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A Big Problem

June 17th, 2011 // 11:11 am @

Be Afraid

We have a problem. We have a big problem. Or, as the old quip put it, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

As an optimist, I am usually skeptical of anything that sounds overly negative. However, I recently read a list of statistics in the Harper’s Index that I think is cause for serious concern.

Two items on the list have received a lot of press:

  • Standard and Poor’s “revised its U.S. debt outlook to ‘negative’” on April 18, 2011.
  • It has never before ranked the U.S. anything but ‘stable.’”

This should give us all pause. But this is a fixable situation, one which can be solved by a return to American entrepreneurialism, initiative and ingenuity.

The increase of unemployment once again in May 2011 can likewise be effectively overcome by government policy changes that incentivize private investment and spending. Many corporations are sitting on significant surpluses right now, but they are loathe to spend them without a real change in the way the U.S. government spends money and treats business.

In short, our current economic problems can be dealt with by the principles of freedom and free enterprise—if only Washington would give freedom a try. Note that neither Republican nor Democratic presidents have taken this approach for over two decades.

American vs. Chinese Views on the Free Market

But these aren’t the statistics that should worry us most. The figures which really concern me have gotten little media attention:

  • Percentage of Americans in 2009 who believed the free market ‘is the best system on which to base the future of the world’: 74
  • Percentage of Americans who believe so today: 59
  • Percentage of Chinese who do: 67

If this trend continues, we’ll face drastically worsening major problems.

Unease about the growth of China’s power has been increasing in the U.S. for some time, but the concern has mostly centered on America’s economic decline versus the growth of China as a major totalitarian world power.

Add to this the knowledge that over two-thirds of Chinese believe free enterprise is the key to the future—at the same time that American belief in free enterprise is waning—and our sense of what the 21st Century will bring takes on a new direction.

In the United States, youth are widely taught that the key to life and career success is getting a good job, while in China an emphasis for the “best and brightest” in the rising generation is to engage meaningful entrepreneurship.

If this continues, the status and roles of these two nations will literally switch in the decades ahead: China as superpower, the U.S. as a second-rate nation with a stagnant and struggling economy. Many experts point out that China has a long way to go to “catch up” with the U.S. in military strength, but how long will this take if the U.S. economy continues to decline while China’s booms?

I have two main thoughts on this: First, good for the Chinese people! If they can consistently nudge their society and government in the direction of increased freedom, they will join or possibly even become the world’s most important leaders. The truth is that freedom works—in China as much as everywhere else. Second, and most importantly, America needs to give freedom a chance.

A majority of Americans believe in free enterprise, but many in Washington seem convinced that the government can do things better than the American people. The future of our freedom and prosperity depends on a flourishing environment of freedom.

Government can do us all a great service by altering its current policies and removing the numerous obstacles to free enterprise. This one significant shift is vital. The fact that many of our national leaders seem committed to avoiding such changes is a big problem. The longer this lasts, the bigger the problem becomes.

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

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Blog &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Foreign Affairs &Government &Producers &Prosperity

A Case for Innovation

May 3rd, 2011 // 2:21 pm @

A Review of The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream by Gary Shapiro

There are two great modern visions of how to help our economy grow and flourish. One holds that the government is the center of economic prosperity, the other believes in innovation. The first attempts to tax and spend, the second believes in the power of free enterprise.

The Republican Party sometimes tries to present itself as the promoter of the second view, and at times the Democratic Party attempts to make this same argument a criticism of Republican policies, but in actual policy both major political parties tend to legislate for the first view. In contrast, Gary Shapiro’s important book The Comeback outlines what Washington needs to do truly bring the economy back. This includes:

  • Stop penalizing investments in start-ups.
  • Direct any public funding of start-ups by private investors, not by government bureaucrats.
  • Let any company fail, according to the rule of the free market.
  • Make economics, business and entrepreneurialism studies part of the public school curriculum.
  • Ensure that business tax rates are transparent and predictable.
  • Change tax laws to favor investment over debt.
  • Reform immigration to encourage entrepreneurial risk-taking.
  • Pass more free-trade agreements.
  • Reform education by allowing teachers to teach.
  • Measure all government spending by how well it is working.
  • Measure all government spending by how it meets serious national needs.
  • Link the compensation of our federal legislators to our annual national deficit.

Shapiro includes a number of other specific proposals for an American comeback. Not every reader will agree with every policy proposal. I found myself disagreeing with a number of points. For example, Shapiro’s argument that, “You can’t legislate progress” is clearly too narrow—just consider the legislative successes against racist and religiously-bigoted behavior.

