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Education

Robin Hood, or Prince John: Overcoming a Problem Worse than Socialism

October 20th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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When the government takes middle-class tax money and bails out big bankers, automobile manufacturers and other big businesses paying out huge multi-million dollar bonuses, that’s not socialism.

Socialism, like Robin Hood, proposes to take money from the middle and upper classes and redistribute it to the poor.

But during the Great Recession, the lower and lower-middle classes found it much harder to make ends meet. Many lost their jobs, and even their homes.

Where is Robin Hood when they need him? Where is their socialist bailout?

Whether or not you subscribe to the socialist ideal (and I decidedly do not), a careful consideration of the social and economic climate of the U.S. is warranted.

What is really happening? Talk radio and conservative television hosts have railed about the “rise of socialism,” but in reality something else is going on here.

When socialistic programs are introduced, the lower classes benefit and the upper-middle and upper classes pay the bill.

But in our time, precisely the opposite has happened.

In addition to increasing woes for the lower and lower-middle classes, the upper classes actually benefited from the economic downturn.

The number of millionaires grew 16 percent during the Great Recession; and those with a net worth over $5 million grew 17 percent.

So why are conservatives and Tea Partyists bantying about the s-word so much?

And after all is said and done, what difference does it make what we call it?

While the “socialism” furor may be linked to the Health Care debate and other left-of-center proposals of the Obama Administration, a deeper look shows that socialism is not the real culprit.

It is critical to understand that this distinction is not just a talking point for politicians and pundits to discuss on Sunday morning talk shows, or for academics and intellectuals to publish in scholarly journals.

By misdiagnosing the problem, we are also applying the wrong remedies and can never hope for improvement.

We are all the day vigilant against the small-time con of Robin Hood, and Prince John plunders us while we sleep.

What is Socialism?

The technical definition of socialism is government ownership of the major means of production in a society.

American Liberalism, in contrast, believes that there should be both a private and a government sector, and that the government should highly tax and regulate the private sector.

While both of these are anti-conservative, they are not one and the same, and the difference is critical.

American Liberalism does believe in limits, checks and balances; it believes in a separate private sector.

Socialism believes in none of these; it believes that the government should run the entire economy.

Obama Administration involvement in bailing out banks and auto companies certainly had liberal and even socialist overtones, but the top banks quickly paid back government loans and went back to private ownership.

In this sense, to label this as socialistic is not accurate.

Again: this is not question of semantics, but speaks to the very heart of the issue and how we should respond. (More on this later.)

In the wake of the economic meltdown, the government drastically increased regulations on large and small businesses. This regulatory activity is a basic value and tool of liberalism.

While liberalism seeks to ever increase regulation on private businesses, socialism seeks to own most and eventually all the companies in a nation.

Polls showed the Obama Administration to be left of the American populace in regard to fiscal and other types of regulations, but all within liberal rather than socialistic definitions.

It may be well argued that this distinction is simply a question of degrees.

But even in that paradigm the differences demand a greater understanding of and tailored responses to the liberal and socialist encroachments on freedom and prosperity.

If It Quacks Like A Duck…

Another reason many called Great Recession policies “socialist” is that government actions caused private businesses to shed employees at the same time that the government was hiring.

When the media shared the numbers showing that average private salaries are less than the average government employees make, the “socialism” name-calling was a natural angry response.

The Economist predicted growing political battles between taxpayers and government employees in nearly all nations.

We need to get serious about incentivizing small and mid-size businesses.

For example, a recent version of the health care bill would have required businesses with twenty employees and a $1 million/year budget would have to add $300,000 to its annual costs or pay $40,000 in fines.

Result: at least two employees would be let go and twenty people would still not have health insurance.

To say nothing of the fact that these individual employees will still have to buy their own insurance or pay additional fines.

It’s anybody’s guess how it will all shake out as the health care law undergoes endless tinkering over the next who-knows-how-long, but it’s worth asking the question: How, exactly, does this help unemployment?

In fact, it dis-incentivizes entrepreneurship and hiring, and encourages people to go on government programs. This certainly feels like socialism.

And big business is facing similar challenges. For example, Intel’s chief executive Paul Otellini said that the U.S. is driving away businesses and employers:

The things that are not conducive to investments here are taxes and capital investment credits. A new semiconductor factory at world scale built from scratch is about $4.5 billion–in the United States. If I build that factory in almost any other country in the world, where they have significant incentive programs, I could save $1 billion.”

How many jobs are we sending to other countries because of our high taxes?

This was clearly not a hypothetical situation; Intel built its latest factory in China. Said Otellini:

And it wasn’t because of the labor costs either. Yeah, the construction costs were a little bit lower, but the cost of operating when you look at it after tax was substantially lower…”

What does it mean when China’s communist business environment is more inviting to U.S. companies, more conducive to their growth, than the United States?

When did regulations and taxes in the U.S. make doing business in China attractive?

The U.S. now ranks #40 out of forty industrialized nations in appeal to business.

It’s almost as if the U.S. government doesn’t want business to succeed or grow, and only thinks that government spending and government jobs are the solutions to economic challenges.

This is easy prey for conspiracy hunters, but I don’t think Washington is capable either of such ubiquitous cleverness or cooperation.

I think it is much more likely when it comes to preserving freedom, they are simply not minding the store.

Other pressing needs have our leaders distracted, and the expedient responses they recur to also happen to militate against our future freedom and prosperity–and specifically, against free enterprise.

No wonder so many people are angry at recent presidential administrations. No wonder so many are crying “socialism.”

How can we defend against the allegation that our government purposely wants private businesses to fail or flee the U.S.?

Instead of promoting incentives that bring more business and jobs, the government is promoting higher taxes and regulations like health care that make business success more difficult.

