parties, their frustration will continue to grow.
When they side with the Democrats, the result is usually more spending on national programs that further undermine America’s fiscal strength, free-market system, and national defense.
When they side with Republicans, the result has been increased spending on international projects and even corrupt governance that weakens the economy, freedom, and American power.
In short, at some point independents are likely to either totally reform one of the parties or just start their own.
Investing in the Future
On a personal level, many independents are investing in gold (which always seems to increase in value when the government spends beyond its means) and McDonald’s (which grows when the economy is booming and keeps growing internationally even when the U.S. economy recedes).
On a national level, during a time of shifting it is natural to see people a little confused about where they stand. After all, the constants they have believed probably don’t apply anymore.
For example, Republicans are no longer the party of the rich and Democrats have quit being the party of the little guy. Also, voters can no longer count on the old certainties that Republicans want to reduce the size of government and Democrats want to decrease foreign involvements and focus on domestic policy.
Indeed, now both Republicans and Democrats drastically increase government spending and foreign entanglements — whoever is in office.
Learning From Both Sides
I once invited a regional politician, a well-known liberal and vocal Democrat, to speak at a graduation ceremony. His speech was liberal and, well, liberal.
Afterwards conservatives railed and argued for days about my selection of speaker. The students, in contrast, learned a great deal and the speech provided material for many long discussions and assignments.
A few liberals congratulated me on our selection of speaker, but conservatives called with their frustration. A few donors even stopped sending contributions.
A few years later we invited a conservative talk-show host to speak, and the entire process repeated itself — this time the conservatives were happy, the liberals were upset, and once again the students and anyone willing to relax and listen learned a great deal.
The most intriguing lessons from both of these events came from the few who made a point of really listening and learning from views not naturally their own. We often learn more in our disagreements than from those who just repeat what we already believe.
Nearly all who closely listened and learned from the speaker of a differing viewpoint exhibited the basic views of independents. This is a rising power in America, as of yet mostly unnoticed, but sure to shift everything in the years ahead.
Winning Elections Through Leadership
I doubt that any U.S. President, liberal or conservative, will be seen by the nation any time soon as truly “Mr. President” rather than “Mr. Head Democrat or Republican.”
When it does happen, it will be because Mr. or Madam President drops partisan politics and adopts the values of independents: strong national defense, a free economic system that spurs prosperity, and a strong and active government that does what it should and also leaves the rest to state, local and private entities.
I look forward to being led by a President, current or future, whose policies win the long-term support of Party + Independents. That’s leadership. Anything else is merely partisan politics.
Frankly, the next election feels a long ways away, and I hope President Obama will shed his partisan hat and take on the mantle of leadership that comes through so clearly in his book The Audacity of Hope. (I had the same hope with President Bush and his promise of compassionate conservatism, but it never materialized).
If not, other elections will come and the biggest block of voting Americans will go searching for a leader who will finally represent their goals. Whatever happens in elections, this growing group is poised to remake the future of American politics.
September 9th, 2010 // 11:31 am @ Oliver DeMille
In The Coming Aristocracy I speak of “mini-factories,” which are individuals, teams, partnerships, or small organizations doing things that have traditionally been handled by large institutions. Successful mini-factories are operated by “producers.”
This article describes all types of producers and why they are vital to a free, healthy, and prosperous society.
*Special thanks to Les McGuire for this series.
Prosperity and abundance in a society depend on a certain type of person: the producer. Societies with few producers stagnate and decay, while nations with a large number of producers vibrantly grow — in wealth, freedom, power, influence and the pursuit of happiness.
Producers think in abundance rather than scarcity, take initiative instead of waiting for someone else to provide them with opportunity, and faithfully take wise risks instead of fearfully believing that they can’t make a difference.
In contrast, non-producers provide very little leadership in society and cause more than a majority of the problems. In history, as Jefferson put it, producers are the most valuable citizens.
Of course, he was speaking directly of farmers, but the principle applies to all those who add significant value to society. Non-producers consume the value that is added to society, but they create little value.
