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SPECIAL REPORT Part III: Republican, I Guess…

October 2nd, 2014 // 1:00 pm @

From the desk of John Q. Public….

Dear Next President,

RepublicanElephant SPECIAL REPORT Part III: Republican, I Guess...Taking the White House is a tall order, and twice you’ve failed to win the day. But this time can be different.

It will have to be different. Political operatives like to believe that the electorate is rational. “Blue states, red states, electoral votes, do the math.” But this is a foreign language to most voters.

The pundits are sure: “Swing voters in the swing states, especially Hispanics, women, and independents. The metrics tell the story.”

No they don’t. The voters aren’t following this. “It’s the machine, the people and organization on the ground,” the experts assure us. Actually, it isn’t.

Here’s what happened in the last two presidential elections. Conservatives and Republicans, as well as Right-leaning independents, really only had one choice. It was “Republican, I guess…”

That’s the problem.You tried to win. You tried to play the game. You hired the best and the brightest and listened to your advisors. But the operatives were wrong. Twice.

They told you how to win, when the American people don’t want a winning candidate.

The Key Word

The American voters want something very different. They want to feel a certain way. They want to be inspired. They want to look at you on their screen, with the sound off (or even on), and feel something special.

They don’t want to feel like you’re another candidate who wants to win. This doesn’t connect. You have to not want to win. You have to want something a lot more important. Something big. Something the whole nation needs.

The voters know you’re a great administrator. You balanced budgets. You upgraded education. You’ve led in your career field. You have character.

And yet, the voters just don’t care. Knowing all these things, they voted for the other side. Twice in a row.

You gave us, at least in the TV optics, more Bob Dole or John Kerry. Not on policy, of course. But the feeling was the same. Tall. Trim. Dark suit. Distinguished. Accomplished.

This approach doesn’t make enemies, but most Americans don’t vote for it. Yes, they want trustworthy and capable. You’ve got that. But they want something more.

They want “cool.” They want exciting. They want genuine. They want authentic. They want you to clearly and boldly stand for something great. They want sparks to fly when you address them!

Those on your side already agree with you, and those against you have already made their plans. But a bunch of voters, more than enough to change the election, are waiting to see who makes them feel something great about their vote. That word “great” is the key.

Still Freedom

In the last two campaigns the biggest vision most people got from Republicans was “Not Obama.” If the next Republican presidential campaign is just “Not Hillary,” we’ll see the same results.

Whoever is telling you how to play to win needs to be off the team. You can seize this moment. Don’t play to win. Don’t be a candidate. Americans don’t like candidates.

They like leaders. Take this opportunity to be a teacher. A persuader. A symbol of a future America that is more. Better. Great. Stand for something that moves us. Make us care.

This will shock the voters, and they’ll perk up and take another look. Reagan won because he promised to bring freedom back to America, and to stand boldly for freedom around the world.

Freedom is still the quintessential American idea, much more than policy and talking points.

That’s what was missing in 2008 and 2012. “Republican, I guess…” is the professional politician’s path. “How can we win? Okay, experts, let’s do it that way.”

Wrong approach.

What about doing it your way? If it feels like the professionals are running things and the candidate is, well, a candidate, you’ve already lost.

It has to feel like you are doing it your way, because you are a great leader and your nation needs what you have to offer.

And it will feel that way when it is that way.

Lead us in a powerful direction, like you couldn’t care less whether or not you win but you’d give anything to get America back on the path to freedom!

That’s moving.

“Care Less” to Impress

The path is hard. Those who haven’t walked it can’t possibly hope to understand. They criticize and armchair quarterback. The one bloodied in the arena has to weigh the options and make tough decisions.

But Republicans now have two strikes.

Trying to win isn’t working.

Time to lead. Forget winning.

Tell America what it needs to hear, and let the chips fall. “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” We need a rebirth of freedom, and we’ll vote for the man or woman who we believe will take us there.