More government regulation, increased government hiring and increased government social programs demanding ever higher taxes: these are features not only of liberal policies, but of a growing aristocracy.

Socialism Versus Aristocracy

Predictably, most Americans today who actually have an opinion on the matter readily conjure the twentieth-century enemy of free enterprise, socialism, rather than the older, forgotten eighteenth- and nineteenth-century evil of aristocratic rule.

But the fact that lower classes are struggling more than ever while the upper classes are increasing their wealth during economic downturns is a clear sign that aristocracy is the issue.

Consider this: in socialist cultures celebrity and fame are denigrated; in aristocratic societies they are esteemed and celebrated.

We clearly love celebrity at levels far beyond socialistic, conservative or even liberal societies.

Aristocracies and monarchies are the domain of such infatuation with fame, get-rich-quick schemes and the lottery mentality.

Like Shakespeare’s Antonio, we just know our ship is about to come in.

Conservatives traditionally invest in building businesses and like-minded community, liberals in educational degrees, professional excellence and credibility, and socialists in government positions.

Like characters in an Austen novel, in aristocracies like our modern America those in the lower classes fantasize about some punctuated leap in their “prospects”–from marrying rich to the modern equivalent of winning on Survivor, American Idol, The Amazing Race, The Bachelor or some other concocted scenario where the fate of the aspirants largely lies with those in power.

Note that in pyramid schemes there are a few winners at the top but thousands of hopeful and willing enablers the rest of the way down.

Why the Difference Matters

The debate between socialism and aristocracy is more than just semantical.

The technically inaccurate label of socialism allows the educated media and the elite establishment to patronize and condescend to the “uneducated” who push for change.

It allows government officials to dismiss the “uncouth dissenters” while maintaining their conviction that “they” (the “educated,” the most “talented,” most “intelligent” ones) know what the nation needs and those whose opinion really matters (the “educated,” the most “talented,” most “intelligent” ones) are completely in favor of their proposals.

Unfortunately, those citizens who put aside apathy and stand up to make a difference find themselves always frustrated because they fight the wrong battle.

If socialism is our problem, the perpetrator is the political leaders promoting socialist policies, and the philosophical left is to blame.

But if aristocracy is the challenge, then the two parties are both culprits in the promotion of a privileged class.

If aristocracy is the challenge, the citizen is his own worst enemy as he does not pay the price to rise above the mediocre education of our schools or to see beyond a complicit, dumbed-down media designed more for entertainment than positive impact on freedom and prosperity.

If we think socialism is the enemy, we will put our effort into electing different leaders, only to discover that Washington’s problems continue and increase no matter whom we elect.

By misdiagnosing the problem, we are using the wrong treatments and failing to get better.

No matter how active and engaged voters are, from the left or the right or the middle, if we continue to think that socialism or capitalism is our problem then all our efforts will continue to be impotent.

Very little will change in Washington and our problems will continue to grow.

Virile & Viral

If we realize, in contrast, that aristocracy is the real problem and that electing an upper class from either party will only worsen the problem, we can shift focus and consider what is really needed.

And the answer, the real solution, will become clear: As long as we live in a society of upper and lower classes, our freedoms and prosperity will continue to decline.

The solution is not to just elect a different leader, but for all American citizens to once again obtain the kind of education that allowed regular farmers and shopkeepers to study the federalist papers and listen to and consider eight-hour debates during the Lincoln-Douglass era.

If we think the problem is socialism, we will consider great education benign and ineffectual.

But if we know the real problem–that people in both parties and in all social strata are enabling a growing aristocratic power over our society–then we will realize that simply electing a better senator or president is not nearly enough of a solution.

True: Socialism and aristocracy share many symptoms, so electing the best leaders is still vitally important to stem big government.

But the real, unseen, issue is aristocracy. And until the American people realize this and more of us get the same quality of education as the CEOs, judges and presidents, the problems will continue to grow.

Above all, it is education that determines class levels.

Entrepreneurship is another path to leadership. This doesn’t mean that we need all enroll in the Ivy League.

In truth, the greatest classics of history are still the true library of freedom, wealth and leadership.

Virtually every town library has the great texts of liberty and success available.

The question is, do Americans value our freedom enough to end the rise of aristocratic rule by becoming greatly educated ourselves?

Will we step up to our responsibilities as citizens and qualify ourselves for our role as the overseers of government by learning about freedom, leadership, economics, human nature and the other great ideas of mankind?

As our society is on track for disaster from numerous threats (to our food supply, availability of fuel, decaying infrastructure, dependency on programs that have poor prospects for future funding, terrorism, failing economy) we all know that somebody needs to “Do something!”

We have been caught in the binary trap of either expecting someone else to “fix it” or expecting that we can make a difference just by making our voices heard.

But our moral authority and our ability to impact our society’s direction will come not from complaining about the ideas or performance of those who have stepped up to lead, but from actually having the answers to society’s ills.

We can’t just protest that the world simply must turn back the clock two hundred years.

New leadership is needed by today’s American citizens.

If we truly revere the American founders and idealize their accomplishments, we must move beyond hero worship and actually do as the founders did: We must apply a profound understanding of sound principles to the establishment of policies and forms that directly apply to our complex and critical situation today.

This we can do, just as the American founders did in their day.

As I have said elsewhere: Getting a world-class education and running successful businesses is “doing something.”

That is precisely the “something” that is called for today, and that any other solution which does not include a better educated populace has a different outcome than liberty and justice for all.

It is time for an entrepreneurial approach to getting an individualized, superb, great, innovative leadership education in the classics.

Each of us can do it, and the future of our freedoms depends upon it.

