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Education

Quantity. Quality. Method.

April 12th, 2011 // 6:45 am @

How much?

How well?

How?

These three aspects of success in any endeavor can teach us a lot about government, freedom and prosperity. Most importantly, they can teach us about government for freedom—since most governments in history have had different goals than liberty.

Good government—which maintains freedom and opportunity for all citizens—must meet the tests of quantity, quality and method. We naturally use all three in governmental analysis, often without noticing it. For example, terms such as democracy, aristocracy and monarchy emphasize the quantity of leaders—many, few or one. In contrast, we emphasize the method of governance in terms like communist, capitalist, commercial, and limited governments—these all describe the process which drives their respective societies. Words such as oligarchy, confederation, socialist, mercantile, militarist, federal, national and empire deal with the qualities of a nation’s governance, the attributes that make it what it is.

Quality, quantity and method are different ways to analyze any governmental institution, power, program or proposal. All three are important. Before we tackle how this applies to government, let’s learn a little about these three perspectives using a few examples. In the Great Books, for example, the discussion of quality centers on primary versus secondary qualities: attributes that cannot be separated from a thing are primary qualities, while attributes that can be changed without changing the thing—like color, taste, number or temperature, etc.—are secondary.

As for quantity, a big debate through written history has been the question of why mathematics doesn’t directly apply to the real world. Engineers, inventors and others who use math in the real world have to calculate for various non-mathematical realities in order to apply math to real things. This has caused many arguments among the great thinkers, from Aristotle to Buckminster Fuller. Newton invented calculus in order to bridge the gap between the mathematical and physical universes.

Perhaps the most interesting point about all this is that the discussion of method, as opposed to quality and quantity, runs through the Great Books and great conversation of history at nearly every turn. Almost every topic covered by the great thinkers and leaders from ancient, medieval and early modern (1800s) times deals extensively with competing ideas of method. Amazingly, this significantly slows in modern times, especially after 1900. Somehow the general acceptance of scientific experts as the true authorities on almost everything caused, or at least coincided with, a reduction of the common people asking questions about method.

Consider some examples that most moderns have experienced. Let’s say you decide to lose weight or get in shape. One diet approach, the most frequent in the United States, is to focus on “how much” food you eat. The formula is simple: Cut Calories + Exercise More = Lose Weight. This view attempts to change your body by decreasing how much food you eat and increasing the amount of exercise you get. Quantity is the focus.

Another viewpoint emphasizes the quality of what you eat (e.g. no sweets or fats, more raw vegetables, fewer carbohydrates, etc.). This perspective holds that if you eat the right kinds of foods and cut out the “bad” foods you’ll get your desired result. Likewise, it suggests effective exercise, like certain weight-training routines, interval cardio workouts, or changing your exercise to keep your body constantly adapting. The emphasis here is on “how well” you eat or exercise rather than how much.

A combined perspective emphasizes both how much and how well you eat, exercise, study, sell or whatever you are trying to do. Most modern “how to” literature combines these, and there are many thousands of management, sales, health and other books and programs in many fields of life.

Only a few programs exist from the third perspective: method. This viewpoint cares less about “how much” or “how well” than about “how”. For example, it might recommend eating whatever you want, as much as you want, but chewing each bite 20 times and fully enjoying each mouthful. The fact that those who do this tend to eat a lot less (you get full with less food) and better food (when you really taste them, many junk foods lose their appeal), isn’t the point. The focus is on process or method. Again, this is less common than the quality and quantity approaches.

Another example is provided by college sports. One team might focus on getting the most fans (quantity), and consider this the measure of a successful sports program. More fans often means more money for the school, more donations, better community relations, and so on. Another school might emphasize getting the best, most talented, coaches and players (quality). A third might focus on the process of great practices, training, conditioning and preparation—trusting that doing the right things will bring the desired outcomes (method).

The most successful programs—like the most effective sales techniques, educational systems, and governments, etc.—will encourage all three: quantity, quality and method. If a team becomes the best recruiter in the nation but puts very little work into conditioning or practice, it will likely not win very often. On the other extreme, teams which ignore recruiting probably won’t flourish either. All three perspectives are needed.

Two more quick examples: Imagine a school or church which focuses only on numbers without regard to knowledge or truth, or exclusively on truth while refusing to share it with anyone. Few modern institutions seem to focus on greatness—on the methods and processes of, say, being a great student, a great teacher, or a great believer. The scientific method lends itself to experts, and it seems that in the wake of accepting this reality our society has decided to leave most issues of method to the specialists.

There are many examples of all three perspectives in business, science, art and beyond, and method remains a small minority in most fields. Quality and quantity rule the day. As stated above, this is the opposite of nearly all recorded history.

Let’s consider how these concepts apply to government. One way to measure the effectiveness of a government is how big or small it is (quantity). If it is too small, it is naturally weak, and it if it is too big it is naturally tyrannical—so argue the authors of The Federalist. A second viewpoint asks how “good” our leaders are, or how “effective” a government program is (quality). Both of these are legitimate ways to analyze our government.

A third perspective is to analyze government by process (method). For example, does it have a written constitution? Does this constitution separate the legislative, executive and judicial powers in a way that all three are independent, generally equal with each other in power, and effectively checked and balanced? Does this constitution separate (or fit into a separation of) national, provincial and more local governments—with most sovereign powers left to the lower governments and the people? Was this constitution ratified by the people? Do the regular people deeply understand this constitution today? Does the government always follow the constitution?

Any nation that does not follow these methods will not long maintain widespread freedom or prosperity. Free citizens who expect to remain free must carefully analyze and lead their government utilizing all three of these perspectives.
Unfortunately, nearly all current discussion of government centers around one thing—debates about the quality of our elected leaders and the effectiveness (or not) of various government programs. The quantity and method questions are seldom mentioned by anyone.

There are many examples of how this drastically impacts our freedom and prosperity. Consider taxes. Following the modern trend, most current debate about taxes centers on quantity (e.g. How much is too much?, How can government tax the people more?, or, Don’t we need to raise taxes to pay down our deficit?) or quality (e.g. Should we tax the wealthy or everyone equally?, or, Are income, sales or other kinds of taxes best?).

In contrast, the American founding generation used a method approach to taxes: Many kinds (quality) and levels (quantity) of taxes were constitutional, but the federal government could only assess taxes from the state governments—never from individuals or households. When we changed the method, we saw the rise of government that is too big, too inefficient and increasingly out of control.

This same argument (that we are mostly ignoring the method approach to government and that all three approaches are important) can be applied to many of our most pressing current issues, from education or health care to energy policy, immigration, fiscal and monetary decisions, the national debt and deficits, etc.

Quality government matters, certainly, but the quantity and method questions (especially method) are ultimately more important to the freedom and prosperity of the people. If the regular people want to remain free, they must understand and act on this.

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

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

He is the co-author of the 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.


Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Citizenship &Constitution &Culture &Economics &Education &Entrepreneurship &Government &Politics

The Marriage Plot & the End of Men, Part II

December 21st, 2010 // 8:26 am @

This is a follow-up article to this article.

The Rise of Women

In 2010 America saw more women than men in the paid workplace for the first time. In the wake of this major development, business is evolving in several significant ways.

For example, columnist Jennifer Braunschweiger has outlined many changes ahead, including the following:

  • The growing popularity of replacing flextime with “Customized Career Lattices” where employees can increase their work responsibilities for a time or scale back to emphasize family or other life events for a time.
  • The widespread growth of home offices. This is a huge trend, and according to Braunschweiger, some companies (such as IBM) have as much as 40 percent of their labor force working off-site.
  • A move from face-to-face to results-based evaluations which downplay the “old-boy network” and emphasize actual performance on the tasks assigned.
  • An increase in parent-friendly laws that allow employees the latitude to care for family needs first.
  • Another author suggests to women employees: “do your most important task first thing” and schedule your day so you can leave work early. And it is now considered okay for women to wear the same exact outfit on Tuesday that they did last week.

These represent a growing mental shift in America’s corporate culture, but the office isn’t the only place changing in order to accommodate the rising influence of women. The newly popular buzzword “femivore” is defined as: “A highly educated opt-out mom who stays home to raise the kids, vegetables and, increasingly, chickens.”

More and more such women are having an impact on society in the home and beyond, and numerous publications provide on-going advice, recommendations and tips for the femivores and the millions of work-at-home women careerists. These include Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Country Living, Whole Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, Redbook, More, and many others.

For example, each month “The Careerist” column in Marie Claire gives advice on work.

The November 2010 focus is on “The Careerist @ Home,” and provides a number of guidelines for work-at-home women, including how to best show off your books to visitors and keep all electronics in one area to increase floor space5 — and perhaps also to separate work from private life. The next page provides guidelines for an efficient and effective wardrobe for those who work from home.