On the whole, however, Shapiro’s voice is an important contribution to the ongoing debate. More citizens and government officials need to read and internalize his book. Shapiro shows a mature appreciation for the important role of the government in the economy, and simultaneously notes that without real economic freedom no significant American comeback is likely.

He ultimately pins the future of America on innovation, not on either major political party or on any government policy. The government can do much to encourage a flourishing economy, but the innovators will primarily determine our economic future. Shapiro writes:

“Innovation is America. It is our special sauce, our destiny, and our best and only hope for escaping the economic malaise…. Our best hope is for government to foster innovation by creating a fertile ground for innovation to flourish.

“Innovation is the natural by-product of the free market….

“Our nation is looking into the abyss. With a blinding focus on the present, our government is neglecting a future that demands thoughtful action. The only valid government action is that which invests in our children. This requires hard choices. We cannot leave the rising generation with a mountain of bad debt. This will require suffering in the present….

“America is in crisis. What is required is a commitment to innovation and growth. We can and must succeed. With popular and political resolve, we can reverse America’s decline…. America must become the world’s innovative engine once again; we cannot fail. Only then can I return to China and tell that Communist Chinese official that America is back.”

Shapiro’s voice is important, and the voice of innovation is vital to America’s future. Unless we find ways to reinvigorate our national penchant for innovation, the future of our economy and nation is bleak. More of us need to join Shapiro in discussing ways to refocus our nation on innovation. Government certainly has a positive role to play in successful society, and only by encouraging widespread innovation can we hope to see sustained growth and an economy that is the envy of the world. Two centuries of American leadership have proven that freedom works. It’s time to remember and more vigorously apply freedom in our modern economy.

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odemille 133x195 custom The Clash of Two CulturesOliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Economics &Producers &Prosperity

The Declining American Dream

January 31st, 2011 // 9:55 am @

We still hear about the American Dream. But more and more it seems we’re in a Matrix-like dream state where our perceptions are being manipulated. It’s actually a pretty common plot in cinema: The Minority Report, The Sixth Day, Total Recall, Inception, The Adjustment Bureau and others riff on this theme. We’re living in a reality out-of-synch with some truth we’ve lost, and we don’t even realize it. Somehow our collective memory and our assumptions of “normal” are slowly morphing, and our definition of the American Dream at present is so far removed from the original concept as to be a pretty fair Doublespeak[i] idiom.

Back when the Cleavers[ii] and even the Bradys[iii] were the icons of American families, what was the definition of “The American Dream”? What did it mean to be “middle class”? There are some features of it that were fairly well accepted once upon a time:

1. Home Ownership I

Perhaps the most traditional measure of middle class and the American Dream is the ability for every man to be the king of his own castle. In this the U.S. was a beacon to the world, and other countries even began to adopt the value that every person might aspire to own his own dwelling. The historical and sociological significance of home ownership includes the moral and political empowerment of being “landed,” and affiliation with the natural aristocracy. Homeowners were believed to have a deeper sense of responsibility to invest in their property improvement, an elevated pride in and loyalty to their neighborhoods and communities, and a higher commitment to the good of society in general.

2. Home Ownership II

Now we have to dig a little deeper into our genetic memory. Home ownership a generation or three ago meant not only that you weren’t renting from somebody else, but after a maximum of thirty years in your home you weren’t renting it from the bank, either. A 30-year mortgage left the likes of Ward and June Cleaver without a house payment right about when the grandkids started showing up, and they were able to be a boon to their young married children as they were starting out. If the idea of Home Ownership I as a definition of “The American Dream” is still generally accepted (and I believe it is), the Home Ownership II definition has been deleted from our collective memory. Not only do we have a 30-year mortgage that gets refinanced ad infinitum, but we have seconds on our vanishing equity—and our seniors are living on the funds derived from reverse mortgages.

3. One Income

For the Cleavers and the Bradys, Home Ownership I and II were accomplished on one income. Dad had evenings and weekends for leisure; mom could volunteer with the PTA and community service organizations. Both could participate in book clubs, bowling leagues, gardening and other vocations. The Women’s Lib movement sent the modern woman into the workforce by choice; now Home Ownership II is entirely out of reach for the middle class, and Home Ownership I requires a minimum of two incomes—and often multiple jobs for an individual worker—in order to be a reality.

