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A Third Power

June 25th, 2012 // 9:33 pm @

Michael Strong wrote, in his excellent book Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World’s Problems:

“A short history of twentieth-century economic and political thought might be summarized as:

“Market Failure! Markets don’t work as well as the classical economists thought and therefore we must control them (1900-1960).

“Government Failure! Governments don’t work as well as democratic theorists thought, and therefore we can’t depend on them to do the right thing either (1960-2000).”

Markets are excellent for what they are for! Free markets create more wealth and distribute it more widely than any other economic model.

Under free markets we always witness a large middle class.

But the market doesn’t solve all problems in society.

Nor does government.

Neither markets nor governments solve everything.

Markets create more affluence and involve more people in prosperity than any other system, and governments are the most effective entity in protecting inalienable rights and maintaining laws that allow markets to flourish.

But there are a number of things governments should not do and markets will not naturally do, and these tend to be precisely the major challenges our society faces (and seldom solves).

If we are to effectively address society’s main ills (beyond a quality standard of living for most people and the protection of our rights and freedoms), people need to voluntarily take on the world’s ills and find ways to address them.

Charity, philanthropy, volunteer service, service project and social entrepreneurship (the creation of companies or projects with the specific goal of addressing societal problems) is vital.

Government is great for what it is for, but it becomes dangerous to all when it goes beyond its proper role.

Markets are fabulous for creating affluence and helping spread it to a large middle class, but they are not focused on fixing the various societal ills.

It is up to people to improve our world beyond the natural roles of government and markets.

The discussion nearly always centers around how government should do everything versus how government should do less and leave more to markets.

But those arguing for markets too seldom go out and really implement needed solutions in our communities and nation.

It’s time to get past the old Cold War argument.

Of course government should be limited, of course markets can do many things better than government, and of course markets depend on good government policy for safety and the rule of law.

But there is another piece to fixing the world: the non-governmental, non-market driven action of individuals who see a need and set out to make a difference.

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and 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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Category : Blog &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Featured &Government &Leadership &Mission &Statesmanship

Pooled Sovereignty

June 21st, 2012 // 7:06 pm @

The breeding ground for a global system that supports pooled sovereignty is found in the top universities, and it is promoted by the bureaucratic elite in many nations.

Much of what occurs in Washington only makes sense to those who understand this drift toward globalization.

For example, a push for increased government spending, debt and regulation on small business (even in the face of recession and a struggling economy) make perfect sense if the goal is to shift the American economy away from international leadership to global participation—to make the U.S. economy and government more like those of Europe and Asia.

Stimulus, universal health care, less entrepreneurship (through increased levels of government regulation)—all are necessary to create an American economy that can fit seamlessly with the industrialized European/Asian nations.

Another step in this process is to end the use of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency and replace it with an IMF or other currency.

The IMF has already proposed this change, and international support for it is growing.

Just to be clear, when the dollar replaced the British pound as the world’s reserve currency in the 1970s, the average net worth of nearly every home in Britain fell more than 30% the day after the change.

The British economy has still never fully recovered, nearly forty years later.

If the same change comes to the U.S., we will likely experience a worse economy for the next four decades than we have over the past four years.

Unfortunately, as Forbes reported, “It’s hard for the State Department to imagine an international agreement to which America is not part.” Republican and Democratic presidents since FDR have drastically decreased American freedom using treaties.

This is bad for Americans—good for pooled sovereignty.

Ultimately, there are two types of leadership that can turn this around: presidential leadership, and citizen leadership.

Sadly, few candidates for president (from either party) and exactly zero elected presidents since 1959 have effectively pushed back against this growing threat.

As for the American citizenry leading the charge, find out what percentage of your friends can tell you the details in the Law of the Sea Treaty, the Rome Statute, or UN Agenda 21, and that percentage is about how likely the people are to effectively lead.

In fact, this lack of citizen leadership means there is little incentive for presidents to take action against pooled sovereignty.

Or to put this in practical terms, a half-century with a bad economy is likely ahead.

Unless something changes…

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and 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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Category : Blog &Citizenship &Current Events &Featured &Foreign Affairs &Leadership

The French Way

June 16th, 2012 // 5:45 pm @

Many people around the world are discovering the principles of great education that those using TJEd are already applying.

The conveyor belt approach to learning has two big competitors in this second decade of the twenty-first century.

The first can be summed up as, “Don’t just participate in the conveyor belt, excel at it!”

This is the idea widely popularized in the Tiger Mom book and debate which swept through American education circles during the past two years.

The second approach, the one adopted by Montessori, TJEd, and several other highly-effective educational viewpoints recently gained another proponent.

In the enjoyable book, Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, we learn about the core principles of parenting used by French parents.

Those familiar with TJEd will find many old friends among the French techniques, and all of us can learn from these ideas.