Another article proclaims that

“…women are on a tear right now, shrinking the wage gap and even out-earning men at the entry level,” and then outlines various tips for wise female financial planning in challenging economies: don’t use debt; freelance on the side; sell yourself; plan for retirement; sell your old and unused books, dvds and cds online; be upfront about your goals; scale back; and sell overpriced gadgets like your iPhone.

The trend of the “two-half-income household” is returning — where partners both work half time and take care of the home half time, and participants say such an arrangement reduces stress and increases the quality of life for both men and women.

Another significant trend is the growth of “Intentionals,” who sometimes call themselves “non-moms” for their choice to not have children. There are over 1.5 million American Intentionals, and the non-mom fashion is articulated in books like Two is Enough, The Childless by Choice Project, and Childfree and Loving It.

These trends show that women have more options than ever. At home and in the workplace, the status of women is rising across America. Some would say, “It’s about time!” and most men and women agree that increasing opportunities for women is a great accomplishment in the modern United States.

On the world scale, some major philanthropic organizations, including the Carter Center and Buffett’s NoVo Foundation, emphasize donations that empower women and girls. A donation to a woman, according to Peter Buffett, “ripples out in ways that it just doesn’t when you give the dollars to a man.”

As for women in business and government, when asked if they are generally different than men, French Finance Minister Christine Lagard said:

“Yes…I think we inject less libido, less testosterone, into the equation….It helps in the sense that we don’t necessarily project our own egos into cutting a deal, making our point…convincing people, reducing them to, you know, a partner that has lost in the process….

“I honestly believe that there is a majority of women in such positions that approach power, decision-making processes, and other people in the business relationships in a slightly different manner.”

She noted that there are male and female exceptions to the rule, but that these generalizations are usually accurate.

Gender Roles in Pop Culture

Popular culture is alive with changes in this Rise-of-the-Women era. Women, whether at work or home, are bonding in increasingly high numbers via e-relationships. The old cliché that when men stress they go somewhere alone and when women stress they meet together and bond is being leveraged by the Internet.

On average, women visit a social networking site 5 times a day, 64 percent of women consider themselves a bit addicted to such sites, and most women have between 100 and 300 friends on their sites. The average young working woman spends over 2 hours a day surfing the Web and another 90 minutes a day emailing. Surfing the web at work is good for your career, women are assured.

Women’s clout is on the rise at home too. With over thirty years of the pro-choice/pro-life debate putting women firmly in charge of pregnancy, some men now complain that they want more children but their wife has the uterus and all the power.

A heralded new book, Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, reintroduces perhaps the greatest classical feminist of Western Civilization, and the movie “Easy A” takes The Scarlet Letter to a new generation — with a very different cultural spin.

As for men, this year’s pop culture is rolling out Boardwalk Empire (an HBO series about male-dominated 1920s Prohibition culture), Lonestar (about a con artist lying to the two women in his life; critically acclaimed by the experts but cancelled after just two weeks), and Michael Douglass as the iconic man at his worst in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” (where he and others play the Wall Street “fat cats” storyline right out of the White House’s worst nightmares).

The stereotypes are captured in the comedy Running Wilde: responsible, capable woman meets playboy, self-centered man. It’s the same concept as the hit Cougar Town.

This theme is repeated often in each week’s primetime television: Castle, The Good Wife, Psych, Lie to Me, The Mentalist, Modern Family, Bones, Parenthood, Life Unexpected, House, 90210, 30 Rock, and many others. In Glee and Desperate Housewives the stereotypes are epic.

The overall message? Men are flawed, and women are strong and responsible but need several good friends to make everything all right. Book titles cited in recent women’s magazines include:

  • Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend ;
  • Best Friends: the Pleasures and Perils of Girls’ and Womens’ Friendships ;
  • The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the Era of Personalized Medicine (features guidelines for including your online network of friends in your health choices);
  • The Positive Power of Negative Thinking (celebrating the idea that venting to friends can help women in many ways)
  • The Twisted Sisterhood: Unraveling the Dark Legacy of Female Relationships.

Girls’ magazines also offer articles on dealing with your BFF, BGF, and ongoing “Friend Maintenance.”

For any guys who don’t know these terms, they stand for Best Friend Forever, Best Guy Friend (not a boyfriend or involved with the girl in any kind of romantic relationship), and the ongoing necessity of working on, planning, fixing, and sustaining relationships with close friends. The to-do lists are long and impressive.

Women work on average nine hours more per week than they did in 2004, 20 while still doing as much non-employee work in the home. Men, on the contrary, do less housework when they are unemployed or underemployed. And as a result of the Great Recession and high unemployment, this is impacting a lot of households.

Pop culture does have a few men who are “the good ones”—like Chuck, Smallville’s Clark Kent or “McDreamy” on Grey’s Anatomy. But good men are rare, the current plot assures us, as most males are selfish, uncommitted, cheating and a lot like “Mad Men” characters.

Fortunately, in the new post economic-collapse culture, women have their group of friends to depend upon. Such friends are mostly other women, but can also include a close, platonic guy friend like on “Hellcats,” “Stargate Universe” and nearly all reality shows.

New Rules

In the entire top-tier movie and primetime schedule it is rare to find functional, happy, supportive married couples. Instead, the following rules seem to guide our current entertainment culture:

  1. Marriage is the end of romance, or at least the end of high ratings (this has a long history in primetime television);
  2. The exception is where marriage is a place of cheating or other major conflicts (e.g. Glee, Life Unexpected, Private Practice, The Good Wife, Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, Modern Family, Parenthood, Stargate Universe, Undercovers, Covert Affairs, etc.).
  3. If a marriage is working, some big problem — usually secret to all but the viewer — is lurking or exploding the relationship (e.g. Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Undercovers, No Ordinary Family, Friday Night Lights, Covert Affairs, Gossip Girl, 90210, One Tree Hill, etc.)
  4. Single life is more romantic, a lot more fun, and, frankly, better than married life (see Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, all the CSI and NCIS programs, Hawaii Five-O, The Event, Gossip Girl, 90210, House, Chuck, Chase, Castle, Bones, Parenthood, Life Unexpected, and pretty much every reality show).

These themes are reinforced by nearly all primetime programs. In wikinomics terms, the overwhelming presence of these themes and the rareness of counter examples is a major message. In short, primetime television has adopted the culture of daytime TV. We are way past the “nudge” or “tipping point” which sways culture with little things. The trend is now the culture.

The men and women in Bachelor Pad, Jersey Shore, The Apprentice and Survivor seem to have it all figured out — just be selfish. Or even more profound, the lead character in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” talks about money like it is a lover. He refers to money as “she,” and describes the challenges of making relationships work.

Maybe drawing conclusions about male or female roles from the entertainment industry is dangerous, but even Napoleon knew that a nation’s music and stories are more powerful than its armies. These movies and TV programs are popular for a reason, and even if most Americans don’t adopt the values they enjoy watching, certainly some things do rub off on the culture.

The End of Marriage

Why then is marriage portrayed as so unromantic? Undesirable? To be avoided?

We have to ask ourselves if this is a new feminism: “We don’t need men in our lives. We get more degrees than men do, we have more jobs than men do, and more of us are managers.

Many of us get paid more than our men, and eventually as a group we’ll get paid more than men in general. So, men have a choice: They can be what we want them to be, or they can hit the road.”

The story is frequently repeated in our entertainment: see Private Practice, Cougar Town, Fringe, Human Target, Eureka, No Ordinary Family, Desperate Housewives, 90210 and so many others. Repetitive, perhaps; but these are our prime time. It is what it is. We watch what we watch.

But, on the other hand, could the marginalization and vilification of marriage be a new paternalism of some sort? Is it men saying, “Fine. You want to be equal? Well, why don’t you just be in charge? We never liked responsibility anyway. We’ll just make money and play — through our twenties, thirties, forties and, in fact, always. Good luck with that equality thing…”

Historically many analysts felt that marriage tamed men, made them less selfish and more helpful to the women and children in their lives. It had its share of structural problems too, most obviously from dominating men who were tyrants in the home or at work.

But is the new view of romantic and married culture rewriting the ideal for man as well-funded playboy? And if so, is this new version something women (or men) really want?

Popular entertainment portrays flirting as romantic, dating as romantic, and even weddings as romantic. But marriage after the wedding is rarely depicted as a romantic endeavor.

And how about the commercial advertisements that appear in between scenes of the programming? In fact, very often marriage is represented on screen as the end of romance. Marriage is rendered as full of problems, hard, and more often than not just plain bad.

In the male/female debate, it seems we’ve lost the main point. The older version of equality feminism, whether you liked it or not, at least had the merit of believing that a woman could “have it all.” It was at the very least adult: Men had responsibility and power, and women wanted the same opportunities.

In contrast, today’s model says a woman can have a career, money, power and friends, or kids, vegetables, friends and chickens, but why on earth would she want the complication of a husband?

And as for men, well, “boys will be boys” — let them play, spend away their money pursuing fun, and depend on them for nothing. Men may “want to be in relationships,” but marriage is another issue.