4. Two Cars

The family had a car—and later two. They were American made with pride, and they were built to last. Paid with cash from savings, or with a little help from the local bank, they were paid off long before they were sent to the salvage yard. Some families even scandalized the neighbors by giving each of their teens a car as soon as they were legal to drive.

5. College for Kids

Part of the understanding for middle class families was that they would be able to pay for their kids to get a college education. Now all that’s left of that understanding is the guilt for failing to live up to it. No one seriously expects one-income families to be able to pay off the house and cars and simultaneously send several kids to the University. Scholarships, loans, grants and lingering debt into the career years are now the means for those who want a college education.

6. Discretionary Income

With all of the above, it was still an expectation that a married couple could live within their means and have savings, investment, yearly vacations with the whole family at some destination spot, and still have a few dimes to rub together at the end of the month.

7. Retirement

Ah, and after all this came the golden years. The Cleavers could now spend their expanded leisure time, afforded by an empty nest and the retirement from the company (complete with gold watch honors), in community service and nurturing the rising generation. They had savings, investments and retirement income to fall back on, a house and car paid free and clear, and the greatest resource: Leisure Time. They were elders in their community, and relied upon for wisdom.

The percentage of families enjoying these luxuries shrinks every year. Where did our American Dream go? Somehow, point by point, it has slipped away from us, and taken with it our definition of “middle class.” Would that we could wake up and reclaim the best of that dream; instead, we’ve awakened to a reality where our elusive American Dream is just out of reach; and these seven points that were once considered the legacy of any hard-working family are being deleted from our list of aspirations. If they are middle class expectations, the majority of America is no longer middle class.

[For a follow-up article on the how and why the middle class is shrinking, and how to reverse the trend, read Oliver’s article, “The Rule of Leisure,” featured in the February 2011 monthly newsletter for The Center for Social Leadership.


[i] See Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four.
[ii] From the 1950 – 60s classic sitcom about the traditional nuclear family of Ward and June Cleaver, “Leave it to Beaver”.
[iii] From the classic 1970s sitcom about the non-traditional nuclear family of Mike and Carol Brady, “The Brady Bunch”.

Category : Blog &Community &Culture &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Family &Generations &Politics &Postmodernism &Producers &Prosperity

The Anti-Federalists, Entrepreneurship, & the Future of Freedom

September 28th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Click Here to Download a Printable Version of This Article

Like Gladstone, I believe the U.S. Constitution to be “the greatest work ever struck off by the mind and purpose of man.”

Even though it had its flaws—especially slavery—it actually provided for the fixing of these flaws.

The U.S. Constitution, both directly and indirectly, is responsible for the freedom of more people than any other government document in the world’s history.

That said, the anti-Federalists had a point. In fact, they had several.

They were mistaken to oppose ratification of the Constitution, but we would be unwise not to listen to the concerns voiced through their loyal opposition.

They were right about some critical details. In fact, we are dealing with exactly these concerns today.

Entrepreneurs Change the Debate

The brilliance of both sides of the Constitution debate—the Federalists and the anti-Federalists—is an example of how the producer culture and entrepreneurial mindset accomplish the highest quality in citizen involvement—regardless of party politics.

Even in the midst of deeply divided partisan battles, the Federalists and anti-Federalists produced a level of depth, detail, nuance, and excellence in citizen debate that is perhaps unsurpassed either before their time or since.

Today’s citizen dialogue seldom measures up. This is a direct result of that generation’s lifestyle of entrepreneurship, producer-focused education, ownership, initiative, and enterprising mindset.

When a nation of entrepreneurs debates on topics of freedom and leadership, the quality is deeper and richer than when lower classes are uninvolved (as in 1780s Britain) or when most citizen-employees defer to the experts (today’s America).

Anti-Federalist Predictions

The anti-Federalists scrutinized the U.S. Constitution and the federalist papers, and, based on the structures of government, they looked ahead and warned of some of our biggest problems.

They also, in most cases, recommended solutions. We need to heed their words.

What are these challenges, and what can we do about them? To answer both questions, consider six issues the anti-Federalists warned of more than two hundred years ago:

  1. The executive branch will increase influence over the national budget.
  2. National expenditures will increase and eventually bankrupt the nation.
  3. Power will flow consistently away from the states.
  4. The courts will eventually have too much power.
  5. Justice will be lost as government grows.
  6. The treaty power will be abused.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #1: The Executive Branch Will Increase Influence Over National Budget

Prediction: The Executive Branch will increase its say over the national budget and then drastically increase debt, run harmful deficits, engage in unconstitutional military actions, and otherwise run the economy toward ruin.