If the current growth of American aristocracy is allowed to continue, our future is destined to be less free and more harshly lacking in opportunity than any socialistic society.

The criticism of “socialism” is certainly negative; but unless we change course, the aristocracy that our grandchildren and their children inherit will be something far worse.

Click Here to Download a Printable Version of This Article

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

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 &Economics &Education &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &Liberty

How Information Grows

October 12th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Information grows differently than industry or agriculture.

Thus hundreds of years of understanding about how to grow Industrial-Age businesses doesn’t really apply to many Information Age endeavors.

Indeed, some of the lessons of how to grow a farm in the Agricultural Age didn’t necessarily translate to Industrial Age corporate growth, although some did.

The key is to think in a new context and apply lessons within the contemporary environment.

Information, and by extension Information-Age organizations and ideas, grow in a certain way.

Instead of the Industrial model of building a foundation, then adding walls, buttresses and finally a roof, informational models grow like waves.

Imagine the ripples caused when a pebble falls into a lake. The waves repeat many times, spreading out and impacting the world around them. Eventually they dissipate and disappear, leaving the world altered, if only a little. Additional pebbles are needed to repeat the process.

And unlike the Industrial Age penchant for building institutions that last forever, information impacts the world and then moves on to something else when enough ripples have accomplished the goal.

The Industrial modus operandi was to build an institution to achieve a goal, and then to focus on the survival and growth of the institution — even if this required abandoning the original purpose for which the institution was established.

In contrast, information sets out to inform, keeps going until this is accomplished, and then moves on to other agendas.

Likewise, where Industrial institutions attempt to control how their work is perceived and utilized, information shares, informs, and leaves (and trusts) those who receive the information to use it as needed and to pass it on.

Good information is naturally improved by various applications, and it is perpetuated by those who receive and utilize it.

There are eight levels of informational waves:

1: At first, information simply is. It exists.

It is in the state and process of being. This is the most important level of informational ideas, institutions and thinkers.

The quality, breadth, depth and wisdom of information matters. Getting it right (right from the beginning) is vital.

Even more important is sharing information for the right reason. If information is shared for the wrong reasons, for example, the information itself is tainted and changed by this fact.

In the Industrial Age, things were considered good information if they were true, but information has a higher standard. Unless informational ideas are shared for the right reasons, the information isn’t reliable.

In short, the first level of information is purity.

Any item of information is a thing, and it has a purpose. In sharing information or building informational institutions or relationships, pure reasons are essential. Without them, the information itself is unreliable.

Note that pure information is one of the most powerful things in the world. It has been called “the power of the word,” “the power of an idea whose time has come,” “resonance,” and a number of other things.

When information is shared by the right person at the right time for the right reasons, it has great and lasting power.

2: Good information that is promoted and shared for the right reasons becomes an interactive wave.

This greatly increases the impact and influence of the information, spreading it to those who need it.

Of course, bad information passed on for the wrong reasons is also interactive and therefore very destructive. Anybody who has ever started a rumor, for example, has probably witnessed how quickly it spreads and how much pain and hurt it can cause.

In the long term, however, tainted information has no lasting power. Information promoters do best when they send out ideas far and wide, openly sharing and personally applying the “new” information they have learned.

3: Next comes the communicative wave.

This occurs where people purposely set out to communicate information to set groups or to everyone.

This wave can be marketed, spun, or twisted for the benefit of various groups and people, but the pure information will shine through and those seeking wisdom will see through the shades of spin and opinion and resonate with what they need to learn.

They will then naturally pass on their contributions and lessons learned and the value of the information will increase.

Synergy kicks in at this point and the value of the information spirals out to many who are seeking it.

4: A linear wave captures much of the information at this level and translates it to specific uses, fields, disciplines, written or spoken or digitized venues and delivers its essence in numerous formats.

Information institutions or thinkers frequently introduce their views to the world in this format. Of course, it existed before they composed, organized or created their specific work, but their creation adds value, quality and even wisdom to the information.

By its nature, information spreads, and those who add to its value without trying to enslave its essence help it spread and increase its ability to serve.

Those who try to control it, in contrast, find that their creation is devalued, their creativity stifled, and their flow of additional information violated.

Unlike land or capital in the Agrarian and Industrial eras, respectively, information is not meant to be owned. The wave of open source programs and wiki media applications harnesses this abundant and cooperative mentality.

Note that I am not arguing here for uncompensated use of copyrighted software, technology, artistic or other proprietary creations.

I believe that original inventions, innovations and creations should benefit those who risked, invested, worked and created. And organizations and governments have every right to keep certain things secret or proprietary.

But pure information in ideas, principles and the flow of wisdom is not the same as one’s proprietary creation–nobody can (or should) lock up or control the flow of pure information.

As long as individuals and institutions own their creation, but without trying to control thought and inspiration, it can benefit them and many others.

5: Eventually information is captured in numerous linear waves which together form a multimedia wave.

In other words, at a certain point pure information is simultaneously delivered in many forms and from numerous sources which reinforce the messages, lessons and value of the original information.

Leaders can help spread this wave by delivering the information multiple times and in manifold ways.

6: The next step occurs when information comes alive.

This happens were the essence of the information is felt.

When I hear a story and it spurs an emotional response, for example, all the earlier waves combine and impact how I receive the information.

In a similar way, waves far from where the pebble dropped are bigger and carry a lot more water than those right where the pebble fell.

A similar level in Industrial institutions was branding–where a given brand, name or logo carried a repeating emotional charge. In the informational world, however, each additional interaction communicates new information value.

7: Psychological waves come next, and are produced by the transfer of information from one mind to another.

