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Prosperity

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.

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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

What’s Really Happening to Our Nation?

January 17th, 2014 // 10:00 am @

manholdingflag 300x221 Whats Really Happening to Our Nation?It happened on the same day.

Two people, who as far as I know don’t know each other, asked me the same question. Or, to be more precise, they asked two different questions that have the same answer.

In truth, this is a question that a lot of Americans have on their mind right now. Many of them don’t even realize it, but every time they watch the news, hear about current politics, or discuss Washington’s latest antics with friends or at work, they feel a growing sense that our government is becoming less and less likely to handle really big challenges.

The first question went something like this: “Oliver, I just don’t understand your logic in a recent article you wrote. I understand your concerns about big government, but why do you think business is any better?”

The second question was similar: “In your book, LeaderShift, you and Orrin Woodward have James Madison say that as business leaders go, so goes America. Why did you single out business leaders, instead of parents, academia, media or the government?”

This is an incredibly important question. Of course, I won’t presume to speak for Orrin — he can answer this question however he wants. His answers are always excellent. As for me, here’s my answer:

Where there is freedom, there is progress.
Where freedom is lacking, there is decline.

Yes, a little regulation can increase freedom — to the extent that it protects people and keeps contracts and agreements honest, and safe from crime. Beyond this, however, increased regulation means decreased freedom and therefore decline.

During the 1990s and 2000s, for example, the computing technology sector was probably the freest major industry in the world — and it brought us our greatest new fortunes, our major new technologies, and the biggest new advancements that drastically changed our world.

During that era, for example, most other sectors were highly regulated — and in decline as a result. Communications and media were highly regulated, banking became highly regulated after 9/11, transportation and manufacturing was highly regulated, and so was education, health care, farming, law, engineering, etc.

In fact, rewind a few decades, and note that the freedom in home construction and land development before the 1990s made real estate a major part of the economy. Huge fortunes, millions of jobs, and a lot of widespread prosperity came from this freedom. Not to mention widespread home ownership — the kind where people could actually afford their homes.

This kind of growth always happens where there is freedom.

And the increase in overbearing real estate regulation began before the housing bubble — it may well have caused it.

Remember: Where there is freedom, there is progress. Where freedom is lacking, there is decline.

Earlier in world history, America rose while Europe declined — precisely because America was free and most European nations were highly regulated. The same had happened when Greece and Rome chose high regulations while the European nations maintained relative freedom.

In the 19th century when Americans went west and found free lands to till, develop and improve, American prosperity soared. Later, when a Civil War gave a higher level of freedom to all Americans by ending slavery, prosperity skyrocketed. It took a while, but in less than eighty years the United States became the world’s leading power.

Freedom brings progress.

When industry, farming, education, and health care were only barely regulated (just enough to provide basic, obvious protections), all of these sectors made huge wealth, built a strong America, created millions of good jobs (where one working adult could support their whole family), and spurred increased innovations and technologies.

While big-government Europe watched its people live in apartments, small-government America watched its citizens build and own independent homes, often with large yards.

In big-government Europe well-to-do families owned a car; in small-government America even many lower-middle-class families owned several.

Freedom brings progress; decreasing freedom brings decline.

So many more examples from world history could be discussed. Sectors free from regulation lead a nation, at least until politicians figure this out and find ways to regulate them.

Today, there are at least five sectors that have higher-than-average levels of freedom:

  1. Family
  2. Home businesses
  3. Network marketing businesses
  4. Online businesses
  5. Businesses that operate across borders in many nations

Note that politicians are already scheming ways to tax online businesses, force people to buy an electronic stamp for each email or Facebook update/relationship change, charge fees for various actions of international companies, and many others.

All such attempts to increase regulation actually reduce freedom and bring decline.

But for now, business is the sector of society with the most freedom. If progress is going to come, it will happen in the entrepreneurial sectors.

Bill Gates said that

“One sign of a healthy industry is lower prices. The statistics show that the cost of computing has decreased ten million fold since 1971. That’s the equivalent of getting a Boeing 747 for the price of a pizza.”

So why can’t all of us afford a jet today, just like we afford a computer? The answer is that during the past thirty years the aerospace industry was highly regulated while the computing sector was not. You can argue that airplanes should be highly regulated; after all, they can be weapons. But, in rebuttal, so can computers.

The principle remains: Where there is freedom, there is progress. Where freedom is lacking, there is decline.

If you want to promote freedom today, think entrepreneurially — and encourage your youth and others to do the same. The future belongs to entrepreneurship, because freedom leads to progress.