Unfortunately, this has proven to be accurate. We have learned over time that the people don’t hold the White House accountable for this behavior because every president blames the last political party (in Congress and the Presidency) for the problem.

Both parties use the Executive Branch to commit funding for their projects, even as taxpayers are funding the projects of past administrations.

The Federalists responded to this anti-Federalist warning by correctly pointing out that the Constitution only gives the House of Representatives power over the purse strings.

The Federalists’ “solution” worked for more than a century, but unfortunately for us the Cold War brought secretive and expansive government, and the role of the presidency significantly increased.

Today we are dealing with a system where the House tinkers with and has the final say on national budgets, but the political environment has turned over to the presidency responsibility for proposing, gaining the votes for, and then administering federal budgets.

The House still holds the authority to slow or reject budgets and spending, but it has generally lost the will to use this power. The Executive Branch usually runs the budget.

The result is drastically out-of-control spending. Simple interest payments on the national debt are a huge expense to the taxpayer.

Social Security and other entitlement liabilities can never be fully met without continuing in debt and deficits, as well as drastic and progressive increases in taxes. International military involvement is a mounting problem.

Both political parties like to blame each other for recessions, unemployment, and other economic challenges, but U.S. budgets and spending beyond our means is the underlying problem.

As Larry Summers asked before he joined the Obama Administration, “How can the world’s biggest debtor nation remain its biggest power?”

Note that China, the second largest economy in the world, has huge savings (unlike the former Soviet Union or the current United States) and is a major buyer of U.S. debt.

China has three of the world’s four largest banks, the two largest insurance companies, and the second largest stock market. (See the article “Red Mist” in The Economist.

With all this, the Communist Party remains in control; it also remains firmly communistic in philosophy and is, if possible, increasingly totalitarian.

As for the United States, neither party seems serious about reducing spending. With the Executive Branch running the budgets, spending just keeps increasing.

The Reagan Administration greatly increased spending. Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama all followed suit—just as predicted by the anti-Federalists.

 

Anti-Federalist Prediction #2: National Expenditures Will Increase

Prediction: Expenditures and taxes will generally increase over time until they bankrupt the nation. They will become massive, and never be significantly reduced.

This has not yet entirely occurred, but we certainly appear to be on track toward these results.

As mentioned, whichever party is in power finds ways to promote more expensive projects while we are still paying off past expenses.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #3: Power Will Flow Away From the States

Prediction: Power will flow consistently away from the states and increase the scope, size, and power of the federal government. Only major crisis, where the federal government falls, will ever send significant powers back to the states.

Again, we are perfectly on target for this even though it has not yet fully matured. Federal budgets now dwarf state costs, and many state programs are funded by federal money.

Indeed, this has become a major misunderstanding in modern America.

The media constantly pounds the populace with the message that government is broken—Washington is in gridlock and accomplishes little. In reality, however, this is highly inaccurate.

Each year Washington manages to drastically increase the budget, debt, and deficit. It is spending more and more annually, and each year Congress authorizes many new programs.

A lot is getting done—many would argue too much!

Perhaps we could learn from the British-published magazine The Economist, which wrote in February 2010:

“It is simply not true to say that nothing can get through Congress. Look at…TARP…The stimulus bill…The Democrats have also passed a long list of lesser bills, from investments in green technology to making it easier for women to sue for sexual discrimination…

“America’s political structure was designed to make legislation at the federal level difficult, not easy. Its founders believed that a country the size of America is best governed locally, not nationally…

“The Senate, much ridiculed for antique practices like the filibuster and the cloture vote, was expressly designed as a ‘cooling’ chamber where bills might indeed die unless they commanded broad support.

“Broad support from the voters is something that both the health bill and the cap-and-trade bill clearly lack.”

The Senate has killed bills from Republican and Democratic presidents through the years, but this should be seen as the success of our mixed democratic republic with checks and balances rather than as government not working.

If the Senate had killed more bills in the past century, the power of the states would not have diminished to such a weakened place.

Both major parties often make the ingenuous mistake of claiming to be carrying out the “democratic” will of the people when they have broad voter support, and then when such support is lacking of blaming the Senate and Congress for gridlock, partisanship, and a system that doesn’t work.

When there is widespread dislike of certain proposed policies, not being able to pass them isn’t gridlock, but good government.