Since all such transfers partake of all the earlier levels of waves (e.g. the person shares his feelings, pure or tainted reasons, multimedia use of voice along with facial expressions and nonverbal cues, etc.), learning from others is an advanced way to receive information.

Because of this, the level of advancement of the person delivering the message has some impact on how the information is delivered.

Still, the condition of the receiver is the most important factor in determining the quality of the reception when the information or signal is pure.

In Industrial marketing this was often dominated by testimonials or infomonials, but informational leaders simply open up and share.

The most powerful of this information often comes from word of mouth, personal stories, and genuine interest in helping others.

Any who truly care about others and share ideas, thoughts or anything else as attempts to help others are partners with information in this process.

The true language of this wave is love, which is why true change most often comes when we feel love or loved.

8: At the highest level, the symbolic wave conveys a packet of information that is amazingly multi-layered and teeming with depth, breadth, context, connections and possibilities.

Shakespeare spoke of being bounded in a nutshell of infinite space and science teaches that the DNA code of an entire organism is found in each cell.

The symbolic wave could be called a mustard seed, a small token carrying the potential and key to so much more.

Also, at this highest level, the receiver can often break the information into smaller pieces, analyze each of the waves alone or together, and consider each facet of the idea–from its essence to all its potential consequences.

The possibilities are exponential. The information at this level is only limited by the abilities of the user to consider, discover or imagine.

Those seeking such information are on a quest for inspiration–be it limited to one question, or as broad as a life of searching.

Because the symbolic wave of information is so powerful, those who ask shall receive; the universe is friendly, and when the student is ready the teacher will appear.

(That last paragraph makes me want to be sure everyone knows how important it is to read Free the Beagle by Roy Williams. It’s a fun read, not homework.)

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

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 : Current Events &Economics &Education &Information Age &Leadership

Great Education in the Internet Age

October 8th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

As the old saying goes, “Leaders are Readers.” This has proven true generation after generation, and is still the reality today.

But there is a significant difference in the leadership value in different types of reading.

For example, few would doubt that there is a difference in benefits between reading the following items:

  • a technical manual
  • your friends’ Facebook entries
  • a work by Plato or Shakespeare
  • a historical, western, science fiction or fantasy novel
  • the prospectus for a financial investment
  • a romance novel
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • a tabloid magazine
  • a business self-help book

The list could go on. One could argue that all of these have some benefits, but the value would depend on what the reader was trying to gain from the reading.

In short, all reading is not the same.

As David Brooks wrote in the New York Times:

“Recently, book publishers got some good news. Researchers gave 852 disadvantaged students 12 books (of their own choosing) to take home at the end of the school year….They found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students….In fact, just having those 12 books seemed to have as much positive effect as attending summer school. This study, along with many others, illustrates the tremendous power of books….

“Recently, Internet mavens got some bad news. Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy examined computer use among a half-million 5th through 8th graders in North Carolina. They found that the spread of home computers and high-speed Internet access was associated with significant declines in math and reading scores.”

He concludes his analysis with this:

“Already, more ‘old-fashioned’ outposts are opening up across the web. It could be that the real debate will not be books versus the Internet but how to build an Internet counterculture that will better attract people to serious learning.”

Perhaps the key is to resurrect the word “great.” This word is often used (perhaps overused), in our society, but it is seldom used to mean what it originally meant.

“Great” has several meanings:

  1. huge, immense, grand
  2. distinguished, remarkable, impressive
  3. noble, heroic, majestic
  4. wonderful, fantastic, excellent
  5. complete, profound, utter
  6. unlimited, boundless, abundant
  7. major, momentous, weighty

“Great” can mean any one of these things, or a combination of a few or all of them.

Antonyms of the word “great” include: unimportant, small, minor, lowly, slight, awful, tiny, and ordinary. In academia, business and athletics, the word “mediocre” is also used as an antonym of “great.”

Now, consider some of the ramifications of applying more greatness to education, reading and learning.

What if children and youth were strongly encouraged to read a few of the greats in everything they read. For example:

  • 2 of the greatest technical manuals ever written, things like The Wizard of Ads by Roy H. Williams
  • 2 of the greatest works each by Plato and Shakespeare
  • 2 years of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report
  • 2 each of the greatest historical, western, science fiction and fantasy novels, titles like The Bridge at Andau, The Virginian, Lord of the Rings, etc.
  • 2 of the greatest romance novels ever, such as Gone With the Wind, Sense and Sensibility, etc.
  • 2 of the best tabloid magazine articles ever written, which have weathered the test of time and proven to be excellent and accurate (just the process of researching this would be a great educational project that would teach many lessons about good versus bad journalism)
  • 2 of the top business self-help books, such as works by Napoleon Hill, Wallace Wattles, Paulo Coelho or Jim Collins
  • Some of the top Wall Street Journal articles ever published, things like “A Separate Peace” by Peggy Noonan
  • 3 of the greatest Facebook entries ever (examples anyone?)

Such readings, be they from books or newspapers or the Internet, are by their nature grand, remarkable, impressive, excellent, profound, momentous and weighty. Some are even abundant, noble, majestic and/or heroic.

In a word, they are great.

None of these would be unimportant, small, minor, lowly, slight, awful, tiny, ordinary or mediocre. Readers may agree or disagree with what they read, but they would at least be reading some of the greats.

This would help them judge the quality of other things they read by simple comparison.

Great readings greatly impact learning. What is an education without Tocqueville, Austen, Newton, Einstein, Aristotle, Virgil, Twain or Mother Teresa?

Unless we read the greats, our education simply cannot be accurately called great.

Beyond this, however, there are a number of great works being produced each year and in many mediums—from books to music, art to theater, cinema to mathematics, accounting to marketing, family relations to philosophy and religion, and from the Internet to all the latest social networking sites.

