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Entrepreneurship

Why We Need a Renaissance

October 22nd, 2010 // 4:00 am @

The problem with revolutions is that they throw out the good with the bad.

Promoters of revolution gather support by peddling hate of the current system and those who lead and benefit from it, so when they get around to making changes they have actually discredited much of what is good in society.

Indeed, this is why some scholars have argued that the American Founding was not truly a revolution like those in France and later Russia.

Reforms, many thinkers rightly suggest, are gentler than revolution and can still result in positive improvements.

Unfortunately, reform thrives by re-empowering entrenched institutions, systems and even groups that are often more than just a little invested in doing things without change.

Reform tinkers with the edges while leaving the majority of the failing system intact.

Making reforms can certainly bring needed improvements to an organization or society, and sometimes little changes are enough.

The rule of thumb is to avoid revolution unless those things you hold most dear are under attack and clearly threatened, and to rely on reform when the issues and consequences aren’t quite so drastic.

Revolution throws out the good and bad of the past and replaces it with an all new system, while reform leaves the system mostly unchanged but alters certain procedures, institutions or personnel.

There is another option which approaches things very differently, and which can bring major change without the pain of revolution.

This option is Renaissance.

Renaissance is unlike revolution and reform in many ways, but can often deliver the positive results of both.

Renaissance operates from a very different premise than the other two, because it focuses on drastically changing people instead of things.

It changes people from the inside, and then leaves it to them to alter their lives, choices and actions in ways that reform the past and revolutionize and redirect the future.

When societies emphasize progress through revolution or reform, they focus on institutions, laws, policies, funding, credentials, resources, and other manifestations of the physical world.

In contrast, renaissance emphasizes the soul.

When people change their ideas, feelings, goals, dreams, loves, beliefs, passions, ideals, objectives, wishes, relationships and other intangibles, the future is forever impacted.

While these may seem ethereal to some, their impact on history is certainly concrete and momentous.

Two Models

In times of consistent economic growth, plentiful jobs and easy capital, the characteristics of success are often consistency, schooling, training, expertise, steadiness, reliability, obedience, compliance and longevity.

Schools in such environments teach memorization, fitting in, impressing superiors, and excelling within the guidelines, and jobs tend to reward these things.

But when the economy is struggling, jobs are difficult to get and keep, employers are laying off and reducing costs, and/or capital is scarce and minimizing risk, a different set of values dominate.

Traits like capability, skill, ability, initiative, resiliency, optimism, inventiveness, ingenuity, ability to inspire others, frugality, resourcefulness, tenacity and especially enterprise are most valued by the economy.

Schools and parents in such times need to help students increase creativity, imagination, originality, individuality, mental agility, emotional resolve, innovation, risk and entrepreneurialism.

We have been in a general growth period for nearly fifty years, and we are now in a struggling economic era, so the values are in transition from the first list to the second.

Parents and grandparents are still likely to dispense advice from the old economy, emphasizing things like test-taking, credentials and impressing superiors over the new economic realities such as initiative, individuality, originality and entrepreneurialism.

The government is stuck in the same rut, trying and failing to fix major societal challenges with trivial, albeit expensive, reforms.

Where they do attempt to make huge changes, such as in health care and financial reform, their symbolic and revolutionary-style agendas are creating more anger, frustration and deficits than actual solutions.

Tea Party responses further fuel the revolutionary rhetoric in the media and on Capitol Hill–but things remain mostly unchanged.

This lingering “business as usual” in Washington is alarming in a society with significant problems and major challenges in many fields of life.

From the obvious economic problems to unending international quagmires in Afghanistan (now the longest war in American history), Iraq and a number of other places, to a decaying infrastructure of roads and bridges, rising health care costs (unsolved and further complicated by the new health care law), decreasingly effective schools, high unemployment, unsolved levels of crime, and so on, we need real leadership and solutions that actually remedy our national problems.

Revolution is not the answer.

There is much that is good in America, and we want to surgically solve our problems without undoing the many positive things we have built into our society.

But the reform mentality isn’t working either, and the problems have been piling up for over a decade.