This is a sad brand of feminism indeed! If men and women have lost the dream of marriage as the ultimate romantic love, if real estate, promotions, more money or even raising the kids have become the ultimate ideal, then our society has truly lost something of great value.

According to the new values, there seem to be three great overarching rules for women: 1) never date someone who ever dated your best friends, 2) your girlfriends are the only ones you can really depend on, and 3) you have to be selfish in romantic relationships to avoid getting hurt.

The result? Pretty much everybody gets hurt. A lot.

So where are we heading in modern male/female relations? The trends seem to indicate that men will be even less inclined toward or committed to marriage, and women will earn more.

Men and women will expect less and less from each other, except in marriage — where the expectations will be unrealistic, unfulfilled and frequently short-lived.

What an irony! Even as feminism seems to be obtaining many of its most cherished goals, the male/female debate may just be starting.

The next natural step for women [having progressed through A) underprivileged, B) seeking equality, and C) increasingly equal] is to D) Demand that men be a certain way in order to fulfill women.

For example, there is a growing push by some women for states to enforce laws against infidelity.

The culture is increasingly centered on getting, taking, having, receiving. The debate seems to assume that romance, love and marriage are all about what “I” can “get” from someone else.

Children and youth are raised to think about what kind of boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife they want to have — with little attention to what kind of girlfriend or husband they will be.

We are trained to approach romance and marriage for what we can get out of it — not for what we can give.

Our popular culture reinforces this self-centered view every night in primetime and on the big screen in theaters and homes across the nation. The youth are watching; and so are their parents.

Ironically, the many books and articles on how girls and women should treat their BFF are mostly about giving. Indeed, if women and men just applied this same advice to how they treated each other, some significant male/female conflicts might quickly disappear.

But such advice is about friends, not romantic interests. In the latter, self-centeredness is the name of the game in our current pop culture.

Personally, I do not believe that the “typical man” as portrayed by our modern entertainment accurately reflects the many hardworking husbands and fathers across the nation. Nor do I accept that the Real Housewives are a true portrait of America’s wives, mothers or single women.

These are just shows and movies. Unfortunately, they do have a major impact on how we view our spouses, friends and ourselves.

And more to the point, where are the other true role models, ideals and icons which we should idealize and seek to emulate? Can we aspire to an ideal we do not even imagine?

Earlier generations studied and debated (as part of the culture, not during a two-week segment in high school) the romances and marriages found in Shakespeare, Austen and Bronte, among others. They compared the good with the bad, and contrasted the various types of romance, marriage, male and female relations and roles.

These things were seen as entertainment, and were compared and contrasted with the numerous real-life relationships children witnessed in their community.

Little of this exists today. The entertainment relationships are those on TV and in movies, and we seldom see other romantic or marriage relationships outside of our own home.

Children and youth very rarely directly witness their teacher, coach, church leader, mayor or even neighbor in a relationship with her spouse. All relationships seem single — or at least detached.

In short, we may be facing less the end of men and more the end of marriage. For example, where Austen ended Pride and Prejudice with a discussion of the Darcy/Lizzie married life, the movie versions nearly always end at the wedding or even the engagement.

This is “formula” for many movies and television programs now. It is also the plot of nearly all contemporary teen literature — it ends well before or at a wedding.

Over and over, in many ways and from numerous directions, the message is repeated: romance is fun, but marriage is a bundle of problems and should be avoided or at best endured.

Divorce is often portrayed now as the beginning of freedom, romance, happiness and wisdom. Rare exceptions to this plot (like the functioning marriages found in White Collar, Chuck, Covert Affairs, Undercovers, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights and No Ordinary Family) notwithstanding, marriage is out of vogue in America’s pop culture.

Is this just entertainment, or is it real? The rise of reality television has boosted the popularity of tabloids which tell us the “real” stories behind our favorite reality shows, but if reality shows are real, why do we need tabloids to tell us what is really going on?

Round-the-clock sports channels tell us what the athletes are doing, tweeting, and thinking at all times, and our cell phones are set to chime whenever someone in our social network has a new thought.

But American couples spend less than 16 minutes a day talking to each other — and over half of this time is spent on scheduling and finances. Clearly marriage is facing challenges.

The Newest “New Feminism”

The gains of feminism are many and have blessed today’s woman with a lot of opportunities barely dreamed of three generations ago. Nothing should take away from this positive progress for women, and we should praise the pioneering women who struggled and sacrificed to bring these changes.

I think most people today want a nation where husbands treat their wives as true equals, and where wives do the same with their husbands. I doubt many moderns feel that women shouldn’t enjoy truly equal treatment in business, compensation, promotion and other career opportunities.

These gains have been a great blessing to our society. But what kind of society are we creating when many women and men no longer seriously idealize “having it all?” What is the future of a nation where the following phrases are common:

“I’m too busy with my career to get married. Besides, I’m having so much fun!”

“Why would I get married? I have all I need, including children, without it.”

“All my married friends are overworked, fight all the time, never have enough money, and hardly ever have sex. I’ll pass.”

“Marriage sucks everything good out of the relationship.”

“Divorce is the best thing that ever happened to me!”

“I love the single life! Why would I give up my freedom?”

“Don’t put up with that crap! Just get divorced! Being single is so much fun.”

“Marriage is so hard. Why bother?”

Note that each of these could have been said by a man or a woman. A feminist, anti-feminist or even a chauvinist could easily utilize any or all of these phrases. Certainly there are many who do want marriage and are actively seeking it. Still, these contrary views are not limited to a rare exception.

Perhaps we aren’t at a new age of male/female conflict at all, but at the beginning of a truly post-feminist era where the “enemy” is lasting marriage.

Of course, as I said above, weddings are still popular fare among women and pop culture, but the years and decades after the wedding — not so much. Young women have long called their wedding “the best day of my life,” which makes one wonder how they feel about the many years which follow.

For a lot of people in our society, the new mantra could well be: “I am single, hear me roar!”

If this is the new divide of male/female relations, it doesn’t bode well for women or men. As for children, they had better get used to being raised by a society of single parents.

During the decline of Rome, and later just before the French Revolution, upper-class women delegated nursing the baby and tending children to others in order to spend their time in society.

Men and women during these eras routinely slept around, emphasized increasing their power and wealth, and spent little time with their children. As family naturally collapsed under such traditions, the nation soon followed.

Interestingly, as family connections failed and fidelity within marriage was considered quaint and even ridiculous, national leaders took the same view of their responsibility and fidelity to the national treasury.

Without deep loyalty to spouse and family, little was left to the nation as a whole. Leaders spent nations into bankruptcy, weakness and collapse. The most important lessons are taught — or not — at home. This simplistic truism is a reality in all of world history.

Still, the ideal of effective marriage remains popular in many circles. The several, albeit few, good marriages on television and at the movies show that many still idealize great marriage.

Indeed, outside of Hollywood and other entertainment enclaves, I think it likely that a majority of people still hope for a terrific marriage at some point in life.

A Proposal

With all this said, I’m convinced that it is time for two major revolutions in America: 1) a deeper feminism and 2) a return to real manhood.

I’m probably not qualified to take the lead in promoting whatever the deeper feminism should entail. Personally, I think my wife Rachel’s essay “Steel to Gold” and the writings of Anne Lindbergh and Laura Munson are a good place to start a deeper feminism; but I’ll leave the topic to women.

As for men, a return to real manhood might start with the following characteristics:

Restraint

Compare Jane Austen’s Colonel Brandon to Willoughby. Or consider the hero of Wister’s classic book The Virginian. Real men, according to these and other examples, have self-control and “self-possession.”

The real man doesn’t have to show off, because he knows who he is and is comfortable with himself. He has no need to impress, bolster or try to make an impression. As needed, he takes action. But he lets his actions speak for themselves.

His “moral vision is of men who struggle with and eventually master” themselves and take a stand to improve the world. He doesn’t need “to compensate for anything.” He is “his own man.” And that is enough.

Strength

The real man knows that his greatest challenge and the true measure of his valor is to conquer himself, to overcome his own weaknesses, temptations and fears and choose to be the man he really wants to be.

In this process, he has the courage to learn from others and also to take a stand alone when it is right.

As part of this, he learns from his mistakes and changes himself — no matter how hard this process is — making his life an uphill path of progress and improvement. He uses this inner strength to do good in the world.

Action

A real man is great at something. He doesn’t try to be great at everything, and he doesn’t make excuses for his areas of weakness. But he does develop true excellence in something that really matters to him. And he uses it to improve the world.

Open-minded and creative and daring and still hold[ing] on to the old virtues.”

The real man blends what works with exploring the new. He believes deeply in the small and simple things which are often called common sense, but he is always looking and seeking.

He equally loves the little comforts and great adventures which make life great.

Caring

The real man cares. He cares about his deepest goals, about those he loves, about other people in general. He cares about freedom. He cares about fairness and opportunity and ability. He cares about the future.