But who are the producers? Fortune 500 executives include themselves in this category, and so do small business owners in their first month of operation. Successful investors call themselves producers, as do unsuccessful day traders who claim that they just “haven’t had their lucky break yet.”
Clearly, just calling yourself a producer doesn’t make you one.
In fact, there are at least five types of producers, and each type is vital to a successful civilization. Each of the five creates incredible value, though the currency of the value is not always identical. Without any of the five types, no society succeeds and grows. When all five are creating sufficient value, no society has ever failed.
Producers are needed — all five kinds of them. These are the following:
- Prophets, Sages, Philosophers
Prophets, Sages, & Philosophers
The highest level of value creation comes from prophets, sages, and philosophers.
This category of producers is not limited to the Biblical-type prophets who spoke directly with God, but also includes anyone who teaches true principles. This makes these producers the most important type, because without clearly understood principles all the other types of producers fail.
Indeed, the other producers succeed to the exact extent that they understand and apply true principles.
Prophet-producers include Moses and Paul, who share God’s wisdom with us, and also sages like Socrates or Confucius or Bastiat, gurus like Edward Deming or Peter Drucker, philosophers like Buckminster Fuller or Stephen R. Covey, and those who inspire us to serve like Billy Graham or Mother Teresa.
Whether you agree or disagree with these people, their wisdom causes you to think, ponder, consider, and ultimately understand truth. By applying these truths, a person is able to produce.
Even if you just sit and ponder, letting the truths come to your mind through deep thought or hard experience, true principles are still passed to you through spiritual or creative means.
God is the greatest producer in the Universe, and He shares true principles with us so we can also produce. For value to be created, true principles must be applied.
Ironically, because God, prophets, and other wise people often share their wisdom without asking for monetary compensation, sometimes other types of producers discount the value of their contribution.
But make no mistake: revealing and teaching true principles is the highest level of creating value.
Whether we learn principles through inspiration or intuition, or from the lessons gained through hard work and experience, without principles we cannot produce.
Parents and grandparents are among the most important producers, because they teach principles most effectively — or not. When they don’t, the whole society suffers.
The next type of creating value comes from statesmen.
Do not confuse statesmen with politicians and bureaucrats, who are often worse than non-producers because they actually engage in anti-producing.
In contrast, statesmen create the value of freedom in society. The level of freedom in any nation is a direct result of the actions of statesmen — past and present.
If great statesmen like Cato, Washington, Jefferson, or Gandhi are present, a nation will throw off its enslaved past and adopt new forms and structures which ensure freedom of religion, freedom of choice and action, freedom of property and commerce, and other freedoms.
Together the value created can be called life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Take these freedoms away, and entrepreneurship and investment fade and disappear. There are no exceptions in history to this pattern.
Statesmen like Lincoln, Churchill, or Margaret Thatcher keep a nation from rejecting its freedoms and moving back into a cycle of tyranny and anarchy, where little production of any kind occurs.
In short, without principles there is little freedom, and without freedom all other kinds of production shut down, are regulated out of existence, and cease to be viable options.
No matter how entrepreneurial your spirit, you would not have created much value in the economy of Nero’s Rome, Russia under Stalin, or even Boston under the Stamp Act.
Without freedom, only prophets survive as producers — all other types of producers need both principles and freedom to flourish. The greater the understanding of principles and the freedom of the society, the greater the opportunities for producers.
Indeed, almost nothing creates more value than increasing freedom.
Only when freedom is widespread would the other types of producers have the peace to think that statesmen don’t add value. And frankly, when freedom is widespread is the very moment that it is in the most danger of being lost — it is at such times that statesmen are the most valuable producers.
Of course, the well-known statesmen like Lincoln or Jefferson only appear on the scene when there are a lot of lesser known individuals studying, writing about, talking about, and promoting statesmanship. Only generations with lots of statesmen produce true freedom that allows widespread educational and economic opportunity.
Most of the history of the world shows the absence of such statesmanship, so most of the population of the world were serfs, peasants, slaves, and other non-producers. Yet it is the true nature of all mankind to be producers, leaders, nobles.