The Senate was designed specifically by the founders to protect the states, to leave most things to the state level and only allow issues to receive federal support when they were wanted by a large majority of Americans and needed to be accomplished at the national level.

Indeed, the system works more often than the modern media gives it credit.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #4: The Courts Will Eventually Have Too Much Power

Prediction: The courts will not only be independent but will eventually have too much power because there are really no effective checks on their decisions.

This has happened and is still increasing in its impact. Without checks on the Supreme Court, states have little recourse against growing federal controls over powers previously (and constitutionally) held by the states.

Our freedoms consistently decrease as the Court expands its interpretation of the role of the federal government in our lives.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #5: Justice Will Be Lost as Government Grows

Prediction: Governments will become so big and impersonal that even juries won’t know or care about the accused; enforcing the rules will be more important than true justice. Freedom will significantly decrease as a result.

This has occurred and is still happening.

Before 1896, a jury of peers was not some nominal, demographical designation. The “peers” often actually knew the accused and even the victim personally.

As a result, they not only were quick to put away those who were truly dangerous to society, but they also used their power to oversee the laws and protect citizens from government.

Not only could juries declare someone innocent, they could also nullify laws they considered bad or against freedom.

This system was altered at least partly because it was frequently used in a horrible miscarriage of justice as racist juries ignored the law and both freed white criminals and jailed innocent people from minorities.

It is unfortunate that in response to such abuses we threw out not only racist dominance of juries, but also the concept of juries of known peers.

In fact, the best remedy for discrimination by the justice system could have been juries of true peers, who not only could have protected those falsely accused, but with such empowerment would have been the most motivated to hold accountable the true criminals among them.

When all are equal before the law and are subject to the admonishment and reprisal of true peers, racism is more readily weeded out.

This would have been a great support to abused races, and could have greatly advanced the cause of civil rights in America.

We have never found a way to re-balance this loss of freedom or for the people to quickly overturn the effects of bad laws.

California responded within a few years of the 1896 change in jury power by adopting Recalls and Initiatives, but these still left the people with less power than before.

Anti-Federalist Prediction #6: The Treaty Power Will Be Abused

Prediction: The treaty power will be used to change the Constitution in ways the people don’t even know about and that benefit the rich at the cost of the people’s freedom.

This has happened and still does. In fact, it may soon be a major concern.

For example, when banks fold and endanger entire nations, government can bail them out. The same is true for huge businesses and even state-level governments.

But what happens when nations fail financially?

The old answer was that they became open to attack like Western Europe during the Great Depression. The result was devastating.

To prevent such a disaster from being repeated, the Allies met in 1944 and crafted the Bretton Woods organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Since then, nations who couldn’t pay their debts have been bailed out by the IMF.

In return for such benefits, the borrowing nation submits to “Austerity Measures,” under which the IMF closely watches national policy and government institutions to ensure that the nation does nothing to jeopardize its ability to pay back its loans.

This system has certainly had its share of successes.

But Austerity also amounts to a virtual transfer of sovereignty from national government to IMF regulators—well beyond the power of the citizenry to require accountability or to effect remedies.

So far the United States and most Western European nations have been lenders to the IMF, not debtors.

But if the U.S. ever needed to become a debtor nation, Austerity Measures would prove the anti-Federalist prediction devastatingly true.

For example, when Greece defaulted on its debt payments in early 2010 and Spain threatened to do the same, the European Union came to the rescue.

The IMF was called in to advise the EU, and Austerity was established over the Greek government.

Many citizens (including a huge number of professionals and managers) took to the streets in protest.

But instead of protesting a drastic loss of freedom to Austerity, they were upset because of wage freezes.

There are three ways the U.S. can avoid Austerity at some point in the future.

First, we can tighten our belts, reduce government expenditures, and deregulate and lower taxes on small businesses, which historically make up 80 percent of our economy’s growth.

This would convince many employers to hire and consumers to spend.

Second, we could borrow from other nations. China has a huge surplus of government and also private savings, and it wants to invest in the United States. Indeed it is our largest creditor now.

Other nations may also be persuaded to keep supporting our spending habits. But one has to wonder why our philosophical opponent (communist China) wants to invest so much.

Are its motives pure? What if they’re not? Is it a simple profit motive? What if it’s something more?

As Peggy Noonan wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

“People are freshly aware of the real-world implications of a $1.6 trillion deficit, of a $14 trillion debt. It will rob American of its economic power, and eventually even of its ability to defend itself. Militaries cost money. And if other countries own our debt, don’t they in some new way own us? If China holds enough of your paper, does it also own some of your foreign policy? Do we want to find out?”