He cares about a lot of things, and he considers simple caring a personal call to action. He doesn’t expect everyone else to care about the exact same things he does, and he doesn’t require anyone to care about him specifically; but he does demand of himself that he face his cares and live by them. And when someone else does choose to really care about him, he is profoundly touched.

None of us live up to these ideals enough, I think, but they are all worth pursuing. After an Esquire survey of 20- and 50-year-old American men selected Clint Eastwood as the coolest man in our nation (for both age groups), Stephen Marche wrote:

“And now that we are supposedly entering the next crisis of masculinity — this time the world doesn’t need men because we can’t listen, we can’t sit still in kindergarten, and so all society will shortly be a massive gynocracy in which men’s primary role will be as the problem children of successful mothers and wives — we need Eastwood more than ever.

Whatever else has changed over the past fifty years, self-mastery and control over our lives are still what we want more than anything.”

Marche further suggests that many Eastwood movies show examples of manhood. For example, he “drives around the country with an ape, brawling for money and seeking for love.”

What could be more manlike? In other words, men sometimes grunt like monkeys, or Tim Allen, but they daily put themselves on the line working to support those they love, hoping to be loved in return.

Above all, I’m convinced that a significant part of a return to real manhood includes seeking romance, love and marriage less for what we get out of it than for what we can give.

Men who go into the marriage relationship mainly for what they can get usually fail. Only those who truly love their partner, who are willing to give their heart and soul to helping and serving, to giving rather than getting, become great husbands.

In short, men who are in a romance, love or marriage primarily to get something for themselves probably won’t be happy with the result. The same is true about fatherhood.

Being a man is about freedom and the responsibility that naturally attends it, and about using one’s freedom well by committing to the right things and giving our hearts and lives to them.

When we are real men, we’ll work to build great marriages, great families, important daily work, a lot of happiness, and a great nation. It’s time for a focus on real manhood in our world, measured at least in part by the quality of what we give to our marriages.

So in addition to restraint, strength, action, daring, creativity, open-mindedness, courage, self-possession, caring and selflessness, I add commitment to the beginning list of how to be a real man.

I have no idea how the feminist debates of the 21st Century will shake out, but I do know that if more men (married and single, of all views and types) work on becoming truly great husbands, the whole world will greatly benefit.

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

Oliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the 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.

 

Category : Culture &Education &Family &Featured &Mission

The Education Crossroads

November 12th, 2010 // 5:18 am @

Education today is at a crossroads, and the options are fascinating.

Certainly the rise of the Internet has revolutionized most industries, and its impact on education is expected to be significant. But the change in technology isn’t the only major shift which is impacting schooling.

The end of the Cold War ushered in a new era of world politics — and of course, politics always impacts education.

Also, economic struggles have caused nations to put a premium on expenses, with the result that education is being asked to meet higher standards in order to justify its cost.

All of this would seem to indicate the need for broader, more inclusive and expansive education, with a focus on quality teaching and increased excellence.

Instead, these three trends have combined to create a surprising result.

Where increased Internet connections at first promised to bring more understanding, tolerance and cooperation between groups, the opposite has too often occurred.

Though we have the world at our online fingertips and the ability to interact directly with those of differing views, ideas and values, too many people are joining cliques that promote a narrow mindset and exclude and mistrust all others. The defensive posture occasioned by economic challenges and world events seems to increase this tendency.

Where is the Melting Pot?

The 18th and 19th century ideal of a melting pot doesn’t seem to be spreading enough online. In the 1970s it sort of evolved into the salad bowl idea, where differences were welcome as we all mixed together in a single serving.

Now we’re lucky if the clans in society agree to occupy a separate station at the same smorgasbord.

The danger to freedom is significant, maybe even extreme. James Madison taught in Federalist 10 that numerous factions would benefit freedom by keeping any one or two groups from becoming too powerful.

All decent groups would have a say in the world in this model, Madison argued. This benefit still remains in the Internet era.

But Madison also argued that people would come together when great cooperation was needed, that people and groups would put aside differences and collaborate on the important things.

Unfortunately, this powerful cultural model is unraveling in our time.

The reason is simple: As people increase their connections with those who agree with them on most things, they begin to fall into groupthink, a malady where most of those you communicate with agree with you on most things and disagree with you on little. Each member of the group learns how to more effectively argue the clique’s talking points, and nearly everyone stops listening to other points of view.

From Madison’s day until the Internet age, such natural bonding with groups was always tempered by geography. No matter how hard people tried to interact only with like thinkers, no matter how hard they worked to keep their children free from diverse views, neighbors nearly always ruined this utopian scheme.

The debate, the discussion, the conversations amongst diverse peoples all living in a free society — these helped individual citizens become deep thinkers and wise voters, and it helped ensure that negative traditions slowly were replaced with better ones. Without such progress, no free society can retain its freedoms.

But in the virtual age, no such checks or balances are in place. Youth and adults in all educational models and work environments are able to avoid deep conversations about important topics like politics, beliefs and principles with all who disagree with them.

This is facilitating a clique mentality. Social networks, email, cell phones and the other emerging technologies all strengthen this trend away from diverse and connected communities and toward homogenous and exclusive cliques.

The problem is that such cliques are by their very nature arrogant, overly sure of their own correctness on nearly everything, and vocally and even angrily opposed to pretty much everyone outside of their own clique.

Unfortunately, they too often spend a great deal of energy and effort demeaning other people, groups and ideas. Such cliques typically refuse to admit their own weaknesses while they label and vilify “outsiders.”

On the positive side, this is one reason there are now more independents than either Democrats or Republicans: a lot of people just got tired of too much hyper-partisan rhetoric.

But this problem goes far beyond politics, and impacts nearly every segment of our society. It is like adopting Elementary or High School culture among the adults in our world.

Dangerous Cliques

Since education is always an outgrowth of society, this trend is a major concern. The rebirth of tribes in our time, many of them online tribes made up of people who find common ground and like to work together, is the positive side of this same trend.

Indeed, using technology to interact and connect with people you like and learn with is certainly constructive. Leaders are needed to help increase the positive melting pot on line and in social networks.

Hopefully this will continue to grow. But its negative counterfeit is an increasing problem.

A first step in dealing with the growing “High School-ization” of our adult society is to simply identify the difference between the positive New Tribes and the opposing trend of growing cliques:

New Tribes Cliques
Tolerant, Inclusive, Friendly Intolerant, Arrogant, Exclusive
Respectful of Other Views Angry and Overly Critical of Other Views
Market by Helping You Find the Best Fit for You, From Them or Their Competitors Market by Tearing Down Competitors to Build Themselves
Respect Your Ability to Make the Best Choices for You Act As If You Need Their Expertise to Succeed and Will Fail Without Them
Offer to Help You Meet Your Needs Try to Convince or Sell You to Act “Now” in the Way They Want, or You’ll Fail

In short, the positive New Tribes offer you more freedom, empower you, and give you opportunities and options in a respectful and abundant way, while the clique mentality thinks it must “sell” you, convince you, and tear down the competition.

The New Tribes are relaxed, supportive and open, while cliques are closed, scarcity-minded and disrespectful of the competition and all “others.”

Ruining the Game

When my son was young he wanted to join a sports team, so I took him to watch a number of sports in progress. He ended up engaging karate, which became a long-term interest in his life.

During the visits to various sports venues, he witnessed an angry father at a little league baseball game. While most of the parents in attendance probably hoped their child would win, they seemed to find value in the game regardless of wins and losses; they apparently felt that the game was a positive experience for all the kids — for other children as well as their own.

One man took a different approach. He yelled and swore at each umpires’ calls that went against his child. He quite vocally demonized the other team and the other team’s coach. He stood behind the backstop when the other team was pitching and tried in many ways to distract the opposing pitcher.

He went after this 10-year-old pitcher from the other team like he actually wanted to hurt him. The boy’s coach had to go reassure the pitcher several times. I don’t know if the boy was afraid of the angry man, but he looked like it.

Most of the parents in the crowd were upset with this man, but they remained polite. After about 30 minutes of this, my eight-year-old son asked if we could leave. He was uncomfortable with the situation even as a mere spectator.

He never asked to go back to a baseball game, and we didn’t stay long enough to see if anything was done to help this man calm down. From the conversations in the crowd, it was clear that the man did this at every game.

I do believe that this man cared for his son and wanted to help him. He may have had many good intentions, and he certainly had some positive intentions. But he acted in the clique mentality. He did it without respect or proper boundaries.

(A new thought: I’m pretty sure he soured my son to playing baseball, but only now as I write this does it occur to me that maybe he also helped interest my son in karate for his own defense!)

A High-School-ization of Society

If you are this kind of a sports parent (or sports fan in high school, college or professional sports), you know who you are.

But do we not also see these clique behaviors too often in business, work, politics and even education?

Clearly the impact on education is significant. More to the point, the future of education can’t avoid being impacted by the High School-ization of culture.

Cliques are negative in many ways. And: they are just plain mean. They can do lasting damage even among youth; so imagine their potential impact when adopted by a significant and increasing number of adults of our society.