For example, according to Druckerman, here are some of the “secrets” of effective parenting widely utilized in the French culture:

  • A focus on parenting as a pleasure rather than a chore or grind
  • An emphasis on helping children experience growing up as a joy rather than a job
  • Taking it slow and enjoying the journey rather than rushing to stay ahead of the neighbors’ kids or meet standards set by unnamed experts
  • “Establishing firm but gentle authority…”
  • “Favoring creative play over lots of lessons…”
  • “Never letting a child become the center of your existence”
  • Realizing that children aren’t “projects for their parents to perfect. They are separate and capable, with their own tastes…”

“French parents just don’t seem so anxious for their kids to get head starts,” Druckerman tells us, but rather help them experience quality in growing up and learning.

The focus is more on the current goal of being happy children and the end goal  of becoming well-adjusted adults than on striving for adult goals as toddlers and young children.

Throughout the book, those using TJEd will find familiar themes couched in an interesting European experience.

The following ideas show up repeatedly and in new and interesting ways: classics; mentors; structure time, not content; you, not them; simple, not complex; quality, not conformity; secure, not stressed; teach to the appropriate phase, not one-size-fits-all education; personalize, instead of joining the conveyor belt.

Above all, Druckerman emphasizes the French emphasis on wisdom (rather than grades, gold stars, or other external accolades) as the central purpose of learning, and for that matter of family and life.

The fact that Druckerman is an American who learned these principles while living in France adds to the book—it is practical in the American way while being idealistic and even artistic in the French way.

In short, it’s a great read, even if you don’t use TJEd but especially if you do!

 



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Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Education &Family &Featured

The One Thing That Really Annoys Me

June 13th, 2012 // 2:54 pm @

I think I’ve heard every side of the education debate over the past two decades, including different theories of education, the pros and cons of each new educational fad and curriculum, and the opinions of those who support the typical education system versus the many differing views from those who don’t.

I find most of this discussion healthy and intriguing—after all, all the passion shows that many people care deeply about the education of our children.

But there is one thing that really annoys me.

I read it again just this week.

An otherwise stellar writer and usually wise thought-leader said it, and though I’ve heard it before I still cringe whenever it comes up.

It’s the one thing you can’t really say about fixing education, because it is just plain wrong.

This frustrating argument goes something like this: American education needs serious reforming, there are a lot of good ideas on how to do this, but if the changes depend on parents it just isn’t going to work—the experts, in public and/or private schools, are the only ones who can lead this.

My response? This idea is totally false.

Moreover, it’s downright dangerous to a free nation. Those who promote this idea either don’t know what they are talking about or have some dark agenda.

The Bible says those who hurt our little ones should have a millstone put around their neck and be thrown in the ocean.

Okay, that’s not exactly what the Bible says. And clearly I’m putting too much angst into this. Many of the writers are probably good, well-intentioned people.

I need to calm down. Breathe. Live in the now. Zen.

But, as you can probably tell, this topic really gets my ire up.

I think one of the reasons it is so frustrating is that at first glance it sounds quite reasonable. Many people hear this and nod their heads reflexively.

That’s how much we’ve come to trust experts in modern times. “Give me an expert. Any expert…”

The truth is something quite different.

If parents don’t buy in, no educational reform is going to work, no matter how many experts, think tanks, studies, politicians and Presidents support the change.

More to the point, significant and lasting change will only occur when parents truly lead out.

Parents are the indispensable individuals in reforming education.

Certainly there are exceptions to this, examples of students with little parental support who succeed anyway, but the overall direction of education in society is led by a nation’s parents.

It’s time we admit this and approach education reform accordingly.

The future of our society doesn’t depend on Harvard, it depends on our dinner tables.

Current proposals to fix America’s education system are divided into roughly two categories: (1) those that recommend top-down reforms by experts, and (2) those that suggest changes by parents and students.

Both can help, of course.

With that said, there are very few of the second type, and these are given very little credence by the educational elite.

For example, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, homeschooling and other such bottom-up approaches are seen by the education bureaucracy as perhaps useful for a few children and families but not legitimate systems for widespread improvement of education.

This is the old mistake of aristocracies and meritocracies, where innovators become leaders and then their posterity, from their perch at the top of society, routinely discounts the validity of rising innovations.

An executive at 3M once told me that the company was founded by creative and innovative entrepreneurs, but that today none of them could even get an interview at 3M—their resumes just wouldn’t be enough to get through the door with the new-fangled HR guidelines.

Actually, some of the expert proposals for educational reform are quite good, even innovative.

But the attempt to apply them from the top-down, with expert educational theorists training school managers, is doomed from the start because parents are almost entirely left out of the formula.

The future of our educational system—and, by extension, nation—depends on the values of innovation, initiative, creativity, individualism and entrepreneurialism.

These are hardly the natural lessons of our school environments or curricula, nor are they the example set by most of our current cadre of teachers.