That’s incredibly moving. It’s what voters yearn for. And running against Senator Clinton, who already looks and feels presidential, it’s the only chance. If the voters are tentative, it’s because you are.

Take an unequivocal stand for freedom. And don’t back down. Don’t try to win the primaries, just try to bring freedom back to the center of all American dialogue. Make it about freedom!

Own it. Fire the air traffic controllers. During the primaries, burn the boats. Stand for what really matters. Don’t impress anyone. Just take a stand and lead. That’s the true way to win support.

Also, forget the other candidates. Ignore them.

Show America why you are the one to support—because your vision for the nation is so moving. Teach them your vision, connect with them by being boldly true to yourself. Ignore polls. Ignore trying to impress.

Nothing impresses like not caring if you impress.

Have real confidence, the genuine confidence of knowing that your principles are true and that the nation desperately needs to apply them.

The economy is in dire straits, and eight more years of current policies will be a disaster.

In fact, truly free economic policies haven’t been Washington’s focus for almost three decades, regardless of which party was in the White House. Foreign policy is in the same messed up boat. This upcoming election is vital.

What America Needs

But we don’t need another politician. We need a leader. We don’t need another candidate. We need a voice for freedom, one that gets the nation to collectively sit back and listen.

You can be that voice.

But only if you’re a voice for something a lot greater than elections, winning, education, energy reform, etc. These things are part of it, of course, but only a true voice for freedom can speak the genuinely American dialect.

People are of tired of politicians.

They want someone to lead a rebirth of freedom and help make America great again.

This is the voter’s heart. It is also the way to put the United States back on the right path.

Oh, and by the way, this letter is addressed to whoever decides to take up the torch for real change, for an America rededicated to the main thing that made this country great—real freedom and the people who work and sacrifice to make it great.

Senator Paul, Governor Romney, Congressman Ryan, Senator Rubio, Governor Christie, Governor Perry, Senator Lee, Governor Huckabee, or someone else—whoever the next great leader is—this is the blueprint.

We have to feel like you really care about the right vision and direction for the nation, and that your vision is big enough and bold enough to truly make us care as well. Freedom is the message that will win.

And that means you’ve got to ignore the experts and transcend the politician, the candidate, the one who wants to impress, and you’ve got to show us that it’s not about you.

It’s about something a lot bigger.

Having a Vision

When you show us that it’s genuinely about our future, and give us something that really, finally, resonates, we’ll be with you—not just on election day, but for the years ahead.

One thing is for certain, Senator Clinton’s campaign won’t make the mistake of trying to impress everyone or just tear down her opponents.

They’ll be out in force promoting big ideas for the years ahead. Not just any ideas, mind you. They’ll be advancing Mrs. Clinton’s ideas, in a big way.

There will be lots of mudslinging—there always is—and answering the critics. But ultimately the American people will elect the individual who ignites their passion and interest.

The “cool” leader will win, the one with the most epic and resonate vision for our future.

Senator Clinton is hugely popular, with a strong list of accomplishments, but she isn’t invulnerable.

She can be gaffe prone, and her vision of further social reform will look weak when compared to someone with a great vision of American rebirth in the economy, leadership, and freedom.

A vision that captures our passion will sway the election. Nothing else will.

How to Win It

If the Republican candidates play small ball, even in the primaries (and no matter what the experts tell them), they’re going to lose. Your only chance is to aim for the fences.

It’s got to be about a decisive, moving vision of a truly greater America.

And it’s got to be centered on a future where freedom once again becomes the watchword for every American, and every government policy and program.

We yearn for this, from coast to coast, and only this is going to hit the home-run that is needed to get our nation back on track.

That a refocus on freedom can sweep a different president into the White House is incidental. It’s about recapturing the idea of freedom and the conviction that America’s role is to stand for it in a truly great way.

This is who we really are. It is who we truly want to be. Nothing else comes close.

Whenever we stray from this, America goes into a period of decline. When we get it back, we flourish. Freedom really is our lifeblood. Our essence. It is Americanism at the core.