In short: the Cold War is over and we tend to look for enemies within rather than outside of our own nation; economic struggles of the past years have made most people less tolerant and more self-centered and even scared; and the technology of the day has made it easier than ever to connect with and only listen to a few people who tend to agree with us on almost everything.

The result is more frustration, anxiety, and anger with others. More people are thinking in terms of “us versus them,” and most of our society has stopped really listening to others.

Unless these tendencies change, things will only get worse. The future of education is closely connected with these trends, tendencies and perspectives.

In politics, the response to these challenges has been the rise of the independents. In business, it has been a growing rebirth of entrepreneurship.

And in marketing, it has been a focus on Tribes as the new key to sales. But in education, no clear solutions have yet arisen. I propose the principles of Leadership Education as part of the answer.

Modern versus Shakespearean Mindsets

The great classical writer Virgil provides some insight into the challenge ahead for education. In our day we tend to see the world as prose versus poetry. Some might call this same split the left brain versus the right brain, science versus art, or logic versus creativity.

Using this modern view of things, some educational thinkers see the future of education as the continuing split between the test-oriented public and traditional private schools versus the eclectic personalization of charter, the new private and home schooling movements.

Or we may see the intermixing of these two models as traditional schools become more creative and new-fangled education becomes more test-focused.

In an earlier age, the Shakespearean world tended to divide learning into three categories: comedies, tragedies and satires.

Comedies show regular people working in regular circumstances and finding love or happiness in regular life.

Tragedies pit people against drastic challenges that test them beyond their limits and bring major changes to their lives and even the world.

Satires emphasize the futility of our actions and show us the power of fate, destiny and other things we supposedly cannot control.

Applying this mindset, one would expect to see a future of education with all three outcomes. Comedic approaches to education try to make sure everyone gets basic literacy and that all schools meet minimum standards. No child can be left behind in this education for the regular people — and we’re all regular people.

In contrast, some will seek for a truly great education and to make a great difference in the world. If they fail, the tragedy is the loss of their potential greatness to the world. If they succeed, the world will greatly benefit from their leadership, contributions and examples.

All education should be great, this view maintains, and all people have potential greatness within. If I thought the Shakespearean worldview was driving our future, I would be of this view.

A satirical stance would argue that some people will get a poor education and yet do great things in their careers and family. Others, according to this view, will get a superb education and then either fail to accomplish much of anything or do many bad things with their knowledge.

Education has little correlation with life, the satirist maintains. Fund education better, or don’t; increase standards, or not; emphasize learning or just ignore it—none of this matters much in the satirical view. A few will rise, a few will fall, most will stay in the middle, and education will have little to do with any of this.

I disagree with this perspective, and I believe that history is proof of its inaccuracy. There are, of course, a few exceptions to any system, model or rule; but for the most part a quality educational model has a huge impact on the freedom and prosperity of society.

But I do not believe that either the modern or the Shakespearean mindsets will influence our future as much as that from and even earlier age — the era of Virgil.

I am convinced that Virgil’s understanding of freedom eclipses both of these others. Virgil witnessed Rome losing many of its freedoms, and he saw how the educational system had a direct impact on this loss.

In the Virgilian model, education is not modeled on the conflict between left and right brains nor on the battles and interplay between comedy, tragedy and satire.

Instead, he saw learning as the interactions of the epic, the dialectic, the dramatic, and the lyric.

In our post-Cold-War, Internet-Age, financially challenging world, our learning is deeply connected with all four of these.

Epic education means learning from the great(est) stories of humanity in all fields of human history and endeavor, from the arts and sciences to government and history to leadership and entrepreneurship to family and relationships, and on and on.

By seeing how the great men and women of humanity chose, struggled, succeeded and failed, we gain a superb epic education. We learn what really matters.

The epics include all the greats — from the great scriptures of world religions to the great classics of philosophy, history, mathematics, art, music, etc.

Epic education focuses on the great classic works of mankind from all cultures and in all fields of learning.

Dialectic education uses the dialogues of mankind, the greatest and most important conversations of history and modern times. This includes biographies, original writings and documents that have made the most difference in the world. It is also very practical and includes on-the-job style learning.

Again, this tradition of learning pulls from all cultures and all fields of knowledge.

It especially focuses on areas (from wars and negotiations to courts of law and disputing scientists, to arguing preachers and the work of artists, etc.) where debating sides and conflicting opponents gave rise to a newly synthesized outcome and taught humanity more than any one side could have without opposition. Most of the professions use the Dialectic learning method.

Dramatic learning is that which we watch. This includes anything we experience in dramatic form, from cinema and movies to television and YouTube to plays, reality TV programs, etc.

In our day this has many venues—unlike the one or two dramatic forms of learning available in Virgil’s time. There is a great deal to learn from drama in its many classic, modern and post-modern modalities.

Lyric education is that which is accompanied by music, which has a significant impact on the depth and quality of how we learn. It was originally named for the Lyre, a musical instrument that was used for musical accompaniment during a play, or with poetic or prose reading.

Some educational systems still use “classical” (especially Baroque) and other types of music to increase student learning of languages, memorized facts and even science and math.

And, of course, most Dramatic (media) learning is presented with music.

Epic Freedom

With all this as background, I think the future of education is very much in debate. My reasons for addressing this are:

  1. It appears that far too few people are engaged in the current discussion that will determine the future of education.
  2. Even most who are part of the discussion are hung up on things like public versus private schools, funding, testing, left versus right brain, minimum standards for all (comedic) versus the offer of great education for most (to avoid tragedy), teacher training, regulations, policy, elections, etc.
  3. I know of very few people considering the future of education from its deepest (what I’m calling Virgil’s) level.

Specifically, our current technology has changed nearly everything regarding education, meaning that in the Internet Age the cultural impact of the Dramatic and Lyric styles of learning over the other types threaten to undo American freedom.

In short, freedom in any society depends on the education of the citizens, and when the Epic and Dialectic disappear, freedom soon follows.

And make no mistake: The Epic and Dialectic models of learning are everywhere under attack. They are attacked by the political Left as elitist and contrary to social justice; they are attacked by the political Right as useless for one’s career advancement.

They are attacked by the techies as old, outdated and at best quaint. They are attacked by the professions as “worthless general ed. courses,” and by too many educational institutions as “irrelevant to getting a job.”

But most of all (and this is far and away their most lethal enemy) they are supplanted by the simple popularity and glitz of the Dramatic and Lyric.

I do not believe that the Dramatic, Lyric and other parts of the entertainment industry have an explicit agenda to hurt education or freedom—far from it. They bask in a free economy that buys their products and glorifies their presenters.

Nor are Dramatic and Lyric products void of educational content or even excellence. Many movies, television programs, musical offerings and online sites deliver fabulous educational value.

Songs and movies, in fact, teach some of the most important lessons in our society and many teach them with elegance, quality and integrity.

But with all the good the Dramatic and Lyric styles of learning bring to society, the reality is that both free and enslaved societies in history have had Dramatic and Lyric learning.

In contrast, no society where the populace is sparsely educated in the Epics has ever remained free. Period. No exceptions.

And in the freest nations of history (e.g. Golden Age Greece, the Golden Age of the Roman Republic, the height of Ancient Israel, the Saracens, the Swiss vales, the Anglo-Saxon and Frank golden ages, and the first two centuries of the United States, among others), both the Epic and Dialectic styles of learning have been deep and widespread among the citizenship of the nation.

If we want to remain a free society, we must resurrect the use of Epic education in our nation.

Six Futures

Using Virgil’s models of learning as a standard, I am convinced that we are now choosing between six possible futures for our societal education—and freedom. Our choice, at the deepest level of education, is to select one of the six following options (or something very much like them):

I. Epic Only.
Since all societies adopt Dramatic and Lyric methods of learning, this model would make Epic education official in academic institutions and leave the Dramatic and Lyric teaching to the artists. Such a model is highly unlikely in a world where career seriously matters and has only been applied historically in slave cultures with strong upper classes.

(Theoretically, this model might be offered to all citizens in society instead of the more elitist model of history. But without career preparation, some in the lower and middle classes would be lacking in opportunity regardless of the quality of their Epic education.) This model is very bad for prosperity and freedom.

II. Dialectic Only.
Again, such a society would have non-school Dramatic and Lyric offerings and schools would emphasize career training, job preparation, and basic skills for one’s professional path.

Business, leadership and politics would be run by trained experts and citizens would have little say in governance. Like the aristocracies of history, this model is not friendly to freedom — though it can support prosperity for a short time.

III. Dramatic and Lyric Only.
Only tribal societies have adopted such a model, and they were easily conquered by enemies and marauders. This model is not good for prosperity or freedom.

IV. Epic and Dialectic Together.
Again, the Dramatic and Lyric would still be part of the society but not a great part of the schools. Unfortunately, without the Dramatic and Lyric taught together with the Epic and Dialectic, the Epic is greatly weakened.