We need to drastically improve society, deliver solutions to overcome our most pressing problems, and simultaneously maintain the things which are already working.

Despite the attachment of both political parties and nearly all of our major public and private institutions to reform thinking, we need something much more effective.

We need change from within, a drastic alteration of attitudes and goals and thinking across our nation.

We need people to imagine a better future, to really believe in the reality of what we can do, and to take action.

We don’t need more stirring speeches from the President or any other leader so much as we need millions of individual Americans to get work–alone and in small groups–on solving our problems.

In short, we need a renaissance. And we need it soon.

The Power to Change

Fortunately, the greatest power in all of this may simply be individuals taking action and parents discussing the new values (initiative, ingenuity, tenacity, entrepreneurialism, and so forth) with their children and youth.

In fact, the American spirit of resourcefulness, optimism and enterprise is alive and well. More of us just need to take the leap.

The difficulty, of course, is that the old values were against risk.

In the old economy, the one that dominated from 1945 to 2008, risk was scary and often unrewarding.

A lot of people made small to large fortunes in entrepreneurial ventures, small businesses, network and multilevel marketing, and other non-traditional enterprises, but a lot more lost money in such attempts and ended up dependent on jobs like nearly everyone else.

The lesson for many people was just to get a decent education, a regular job, and a secure benefits package.

Like in Defoe’s classic Robinson Crusoe, many parents shared the advice not to aim too high or too low, but just to be content with “the middle station” in life.

A decent house, two cars, cable television, a good grill and a family membership at the local rec center — these were the dreams of two generations of Americans.

Robert Kiyosaki develops this theme in various interesting dialogues in the best-selling Rich Dad, Poor Dad (affiliate link).

But in the new economy, such a course is likely to create permanent economic struggles in your life. In this economic environment, without risk few people get ahead.

Entrepreneurial thinking, originality and initiative are the new credentials.

Tenacity, ingenuity and enterprise are the new job security.

This is true even among much of the traditionally employed population. The stakes are higher now and success is more difficult across the board, and thinkers, leaders and innovators are needed.

Early Adapters

But how to get the population on board with the new values? Most of us were raised, educated and lived our careers in the old economy, and shifting to the new realities is proving troublesome.

If the Great Recession is just a blip in history and the days of easy credit and consistent growth return for a decade or more, people will justify this refusal to transition their thinking.

But if, as all indications and evidence seem to suggest, the times of high unemployment, a difficult growth environment and a sputtering economy are here to stay for a while, we are kidding ourselves and hurting our futures by refusing to adapt.

No policy, institutional plan or governmental debate is likely to shift the national mentality from employee thinking to entrepreneurial values.

A renaissance is needed. Our vision must change, and our dreams must imagine the great opportunities available in the new realities of the future economy.

We must, as a people, engage a massive migration toward the new economy.

We can lead the economies of the world, but we have to embrace the new reality and get to work. Until a mental renaissance occurs, we are stuck in a rut of old thinking.

Of course, even if the majority refuses to move forward in this new world, each of us can make these changes and get started on our own journey.

In fact, those who get started first are more likely to benefit and profit than the latecomers. This is true in any nearly any industry and endeavor. The early bird gets the worm.

And, as the early adapters get to work, it is empowering to those who are waiting for validation or credibility to justify the risk so they can get on board as well.

There are already a few who are pioneering and building in the new economy. For example, the “downshifter” trend took successful people from the coasts to small towns to build an entrepreneurial new economy starting in the late nineties.

Likewise, homeschooling and the organic foods movements addressed problems in education and health care using new economy thinking long before the 2008 economic meltdown.

Both continue to grow as the rest of the economy unsuccessfully grasps for solutions. Indeed, few whole foodists were (or are) too concerned about health care reforms–because they are, simply, healthy.

Participatory religion continues to grow, as the old-line religions dependent on Priests and Professionals watch their numbers dwindle.

Public schools and teacher unions are increasingly concerned with the growth of charter and other non-traditional educational offerings, and the rise of for-profit career colleges has the old educational bureaucracy hiring lobbyists and badmouthing these “upstart” competitors.