It is time to get it back, and we’ll vote for a leader who effectively makes this our generation’s opportunity to shine. We’re all hoping that 2016 is the time.

Don’t play politics. Don’t try to win. Instead, lead a true rebirth of freedom!

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

odemille SPECIAL REPORT Part III: Republican, I Guess... Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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The New Ivy League by Oliver DeMille

August 27th, 2014 // 6:34 am @

The New Ivy League DeMille road to entrepreneurialism 1024x726 The New Ivy League by Oliver DeMille

The Dinosaur Reality

The day of turning a college degree into a ready job and high pay is over. That was then. The new economy is different now, and many graduate schools are taking note.

For example, The New York Times reported:

“On a spring afternoon at Michigan State University, 15 law students are presenting start-up proposals to a panel of legal scholars and entrepreneurs and an audience of fellow students. The end-of-the semester event is one part seminar and one part ‘Shark Tank’ reality show.

“The companies the students are describing would be very different from the mega-firms that many law students have traditionally aspired to work for, and to grow wealthy from. Instead, these young people are proposing businesses more nimble and offbeat: small, quick mammals [entrepreneurial businesses] scrambling underfoot in the land of dinosaurs [oldstyle mega-businesses].” (John Schwartz, “This is Law School?” The New York Times, August 1, 2014)

Many schools are increasingly emphasizing entrepreneurialism in a new economy where the traditionally educated law school graduate faces a dearth of jobs. “With the marketplace shifting, schools have increasingly come under fire for being out of touch.” (ibid.)

Professionals in the Basement

A surprisingly high number of law school and other professional school graduates are moving back home to live with parents, and those who do get jobs are finding the work stifling and unrewarding in an environment with a glut of professionals holding degrees.

Those who don’t like the cutthroat and grinding work are easily replaced.

In fact, a Forbes study recently noted that being an associate attorney is the least happy job in the nation. (See Psychology Today, July 2014) It has relatively high pay compared to most entry-level career paths, but the hours are extreme and the other rewards are minimal.

With the glut of attorneys in the market, a large number of law school grads are ending up as paralegals anyway—which seldom helps them to pay off their huge student loans. (ibid.) Medical careers are nearly as bad for most young people—at least for the first eight to twelve years.

A recent poll of college graduates showed:

“People who take out significant college loans score worse on quality-of-life measures, a trend that persists into middle age…. Even 24 years after graduation, students who borrowed more than $25,000 are less likely to enjoy work and are less financially and physically fit than their counterparts who graduated without debt.

For more recent college grads, the discrepancy is even more pronounced….

“About 70% of college grads have debt (Douglas Belkin, “Heavily Indebted Grads Rank Low on Life Quality, The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2014), and those with graduate or professional schooling have even more debt on average than those with a four-year degree.

“Catherine L. Carpenter, vice dean of Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, tracks curriculum across the country. She said schools are trying to teach their students to run their own firms, to look for entrepreneurial opportunities by finding ‘gaps in the law or gaps in the delivery of services,’ and to gain specialized knowledge that can help them counsel entrepreneurs.” (op cit. Shwartz)

A Return to Apprenticeship

Some of the schools themselves are turning more entrepreneurial as well. The Times reported:

“All law schools, including the elites, are increasing skills training by adding clinics and externships…. [T]he University of Virginia will allow students to earn a semester of credit while working full time for nonprofit or government employers anywhere in the world.” (Ethan Bronner, “To Place Graduates, Law Schools Are Opening Firms,” The New York Times, March 7, 2013)

This kind of non-traditional learning harks back to the time when most attorneys learned by apprenticing with practicing lawyers—usually with no formal law school at all.

A few law schools are also implementing innovative ways to help their graduates get jobs, or work in firms set up specifically for this purpose by the law schools. For example, Arizona State University set up a special nonprofit law firm so that some of its graduates would have a place to work and learn to practice law.