Societies which have tried this, like modern Europe and North America, have seen the Epic greatly weakened and the Dialectic take over nearly all education. This is bad for freedom and long-term prosperity.

V. All Four Types as Separate Specialties.
In this model, young students would receive only a basic broad education and would focus on a specialty early on. Each type of learning could be very well developed, but each person would only be an expert in one (or, rarely, two).

This was attempted by many nations in Western Europe, and to a lesser extent Canada and the U.S., since World War II. The results were predictable: freedom and prosperity suffered for all but the most wealthy (who got interconnected Epic, Dialectic, Dramatic and Lyric education in private schools).

VI. All Four Types as Interconnected Learning.
This combines great Epic, Dialectic, Dramatic and Lyric learning together—for nearly all students in society.

Moreover, all four options are available to all students in public schools and the laws also allow for numerous private, home and other non-traditional options with parents as the decision makers.

An additional natural effect of this system is that the adult citizens of society are deeply involved in learning throughout their lives — using all four types of learning and applying all knowledge to their roles as citizens and leaders. This model has been the most beneficial to prosperity and freedom throughout history.

The choice between these types of education is being made today. During the Cold War, especially after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, American leaders determined to de-emphasize Epic education and focus on the Dialectic.

Then they further weakened this choice by dumbing down the textbooks and workbooks when they removed much of the actual dialogues which formed the basis of each field of human knowledge.

Later, facing the increasing popularity of career-focused schooling, states and school boards took much of the Dramatic and Lyric out of the schools. Indeed, the last two generations of students were mostly educated in a shallow version of the Dialectic Only.

The consequence to freedom has been consistently negative for at least four decades. It has also widened the gap between “the rich” and “the rest” and reduced general economic opportunity.

Today, we must make the choice to resurrect truly quality education. If we make the right choice, we will see education and freedom flourish. If not, we will witness the decline of both. Indeed, we simply must make the right choice.

We must also realize that this is not a choice for the experts. If the educational or political experts make this choice alone, it will mean that the people as a whole have not chosen to be educated as free citizens.

We must all do better in studying all four styles of learning, and in engaging the technology of our day to learn from diverse views and spread important ideas far and wide — to all groups and people, not just some narrow clique.

It is time for a new type of citizen to arise and earn our freedoms. As Virgil put it long ago:

Now the last age…
Has come and gone, and the majestic roll
Of circling centuries begins anew;
Justice returns…
With a new breed of men sent down from heaven…
Assume thy greatness, for the time draws nigh

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

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

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.

 

Category : Community &Culture &Education &Family &Featured &Foreign Affairs &Generations &History &Leadership &Tribes

Is Government Broken?

October 26th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Is our government broken?

More and more people think so. The current presidential administration makes periodic claims that we are in an economic recovery, but at the same time growth is still slowing and unemployment figures stay around ten percent.

With more American deaths in Afghanistan during the last week of July than any week to date, things seem to be deteriorating at home and abroad.

To make matters worse, few people believe that the opposing Republican Party has much more to offer than the Democrats.

With neither side poised to really fix things, few Americans have a lot of hope for the future of government leadership. Here a few of the issues vexing citizens.

A Missing Recovery

First, even though many politicians have been claiming that we are experiencing an economic recovery, it doesn’t feel like it to most Americans.

The Obama White House doesn’t seem very friendly to small business.

Most of the entrepreneurs and businesses who do hold cash aren’t about to hire or expand in an environment where their taxes and regulatory burden could be increased at any point by an unfriendly Administration.

Ironically, Washington is responding by promising to increase taxes and regulations. Understandably, those who hire are skittish.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Giethner said in July that we’ve reached a point where private hiring—rather than government spending—is the answer to economic growth.

But until the government starts supporting small business, and as long as it refuses to incentivize free enterprise, the economy will struggle.

Author Arthur Brooks argues that the nation is 70% in favor of free enterprise and about 30% opposed, but that the 30% are in charge.

The 30% has gained much influence over citizens by convincing them that it was private business that caused the recession in the first place.

Somehow, this view has successfully convinced much of the public that the Bush Administration, big banks, Wall Street and all small businesses are the same group.

Those who read the fine print, however, are clear that policies from the Clinton and Bush Administrations led to the mortgage crisis.

Moreover, big government and big business together caused the recession. In the meantime, both ignored small business and continue to do so.

As a result, the 70% is confused and unable to keep the 30% in check. So more government policies hurt the economy and make it unwise or unfeasible for small businesses to hire and grow.

In the meantime, much of the Right is busy labeling Democrats as “socialists” rather than helping incentivize growth and prosperity.

Both sides seem to mean well, but one has unbounded faith in government and the other is preoccupied attacking that faith.

While the two sides posture, the plight of small business is sometimes discussed but remains unaided.

What the Citizens Want

Second, this problem is deeper than most people realize.

Since World War II, the United States has promoted a mixture of free enterprise and big government. In history, societies typically emphasized one or the other.

When big government ruled, enterprise was highly regulated and taxed; where free enterprise was the focus, taxes were small, regulations were minimal, and governments were limited in size, scope and budget.

But in modern America, no politician from any party can claim success unless he/she has “done something in office.”

And to nearly all Americans, “doing something” means increasing government action to benefit the pet cause or regional constituency.

If President Obama doesn’t pass much of his agenda, his political friends and competitors alike will label him ineffective.

Americans in general want their politicians to do a lot and are disappointed when officials fail in this.

The irony of the American voter is that “doing a lot” immediately earns most politicians a place on the voters’ list of officials to vote out.

Americans today want the impossible: low taxes and lots of government programs.

The Economist summarized it this way:

In the end, the question of whether a country is governable turns on how much government you think it needs. America’s founders injected suspicion of government not only into the constitution but also into the political DNA of its people. And even in the teeth of today’s economic woes, at least as many Americans seem to think that what ails them is too much government, not too little.

“But there is a catch. However much Americans say they want a small government, they seem wedded to the expensive benefits of the big one they actually have…With deficits running at $1 trillion a year, and in order to stay solvent, they will have at some point to cut spending, pay more taxes, or both….To balance the books, politicians have sometimes to do things the people themselves oppose—even in America. That will be the true test of whether the country is governable.”

Americans must either choose big government and be willing to pay for and submit to it, or they must move toward smaller, less intrusive government and be willing to enjoy fewer government programs.

When voters want the prosperity of freedom along with the bread and circuses of massive government, every election is a referendum on incumbents.

Eventually, though (and the day of reckoning appears to be close on the horizon), something will have to give.

Unfortunately, few societies make such hard choices until they are forced upon them by war, depression, pandemic or other major crises.

Sadly, few nations have the leadership or the fortitude to adopt the simple solution of spurring major growth and prosperity by de-regulating, de-taxing and freeing up the economy.

Freedom works, but few in history have been willing to adopt it.

Lost Leaders

We are unable to overcome these and many of our deepest challenges because of the way we distribute leadership in our society.

The American founders envisioned a truly great educational system, built around schools in every locale, to train their youth in the great ideas of mankind’s history, as well as the latest practical arts and sciences.

They built the early American schools to train empowered citizens who would protect freedom, foster prosperity, leadership, and character in all walks of American life.

They wanted an educational system that prepared their youth to become effective in their families, communities, and careers.

This vision helped create a nation that by 1946 produced over half of the world’s goods and services with only 6% of the globe’s population.

Freedom works, and the success of the American constitutional-free-enterprise model was spectacular. In the process, this system over time addressed, and — in some cases, even began to resolve its biggest negatives, including slavery and other inequities.

Unfortunately, by the late 1930s, the citizens and leaders who built this great model of success, freedom, and prosperity sent their children and grandchildren to schools which rejected this system, and instead adopted a new style of education focused mostly on career training.

Sadly, these American schools established by the our founders were replaced after World War II by the German model which was based on socio-economic class divisions.

In the “new” system, the elites still received leadership education (like all citizens had before 1939) while the middle and lower classes were educated only for jobs.

As this system grew, a Germanic-style grading system reinforced class-society advancements among the youth.

The maladies of credentialism, class divisions, and reliance on experts made their way into mainstream American culture. From 1939 to 1979, these contagions grew and infected the Founders’ classless and “free American” vision.

In such a system, the motto was: “A students work for B students.” The concept of “The Company Man” spread and Americans became addicted to big institutions.

Freedom and entrepreneurial values gave way to competing for executive positions and benefits packages. The goal of employeeship replaced the American dream.

Career became the purpose of schooling in almost everyone’s mind, and ownership and leadership values begin to literally disappear.

Eventually big institutions became truly massive, and anything except employeeship was considered inferior and backward.

In this environment, young people with a sense of leadership, idealism and ambitions to make a great impact on society split between the Left and the Right.

Those coming from traditionally conservative families tended toward majors and careers in business, while youth from more liberal backgrounds leaned towards the media and legal professions.

Most of today’s national leaders were part of this split.