With just one of these schools, The University of Phoenix, quickly becoming the largest university in the world, the old system sees its monopoly fading.

There is a shortage of new economy thinking because the whole nation needs to make the shift, but there are numerous examples of leaders and groups making the transition.

Indeed, literally thousands of online “tribes” are slowly moving (and many are going more quickly) in the right direction.

A few guidelines for transition to the new economy and values include:

  • Start young, or if you are older, help the young get started
  • Don’t seek to impress the old elite, but rather go after real results
  • Get past the old value of not taking risks
  • Be experimental, not limited by old systems, methods or models
  • Don’t be limited by old obstacles like office space or business cards
  • Don’t get stuck on hierarchies, titles and power struggles
  • Think virtual, tribal and international
  • Be inclusive, open and interconnected
  • Be mindful of the way information grows

Conclusion

In the Information Age, revolution would cause as many problems as it might possibly fix, and reform has proven too feeble to really bring necessary change.

We need a massive internal renaissance of the great explorer, frontier, pioneering, and entrepreneuring values which took Pilgrims to the Mayflower, 49’rs to the plains, and led generations of Americans to build the businesses, families, schools, churches, and communities that made our nation great.

We need to accept that we live in a new economy and embrace the new values which bring success in our new environment.

Chief among these are initiative, cheerfulness, persistence, and an enterprising mentality. We need to engage the powerful flow of information in this age, and help it spread and lift the plight of peoples worldwide.

Each of us has a vital role helping the future emerge, and it is time to take the leap and get to work on those things we have always felt we should do.

Or, if we are already hard at work doing our part, it would be well to smile, laugh more often, and give our full attention to watching a sunset or contemplating a tide as it comes in.

It is time for a renaissance, and if the whole nation doesn’t lead out, each of us can embrace it anyway.

Above all, it’s time to take a deep breath, exhale any doubts, and sit down with our youth and share our vision of the new world and the renaissance ahead.

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

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 : Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &History &Information Age &Leadership

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

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

Click Here to Download a Printable Version of This Article

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

Freedom Leadership: America’s Opportunity

October 15th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Futurist John Naisbitt wrote in Mindset that success in the 21st Century will go to the opportunity leaders, not the problem solvers.

America hasn’t yet figured this out. The focus of our leaders — political, corporate, media — seems mostly on problems.

As Fareed Zakaria argues, the current debate in the United States is totally out of touch with the global reality.

The news covers Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea, as have weekly talk shows. Americans are “obsessed with issues like terrorism, immigration, homeland security, and economic panics.”

But these all represent a preoccupation with the global losers of the past twenty years. Zakaria argues that the “real challenges that the country faces come from the winners, not the losers, of the new world.” (See his excellent book, The Post-American World.)

Rising — & Falling — Stars

How much are Americans thinking of the real challenges ahead, from China, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, India and Russia?

These emerging powers are on the rise economically and politically, yet most Americans are alarmingly unaware. The economic growth of these nations is increasing their clout and “producing political confidence and national pride.”

The American people and the U.S. government are unprepared to deal with these new powers and their demands, choices and might. The central role of the United States in the world is about to drastically shrink, right when Washington sees America as the world’s last super power.

American political, economic and psychological letdown is inevitable.

Many of the rising powers have sectors with free economics, less regulation, lower taxes and more opportunity than the U.S. Entrepreneurs are increasingly courted and rewarded in these nations, while they are increasingly regulated and put down in the U.S. and Western Europe.

America’s Critical Choice

The United States has a great choice ahead: increase taxes to protect jobs and benefits or free up the economy in order to really compete in the decades ahead. The first is socialism, the second is free enterprise.

But here is the great challenge: the first is seen as “fixing the economy” and the second as scary, and probably depressionary.

A scarcity mentality is the cause of socialism; abundance is the foundation of free enterprise. Clearly, America today is caught in the grip of scarcity.

Welcome to our current irony. The story most Americans know is of a powerful but fearful great nation that leads the world against dark and sinister forces of jihadism and dictatorship.