“[There is] a crisis looming over the legal profession after decades of relentless growth…. It is evident in the sharp drop in law school applications….

“[P]ost-graduate training programs appear to be the way of the future for many of the nation’s 200 law schools. The law dean of Rutgers University just announced plans for a nonprofit law firm for some of his graduates.” (ibid.)

Entrepreneurship and Life

Other innovations are trying to deal with the crisis.

“At Indiana University’s law school, Prof. William D. Henderson has been advocating a shake-up in legal education whose time may have come. ‘You have got to be in a lot of pain’ before a school will change something as tradition-bound as legal training, he said, but pain is everywhere at the moment, and ‘that’s kind of our opening.’” (op cit. Shwartz)

“‘This is the worst time in the history of legal education to go to law school,’ said Patrick Ellis, a recent graduate [of Michigan State University]. ‘I am not top of my class, not at a top-10 law school, but I’m confident I’m going to have a meaningful career because of this [entrepreneurial studies] program.’” (ibid.)

Entrepreneurialism is injecting life into many sectors of the economy. In fact, it always has. Without entrepreneurship, free economies cannot flourish. But when the economy is as sluggish as the new market today, entrepreneurs are the main hope.

Note that it’s not just law school grads who are facing a tough economy. Don Peck wrote:

“The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults…. The economy now sits in a hole 10 million jobs deep…[and] we need to produce roughly 1.5 million jobs a year—about 125,000 a month—just to keep from sinking deeper.

“Even if the economy were to immediately begin producing 600,000 jobs a month—more than double the pace of the mid-to-late 1990s, when job growth was strong—it would take roughly two years to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in…. But the U.S. hasn’t seen that pace of sustained employment growth in more than 30 years…” (Don Peck, “Can the Middle Class Be Saved?” The Atlantic, March 2010)

In addition, to pay for college, many more students are staying home and learning in local schools or talking courses online. (See, for example, Tamar Lewin, “Colleges Adapt Online Courses to Ease Burden, The New York Times, April 29, 2013.)

And over half of college students who go away to earn their degrees have moved back home after graduation in recent years—they aren’t finding jobs, and home is their only option in many cases. (Harper’s Index, Harpers, August 2011).

Deep Holes Around the World

In fact, this problem is prevalent in Europe as well as the United States.

As one report noted:

“By the time the parents of Serena Violano were in their early 30s, they had solid jobs, their own home and two small daughters. Today, Serena, a 31-year-old law graduate, is still sharing her teenage bedroom with her older sister in the small town of Mercogliano, near Naples.” (Ilan Brat and Giada Zampano, “Young, European and Broke,” The Wall Street Journal, August 9-10, 2014)

With few jobs available in her field, she “spends her days studying for the exam to qualify as a notary in the hopes of scoring a stable job.” (ibid.)

The reason the European economies are struggling is the same as the American challenge–with one difference: the media is more open in saying what is really causing the problems in Europe.

For example, “[the young European’s] predicament is exposing a painful truth: The towering cost of labor protections that have provided a comfortable life for Europe’s baby boomers is now keeping their children from breaking in [to economic opportunity].” (ibid.)

Dead or Alive

In the United States, such protections include Social Security, Health Care laws, Government Pensions, other entitlements, and the debt necessary to maintain these programs—along with the high levels of regulation that hamper entrepreneurial ventures.

But why are people turning to graduate school to learn entrepreneurship, when the best entrepreneurs tend to learn their craft by application in the real market? It appears to be a matter of trying to avoid risk—of attempting to do what works in the new economy (entrepreneurship) while hedging one’s bets by still doing what used to work in the old economy (college degrees).

As one interesting article captured this theme: “College is Dead. Long Live College!” (Amanda Ripley, “College is Dead. Long Live College!” Time Magazine, October 18, 2012, cited in Allen Levie, “The Visual Tradition: The Coming Shift in Democracy,” unpublished manuscript.)