This is what’s really going on in our nation, and only those who understand this realize what’s coming — and what to do about it.

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odemille Whats Really Happening to Our Nation? 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 &Business &Constitution &Entrepreneurship &Family &Government &History &Leadership &Mini-Factories &Prosperity

Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are Heroes.

October 12th, 2013 // 3:11 pm @

Lee Curz Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are Heroes.by Oliver DeMille

At some point, America is going to have to face reality. We can’t keep increasing government spending, debt, and borrowing without eventually paying for it. But the problem is deep:

When Americans are asked if they want to get rid of our $17 trillion debt and huge deficits, they say, “Yes.”

When they are told that we need to cut any actual government spending program, any program, they say, “No.”

What gives? Essentially, Americans want to get more from government but pay less. Ted Cruz was popular among conservatives when he stood against Obamacare, but when the media pushed back, conservative support decreased.

Mike Lee was popular in his home state when he took the same stand vocally, but his popularity decreased a little when he took real action to help slow the negative facets of Obamacare. Other leaders have seen the same thing.

Too many of the American people want our leaders to reduce our out-of-control debt and deficits, but they don’t want it to be hard. They want it to be easy. They support those who talk tough, but withdraw support when a leader takes courageous action.

Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and others, including a number of House Republicans, who take a stand against expanding government are heroes, pure and simple. This is true of anyone, from any party, who stands for what our nation really needs. Their stand against the expansion of big government deserves a lot more support.

Our national economic problems are going to get worse and worse until leaders take a stand to reduce spending and borrowing. But when some leaders do this, popular opinion frequently turns against them. If this remains true, Americans deserve the economic difficulties that will keep growing. If we want something better, we need to stand up for it.

Instead of complaining that our leaders don’t do enough of the right things, we need to strongly support the few leaders who actually do take action. Instead of repeating the national mantra, “Why can’t everyone just get along in Washington?,” we need to be the kind of citizens who know that a better future is worth fighting for. Thank goodness some of our leaders understand this.

Lee or Cruz for president. Or, if you’re a Democrat, look up the recent speeches of Joe Manchin. Bring in Paul, Rubio, Ryan, and anyone else who is standing for common sense. We need to stand behind leaders, regardless of party, who actually see what is needed and do something about it—regardless of how it plays in the polls. Those who do this are today’s heroes.

 

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odemille Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are Heroes. 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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Free to Learn (book review by Oliver DeMille)

June 14th, 2013 // 10:20 am @

Peter Gray’s book Free to Learn is an excellent addition to the genre of books on restoring freedom in education.

Gray clearly states:

“Children are biologically predisposed to take charge of their own education. When they are provided with the freedom and means to pursue their own interests, in safe settings, they bloom and develop along diverse and unpredictable paths, and they acquire the skills and confidence required to meet life’s challenges. In such an environment, children ask for any help they may need from adults. There is no need for forced lessons, lectures, assignments, tests, grades, segregation by age into classrooms, or any of the other trappings of our standard, compulsory system of schooling. All of these, in fact, interfere with the children’s natural way of learning.”

FreetoLearnGray Free to Learn (book review by Oliver DeMille)So why did we create schools that so directly “interfere with the children’s natural way of learning”? Gray shows that in tribal cultures the focus of childhood was playing and learning knowledge, skills, and how to live self-sufficiently and honorably.

When the agrarian revolution increased the need for child labor on farms, the values of school turned to toil, competition and status. While Gray’s view of this is perhaps a bit idyllic, the reality is that modern schools are less concerned with student knowledge, skills, honor or abilities than with the universal goal of job training.

Certainly job training has an important place in advanced society, but Gray is focused on the education of children, and in fact the toll on children in our modern job-obsessed schools is very high. They are way more stressed than earlier generations of children and youth.

Why are we raising a generation of children and youth who are stressed, not secure? Gray’s answer, based on a great deal of research which he outlines in the book, is that we have turned learning into a chore, a task, a labor, rather than the natural result of curiosity, interest, passion to learn, and self-driven seeking of knowledge and skills. In short, we’ve taken too much play out of childhood and too much freedom out of learning.

The results are a major decline of American education in the last four decades. The solution is to put freedom back into education.

Interestingly, Gray suggests that in many of the educational studies of classrooms, schools, homes and teachers that have found a way to successfully overcome these problems and achieve much better educational results, one of the key ingredients is “free age-mixing.” Where students are allowed to freely mix with other students of various ages, without grade levels, the capacity of individuals to effectively self-educate is much higher. As for the impact on college and career success, students from free educational models excel.