Great works are more easily found in some of these mediums than others, but all of them offer at least a few greats!

We just need to look for and share them—especially with the youth. Cultivating our taste for greatness, and our ability to detect it, is an important aspect of becoming “educated.”

On a related topic, the only free peoples in history were societies of readers! If we want to be free, we must read. Books matter, and great books matter greatly.

Other kinds of readings also produce some great work, and all of us can do better by simply adding more “great” readings into our lives. As we do this, our children and students will be more likely to follow our example.

Finally, in what ways can each of us help establish and support Internet content that is deeper, more excellent and truly greater reading material? This is a vital mission for many of us.

In one way, the Internet may be more effective at promoting great education than even books: Nearly all Internet content is interactive, meaning that youth naturally want to write about it as well as read it.

Where reading of books and writing of essays are usually separate processes in traditional education, the Internet can bridge the gap by naturally combining great reading with important writing.

If they are reading great works and ideas, learners will be more likely to write about great thoughts.

The problem is that without reading great things, great writing seldom occurs.

When children learn texting (entertainment) before they actively fall in love with and engage great books (learning), their writing won’t usually emphasize great thinking.

The greatly educated naturally use e-media to share and improve their education, while those with shallow education naturally take their shallowness to the keyboard.

In short, we can all benefit from bringing more great readings into our lives—wherever they are found.

But among children and youth, it is much more effective to learn from books first and later take up social networking only when they have something important to say.

When this order is reversed, many youth struggle to do the work of great education when life is dominated by e-entertainment.

In the Internet Age, great education is more available than ever—but only if children fall in love with books. And this is a lot more likely if their parents and teachers set the example.

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

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 : Education &Information Age

The Entrepreneurial Foundations of Free Society

September 27th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Click Here to Download a Printable Version of This Article

Howard Gardner’s research suggests that there are fundamentally seven basic intelligences: literary, mathematical, artistic, musical, spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal.

Modern education tends to emphasize basic knowledge in three of these (literary, mathematical and interpersonal) fields followed by career specialization in one.

During the American founding era that produced a generation of citizen-farmers and citizen-entrepreneurs who established the freest society in history, a different sort of education-career path dominated.

Today’s professionals and experts tend to be trained in problem solving under structured guidelines, whereas successful entrepreneurs seldom have the luxury of easily knowing what the problems are.

They have to figure out what the real issues are and define the problems, and only then find ways to solve problems and overcome roadblocks.

This requires high levels of initiative and resiliency, independent and analytical thinking, ingenuity and creative thinking, tenacity and self-analysis.

These entrepreneurial skills and talents are precisely those needed to establish and maintain freedom.

Intelligences

To prepare youth for success in entrepreneurial (and free) cultures, education tends to emphasize originality, creativity, breadth, depth and leadership skills rather than rote memorization, standardized curricula or socialization.

The latter skill set is vital in societies with strong upper classes employing the lower castes, but the former is essential to free democratic nations.

Where class societies tend to educate for general knowledge in literary, mathematical and interpersonal skills, entrepreneurial nations educate for depth in literary, mathematical, interpersonal, artistic, musical, spatial and intrapersonal (self-understanding, self-discipline, and self-starting) excellence.

Then entrepreneurial societies go a step further by educating to the hyphens.

This means using personalized and mentored learning in the greatest classics and works of mankind along with current original sources to establish skills and train experts in multi-intelligence categories.

Examples include many who used two or more intelligences to significantly impact societies, cultures, paradigms, governments, policies and worldviews:

  • Interpersonal-musicians like Mozart and John Lennon
  • Literary-artists such as Goya, Cecil B. DeMille, and M. Night Shyamalan
  • Interpersonal-literati like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and John Steinbeck
  • Spatial-artistry like gladiators, NASCAR, and the Louvre
  • Mathematical-artists like Michelangelo and Picasso
  • Literary-mathematicians like Newton, Einstein, and Hawking
  • Literary-intrapersonalists such as Tolstoy, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Goulding and Ayn Rand
  • Intrapersonal-mathematical thinkers like Montesquieu, Hume, Madison, Mises, Keynes, C.S. Lewis, and Buckminster Fuller

To make sense of this, consider a society where the youth become proficient in reading biographies of great leaders from Socrates to Washington and Andrew Carnegie to Ray Kroc and of effectively applying the lessons learned to their own lives.

Or where every young person knows both the formulas in calculus and also how to build and implement a business plan, including detailed financials, to turn “thin air” into great institutions of profit and non-profit value in society.

Skills

The lessons of such expertise naturally impact the prosperity and freedom of a society.

And such lessons come from depth in many of the intelligences instead of general education in only three and a specialty in just one.

Such widespread competency in reading, writing, persuading, leading, calculating, comparing, analyzing, thinking, creating, beautifying, composing, building, interacting, initiating, overcoming, enduring, changing, improving, motivating, self-starting, self-disciplining, self-guiding, teamwork, leading and serving are what the American founders idealized as quality education.

These are the necessary skills of successful entrepreneurship and also of societal freedom.

This level of education and expertise is developed by what Ken Wilber calls the Big Three of Buddhism: Buddha, Sangha and Dharma.

“Buddha” in this sense means combining one’s purpose or mission in life with developing oneself into a true and great servant of society.

The Greeks called this Fate and the American founders called it Providence.

By seeking to be guided by higher powers and higher purposes, a person becomes her best and as such greatly improves society through her efforts and contributions.

Buddha is credited with saying that “Our purpose in life is to find our purpose in life and then give our whole heart and soul to it.”

Sangha is one’s community, gathering, group or team. Working together with the right people, “we” do more than “I” ever could.