What is left out of the story are the two dozen nations who are growing, prospering, and not affiliated with either side.

Washington will be forced to rethink its domestic and global strategy; forced not by its enemies but by its competitors. They are refusing to allow its meddling, and they are starting to attract those who are seeking free markets, opportunity and freedom.

On top of all this, at the same time that Americans are losing faith in their government, the new powers are experiencing a surge of nationalism; they want to be seen as strong and to spread their ways and power like the U.S. has for so long.

As the U.S. mires itself in the worst problems around the world, the new powers are attracting capital, technology and leadership by offering opportunity and freedom.

The Simple Solution

Of course, the U.S. can solve this all in one simple way — become the most inviting nation on earth. Get rid of massive regulation and simply re-establish freedom, free enterprise, free markets, true opportunity.

To do this, it will have to stop interfering in world conflicts and trying to be more socialist than Russia or Sweden.

If it fails in either change, if it doesn’t deregulate and stop policing the world, it will decline and collapse in power as did Rome, Spain, France and Britain — all of whom followed the same sick path to failure. China, Russia and India will be the new super powers.

But America’s biggest problem is that it has lost its purpose. It became the world’s leader by promoting freedom, and it lost its purpose when its major goal became power.

The freedom purpose had enlivened its domestic and international actions, and this made it great. Power as purpose — both at home and abroad — turned Washington into a place hated around the world and by its own citizens.

The United States is powerful in many ways but not in one critical way — legitimacy. Much of the world sees the U.S. as powerful, yes, but only powerful. Not good, or great, or standing for something.

What Do We Stand For?

For America to maintain a leadership role in the decades ahead, it must stand for something.

Thomas Friedman thinks it should stand for global Green. But I’m convinced that freedom is its only path to success. Without a renewed commitment to freedom, free government, deregulation, free enterprise, America doesn’t deserve to lead the world.

America must stop policing the world, and start standing for its greatest export: freedom. Unless this happens, it won’t solve its own problems or be able to help anyone else.

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

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 : Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Foreign Affairs &Government &Leadership &Liberty &Politics

The New Global Aristocratic Class & the Decline of Free Enterprise

October 14th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

While regulation increases and economic freedom decreases in America, other nations are going the opposite direction.

In order to remain prosperous and strong, America must revive the principles of free enterprise that made her great.

Three New Hotspots

In a two-day span, the New York Times ran two articles — “The Tel Aviv Cluster” and “Is China the Next Enron?” — on the strengths and weaknesses of China and Israel.

Written by Thomas Friedman and David Brooks, respectively, the articles arrived at surprisingly similar conclusions.

First, at the time of the articles, both nations were economic hotspots, primarily because of the high numbers of entrepreneurs within each.

Where America has become a capitol of employeeship, in Israel and China the American Dream of “making it” through business initiative and entrepreneurial enterprise is alive and well.

India could certainly be included in this.

Second, both are zones of technological growth. Of course, this stems from entrepreneurial innovation.

Where the U.S. trains most of the world’s attorneys, Chinese, Israeli and Indian students dominate many engineering and technology enrollments in many of the world’s leading schools.

Entrepreneurship, Technology & Progress

China has low interest rates, easy credit for private and business capital, and lots of investment money flowing.

Israel, as Brooks puts it,

“…has weathered the global recession reasonably well. The government did not have to bail out its banks or set off an explosion in short-term spending. Instead, it used the crisis to solidify the economy’s long-term future by investing in research and development and infrastructure, raising some consumption taxes, promising to cut other taxes in the medium to long term.”

Friedman wrote that China has:

“…a mountain of savings…China also now has 400 million Internet users [in context, the entire population of the U.S. is just over 300 million people], and 200 million of them have broadband…Now take all this infrastructure and mix it together with 27 million students in technical colleges and universities⎯the most in the world…Equally important, more and more Chinese students educated abroad are returning home to work and start new businesses.”

Brooks wrote that:

“Tel Aviv has become one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. Israel has more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation on earth, by far. It leads the world in civilian research-and-development spending per capita. It ranks second behind the U.S. in the number of companies listed in the Nasdaq. Israel, with seven million people, attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined.”