The Reagan era ushered in a revolution of support for and promotion of free enterprise ideas and values.

Numerous non-traditional business models (like multi-level and network marketing) put individuals at the center of building a personal business rather than working as an employee, and eventually non-traditional educational options (from private and charter to home and online opportunities) grew in popularity.

Employeeship was still the dominant view, but a rising minority embraced the freedoms and prosperity of entrepreneurship. The dot.com boom and Roaring 90’s soon followed, and the entrepreneurial sector slowly grew.

Today a new culture of education and business is evolving out of the Great Recession and all that led up to it. A new maxim seems to be much more complex than in past generations:

  • B students work for C students
  • A students teach or work in government
  • Those who cared little for grades and a lot about learning are building small businesses

Note that “those who cared little for grades and a lot about learning” often come from non-traditional private, charter, home and online learners, as well as from immigrants who are leading in entrepreneurial successes. And more than a few come from the traditional schools.

Since small business accounts for 80% of America’s economic growth, this is a significant development. Unfortunately, the number of people in the entrepreneurial sector is still very small.

Whether purposely or as a side effect, we are still training the overwhelming majority of our youth to believe that being A students means getting a good job and that employeeship is the greatest goal for education and even lifestyle.

Satirist P.J. O’Rourke addressed the problem this way:

America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects…

“It was a bunch of A students at the Defense Department who planned the syllabus for the Iraq War….The U.S. tax code was written by A students….Now there’s health care reform—just the kind of thing that would earn an A on a term paper from that twerp of a grad student who teaches Econ 101…

“A students must do what teachers and textbooks want and do it the way the teachers and texts want it done….Such brisk apple-polishing happens to be an all-too-good preparation for politics. This is because a student’s success at education and a politician’s success at politics are measured mostly by input rather than outcome.”

Perhaps even more disturbing is that most of our Idealistic youth with ambitions to improve the world are still going after jobs in big business or big government.

The thing is, working for a big corporation or in a government job are unlikely places to really make a positive difference in the world.

We are distributing leadership in the way aristocratic and socialistic societies always have, and the future will unfold accordingly unless something changes.

We desperately need a rebirth of the entrepreneurial ideal.

The New Religion: Employeeship

Unfortunately, it’s not just the schools and universities that are continuing this outdated focus on jobs as the end-all of education and life.

Movies and television often demonize entrepreneurs while dedicating most of their time to stories about employees.

Full-time sports channels seem to dedicate as much time to the business side of athletes as to the entertainment, making sports role models as valued for their lucrative contracts as for their abilities on the playing field.

Even elected officials more typically refer to their role as a job than as public service.

Recent administrations and the media have referred to the constitutionally-titled commander in chief as the nation’s CEO. There are many other examples.

Because the “job-is-life” view is so prevalent, it has even become normal for successful entrepreneurs to see their work as done as soon as they can live comfortably.

In earlier generations (those that built and maintained American freedom), such successful entrepreneurs considered it their duty to spend the second half of their life helping society greatly improve.

Perhaps only parents and community leaders can effectively counter this trend and help more youth who want to help improve the world seek a true leadership education and seriously consider engaging in entrepreneurial careers.

Repairing the Break

So, to answer our question, yes, government is broken. The break is repairable, but it will take some major work and effort on the part of this generation.

When freedom is decreasing through constantly increasing regulations, government is broken. When the free enterprise system is under attack from our own government, government is broken.

When a tenth of our working society can’t get a job, and when the government responds by increasing taxes and regulations on those who could provide the jobs if they were free to do so, government is broken.

When two parties hold a monopoly on government, and where both increase spending and regulation no matter who is in office, government is broken.

But all of this misses the real point.

When most of society seeks employeeship above all else and every facet of life revolves around employeeship, much more than government is going to be broken.

Employeeship certainly has a place in effective nations, but it should be prioritized behind things like family leadership, citizenship, and private ownership.

Another name for these is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or alternatively, as Jefferson originally wrote, “life, liberty and property”).

A successful society is made up of at least the following things:

  • Effective parents, grandparents and other family leaders who help raise good, wise and industrious adults to take their place
  • Citizens who are well-educated in freedom and leadership and who keep government, business and other officials in check so the society can remain free and prosperous
  • Owners who improve the prosperity of society, in a free enterprise system where all can be owners
  • A constitutionally guaranteed freedom where all are treated equally before the law and all are protected in their inalienable rights

How the President Can Repair the Economy

In the 2008 election President Obama was supported by the Left (who loved his promises of economic liberalism), but he was elected by independents who saw in him a possible end to the corruption of the Bush years and a potentially great leader for the United States.

The “Leadership Thing” swept him into office. Now, the Obama Administration could greatly boost the economy by deeply promoting entrepreneurship—both symbolically and in reduced taxes and regulations.

Such incentives would spur more hiring, investment and expansion, and a recovery would follow that Americans could really believe in.

In fact, the President could probably accomplish this without changing any policy at all, simply by warming to small business and genuinely becoming friendly to entrepreneurs.

As a friend, a member of a minority, told me about President Carter:

“I didn’t agree with his politics or policies, but I just feel that he loved me and my people and cared about us. I never felt that from Reagan or Bush, and so I voted Democratic even though I was more aligned with the politics of the Republicans.”

An old advertising proverb says that people make choices emotionally and then use logic to defend it.

No matter what Washington says, and no matter what the economic numbers show, most entrepreneurs are unlikely to increase jobs and boost the economy through investments as long as they think the man in the White House basically dislikes and mistrusts them.

Even liberal-leaning businessmen are worried that the President isn’t supportive.

The White House could drastically help the recovery simply by changing its bias against small business. If this is just a perceived dislike of business, not a real one, they can simply change their message.

If, on the other hand, the Administration really does mistrust or dislike small business, it should reconsider. After all, unlike Wall Street, big banks and big corporations, small business simply cannot be blamed for America’s economic challenges.

It has been the victim of the mistakes made by both big business and past government. Yet it keeps plugging along, keeping the recession from being much worse.

And small business certainly is the group most likely to overcome high unemployment.

Indeed, when the economy does make a serious comeback, entrepreneurs will be leading the way. Hopefully, the Obama Administration will extend its “Yes, We Can” philosophy to those who have the most potential to drastically grow our economy.

Conclusion

It is time for all Americans—from the White House to our individual living rooms—to pour out a deep, genuine and heartfelt admiration and “thank you” to those who run small businesses.

Whatever the politicians of any party do, the greatest need is for parents, grandparents and all of us to rekindle an excitement for entrepreneurship in the youth.

The future of America’s freedom and prosperity may well depend on it. As long as free enterprise isn’t flourishing, our government will be broken.

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

Oliver DeMille is the founderof the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

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.

 

Category : Business &Constitution &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Education &Entrepreneurship &Generations &Government &History &Leadership &Liberty &Politics

How to Destroy the Constitution

October 25th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS, AND INDEPENDENTS don’t agree on much, but most of them do believe in the excellence and effectiveness of the U.S. Constitution.

A group this diverse will, of course, have some disagreements on the details, but it is amazing how nearly all involved Americans support the document.

All agree that the Constitution catalyzed America’s growth to freedom, prosperity and world hegemony.

Freedom works, it turns out; the Constitution codified and structured freedom at a level unparalleled in world history (affiliate link).

For at least fifty years, however, two major groups have disagreed about the fundamental direction of the nation as it relates to the Constitution.

Conservatives have seen the Constitution as an ideal to live up to, and operated on the premise that the country must be careful not to stray too far from the original intent of the founders.

They resonate with such things as strong national defense, separations of power, and protections of property.

Liberals, in contrast, have in general felt that this great document guaranteed basic rights and due process, but that it was meant as a starting point from which to continually amend and improve our society.

They tend to focus on individual rights, equalities, and the democratic attitudes of the document.

As a third, newer group, independents, tend to want the United States to value original intent, yet also make improvements where they are wise and practical.

Vital Foundations of Freedom

In view of all this, there are a few things that are fundamentally vital to the success and maintenance of the U.S. Constitution.

If these vital things are lost or ignored, or even changed in any way, the system will break down and our freedoms will decrease. These vital foundations include:

  • Separations of power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches
  • The independence of each branch
  • Checks and balances
  • Guarantees of freedom like “no ex post facto laws,” “no bills of attainder,” and the freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights
  • Separations of power between the federal and state governments

Over the years, some have argued that we are in danger of losing some of these vital foundations of constitutional freedom. Certainly there has been some weakening over time.

But for the most part, the vital facets of the Constitution have held strong.

Weakening the Constitution

Unfortunately, in just the past few years we have seen major affronts to these vital constitutional guarantees. And more amazingly, there has been little concern voiced in the media or among the American citizenry.

When we let our freedoms slip away without a fight or even without concern, we take freedom, prosperity and happiness away from our posterity.

What kind of people do that? Are we such people? These are questions each of us must face.