This is a good book, and a must read for those who really care about education. I don’t agree with everything the author teaches, but I learned something important on almost every page.

Whether or not you read Free to Learn, all of us who have children or work in education need to do more to promote the importance of increased freedom in education. Gray is a particular fan of “unschooling,” a type of homeschooling and private schooling where parents and teachers set an example of great education, create an environment of excellent learning, and let the kids become self-learners. While this may not be the ideal learning style for every student, it is the best model for a lot of them–and for nearly every young person under age 12.

If you disagree with this conclusion, you simply must read the book. The research is impeccable. If you do agree, the book can help you get to work setting a better example for any students in your life.

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A Looming Crisis — & a Call for Solutions

May 6th, 2013 // 3:51 pm @

obamacare A Looming Crisis    & a Call for SolutionsMost Americans have no ideas it is coming. But it is just around the corner.

It’s one of those technical changes that only wonks pay attention to, so few people realize how big this will be.

In fact, it’s a serious crisis in the making. And unlike the Y2K scare in 1999, this crisis is a sure thing.

What is it?

Well, put simply, this coming January, many companies will be required to extend Obamacare health care to their employees.

The costs of this are significant, and will force many small and larger businesses to make some very tough choices.

The result will be a lot of layoffs, downsizing, reduced pay, and outsourcing.

Service will suffer, and response times will plummet.

Most families and individuals plan on a yearly basis, running January 1 to December 31, so they may not know how that a lot of businesses run on a fiscal year—from April 1 to April 1, July 1 to July 1, or October 1 to October 1.

This is very important, because we just witnessed the first big round of businesses (whose fiscal year is April to April) factoring in the costs of the January 2014 Obamacare requirements.

The number of layoffs and cuts is a serious concern.

But those who run April to April have only had to factor in three months of Obamacare costs so far, so the damage has been minimal.

It’s going to get increasingly worse on July 1, and then by October 1 it will start having a major impact.

By the first of January, when everyone will have to pay the higher costs, the effect will be huge.

Again, because this is a numerical concern, most people aren’t paying attention. Here’s the crux of the problem:

  • Our economy is already struggling with a weak recovery.
  • The increasing tax and regulatory burden on business has dampened innovation.
  • The schools seldom teach innovation or initiative—indeed they usually promote the opposite.
  • International innovation is rising.
  • Business is reticent to invest or spend, because the current environment in Washington is highly uncertain.
  • Big business, which has a high surplus right now, is finding better political environments in other nations—so the money will naturally flow to where business is treated better.
  • The Obamacare requirements are making business a lot more costly, and they mostly kick in this coming January.

A lot of businesses are scrambling.

For example, in the past few months I’ve received email from a number of friends who are business owners or who consult with small businesses—saying that their only choice is to either lay off a lot of employees or shut down their business.

One company, for example, is trying to prepare for next year, but has realized that the additional cost of Obamacare for their firm will be at least $18,000 a month.

This is a fairly small company, with close ties to its people.

The last thing it wants to do is lay off employees. But what to do? The costs are simply prohibitive.

Laying off is the obvious option; and after digging deeper, it may be the only option.

How would you counsel companies in this predicament? (Note that most companies are dealing with this right now.) What ideas do you have? I’m sincerely asking for input.

What can they do?

Thousands of companies are asking the same thing right now, and many others will do so before the end of 2013.

This is going to be a real shock to the economy.

A crisis is coming.

But back to the question. How can small companies that are already financially tight comply with the new regulations—without laying off or cutting salaries?

I’m hoping you see some real solutions.

The obvious one is to innovate—to expand sales into new markets and make a lot of extra cash.

The regulatory challenges of such a strategy are, alas, a serious problem. At least in the United States.

So, thinking like an owner, what would you do?

I know you don’t have financials or details in front of you for any one company facing this challenge, but take a stab at this problem anyway—because almost all businesses are doing the same thing right now. It’s the only realistic way to look at Obamacare, because it’s the way pretty much every business owner is looking at it.

Specifically: Costs are going up significantly, with no offsetting increases in income.

In fact, higher taxes and increased regulations make growth even more difficult.

In this environment, how can you absorb the Obamacare costs without laying off a bunch of employees?

Or letting them go and hiring all new people who are desperate for jobs and will work for much lower pay?

Or simply taking your business to Brazil or India or some other country where growth is actually rewarded?

Please send me your responses. What can be done?

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

odemille 133x195 custom A Looming Crisis    & a Call for SolutionsOliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

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

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

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