Challenges Coming

Third, both China and Israel appear to be on the verge of major shifts.

The Chinese challenge ahead is to bring its political institutions up to speed with the rapid spread of economic liberties.

The Soviet Union collapsed because it tried to reform by expanding political liberty while maintaining a command economy.

Traditional Chinese communism also rejected freedom at all levels, and the attempt now is to offer economic freedom while keeping a totalitarian government.

The huge amount of savings, including “$2 trillion in foreign currency revenues” available to the Chinese government gives it a lot of power into the future.

What kind of volatility is ahead for a nation with an authoritarian and oppressive government which also has the world’s largest entrepreneurial class?

As for Israel, the challenge is that increased economic and technological success further widens the gap between Israel and its already estranged neighbors. This is a huge destabilizing factor.

As Brooks says, “Israel is an ‘astonishing success story, but also a highly mobile one.’” He suggests that if the region destabilizes, the entrepreneurial class already has connections and homes in Palo Alto, for example.

American Decline

Perhaps the most telling message of these articles is the contrast with the U.S.

We’re cutting technology programs and increasing the regulatory, tax and red-tape obstacles for entrepreneurs.

Positive gains in U.S. social justice since 1964 have unfortunately and unnecessarily coincided with the dismantling of American incentives for entrepreneurial free enterprise.

Current levels of U.S. business regulations don’t allow many American entrepreneurs to compete with their international counterparts.

Trends in China, India and Israel provide more evidence for one of the most important developments in our world: The rise of a new global aristocratic class.

Interestingly, Friedman and Brooks have both written books about the new elite (see The Lexus & the Olive Tree, On Paradise Drive, Bobos in Paradise, and others).

For example, Friedman introduced the concept of the “Electronic Herd,” a new, highly mobile elite class that manages the world’s capital from their laptops and lives in places like Mediterranean beach towns on the Spanish or French Riviera, Ashland (Oregon), Austin (Texas), the Bahamas, Buenos Aires, London and so on.

This group parties in Manhattan and Switzerland, reads the great classics of humanity and today’s latest financials, and has little connection with or allegiance to any government.

Rediscovering The American Dream

America became known around the world for two great ideals: 1) freedom, and 2) a classless society where anybody could become whatever they were willing to earn and achieve.

Together, we often called these ideals “The American Dream.”

As the U.S. regulated away our free enterprise strategic advantage — especially since 1989 — its cities become more and more like the class-based European models that many American cultural elites idealize.

Today, America’s “aristocrats” are likely to be less loyal to the United States than to their corporate connections, and Americans who consider themselves patriots are likely to be dependent on job wages and living paycheck to paycheck.

Canada and various other nations are in the same situation.

The irony here is thick.

Those who care about freedom (many of whom are Independents) may have more to learn from examples like Israel, China and India than from contemporary Washington D.C. and its increasingly Europeanized institutions, dreams and objectives.

The Effectiveness of Liberty

Just like during the American founding era, freedom in our day will flourish again in any place emphasizing entrepreneurship, free enterprise initiative and major deregulation of small business and class-oriented structures.

While many nations can learn from America’s current example of religious and racial freedoms and freedom of the press, the U.S. needs a healthy renaissance of economic and political freedom.

Until our leaders, institutions and laws once again lead the world in allowing and incentivizing entrepreneurial initiative, our freedoms and prosperity will decrease.

It is time for America to import its most valuable resource: A widespread belief in free enterprise.

The world needs less of a growing elite class and more nations where freedom is adopted and applied.

Learn More:

To learn more about the current state of geo-politics and economics, and how to revive freedom, read The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom and listen to The Four Lost American Ideals by Oliver DeMille.

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

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 &Entrepreneurship &Foreign Affairs &Liberty &Technology

The 8 Facets of Freedom

September 29th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

A new tribe is needed.

Actually, its constituents have been around for a long time. But they have functioned as individuals, sometimes as families, and more rarely as small groups of people.

But as a tribe or nation, it has never gained traction or achieved critical mass.