Moreover, the loss of these vital constitutional foundations are not issues of parties­­­­—most liberals, conservatives, greens, radicals, extremists, moderates, hawks, doves, independents and nearly everyone else is generally opposed to losing our freedoms.

So why do we sit by and let it just happen?

The answer is simple, although the reality is quite complex:

We tend to let our freedoms slip away because they are tucked away in documents and policies that we don’t ever deal with directly.

We either ignore current bills before Congress or, if we do get involved, we focus on the publicized issues instead of the many layers of complexity.

In short, we don’t read the fine print.

The Power of Fine Print

Many Americans ignore the fine print in job contracts and mortgage papers, blithely signing our signatures and trusting others to handle the details.

Consider how lax we are with proposed bills in Washington DC: They are written by someone we don’t know and voted on by people few of us will ever even meet.

What few people realize is that these things have direct and major impact on our lives!

The problem in modern America is not that an individual can’t make a difference, but that nearly all of us are too distracted to even consider trying.

It seems ridiculous, maybe, to think that regular people should read the fine print of proposed legislation and existing laws and try to improve them. It sounds extreme and even crazy to suggest that without such close scrutiny from the citizens our freedoms will be lost.

But it is still true. This is one of the things which makes the American founding generations so truly amazing! Yes, they sacrificed greatly in the Revolution.

But many nations have sacrificed mightily and still failed to be free. Yes, the founders wanted to protect themselves from the usurpation of Britain. But so has every other colony and group of people facing a dominating government.

Yes, the founders loved freedom and wanted to pass it on to their children and posterity. But who doesn’t?

Almost every human society has yearned deeply and sacrificed much to be free. However, the founding American generations did something that almost no others have ever done.

They read the fine print!

They taught their children to read bills, laws, court cases, legislative debates, executive decrees, and bureaucratic policies. They read them in schoolrooms and at home. They read them at picnics and by candlelight after a long day’s hard labor.

They said they would consider their children uneducated if they didn’t read such things.

Consider just one example, from a textbook read by all Vermont school children in 1794:

“All the children are trained up to this kind of knowledge: they are accustomed from their earliest years to read the Holy Scriptures, the periodical publications, newspapers, and political pamphlets…the laws of their country, the proceedings of the courts of justice, of the general assembly of the state, and of the Congress, etc.

“Such a kind of education is common and universal in every part of the state: and nothing would be more dishonorable to the parents, or to the children, than to be without it.”

Now, in fairness to most human societies who wanted to be free, the regular people through much of history couldn’t read at all.

The founders understood this, so the first federal law passed under the newly ratified U.S. Constitution required any territory seeking statehood to show that it had an effective educational offering for all children.

They considered it a great blessing of providence that they could read and had the opportunity to pass on education to nearly all Americans. They saw this as a fundamental requirement for freedom.

They mourned for the many generations of humans throughout history who had no chance at freedom because education was denied them or simply unavailable.

But what would the founders think of three generations of today’s Americans who can read, who live in relative affluence, have ample leisure time, but who choose to ignore government documents?

I think they would be shocked, and then angry.

After the painful price they paid to establish a free nation; the many sacrifices of their families and lives, imagine their frustration that today’s Americans won’t even read what the government is doing.

Eventually, after their anger wore off, I think they would resign themselves to this reality: Unless Americans start reading government documents again, we will lose our freedom—again.

In case this sounds extreme, let me reiterate that the founding generations read government documents, in detail, from all three branches, including all levels from federal, to state, to local.

Then they raised their children to do the same. It was second nature to them because they wanted to remain free.

Free people read the fine print. Then they act on it. To put it simply: those who don’t, do not remain free.

This is the reality of history, from Ancient Israel to the Greeks, Saracens, Franks, Anglo-Saxons and every other free society in history.

I can find no exceptions.

In fact, in mixed societies with classes or castes of both freemen and subservients (like in Athens or the Roman Republic), only the upper classes read government documents; and only the upper classes were free citizens.

Three Tragedies

In just the past two years we have seen three of the major vital foundations of constitutional freedom ignored.

People who don’t read government documents, or at the very least printed media reports about government documents, aren’t even aware of these structural implosions in our constitutional system.

They have no idea of the tragedy ahead unless these things are reversed.

Moreover, people who don’t read government documents are often swayed by the anger of politicians or mass media so that they think violating the Constitution is okay if the nation is mad enough.

For example, the vital constitutional foundation of “no bills of attainder” was broken in the wake of national anger at Wall Street after the economic meltdown of 2008-2009. Even those who knew it was broken felt it was justified given Wall Street’s mistakes.

But when we let the government break the Constitution because we are really mad, we will soon watch it break the Constitution when somebody else is mad.

This reminds me of the old story of the so-called unaffected groups who ignored Hitler’s men while they took the Jews, then the foreigners, the gypsies, the handicap, and the white collar professionals, only to wonder why no one was there to help when Hitler’s men finally came to their house.

The moral of the story? Stand up for the Jews, or any other group unjustly attacked. That is the character of people who will remain free.

Because we were so angry at Wall Street after the economic crisis, we also ignored or just accepted the “ex post facto” laws unconstitutionally passed and applied in 2009.

That’s two strikes against the Constitution, and in less than a year!

The third strike came in the health care law.

Now, before I say more, let me be clear that I did not side with either the Democratic law as it was passed or with the argument from the Republicans that health care need not be reformed. Reform was necessary, but the way it was done is a major problem.

Some Democrats, some Republicans, and a lot of independents agreed with this. There is a lot more that could be said on this, point-by-point on every facet of the law. But that isn’t my purpose here.

My deepest concern is with the fact that public sentiment regarding such policies and issues as immigration, marriage, detainment/torture, health care, finance reform, foreign military campaigns, etc., is governed by the tidal forces of activism and apathy—neither of which is delving into the fine print details in the laws that strike a major blow to the most vital foundations of the Constitution.

Using the Health Care Reform law as a case in point: The Constitution separated the powers of the federal government from others that would be left to the states or lower levels, or the people.

This is as fundamental to our freedoms as separating the executive, judicial, and legislative branches, or outlining specific checks and balances.

Take away the provision of separating state and federal powers, and the whole Constitution is in danger of failing.

The founding generation felt so strongly about this that they insisted on adding the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to protect this separation and maintain states’ rights.

Later, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could take some actions within states under the commerce clause, but only the states had the right to require individual citizens to buy a good or service.

The Court also ruled in Gonzales v. Oregon that the federal government does not have the authority to “define general standards of medical practice in every locality.” It also “has recognized a right to medical self-determination, notably finding it within the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause.”

The health care law is the first federal law to break these, and it sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

In short, if this stands, future U.S Presidents and Congress can add one or two sentences in any bill at any time that requires Americans to do or buy anything—and pretty much nobody is likely to know until the law is passed.

Each new generation is acclimatized to the level of government overreach that they find themselves in, and it rarely occurs to them to object.

The Overseers of Freedom

Some might argue that our elected representatives should keep an eye on such things and take care of them for us.

True enough; except for one thing: Despite of all their good intentions and willingness to step up and lead, most of these representatives are ultimately just like “us”; they are not much more inclined than the general population to read the fine print!

Contributing to this brand of governance is the status quo climate that slaps an “extremist” label on those who do try to raise concerns about the process or consequence of our legislative and regulatory trends.

The bottom line is that our elected officials often fail to do anything about these fine-print additions to legislation.

Sometimes, even when such things are taken out of bills, the agencies which implement these laws simply write them back into their operating policies and enforce them anyway—even though they are not technically law.

With a system like this, the people are the only true overseers of freedom. If we don’t do it, freedom will be lost.

The founding generations read resolutions, bills, laws, policies, executive orders, ordinances, court cases and judicial commentaries on cases.

They wanted to be free, so they did what free people always do: They read the documents of government. They studied the fine print.

Where they saw dangers to freedom, they took action.

Unfortunately, too often any criticism of a political party’s policy is interpreted by people as an attack on that party. In this case, it is not my purpose to criticize President Obama’s push for health care reform.

I am simply concerned with the way this law treats the U.S. Constitution.

Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush also promoted policies that could have threatened constitutional principles.

It is the role of politicians to promote policies and changes they feel are needed, and at times these push the envelope of the Constitution.

Congress and the Court must do their constitutional role of analyzing and responding to such proposals, but ultimately it is up to the people to be the Overseers—to protect freedom.

Societies where the regular people aren’t allowed to read or comment on the laws are Totalitarian, Authoritarian, Dictatorial or Communistic.

Societies where the regular people are allowed to read and comment on the government and law, but instead decide to leave it to others, most often adopt aristocracy or socialism.

In contrast, if we want to be free, we must read the fine print.

Freedom only lasts in societies where regular citizens:

  • read government documents, think about and discuss them
  • do something to change them when needed
  • teach their children to do the same.

If we become such people, the future of freedom is bright. If not…

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

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

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.

 

Category : Aristocracy &Citizenship &Constitution &Culture &Education &Government &Independents &Leadership &Politics

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