Both “college is dead” and “long live college” can’t technically be true at the same time, but today’s students and their parents aren’t sure which to believe. Still, the best road to entrepreneurship is clearly the path of actually engaging entrepreneurialism.

This is a scary reality for a generation that was raised to believe that school was basically the only route to career success.

Watching Results

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that as go the attorneys, so goes the United States. Today the cutting-edge trend in legal training is a huge influx of entrepreneurialism.

Ultimately, as another report put it:

“It used to be that college was the ticket to the top. Now graduates are starting from the bottom—buried by student-loan debt that has skyrocketed to a collective $1.2 trillion” in the United States. (Kayla Webley, Generation Debt, MarieClaire, June 2014) Today’s college students and graduates are coming to be known less as the Millennial Generation and more as “Generation Debt.” (ibid.)

This doesn’t mean that higher education is dead. It means that “hire education” is going to be increasingly judged by how well it works—meaning how effectively its users succeed as entrepreneurs.

As a result, a lot of “higher education” innovation and non-traditional types of learning—many of them informal, self-directed and hand-on-building-a-business—are beginning to flourish.

Those who successfully entrepreneur (in law and nearly every other sector of the economy) are going to be the successes of the future. Entrepreneurship is the new Ivy League.

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

odemille The New Ivy League by Oliver DeMille Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

 

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A Missing Piece of Entrepreneurship

July 25th, 2014 // 7:38 am @

What Some Entrepreneurs Are Missing

A missing piece of entrepreneurship Free enterprise rewards A Missing Piece of Entrepreneurship

I write a lot about entrepreneurship, even though my main focus is freedom. The reason for this is simple: free nations are always nations with a strong entrepreneurial sector. There are no exceptions in history.

Put simply, the great free nations of human experience had a flourishing free enterprise. This was true in ancient Athens and ancient Israel, the Swiss free era and the Frank golden age, the free periods of the Saracens and also the Anglo-Saxons, the American founding era and the modern free nations of Britain, U.S., Canada, Japan and Europe, among others.

Take away free enterprise, and a nation’s freedom always declines. Shut down the entrepreneurial spirit, and liberty rapidly decreases.

The main reason freedom rises or falls with entrepreneurialism is simple: 1) to succeed as an entrepreneur, a person must exhibit the character traits of initiative, innovation, ingenuity, creativity, wise risk-taking, sacrifice, tenacity, frugality, resilience, and perseverance, and 2) these characteristics are precisely the things that through history have proven necessary for free citizens to stay free.

 The Hidden Problem

The large majority of responses when I write about entrepreneurship are thoughtful, insightful, and even wise. But once in a while when I write an article pointing out the importance of free enterprise and entrepreneurship to freedom, I get a strange response. I call it “strange” because it shows that some people don’t quite understand what I mean by entrepreneurship. Such comments go something like this:

“I’m a born entrepreneur, and I’ve started dozens of businesses, so I understand that…”

“I have a list of ideas for successful entrepreneurial projects—could you suggest which of these might be the best options…”

“My spouse is constantly starting entrepreneurial ventures and using up our capital in such schemes, and your article made him want to do several more of them…”

These types of sentences are a real head-scratcher. Why? Because this isn’t what successful entrepreneurship and free enterprise is all about. Not at all.

Successful entrepreneurs typically start 2-4 businesses during their life, not dozens, and at least one of them becomes an important enterprise. The free market just doesn’t reward people who start dozens of businesses, frequently jumping around from business to business.

People who are constantly engaged in their latest “start-up” aren’t really following the entrepreneurial path. They’re just endlessly repeating the first part of it. Free enterprise rewards those who stick with a business until it becomes a real success, or who learn from the mistakes of the past and then stick with the next venture until it truly prospers.

A lot of successful entrepreneurs have had a failure or two, but not many of them have spent their years working on dozens of businesses. They soon learn to pick one and do what it takes to succeed. They buckle down and go through the process of turning their company into something.