Such a tribe believes in freedom, real freedom, for all people in an ordered society that protects liberty for everyone.

This ideal has been proposed by many, and fully achieved by no nation in history. The American founders promoted it—but even they fell short.

Perhaps an isolated tribe or two have accomplished it; but such events are recorded as scripture, myth or legend rather than meticulously documented history.

For the rest, it remains an illusive utopian dream.

Three of the biggest challenges of our time—the need for a revolution of entrepreneurship, the need for more independent-thinking citizens, and the need for more leadership in the emerging e-tribes and other new-style tribal groups of the world—all unite in their call for the growth of a new tribe dedicated to freedom.

False Two’s

One of the major reasons the tribe of freedom has seldom achieved power in the world is that human beings naturally tend to break into competing groups—but without dividing on the true lines of difference.

Madison outlined the benefits of this tendency in Federalist 10, and there are many positives of factionalism that have contributed to American freedom.

But there is also a major downside.

Tocqueville taught in Democracy in America that every nation divides itself into two major parties, each competing with the other for ascendency.

He called these the party of aristocracy and the party of democracy—one seeking to divide the people according to class, and the other attempting to spread equality.

In America these became the party of agriculture versus industry, then North versus South, later the city versus the country, and most recently Democrats versus Republicans.

But dividing the nation into red and blue states (or liberal coasts versus conservative flyover states) misses the real division among us.

Ancient divisions between aristocrats and peasants, as well as medieval conflicts between feudal lords and neighboring states, made the same mistake.

When war arose in history, re-alignment into Hawks and Doves also missed the point. So did historical conflicts over the color of roses and violent arguments between religions.

Our historical and modern divisions are not the real divisions, and this means that the battles go on for all of history without conclusion or solution.

To end the conflicts, to fix the unending battling of sides, we need to clearly understand the two sides as they really are—the real parties.

The Real Divide

Unlike elementary or high school culture, and unlike college, career and even adult culture, the real divide takes us all the way back to kindergarten.

Indeed it is one of those key lessons that we all should have learned in early childhood. In some ways (as humorously recounted by author Robert Fulghum), the lessons of kindergarten are the most important of all.

The divide of all humankind can be understood in the most basic terms: Some people spend their lives angry and afraid, while others live in the attitudes of hopeful and helpful.

These are the basis of the real world schism.

Angry and Afraid

The Scarcity Party sees a world of battling, competition, scarcity, winning or losing, and always trying to get ahead. It is the party of predators and victims.

Its members see others as either potential mates or potential enemies. They quickly notice differences between people, and they seek to get themselves and those in their group (family, race, religion, faction, nation, etc.) ahead of everyone else.

They want others to lose more, and for their own to win more.

In their anger and fear, they avoid pain, push for whatever they think will benefit them, and are willing to step on others to get what they want.

The Angry & Afraid Scarcity Party (A²) has a long and sad history of causing, escalating and reliving most of the problems in world history.

Hopeful and Helpful

In contrast, the Helpful & Helpful members of the Abundance Party (H²) spend their lives trying to help people, improve themselves, and seek better lives and a better world.

Because they are not afraid, it is fine with them if others don’t support them or do something different. They are secure.

For the Abundance Party, life is not about themselves. Yes, it is about becoming better; but even this goal is a merely a means to helping the world improve.

If they were angry, they would expect everyone else to join them in fixing the world, and even try to use the force of government to require charity.

But they are content to do their own work of improving the world and helping others, inspiring and urging them to be and do their best through exemplary leadership, rather than expend angry energy trying to force others to change.

Pretty much every nation, organization, philosophy, political viewpoint, religion, community, company and family has both A²s and also H²s.

The H² Partiers do nearly all of the good in these groups, while the A²s cause nearly all the problems.

If the H²s from all groups would work together, the mischief of the A²s would soon be mitigated.

But as it is, the H²s constantly find themselves in superficially adversarial positions from each other (due to their institutional affiliations) even though such conflict is not their purpose or their nature.

Party Folly

Ironically, if you have strong Democratic ties it is tempting to call Democrats the Hopeful & Helpful and label Republicans the Angry & Afraid; those with loyal Republican connections assign the opposite labels.