Good teams are diverse, individualistic, cooperative and united toward the same goals. They achieve most when they operate at peak levels.

Dharma is the truth, the true, the ideal. Dharma helps us know why we are here, what we are about, and therefore who we really are.

But Dharma is not about “I” or “We.” Rather it is about what we accomplish: the goal, the objective, the positive change we bring to the world through our best efforts and service.

In Christianity this is the Christian walk, the anointed purpose, the path.

Christianity’s equivalent of Sangha is the Church, and “Buddha” is the submission to Christ and His will.

Plato and secularists call these big three the good, the beautiful and the true, and psychology calls them the “I, We and It”—Buddha, Sangha and Dharma respectively.

In American politics these are citizen, the Constitution and freedom.

The lesson for education is that great learning is:

  1. Individualized
  2. Best achieved in interactive groups with mentors, peers, discussions, feedback and group projects
  3. Mission-driven

Again, the very skills and abilities created by this model are exactly those most needed in free society. Without them, entrepreneurial prosperity and political freedom decline.

Personality

Add personality types to the intelligences and skills, and our realization of the need for widespread entrepreneurial talent and experience intensifies.

Where the Greeks and moderns tend to break human personality into four dominant groups, symbolized by animals or colors or other models, the Old Testament emphasized twelve types and the New Testament adopted thirteen.

One of the most unique and profound systems of personality typing is the Enneagram.

The Enneagram was created by Muslims from the Sufi tradition, and is now popular in many multi-level and network marking circles.

Its nine types of people are distinct, deep and tend to resonate with nearly all readers. The nine types are essentially as follows:

  1. Reformer: principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic
  2. Helper: demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive
  3. Achiever: adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious
  4. Individualist: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental
  5. Investigator: perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated
  6. Loyalist: engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious
  7. Enthusiast: spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered
  8. Challenger: self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational
  9. Peacemaker: receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent

Of course, there is a lot more depth to this in the many volumes which describe it.

Interestingly, in traditional business the typical use of the Enneagram and other personality types like the Myers-Briggs is to help managers interact more effectively with their employees — and vice versa.

Teachers often use it to better understand and work with their students.

In entrepreneurial environments, however, the focus is quite different.

This can be understood in the following three steps:

  1. Understand your own top strengths so you can give them a lot more energy and greatly improve them.
  2. Identify those types on which you score at the mid levels, so you can develop them into strengths.
  3. Clarify where you are weak and team up with people who are extremely strong in these areas.

This flies directly in the face of much educational/career theory from the past half century, where the system has generally been satisfied with grade-level performance in a given subject, and focused special attention on the students’ weaknesses.

By contrast, teachers governed by entrepreneurial values in the classroom would have children spend much more time on their strengths than their weaknesses.

Those scoring high in math, for example, would take a lot more math than other students and in fact study math at the highest levels in special courses designed just for such students. The same would occur in all fields.

Teachers would also divide students learning to read, for example, not by levels but into teams where each team would include students from low, medium and high reading levels.

Corporate architecture would combine mail carriers, board members and everyone in between in adjacent offices and co-mingle everyone on all floors.

The Third-Turning value of efficiency would give way to the Fourth-Turning focus on growth as a community through individual excellence and synergistic cooperation.

This, by the way, is how nearly all entrepreneurial ventures and small businesses actually do things.

The consequences in society and governance are huge. Indeed, this is exactly the model of citizens and voters that America’s founders had in mind—all types of people mingled together, each equal as a citizen and before the law.

Freedom is the natural result.

And on the skills of applying such a model, small business leaders and entrepreneurs are years ahead of the rest of society.

The point is not, as most entrepreneurs will tell you, to turn things over to entrepreneurs or any other group of citizens. Such a plan would only create another style of class system.

The real solution is to have a lot more entrepreneurs in society. In the long term, this is achieved by giving America’s youth a true Leadership Education and naturally letting our society benefit as more entrepreneurs arise.

A quicker solution would be set in motion by simply de-regulating small businesses.

IQ vs. EQ

For a long time America used IQ as the measure of intelligence as well as a predictor of academic and career success.

IQ tests measured literary, mathematical and spatial intelligence, but little else. They basically ignored the other intelligences.

Daniel Goleman’s best-seller, Emotional Intelligence, showed how managers could become better leaders by also developing interpersonal, intrapersonal, and more artistic skills. He argued that EQ (emotional intelligence) is just as important as IQ.

Pop culture tends to summarize these two as right brain (EQ) and left brain (IQ).

In this view, left-brain experts, professionals and executives have significantly different skill sets than right-brain artists, creative types and motivators.

It is all about the intellect versus the emotions, in society and in each of our personal lives.

The IQ monopoly resulted in many business authors writing that being too intelligent is not good for business, since many with a very high IQ were hired by mid-IQ bosses.

EQ shed some light on the situation, showing that successful entrepreneurship and innovation tend to blossom where analytical and creative skills are balanced.

High IQ with significantly lower EQ, or vice versa, tend a person toward specialized employment. Where right and left brain are generally equal, be it high or middle or even relatively low, initiative, risk, tenacity and leadership often flourish.

In short, many jobs require certain levels of IQ or EQ, but successful entrepreneurs either naturally have a balance of both or must develop one.

The old view that IQ can’t be increased is being replaced as we see many people who clearly break old barriers and disprove the experts.

Entrepreneurial success usually requires deep understanding of and skills in many of the basic intelligences.

General education courses in three of them and specialization in only one simply doesn’t work in the challenging real world of entrepreneurial competition.

Nor, for that matter, is it adequate to maintain freedom.