In fact, many successful owners have suggested that it takes about 10,000 hours, or even more, to become good enough at a business or economic sector to make it profitable. Those who are constantly jumping around just can’t ever get there.

 The Real Thing

When people talk about an entrepreneurial attitude or viewpoint of always starting another business, that’s one thing. But it’s not the same thing as tenaciously persevering until one business flourishes—and then tenaciously persevering as it keeps thriving.

a missing piece of entrepreneurship hard work and tenacity 995x1024 A Missing Piece of Entrepreneurship

This latter approach is the kind of entrepreneurship that builds a nation. It’s more than just a posture or a habit of starting a bunch of businesses. It’s more than liking the idea of business ownership. It’s more than talking about being your own boss.

It takes an amazing amount of hard work and tenacity to make a business truly work. Nothing else really gets the job done—for entrepreneurship, or for freedom.

This might seem like a little thing, like a meaningless play on words, but it isn’t. It is huge! Entrepreneurship doesn’t spur liberty in a society just because some people have an independent, “I’ll do it myself” or “I’d rather be my own boss” attitude. That’s part of it, but there’s more.

Free enterprise is great when the enterprises work. This happens only when the small business owner pays the price to become a successful leader and make the enterprise blossom and grow.

Again, this might not always occur—and it never comes easily—but the leaders who build a free nation are those who hunker down and do the hard work to make it happen. Even if they fail, they make it happen the next time. One dedicated day at a time. Through all the hard times and challenges. Even when everyone else would have given up.

A nation with a lot of such entrepreneurs has a real chance at freedom.

A nation without them never does.

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

odemille A Missing Piece of Entrepreneurship 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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Are You Really an American

February 3rd, 2014 // 2:02 pm @

real american Are You Really an American The more I watch the news, the more I wish we had more farmers in modern America. I grew up in a small town, and when I was a boy there were lots of farmers still left in the county.

The town was small enough that I knew, at least by face and name, pretty much every man and woman — and I noticed something different about farmers. They didn’t accept the “official line” on anything, and they never tried to impress or fit in. They seemed secure in who they were, not worried about whether they were popular or not. This gave them immense strength.

For example, one day while walking to school, I noticed water spouting high into the air from a broken fire hydrant. A local grocer I knew pulled over, watched it with me and a few other kids, and then said, “I’ll call the city office and tell them to come fix it.”

We all kept walking to school — crisis averted. Later in life, while traveling in a big U.S. city, I noticed a similar spouting hydrant. This time people just walked around it and kept going, as if they had never really noticed it. “No calls to city hall here,” I remember thinking.

But the really amazing thing happened back in my hometown the same day I saw the leak. I’m not sure whether the grocer ever called the city office, but on my way home from school the hydrant was still spraying water. It was hot, so my friends and I cooled off in the free entertainment provided by the leak. In a town this small, this provided high adventure.

While we were there, an old farmer pulled up in an old pickup truck. He got out, looked over the leak, then went and puttered around in the back of his truck. He returned with several tools, and twenty minutes later the leak was fixed. The man walked back to his truck, and I asked him if the city sent him.

I’ll never forget the truly shocked look on his face. “No,” he said. “I was just driving by. The hydrant was broke, so I fixed it.” Then he got in his truck and drove away.

I hauled hay a few times for this farmer, earning some spending money during high school. Neither of us ever mentioned the incident again. It was as normal as sunrise. The hydrant was broken, so the man fixed it. He didn’t work for the city. But he lived there — and a broken hydrant needs fixing.

At least, that’s the logic for a farmer. In many modern cities today, he’d probably be issued a ticket and have to pay a fine.

That’s modern America. When we don’t encourage initiative and innovation, we naturally get less of them. When we punish self-starting entrepreneurialism, jobs go overseas. When we reward “leaving solutions to the government,” we get fewer solutions. No wonder we’re in decline while China and Brazil, among other places, are on the rise.