But neither type of labeling is truly accurate. There are a lot of H²s and A²s in both major political parties.

The H²s and the A²s make up all the members of the Democrats, Republicans, independents, socialists, environmentalists, right-wingers, radical leftists and every other political group.

If you know what to look for, they are pretty easy to recognize. The A²s include those who are any of the following: Bush-haters, Obama-loathers, racists, bigoted about religious or secular beliefs, promoters of violence in modern America, etc.

Republicans like to point out the Angry & Afraid people in the Democratic Party and act as if they speak for the whole party, and the Democrats do the same thing when attacking Republicans.

A Self-Defeating Hybrid

An interesting hybrid also exists, which is likewise problematic. Historically, too many Democrats have combined Afraid and Helpful, while too often Republicans have been Angry and Hopeful.

Unfortunately, the internal conflict and the philosophical and operational inconsistencies of these amalgams basically cancel out the good they could do to truly promote freedom and make a difference for good.

The world needs more hopeful and helpful people, and the future of our freedom and prosperity depends on it.

The strong emotions of anger and fear too frequently block the path to progress.

However, before we can fully understand the differences between these two major Parties of the A²s and the H²s, and the application of this construct, we need to understand the eight meanings of freedom.

There are six great basic traditions of freedom, each enjoying differing levels of support from various political and social groups. These include the following:

  1. Political freedom
  2. Economic freedom
  3. Religious freedom
  4. Individual freedoms (often called privacy)
  5. Freedom of the press
  6. Academic freedom (sometimes called freedom of thought)

The seventh and eighth freedoms are actually forms of protection.

A seventh freedom, national security, consists of using power to defend these other freedoms from aggressors and attackers.

And social justice, an eighth freedom, is the process of ensuring that these other freedoms are truly available to all people—not just to a limited few from a certain class, race, or other group.

A few leftist radicals use “social justice” to mean the extreme redistribution of wealth from rich to poor in socialistic and even communistically controlling ways; just as fringe right wingers at times promote almost-fascist government powers in the name of “national security.”

However, the more reasonable and normal definition of social justice (and national security) is essential to freedom: to take constitutional freedoms to all.

True liberty requires all eight types of freedom. Anything less falls short (although any measure of freedom is certainly better than none).

Indeed, a society which increases one of these freedoms is nearly always headed in the right direction. And, in fact, each freedom tends to promote the adoption of the other seven.

For example, increased academic freedom or freedom of the press naturally encourages the spread of political and economic freedoms—and vice versa. Freedom promotes freedom, just as force encourages the increase of force.

Unfortunately, the historical reality is that the two major American political ideologies have tended to emphasize the following division:

Conservative

Liberal

Political Freedoms Individual Freedoms (Privacy)
Economic Freedoms Freedom of the Press
Religious Freedoms Academic Freedoms
National Security Social Justice

Fighting each other over which column is most important is misguided and dangerous. It has seldom brought anything but pain to our nation and its citizens.

This becomes even clearer when we consider the focus of the Scarcity Party from both the conservative and liberal camps: “Stop the extremists on the other side from taking away our freedoms in the name of their petty and radical pet projects.”

Such a view is highly inaccurate, and comes from fear, anger and a deep lack of trust.

While it is true that the Angry & Afraid types within the other Party will continue to cause negatives, it is more important to notice that the Helpful & Hopeful folks on the other side are truly trying to make the world better.

Whatever you may think about the “other” party, an important segment of both Republicans and Democrats are actually H².

Many independents and entrepreneurs are naturally inclined to the H² perspective.

As more people think about politics in a non-partisan and increasingly independent way, and as more people become entrepreneurs and develop leadership skills like greatly increased initiative and tenacity and so forth, the H² viewpoint will continue to spread.

Unfortunately, in politics, Republicans and Democrats often vehemently promote the four freedoms they value most and simultaneously discount or attack the other four.

Other parties and many independents make the same mistake. For example, some conservatives frequently denigrate the freedoms of privacy or the press in their attempts to promote religion, while some liberals too often trample economic or political freedoms in their zeal to increase social justice.