Eco vs. Ego

For years American politics has been dominated by two parties, one emphasizing success and the other nurture.

This battle of Ego versus Eco still drives most national debates.

Where one party is driven toward wealth, fame and progress, the other prefers to promote caring, service and acceptance.

One is self-centered and the other is inclusive. One sees private life as the highest good and the other wants government to solve all problems in society.

One prioritizes national security above all else and the other idealizes social justice.

More Americans now consider themselves independents, rather than loyal to either major political party, in part because we have reached a point where the majority of the nation’s citizens consider both Ego and Eco to be vital.

This has been the norm for entrepreneurs for many years. Indeed, entrepreneurs who try to put one above the other seldom succeed for long.

Small and entrepreneurial business leaders learn that both caring and drive are necessary.

The same is true of citizens who want to remain free. Indeed, the most important entrepreneurial skills and lessons are those most needed to promote free society.

Freedom is best supported by excellence and compassion, self-improvement and service, building wealth and taking care of other people and the earth.

Freedom requires a balance of analysis and creativity, intellect and emotion, wisdom and intuition, reflection and action.

Free societies are intelligent societies, because the broad citizenry must understand and protect its freedoms or it will lose them.

But a society cannot remain free by following a few geniuses at the top — this always destroys liberty.

The most prosperous and free civilizations are those where the majority of people develop and share their best personal genius.

Everyone has genius inside, and it is the purpose of Leadership Education to reveal it and help people develop it.

Career is the place where genius is then shared to benefit and improve the world. Finally, it is the purpose of free society to allow all to fully achieve and share their genius.

Entrepreneurial activity naturally seeks these peaks and balances. This isn’t new; it was the reality during the American founding and has been ever since.

The future will be no different. We all need to learn and apply this truism: However small business goes, so goes the nation.

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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 : Arts &Education &Entrepreneurship &Leadership &Producers

How to Become a Producer

September 24th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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Producers are the most important citizens, as Thomas Jefferson put it.

Actually, the word he used was farmers—specifically, “tillers of the soil.” By producing food, farmers obviously had an important role in successful society.

But Jefferson meant more than this.

Because farmers lived close to the land, they were self-reliant with respect to their own survival and received an income from providing indispensable basic needs for others.

This made them more independent than people of other occupations.

If hard times came, they tightened their belts and lived off their farms. In contrast, during the same challenges, most city dwellers and even shop owners were more likely to turn to the government or upper classes for help.

The founding generation was sensitive to the level of dependency of the European populace.

The small but incredibly powerful upper class was the only group that could live off their assets and make it through hard times like war, economic depression, or pandemic.

Because of this, the upper class was independent while everyone else was dependent on the upper classes and government.

Since the first focus of human societies is to survive, the power to survive independently was seen as true independence. Indeed, the War of Independence had this deeper meaning to founding Americans: They were finally independent of the European upper class.

Dependents versus Independents

In our day, nearly all citizens are dependent on an employer or the government.

One way to rate one’s level of independence might be to measure how long you can survive, feed your family, and live in your home after your employer stops paying you anything.

Some people are two-year independents, while others are three-year independents or two-month independents, and so on.

It is not unlikely that most Americans are absolute dependents, living paycheck to paycheck or on government support.

The triple entendre here is interesting.

At a time where the growth of political independents is helping lessen the dangers of a two-party monopoly on American politics, there is a need for more people to become true economic independents (people who can survive indefinitely without a paycheck). As both of these grow, the level of American independence will increase.

Any level of economic independence is good, including everything from two months to twenty years of non-employer-dependent financial security.

But the future of freedom may well depend on those with permanent economic independence.

3 Types of Independents

There are three groups with long-term independence whose members are permanently free from dependence on a paycheck.

The first two are made up of people supported by trust funds or equivalent, covered financially for life by wealth earned or passed down to them.

Group one lives off these funds, often spending their lives in play and leisure.

The second group spends their lives dedicated to making a difference in society through service, career, investment, entrepreneurship, or whatever path they choose to use to improve themselves and the world.

The third group has no trust fund or equivalent wealth to rely upon, but has the skill set and worldview of entrepreneurial enterprise.

This group doesn’t start with full bank accounts, but rather with emotional accounts full of faith and determination, grit and initiative, and an undying belief in the principles of abundance, hard work, and enterprise.

Whatever happens, members of this third group have an almost unshakable belief that there is opportunity everywhere.

They believe in themselves, and they believe that if they put their minds and hands to work they can build value out of opportunity and create prosperity through their energy and effort.

Together, the second and third groups are society’s Producers.

They start, build, invest in and grow businesses and organizations that create a nation’s assets, advancements, and top achievements. They employ the workers of the world.

And when hard times come, they don’t ask government or employers to provide for them. Rather, they look around, assess the situation, see opportunities amidst the problems, and get to work building value for the future.

They do, however, ask government and the big established businesses to get out of the way, to allow them the freedom to turn their initiative and work into growing profits and success.

When government increases obstacles and regulations on small business, it directly attacks freedom and prosperity.

When this occurs, entrepreneurs naturally look for nations and markets that are friendly to business. As a result, nations with free enterprise systems attract more producers and are blessed with greater wealth and prosperity.

Non-Producer Attempts to Create Producers

Nations naturally benefit from a large producer class, but how are producers created? The common answers fall short.

The liberal view is that those with credentials and advanced education—the experts—must set up a system that allows enterprise but also fairly distributes the rewards of economic success.

The conservative view is to allow big investors to get huge rewards and therefore be willing to take big risks.

The blue-collar populist approach is to make sure management treats labor fairly and humanely.

The bureaucratic view is that rules make the society and economy work.

While each of these has a place, within limits, none of them really get to the heart of what makes producers tick.