Jefferson called this the “natural aristocracy,” and it happens only in those rare pockets of history where statesmen create and perpetuate freedom. Next to true principles taught by prophets, sages, and philosophers, freedom is the highest value that one can add to any society.
Investors & Entrepreneurs
The third type of producer is the investor, and the fourth type is the entrepreneur.
This needs little commentary among producers, who nearly all realize that entrepreneurship is necessary to create new economic value and that even the best entrepreneurial ideas and leaders can fail without adequate capitalization.
Robert Kiyosaki lists investors as the highest of his cash flow quadrants and business owners, or entrepreneurs, next. He is right on. Without investors, many, if not most, entrepreneurs would fail. Without both “I’s” and “B’s,” to use Kiyosaki’s language, no society can make significant or sustained progress.
Prophets, sages, philosophers, and statesmen are dependent on investors and entrepreneurs, and vice versa. As I said, no society is really successful unless all five types of producers effectively create value in their unique but interconnected ways.
Part of the value created by investors and entrepreneurs is obvious: They provide capital and establish institutions which build society. Every family and every individual benefits from their services.
Perhaps less known, but just as important, investors add the vital value of experience. Kiyosaki and Buffet both affirm that without personal knowledge and significant experience in a business, almost everyone who tries their hand at investing fails.
A society without adequate investment and entrepreneurship will see little, if any, progress.
An American, a Frenchman, & a Russian
The old joke is told of an American, a Frenchman, and a Russian, lost in the wilderness, who find a lamp and rub it. Out comes a genie. He offers them each one wish, for a total of three.
The American pictures the large ranch owned by the richest people in the valley where he grew up, and wishes for a ranch ten times its size, with flowing streams and meadows full of horses and cattle. His wish is granted and he is transported home to his new life.
The Frenchman pictures the farm and cattle of the largest estate from his home province, and pictures one just like it. Again, his wish is granted.
Finally, the Russian pictures the land and herds of the rich family in the steppes where he grew up, and wishes that a drought kill the cattle, dry up the grass, and bankrupt the aristocratic family.
The joke isn’t really very funny, though it brings big laughs with audiences of producers. They get it.
The Frenchman, thinking like an entrepreneur, wants the good things that life provides, and is willing to go to work to produce them. The American, who thinks like an entrepreneur and an investor, is willing to go to work also, but wants to see his assets create more value. The Frenchman wants value, the American plans for value, increased market share and perpetual growth.
In contrast, the Russian in this parable can only think of one thing — getting even with those who seem to have more than him.
This is the same as Steve Farber’s lament about the sad state of our modern employee mentality — where “burn your boss” is a slogan of millions of workers who see their employer as the enemy.
The Employee v. Owner Mindsets
Initiative, vision, effective planning, the wise use of risk, quality execution — all are the contributions of entrepreneurs and investors. Without them, any society will decline and fall.
Yet the non-producer mentality is often deeply ingrained in most people. For example, a visiting speaker once told the student body of how challenging it was to get his employees out of their “serf” mentality.
As the founder of a growing manufacturing technology company, he pulled in all his two dozen employees and offered them liberal stock options. He explained that if the company met its projections, they would all be very wealthy — and he abundantly wanted to share the prosperity.
Yet only a few of them would take the options. They only wanted cash salary, and mistrusted the whole concept of stock ownership.
At first he just offered it, thinking they’d all jump on board. But when only a few did, he pulled them in one by one and tried to make the case for stock. Still, only a few more took the stock.
The company grew, expanded, and then its value soared. Suddenly, one month a half dozen of the company’s employees were independently wealthy. They met, made plans, some stayed with the company and others moved on.
But the real story happened with the eighteen who had refused the stock. They were still paycheck-to-paycheck employees. And they were very angry! Most of them met with the founder in his office, and many of the meetings ended with yelling, names called, and doors slammed.
The entrepreneur couldn’t believe it. NOW these employees wanted their millions. But it just doesn’t work that way. “I begged you to take the stock,” the owner told them. “Now, I can’t help you. Why didn’t you take it when I offered?” he asked.