I once told this story to a group of students, and two of them later served as interns at a state legislature. On the last day of the session, they sat in the seats high above the legislative chamber, reading through the session program and circling the names of the legislators who had become their heroes.

They said something like, “These were the leaders who never, ever caved in on principle, who always stood firm for what they believed — never playing politics or trying to fit in, just doing their level best to serve the people who had elected them.”

After they finished, they noticed something very interesting. Next to the picture and name of every legislator was their profession — teacher, accountant, attorney, businessman, etc. Every single one of the legislators they had circled was a farmer.

The two young interns were duly impressed. They remembered my story about farmers and fire hydrants, and they shared their experience.

Not every American can be a farmer. But every citizen can be an American — one who thinks independently, takes action when it is needed, and always takes a stand for the right.

Washington will get some things right and some wrong in the years ahead, but the future of America doesn’t depend on Washington. It depends on regular people: will they think independently, will they spend their lives trying to fit in, or in standing up for what is right?

Standing up for the right things isn’t always popular. But people who do it anyway are the only ones who keep a nation free. So, sometimes I ask myself a very important question: Are you really an American? Really?

That old farmer was. If you are too, prove it.

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

odemille Are You Really an American 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 &Entrepreneurship &Leadership &Liberty &Mission &Producers &Prosperity &Service &Statesmanship

Why Washington Can’t Be Fixed, But America Can

January 7th, 2014 // 10:00 am @

fix america 300x300 Why Washington Cant Be Fixed, But America CanThe problems in Washington D.C. aren’t going to be fixed, because Washington is the problem.

One fundamental way Washington operates is incompatible with freedom, prosperity, and common sense. Specifically, Washington today is caught in the rut of post bellum auxilium, and there is little chance of this changing any time soon.

This phrase was used in ancient times to describe politicians and generals who would hear warnings of danger and refuse to provide troops — then, upon hearing that their posts had been attacked and overrun by the enemy, would angrily and publicly gather troops and send them. The troops would arrive at empty battlefields, too late to do anything — which should have been obvious, since the politicians didn’t even send them until the battles were over.

Our government is profoundly dedicated to this method. Consider the many warnings of impending terrorism that came before 9/11, and the drastic Bush Administration response after. Or the fact that only a very few, isolated people saw the Great Recession of 2008 coming, but afterwards the Bush and Obama Administrations took draconian pains to ensure that nothing like this would ever happen again.

Then, when the Arab Spring started with a massive uprising in Egypt, President Obama blamed the intelligence community for failing to predict this event. There are dozens of similar examples, in just the last decade.

Here is the problem. Washington believes the experts. But, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb teaches in his excellent book, Antifragile, the experts are terrible at predicting surprises.

Obviously, that’s what makes such events surprising. And they keep coming, despite the experts’ best attempts to predict and forecast.

Taleb wrote that intelligence analysts and economists fail to forecast most major world changes because these events “are unpredictable, and their probabilities are not scientifically measurable.”

He points out a real weakness with most modern government leadership:

  1. governments focus on prediction, then when they are surprised they
  2. blame the experts for not forecasting effectively, and
  3. rally to create regulations and policies designed to anticipate and prevent events that have already happened.

What they don’t do is create what Taleb calls real resilience, or the ability to withstand surprises — whatever comes.

There are several consequences of this mistaken approach. First, the numbers of regulations skyrocket because politicians think it is their job to anticipate every possible surprise.

Second, the size of governments, debts, and deficits increase as officials try to be prepared for anything.

Third, after each failure, the government becomes more and more dependent on the “experts.”

Common sense dictates that we stop listening to those who consistently get most of their forecasts wrong, but the worry that government must foresee and block every surprise trumps common sense — and more money is spent on more experts whose predictions continue to fall short.

In our book, LeaderShift, Orrin Woodward and I called this widespread problem “Credentialism.”

