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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

Type A Voters and the Simple Fix

June 7th, 2012 // 2:23 pm @

Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago recently said in Foreign Affairs (May/June 2012):

 

For decades before the financial crisis of 2008, advanced economies were losing their ability to grow by making useful things. 

“But they needed to somehow replace the jobs that had been lost to technology and foreign competition and to pay for the pensions and health care of their aging populations.

“So in an effort to pump up growth, governments spent more than they could afford and promoted easy credit to get households to do the same. 

“The growth that these countries engineered, with its dependence on borrowing, proved unsustainable.”

Now many of the nations in Europe, North America and leading Asian countries are facing the consequences of their reliance on debt.

We call it the economic crisis of 2008, or the Great Recession, but it began long before the Bush or Obama administrations.

Indeed, during the Ford and Carter eras of the late 1970s, constitutional scholars widely warned of this very problem.

Sadly, their recommendations went unheeded.

It now falls to our generation to deal with the realities of over forty years of bad policy, and the economic challenges ahead will likely be worse than economists are admitting.

The problems will likely still plague our children and grandchildren in their earning years.

Raghuram Rajan suggests the following fixes:

  • Stop using debt as the solution to increasing demands for government and private spending
  • Educate or retrain the sectors of workers whose jobs are being mechanized, replaced, or sent abroad
  • Create government policies that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Reduce regulations that hurt competition
  • Shrink government as needed to reduce unnecessary and unproductive functions
  • Move beyond attacks on bonuses and “the one percent” and emphasize the need to provide more entrepreneurial opportunity
  • Avoid calls for stimulus

Of course, not all nations will follow identical policies, but these are the general principles of overcoming our economic challenges. Rajan’s article outlines needed changed in more detail, and one quote is worth repeating:

 

Americans should remain alert to the reality that regulations are shaped by incumbents to benefit themselves.

 

If only we could stitch this quote in needlepoint, frame it and hang it in every American living room.

And get every voting citizen to read each issue of Foreign Affairs.

We have less of a Washington problem and more of a citizen problem. Too many citizens are on vacation from our duties. We want to be Type B citizens who vote, attend jury duty and watch the news, and to look down on Type C citizens who don’t do any of these.

But freedom depends on Type A citizens, who closely watch what government does and make their influence felt.

Imagine an America where the first branch of government consists of thousands of unelected citizens who study history and the great classics, read proposed treaties, important court cases, executive orders, budgets, and top bills proposed at the local, state and Congressional levels. That’s the formula for freedom, and no other formula has ever worked—in America or in all of history.

When the people don’t actively watch out for their freedoms, they lose them.

When Presidents, Senators, Governors, Justices and CEOs have an entirely different level of education than the average citizens, freedom will decline.

Again, there are no exceptions in history. In fact, there is a word for such a divide between the education of the leaders and the education of the masses. The word is Oligarchy.

As Christopher Hayes wrote in Twilight of the Elites, “In reality our meritocracy has failed not because it’s too meritocratic, but because in practice, it isn’t very meritocratic at all…. In other words: ‘Who says meritocracy says oligarchy.’”

Hayes also noted that, according to Pew Research, Canada is almost 2.5 times more economically mobile than the United States, Germany is 1.5 times as mobile, and Denmark is 3 times as mobile.

So a young person in Denmark is three times as likely to rise from the middle to the upper class as our children in America. Indeed, the only advanced nation where such progress is less likely than in the U.S. is Britain—the modern icon of class divides.

Again, the solutions are relatively simple: reduce regulation that dis-incentivizes economic growth, adopt policies that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, and stop relying on debt.

This will cause governments and households to tighten their belts in the short term, but long-term free enterprise will rekindle economic growth and widespread prosperity.

If only our leaders would take notice. As Hayes wrote in dystopian terms:

 

It would be a society with extremely high and rising inequality yet little circulation of elites.

 

“A society in which the pillar institutions were populated by and presided over by a group of hyper-educated, ambitious overachievers who enjoyed tremendous monetary rewards as well as unparalleled political power and prestige…, a group of people who could more or less rest assured that now that they have achieved their status, now that they have scaled to the top of the pyramid, they, their peers, and their progeny will stay there.

 

“Such a ruling class would have all the competitive ferocity inculcated by the ceaseless jockeying within the institutions that produce meritocratic elites, but face no actual sanctions for failing at their duties or succumbing to the temptations of corruption….