They had no answer. Only that: “I worked as hard as Jim and Lori, so why can’t I get the same payment?”
Entrepreneurs and investors understand that work is very, very important, but that high levels of compensation come to those who create value. Like the Russian in the joke above, this man’s employees felt they had been “ill-used.”
Consider the impact of this scarcity mentality on any society that adopts it. Freedom is naturally lost, and prosperity slows down and eventually becomes poverty. Entrepreneurs and investors are essential to societal success.
The fifth type of producer is the intrapreneur.
In a free society, investment capital is plentiful — but only effective entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can turn capital into increased value. This takes initiative, wise risk and leadership, just like the other types of producing.
While entrepreneurs found or own businesses, intrapreneurs work for and lead established businesses — but unlike traditional employees, intrapreneurs lead with the Producer mindset. They run their department, team, or company with an abundance mentality, an attachment to true principles, and a fearless faith in people and quality.
Intrapreneurs don’t really have jobs even though they are usually W-2 employees. Like entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs consider themselves on a mission to help society, to give it what it needs and wants, to truly serve others.
Like all producers, they believe in a deep accountability, refuse to assign blame, don’t believe in failure, and give their heart and soul to serve the customer. They add huge value in financial terms, leadership, and relationships — sometimes with people they’ve never met.
They pour quality into everything they do, and thereby deeply serve all who benefit from their product or service.
Great entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have a deep faith in the market, as long as it doesn’t go against true principles or subvert freedom.
Without the initiative and risk of entrepreneurship, few intrapreneurs would have a place to work and serve; likewise, without intrapreneurs there would be few successful companies. Indeed, it is hard to imagine that there would be any.
The Synergy of Created Value
For any company to succeed, all five types of producers must fulfill their unique roles. This is even more true for any nation.
To see how vital all five types of producers are, consider the past. Major world powers in history have failed in the same way.
First, the people stop giving heed to the wisdom of the prophets.
Second, voters or those in power replace statesmen with politicians, whereupon freedom steadily decreases.
Third, the natural result is increased regulations and taxation, ridiculous lawsuits and judicial decrees, and governmental policies that discourage and then attack producers, initiative, and the abundance mentality in general.
Fourth, investment capital flees the nation to follow the Rule of Capital — it goes where it is treated well.
Finally, the people have a scarcity mentality, refuse to listen to the prophets or elect statesmen, and entrepreneurs go where investment gives them opportunity. The nation stagnates and declines.
Egypt, Israel, Greece, Rome, Spain, Italy, Bismark’s Germany, and Han China all followed this pattern. Each was a major center of world power, influence and prosperity, and each declined into a third world nation. France copied this pattern in the 1800s, Britain followed it in the 1900s, and the United States is on an identical track today.
Specifically, the U.S. is at the point where it is increasing its regulation, experiencing absurd lawsuits and court decisions, and increasingly adopting policies that discourage entrepreneurship. The next step is to openly attack investment and entrepreneurship.
And when investors find higher profits in other nations, while facing decreasing returns along with public hostility and rising taxes at home, U.S. investment will dry up. History is clear on this point. There are no exceptions.
The only hope is for a new generation of producers to effectively promote freedom. In fact, the U.S. has been at this point twice before — in 1860 and again in 1939. Both times enough statesmen arose, most of them unknown to all except avid readers of history, to push aside the politicians and save our freedoms. Britain saw the same thing happen in 1216, 1620, 1815 and 1937.
Other nations have followed a similar pattern. When the people listen to the prophets, statesmen promote freedom, and investors and entrepreneurs/intrepreneurs build the nation.
When the sages are ignored and statesmanship is seen as abstract and worthless, investors go elsewhere — capital flees to other nations, and the home country declines. With such decline comes moral decay, the loss of political and economic freedom, and the end of opportunity.
Abundance is a true principle, yet through history most governments have made it their major goal to crush abundance and prosperity in the masses and give it to the aristocracy or royalty.
Anyone who thinks this can’t happen in America hasn’t closely studied history.