Taleb wrote:

“Governments are wasting billions of dollars on attempting to predict events that are produced by interdependent systems and are therefore not statistically understandable at the individual level…This was not just money wasted but the construction of a false confidence based on an erroneous focus.”

Surprises will still come, including natural disasters and man-made crises. Nothing government does can stop this.

Some will no doubt ask, “So, what should we do? Just give up?”

The answer is interesting.

Instead of focusing on trying to forecast and prevent surprising events in the world, Taleb says that wise leaders will focus on creating a strong and resilient nation and society that isn’t hurt by surprise. In fact, he recommends that nations seek to become “antifragile,” meaning that they get even stronger during surprises and other crises.

This is how America responded to World War II, for example. Instead of weakening us, this crisis made us stronger. This happened because we were more antifragile than today. We had, on the whole, stronger families, stronger community bonds, and stronger dedication to morals. We also maintained a true free-enterprise system where anyone had the opportunity to take risks and create widespread prosperity — and many people did just that as a response to crisis.

In our current environment — where only 35n percent of all jobs are full time, and more than 48 percent of people are on welfare, food stamps, or other government benefits, and where the regulatory barriers to starting a business are much higher than fifty years ago — we are a lot more fragile.

In short, we are a nation deeply addicted to being ruled by experts. Our best future will come, Taleb suggests, by focusing on the things that make us stronger, more resilient, and even antifragile.

In my view, this means a return to genuine free enterprise, pure and simple.

The reason this works is because it incentivizes individuals, with enlightened self-interest, to take on the challenge of becoming entrepreneurs, i.e.: producers, independents and bastions of self-reliance, sharing their wealth and security with those who buy into their vision and help make it happen through intrepreneurial positions in their businesses.

Thousands of such entrepreneurs unleashed on our woes would have a leavening effect and the grassroots spread of forward-thinking innovation will put into operation the principles that govern freedom and prosperity.

We need to take a good look at our nation and government, identify areas where were we are fragile, and fix them. Government has a small but vital role to play in this, mainly in fixing our long-term government spending problem, but the majority of change must come from the American people.

The problem, as always, is that such change requires risk. This means that those who are willing to face risk and innovate must lead out — entrepreneurs, not politicians, bureaucrats, or experts.

The Washington/Ivy League/Wall Street crowd that depends on experts is extremely fragile, if for no other reason than it relies on experts whose forecasts are frequently weak.

If we are to put America on a path to a truly flourishing economy and society where every child can benefit from a rebirth of the American Dream, risk is necessary. Without great risk, there will be no great rewards.

The truth is, the most innovative entrepreneurs have already detected areas of fragility and are taking action in response — that’s what makes them innovators. But Washington seems committed to stopping all this initiative.

A national addiction to experts, and a simultaneous rejection of entrepreneurs, is a sure path to decline. This is where we now are as a nation.

The reality is that expertise thrives when there is no crisis, but crumbles in the face of surprises. Entrepreneurship flourishes in times of peace and crisis, even when it isn’t given much of a chance.

When a nation encourages entrepreneurship and the natural innovation and resilience of entrepreneurs, it becomes strong — strong when surprises come, and even if they don’t.

How do we become such a nation? Three things are needed:

  1. We have to be innovators and entrepreneurs regardless of what Washington does.
  2. We have to effectively stand behind those few in Washington who do take on the expert establishment and call for real change, even (especially) when it upsets the career politicians and media pundits.
  3. We have to show real respect for entrepreneurs, and teach all our kids to seriously consider and admire the higher calling of entrepreneurship.

As Taleb put it,

“We didn’t get to where we are today thanks to policy makers — but thanks to the appetite for risks and errors of a certain class of people [entrepreneurs] we need to encourage, protect, and respect.”

Our solutions are simple, not complex. But the “expert-dominated” elites are trying to keep things complex in order to “justify their profession,” as Taleb said.

Innovators can do better. They always have. Carpe diem!

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

odemille Why Washington Cant Be Fixed, But America Can 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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