Likewise, conservatives sometimes deny social justice when political and economic freedoms are not really at stake, just like liberals at times refuse to allow religious freedom or incentivize the power of the private sector out of fear that social justice must be an exclusively government project.

Both sides engage battles for their pet types of freedom, and then don’t turn off the fight even when the other side suggests something truly positive.

All of this is the natural result of the Angry & Afraid worldview.

In reality, the Hopeful & Helpful people in both the Democratic and Republican Parties, as well as the H² independents and members of minor parties, really do care about all eight freedoms.

Some have been inclined to focus on certain freedoms above others, either by their upbringing, education or party affiliations, but those with an H² outlook are friends of all eight freedoms.

When we start to comprehend this more accurate view of the world, a new understanding of the real division emerges:

Scarcity Party

Abundance Party

political freedoms for me and mine political freedoms for all, everywhere
economic freedoms for me and mine economic freedoms for all, everywhere
religious freedoms for me and mine religious freedoms for all, everywhere
individual freedoms for me and mine individual freedoms for all, everywhere
freedom to say what I want freedoms of expression & the press
freedom to think what I want academic freedom for all, celebration of many views
national security national security for all nations
victory for me and mine social justice for all peoples

This chart is remarkably different than the one we saw earlier, and it illuminates the major difference between the fundamental values and attitudes of the two real parties—the A² and the H².

Their views of the past, current issues, and visions for the future could hardly be more divergent.

Both groups of course include pessimistic and also idealist people, and there are various different schools of thought in both.

But the most significant factor separating these two great Parties of humanity is their worldview.

The Hopeful & Helpfuls value their own ability to contribute to the world, while the Angry & Afraids see themselves as victims of a powerful “they” which is to be opposed, feared and hated.

The H2s see that all six of the basic freedoms are vital, that social justice spreads these six freedoms, and that national security protects and maintains them.

Together, all eight freedoms are essential for a healthy, free and prosperous society.

Our nation and world desperately needs a Party of Freedom.

Such a party would not be an official political party, since its goal would be to unite and build rather than to win or govern.

It would be made up of everyone who believes in all eight facets of freedom, and that we can work together to promote them, increase and spread them, and keep them protected and safe in a dangerous world.

It would be full of people who approach the world in an attitude of hope and help.

The idea of a freedom party is made realistic by the technology of the day, which allows people from all places and walks of life to connect and cooperate.

Such a party would have a higher-than-usual makeup of entrepreneurs, creeds and backgrounds.

The one thing they would share in common is a belief in the essential value of all eight meanings of freedom.

Certainly such a tribe would have its share of debates, factions, and disagreements, all of which are healthy to freedom.

The guiding value would be that any proposal, policy or plan they supported would be good for freedom overall—not just good for one type of freedom at the cost of another.

We need a freedom party in our day, an unofficial tribe of people working together on the shared vision of more freedom for all people in each nation of the world.

Of course, given the reality of our modern world, such a party does not need to be a single, organized entity with bylaws and officers.

In fact, freedom will benefit most if a host of people simply promote the eight types of freedom in the organizations and groups they already support.

For freedom to truly increase and flourish, it needs to become more of a value to all of us. We need the following:

  • An informal freedom party made up of many diverse people and tribes that share the philosophy of full freedom with all the other groups and peoples.
  • An understanding that when we promote one type of freedom at the expense of another we actually hurt us all.
  • A commitment to more openly look beyond our own limited opinions and cooperate with people of differing views who truly do care about freedom.

Without all of these, freedom will struggle and decline.

For those who love freedom, it is time to broaden and deepen our understanding of true freedom. It is time to use our influence to spread the values and ideas of freedom.

The technology is there, and it is time to use it. Real freedom has always been a bottom-up project led by the regular people in a society.

All eight facets of freedom are essential, and it is up to the regular people to promote them all.

This is the future of freedom, and it depends on each of us.

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

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 &Entrepreneurship &Independents &Liberty &Politics &Service &Tribes

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