Overcoming 3 Crucial Mistakes
Many producers make three predictable mistakes. Any producer who knows these mistakes and avoids them will be a better producer and create more lasting value in society.
Producer Mistake #1: The Generation Gap
First, producers seldom encourage their own children to follow the producer path. Many young producers will disavow this, arguing that they’ll do all within their power to teach the abundance mindset to their children.
And most of them do, until the children start to get close to adulthood. At this point, many producers realize just how hard the producer role is in life and seek to help their children avoid the pain and challenge of this path.
Many producers recommend that their children become professionals — doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers. It is ironic how many very successful college-drop-out producers make sure that all of their children attend the most prestigious colleges available and major in the normal career fields.
Even the producers who train their oldest child to follow in their path often send the younger children in other directions. And hardly any producers pass along the producer mindset to their grandchildren.
Of course, if children or grandchildren choose to take a different path in life, it is usually wise to support their decisions and love them unconditionally. But training them in social leadership, abundance, creating value, serving society, and the producer mindset is good for them no matter what path they take in life.
The historically effective solution for this is for producers to put real time, thought, planning and execution into their grandparenting role — long before they are grandparents. Quality grandparenting is a way for all producers to engage the prophet role for their family, to help pass on their wisdom and understanding of true principles to future generations.
Great parenting fulfills this same function, and is part of propheting — the highest level of production.
Producer Mistake #2: The Blinders
The second mistake many producers make is to think that their particular brand of producing is the only one that creates real value.
Like the old parable of the carpenter who believes that all of the world’s ills can be fixed with a hammer, sometimes producers get so focused on their type of producing that they narrowly discount the value of the others. Focus is good, but narrow thinking usually limits one’s effectiveness.
For example, a statesman who believes that changing government is the only real answer to society and that freedom will fix all problems, will likely reject the moral teachings of prophets and consider them mere “philosophy.” Such a person limits his statesmanship because he just doesn’t get it.
So does the statesman who thinks freedom is the only goal, and that entrepreneurs are just in love with money — he will likely try to use law against entrepreneurship, which is the opposite of statesmanship.
A true statesman sees that all five types of producers are vital to society. Similarly, when prophets undervalue statesmen, freedom of religion and independent thinking are often lost.
Likewise, an entrepreneur who discounts the teachings of prophets may feel successful because he’s made a fortune selling pornography. “After all, I just gave the market what it wanted,” he says.
No abundance-minded entrepreneur would think this, because value is only created when principles and freedom aren’t attacked. If economic value reduces moral or freedom values, total value is actually decreased.
Or, consider the entrepreneur who thinks building profitable businesses is the only way to create value and therefore does little to promote statesmanship — in his older and wiser years he will likely regret the regulated and declining world which he sees his grandchildren inheriting.
When entrepreneurs undervalue statesmen, politicians and bureaucrats win the day and capital is discouraged and eventually attacked. The wise entrepreneur or investor will see the great value added by prophets and statesmen, and he will create more value in his life because his broader view will help him make better decisions.
The examples could go on, but suffice it to say that significant problems occur when any of the five devalue any of the others. However, when all five types of producers understand, highly value, and actively support each other, all types of producers experience synergy — and the value created is exponentially increased.
Producer Mistake #3: Arrogance
Finally, the third common mistake made by producers is to look down on non-producers.
One of the true principles taught by prophets is that every person is inherently as valuable as any other. True abundance means that we respect people, whatever their chosen path — as long as it is good and honorable.
Producers, all five types, are truly vital to society, but that doesn’t make producers any better than anyone else. In fact, true abundance producers know that every person is a genius. Every single person. Some decide not to develop it much, but everyone is a genius. And producing is really just about getting people to develop that genius.
Producers who understand this point are the most effective, because they do it all for the right reasons — a true love of and desire to serve others. This is what abundance really means. Everything else falls short.
This is true abundance, so abundant that you spend your life voluntarily serving others (in contrast, true scarcity would be to spend your life on yourself). Real value means people value — and creating value really means helping people choose better lives.
This is what all five types of producing are all about.