 

“In the way bailouts combined the worst aspects of capitalism and socialism, such a social order would fuse the worst aspects of meritocracy and bureaucracy.

 

“It would, in other words, look a lot like the American elite circa 2012.”

 

All of that would be fine, if the rest of the people lived in a society with true free enterprise. Let the super-elite act like elites always have, but let the regular people live in freedom.

Over time, freedom creates growth, opportunity, socio-economic mobility and widespread prosperity.

Alas, the elites seldom ever make such changes on behalf of the people. If we want to be free, regular people must start behaving like Type A citizens.

 

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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 &Constitution &Featured &Foreign Affairs &Government &Independents &Leadership &Politics &Statesmanship

Next…?

May 14th, 2012 // 10:16 am @

THE NEXT BIG TREND: Pooled Sovereignty
by Oliver DeMille

I recently spent two days in a Barnes and Noble reading the bestsellers on current trends and issues. I do this as often as I can—at least three times a year.

Sometimes I emphasize business bestsellers, and other times I focus on political books.

When I was too ill to do these visits for a time, I used Amazon to order the bestsellers every four months. But I prefer the bookstore, because in addition to books it has all the leading periodicals.

How to Read a Book(store) in 4 Easy Steps

I usually find a comfortable chair and stack 20-30 volumes and magazines on the table or floor next to me. Then I skim everything that looks interesting. That’s Step 1.

Step 2 consists of reading the books and articles that really pique my interest. I read them closely, and take notes in my notebook. Step 2 takes at least three hours and sometimes a lot more. If needed, I go back for a second day of reading.

Step 3 is buying the books and periodicals I want to have in my personal library, and Step 4 is re-reading them and organizing my notes from the trip and writing as needed.

On this trip, my travel plans got delayed, so I ended up staying longer than expected. I perused the business bestsellers and added more books to Step 2. Then I skipped to Step 4 and studied three books I’d already read over the last two days.

When I do these bookstore research trips, I’m always looking for something special. I want to see developing trends, new directions, and significant key words that signal where cutting-edge thought is headed. Only once in a while do I find a truly Big Trend, one which promises to remake the future. “Pooled Sovereignty” is just this kind of trend.

Sovereignty Broken Down

Sovereignty is the final say on something, or, having the ultimate power. The American framers were so concerned with the abuses caused by the limitless power of the British government that they established America with split sovereignty.

This meant that the federal government had just twenty powers, all listed and numbered in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The final say, or sovereignty, over everything else was left to the states, or to the people – and the states were limited in their respective constitutions.

The people were ultimately sovereign.

Moreover, just in case the federal government tried to ignore the Constitution and usurp sovereignty from the states and the people, the framers divided the smaller portion of sovereignty given to Washington D.C. into three branches and established checks and balances to keep too much power from accumulating in any one place.

For decades scholars, students and interested citizens from both Left and Right have warned that sovereignty is centralizing in Washington, that split sovereignty is being replaced by a massive centralized sovereignty—all power in one place.

Pooled sovereignty is even worse. This occurs where international organizations or treaties make the final decisions for the people, regardless of what national governments say. Indeed, some of the most damaging choices being made today are decided without the consent of Congress or the Supreme Court – not to mention the states or the people. They are made by treaties, the United Nations, G-20, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international organizations.

Most Americans turn off their thinking when they hear this list of international agencies—but the elite perk up with interest. This is where the buzz is.

The breeding ground for a global system that supports pooled sovereignty is found in 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.

The Grand Design

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.”[i] 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.

We Need You to Lead Us

Sadly, few presidential candidates (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 is a predictor of 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…

We need citizens who study what our government is doing, who read treaties and court cases and executive orders, etc. Without this, the age of American prosperity will continue to decline.

Where to start? The three books I closely studied at Barnes and Noble are an excellent beginning. If you are liberal, try Drift by Rachel Maddow. Conservatives will probably prefer Dick Morris’s book Screwed. If you’re an independent, read them both. In addition, everyone should read How Do You Kill a Million People by Andy Andrews. Just reading these books and the documents they cite would be a great study on current America.

The future belongs to our citizens—and the level of our citizenship will determine what happens in the years and decades ahead. If we are Type B citizens (who vote, go to jury duty, and watch the news), we’re going to witness the decay of American freedom and prosperity.