Indeed, with all due respect, emulating many of our modern educators or applying the universal lessons of our typical school environments and textbooks is as close to the opposite of innovation, creativity, initiative, individualism and entrepreneurialism as possible.

This irony is central to our education problem.

The system is widely institutionalized, bureaucratic, anti-innovation and conveyor-belt oriented.

Only innovators can really teach innovation, but innovation is by nature risky and therefore seldom a point of career advancement in our teaching system.

The opposite is true, of course, in the growing non-traditional education sector, which is the source of nearly all proposals of the second type.

Many parents face significant criticism when they choose alternative educational paths for their children, but it is exactly such courageous initiative which trains students to be innovative and creative.

On the one hand, prestige and credibility in education are headed in the direction of more of the same, even while the experts give lip-service to innovation but refuse to actually innovate in major ways.

On the other hand, one generation’s innovators are the next generation’s leaders.

Such non-traditional education may appear strange, or even arrogant and indulgent, today, but it is better to be risky than stagnant.

One cliché remains demonstrably true about history: Change happens, and those who try to achieve progress by refusing to innovate are always disappointed.

Homeschooling is profound precisely because it is led by parents.  Indeed, the people who make this choice are, by definition, innovative, creative and courageous—or will become so if they stick to it. The same holds true of many other non-traditional educational choices.

The truth is, many professional educators already know this.

For example, I grew up in the home of two teachers.

My father taught fourth grade at the local public elementary school, and later taught third grade and served as a vice-principal before he retired.

His entire career was spent in public schools.

My mother’s career was similar. She taught high-school English and spent a few years teaching English at the local community college before returning to teach high school.

Both of them repeated the following mantra so many times that I grew up assuming everyone knew it: Most of the students who excel in public school are those whose parents are deeply involved with their education.

Homeschooling, Montessori, unschooling, and other non-traditional educational models may not be for everyone in our complex modern nations, but one fact remains a verifiable law of educational reform: Any reform that doesn’t engage and involve the nation’s parents will fail.

Write it in stone.

Parents are the indispensable individuals in society’s educational success.

If you want to influence the future of education, get the parents to lead it.

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and 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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Category : Blog &Culture &Education &Entrepreneurship &Family &Featured &Leadership &Liberty

The Battle of the 21st Century

June 7th, 2012 // 6:51 pm @

Once, science and religion and art were the same thing—the search for, and attempt to live, truth.

Then came the rise of dominant government and its attempts to control all.

In the Western world, religion and science were seen as the tools of power.

Sides were taken, and conflicts ensued. Left out of the battle, art developed in the shadows.

In the Orient, a different reality evolved.

Art and religion were considered the great centers of power, and so the lines were drawn and battles came.

Science, once at the forefront of Eastern culture, took a back seat. It grew, but behind the scenes.

By the early 21st Century, at least from the perspective of government power, science had become technology and art had become symbol.

Today the globe is increasingly divided between East and West.

A world is growing around China, encompassing the Orient and also much of the Middle East and Africa.

Another world is centered around the United States and includes most of Europe and the two American continents.

Russia and India have yet to take sides, and Japan is caught between its natural philosophical and geographical sides.

These two worlds have been based on the battle between religion and science in the West and the clash between art and religion in the East.

Ironically, the growing conflict between the two worlds coincides with the rise of each culture’s historical shadows—put succinctly, if the battle comes down to technology the East will win and if it comes down to symbolism the West will be victorious.

Tocqueville predicted in the 1830s that the world was destined to be divided by the followers of Russia and the allies of the United States.

He said that if the battle came down to military conflict Russia would win but if it came down to economics the United States would prevail.

Today, we can see the rise of China and the U.S. in similar terms.

But the idea that China will triumph if the battle is technological while the U.S. will succeed in a symbolic challenge seems counter-intuitive. After all, China is struggling to catch up with the U.S. in things technological and China has millennia of experience mastering symbol.

Still, it isn’t old sources of power that win new conflicts. Innovative power takes the day, and the battle of the 21st Century is lining up to be innovative technology versus innovative symbolism.

Ultimately, it all comes down to leadership. Vision. Creativity. Initiative. Ingenuity. Tenacity. Resiliency. Impact. Hope. Inspiration.

China and its associates will likely fight for its global interests using overwhelming centralized state technological might.

America and allies will push for a democratic world utilizing the massive power of the greatest ideas—chief among them freedom.

Both sides will use both technology and symbol, just like both Russia and the U.S. emphasized both military and economic strength.

But ultimately symbol must overcome centralized might.

The future of world freedom and prosperity depend on it.

Hopefully, the history of this century will not unfold this way, but currently the trends are heading in this direction.

The battle has already begun, and China is aggressively pursuing this course while the U.S. stagnating in a rut of decline.

The sooner America gets its act together, the better.

 

(An excellent book on how to add symbolic thinking to our analytical world is A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.)

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and 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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Category : Arts &Blog &Culture &Current Events &Featured

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