The problem is that these views are nearly always promoted and managed by employees with an employee background and an employee mentality.

Non-producers grudgingly admit the great need for more producers, and then set out to build conveyor belts which will produce more producers.

This only works insofar as a born entrepreneur sometimes breaks out of the conveyor belt and overcomes the obstacles to his or her success.

David Brooks has referred to Washington’s party politics as the PhD’s (liberals) versus the MBA’s (conservatives).

Both give lip service to small business; but their modus operandi belies a different governing worldview.

The PhD’s want government to run the economy and provide jobs, and to be the Great State Entrepreneur so that regular citizens don’t need to take risks.

The MBA’s want to appeal to big investment, and are loathe to consider small business significant or meaningful.

The average citizen-employee wants managers to treat employees better.

This is all employee thinking.

Government programs will not create many entrepreneurs, nor will most corporate ventures, bureaucratic agencies, or labor unions.

And most MBA programs emphasize employee training and measure their effectiveness by citing job placement statistics.

Entrepreneurs are the natural competitors to all these.

The Answer

How do we create more producers?

The answer, as frustrating as it is to the experts, is this: We don’t.

That is, institutionalized and standardized programs do not of themselves yield producers, except by happenstance (as noted above).

The very act of systemizing the training of initiative and innovation tends to shut down initiative and innovation.

What can be done, what actually works, is to help young people realize the importance of producers in society and reward their inclinations toward being anomalies, outliers, and disruptive innovators.

The first one is easier said than done; the second one is nearly impossible for most parents and teachers to either conceive of or accomplish.

To support the development of the entrepreneurial spirit in the rising generation, youth need to be:

  1. Exposed to those who highly value entrepreneurialism
  2. Given opportunities to earn and receive personalized mentoring from successful producers.

In short, as we elevate the honor and accessibility of being producers, we will tend to increase the number of them.

While the example may have its limitations, it is interesting to study the most successful network marketing, multi-level and other like organizations that in recent times have emphasized entrepreneurship among “regular” people.

For instance, Amway and its affiliates created more millionaires than most of the top 100 corporations combined, with each millionaire being an independent entrepreneur.

In such organizations, interested people are introduced to many who highly value entrepreneurial producers, and new affiliates work directly with a producer mentor.

Hundreds of non-traditional companies have accomplished similar results. Ironically, one criticism of such organizations by mainstream (employee) experts is that they are “pyramid schemes.”

From another perspective, the true pyramid companies are those where most of the work hours are done by lesser-paid employees while the highest salaries and bonuses go to the executives at the top.

Hands-on business schools like Acton MBA have similarly helped educate entrepreneurs by a combination of inspiring people to be producers and also providing producer mentors.

And the many bestselling books promoting this same model, from the “One Minute” series to the writings of Steve Farber and many others, show that this system is appealing to many people.

Highly successful coaching services have followed this pattern as well, including such notable businesses as those established by John Assaraf, Leslie Householder, Dennis Deaton and many of those mentioned in The Secret.

Nearly the entire self-help industry is built on this model: Promote the honor and value of successful entrepreneurialism and help would-be producers get direct mentoring from successful producers.

Thinkers like Andrew Carnegie and writers like Dale Carnegie outlined this model a long time ago.

The mainstream PhD/MBA ambivalence toward the “Success” and “Self-Help” community stems from their reliance on and loyalty to the doctrine of employeeship.

Harvard Business School once emphasized that the major changes in the world tend to come from what they called “disruptive innovators.”

These anomalous individuals produce surprising novelties from out-of-the-mainstream sources and dramatically change society, business, and other facets of life.

Disruptive innovators are disruptive precisely because they are totally unexpected by the conventional majority.

The government and big corporations spend a lot of resources trying to predict the future.

And invariably entrepreneurial producers come along every few years and change everything. Reams of articles and books are written trying to predict where the next such innovations will come from and prescribing how to help train future innovators.

But the network marketing companies and other non-traditional entities drastically out-produce government and big corporate attempts to build entrepreneurs.

3 Steps

But all of this commentary falls short of the real point. Only the individual can truly become an entrepreneur.

If there is to be a much-needed revolution that brings many more entrepreneurs to society, individuals, and families must take action and lead out.

If what we want is more independence, then we must have more independents—more producers.

If you want society to be leavened by a greater proportion of individuals with producer mojo, then you need to consider whether you should be a producer yourself, and how to become one.

To be a producer, it is up to you to make it happen.

Here are three suggestions:

1. Study successful producers.

The most important part of this is to see the power of focus, integrity, and faith in abundance that producers exemplify.

Where the media often tries to paint producers as greedy and immoral, the truth is usually very different.

Pay special attention to what great producers believe, and learn to think like them.

The habit of truly believing in abundance and principles makes one a true independent, permanently free of dependence on others and able to build, create and lead.

2. Study what the great producers study.

The material most studied by the greatest producers and leaders has been the great classics.

Producers are voracious readers, going far beyond any prescribed lists. Leaders are readers.

Read the greatest works of mankind and everything else you can get your hands on. Keep reading, studying and learning throughout your life.

3. Find and work with mentors who are successful producers.

The unwritten lessons gained from this kind of experience are invaluable, real and profound.

Coming face-to-face with greatness by working with successful producers is essential to becoming a successful producer yourself.

Our society desperately needs more producers.

We need more people who think like entrepreneurs and more people who take initiative and fulfill the needs of society without waiting for government or the people of wealth and privilege to “fix it for us.”

The future of freedom is directly and literally tied to the future of producers in our society.

Click Here to Download a Printable Version of This Article

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

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 : Culture &Economics &Education &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Mini-Factories &Producers

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