We need Type A citizens, who in addition to voting and jury duty also deeply study the issues, government documents and decisions our government officials are making. We can only influence things if we know what’s really happening.

And: Next?

The second day at Barnes and Noble, the intercom announced that children’s reading time was starting. I took a break from reading and walked over to see America’s future. One mother brought her small son, and she read a thick book while he enjoyed reading hour alone. I was surprised they went ahead with the reading hour when only one child showed up. I don’t know why others didn’t bring their children, and I wonder what kind of America this boy and his peers will inherit.

I asked his mother what book she was reading. It was titled—no lie—City of Lost Souls. I wish that boy had been joined by an army of his peers—preparing to lead.

All through history, free people have been nations of readers. When the people oversee the government, they remain free. When they don’t…

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Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Book Reviews &Citizenship &Constitution &Current Events &Foreign Affairs &Government &Independents &Leadership &Statesmanship

TJEd and the “French Way”

May 14th, 2012 // 7:46 am @

A book review of Druckerman’s Bringing up Bébé

Many people around the world are discovering 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.

I Can Conform Better Than You Can

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[i] and debate that swept through American education circles during the past two years.

The second approach, the one adopted by Montessori, TJEd and other highly-effective educational viewpoints, recently gained another proponent. In the enjoyable book Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, we learn about core principles the author observed in the parenting philosophy and style of French parents. Those familiar with TJEd will hear a familiar ring to these “French” techniques, and all of us can learn from these ideas.

Les Sept Clés

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”[ii]
  • Realizing that children aren’t “projects for their parents to perfect. They are separate and capable, with their own tastes…”[iii]

“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.[iv] 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 evocative 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 highlights the French emphasis on wisdom[iv] (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 flavor—it is practical in the “American” sort of 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!

 


[i] See Oliver’s commentary on Tiger Moms here and here.

[ii] See “Books: Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman,” Reviewed by Kim Hubbard, People, February 20,2012.

[iii] Pamela Druckerman, Bringing up Bébé.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] See Oliver’s commentary on “Wisdom” here and here and here.

 

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

Predicting Elections

April 18th, 2012 // 6:25 pm @

There are various methods and matrices for predicting elections, none of them infallible.

But one does come pretty close.

When an incumbent president is running for reelection, the growth rate of discretionary income citizens have during the first two quarters of the election year always accurately predicts the election.

If it increases during the first six months of the election year, the incumbent is reelected.

If not, he isn’t.

There are no exceptions to this rule in recent American history, and the rate of discretionary income so far in 2012 is decreasing. Moreover, most people feel it is seriously decreasing.

For example, though we’ve seen over two years of slight economic growth, which in technical terms means we are in a recovery, over 70% of Americans polled in April 2012 say we are still in recession.

Their discretionary income is down, and they feel it.

This is bad or good news—depending on who you want to win the presidential election in November.

Certainly the race promises to be a tough one where simple statistics won’t sway everything.

But there has yet to be an exception to this formula.

There is always the potential of some major surprise—positive or negative—in world affairs or economic events.

And even some predictable surprises are possible, like a shocking Supreme Court decision on health care, economic collapse of another European country, massive increases—or reductions—in oil prices, major mistakes by one of the candidates, a history-changing international incident, or something else.

In short, “It’s the economy, stupid…unless something unexpected happens.”

Or, maybe, it’s the economy regardless of what happens.

Because whatever happens or doesn’t happen, when most households feel their pocketbooks shrinking they want change, and the closer we get to an election, the more drastically things would have to improve in order to change their minds.

Or their votes.

Common wisdom says it’s way too early to predict who will win the 2012 race for the White House.

The thing about statistics is that they can tell us a lot about the past but are seldom deemed reliable in foretelling the future.

Calculations and forecasts have proven a poor substitute for patience.

November 6 (or whenever we actually find out for sure who won) isn’t that far away.

Still, at least a few Beltway insiders will tell you (with a smile or frown, depending on which side of the aisle they support) we are in an election year and most households are feeling the pressures of less discretionary income…

If this turns out to be the reality in yet another presidential election, as tight as the 2012 race seems to be, it will make a believer out of me.

Time will tell.

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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 &Current Events &Featured &Government &Politics &Uncategorized

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