A third possible method of solving our debt problem is to borrow from huge international corporations. This carries the same problems as borrowing from nations.

Note that if we do eventually take IMF loans, they will only pay the interest on the debts. We will have to pay back the original loans, and an international team of regulators will run our national economic policy and make our economic decisions.

If Americans are frustrated with Congress, imagine their frustration with a group of international bank officials running our economy—bankers who may not have as their motive either to see us out of debt to them or to strengthen our economy, society, international influence, or other elements of our way of life.

The rule of international borrowing is simple: The lenders make the rules.

Method one of facing our economic reality—returning to an incentivizing free enterprise system and living within our means—is hard.

Neither political party wants to promote it, and whoever does implement it will probably be blamed for higher short-term unemployment, stock market losses, and a worsened recession.

In the long term, however, this course will revitalize America’s economy and free lifestyle.

The other two options keep America in economic decline and will eventually result in reduced political power, weaker national security, and fallen status.

They will also, most importantly, lead to a significant decrease in our freedoms and the prosperity of our children and grandchildren.

This is our choice: Make the tough decisions now, or lose freedoms and prosperity for generations. So far we have passed on making the right choice.

No wonder independents, tea partyists, and the far left are so frustrated with both Republicans and Democrats.

Moreover, economic downturns are three-headed dragons; and to this point we have only faced recession and high unemployment.

Inflation is likely to be the next crisis, and it may very well rekindle and worsen the first two.

Whatever we decide to do economically, we should, like the Federalists and anti-Federalists, clearly understand one thing: Economics and freedom are directly linked.

A debtor nation is less free than when it was solvent.

Solutions Old and New

The anti-Federalist solutions for these problems may well have helped. They proposed that the people amend the Constitution, specifically in the following ways:

  1. The Bill of Rights would include the requirement that juries consist of local peers who know the accused and can protect citizens from government.
  2. Treaties would require full debate in and passage by Congress—just like laws.
  3. Any decision by the Supreme Court could be overridden by a majority of the States.

How effective these amendments would have been is debatable.

But the answer may be found in another proposed anti-Federalist amendment which actually did get passed.

To counter the danger of huge expenditures and taxes by the Executive Branch, loss of power from the House to the Presidency, and transfer of powers from the States to the federal government, the anti-Federalists wanted an amendment clearly stating that all power not specifically given by the Constitution to the federal government would be retained by the states.

The anti-Federalists got their way in the ratification of the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Unfortunately, these were weakened by Court cases between 1803 and 1820, and later by treaties adopted between 1944 and 2001.

We the People

It turns out that Constitutional limits and language are only guaranteed to last as long as the people are vigilantly involved.

No matter what the Constitution says, it won’t endure if the people don’t closely read it and demand that it be followed.

In this sense they are the fourth branch of government: The Overseers.

When the people stop requiring officials and experts to adhere to the Constitution, those in power alter the Constitution, redefine its precepts, and sometimes mutually agree upon a revisionist and opportunistic definition of its language.

The people are left out of the decision, and their freedoms decrease.

At times, as designed, constitutional checks and balances keep one branch from usurping power even if the people aren’t involved.

But the greater danger occurs when a collusion of branches agree in taking away power from the states or the people (this happens too often, especially since Butler v. the United States in 1936).

Arguably the most important document for freedom ever created by mankind was established and ratified by those who supported the U.S. Constitution.

The second deepest freedom analysis of government was provided by their opponents, the anti-Federalists.

This second group saw that whatever a Constitution says, as important as it certainly is, the people simply must stay actively involved or they will inevitably see their freedoms decline.

The Producer Perspective

The fact that both groups came from a society of owners and producers is neither surprising nor insignificant.

Owners value freedom over security, see the most decorated experts and celebrities as merely other citizens, and see their own role as citizen as vital to society.

Producers think in terms of protecting society’s freedoms, and they simply don’t believe this responsibility can ever be delegated or ignored.

Successful ownership, farming, and entrepreneurship are all about keeping track of all the details; taking action whenever it is needed to achieve the desired results; listening to the counsel of experts and authorities—and then leading by making the best decisions even if they goes against expert advice; and building effective teams that work together without depending too much on those at the top.

People trained and experienced in such skills are truly competent in handling and preserving freedom.

What we need in our day is not necessarily more specific proposals from the Federalists or anti-Federalists.

Rather, we need a return to the producer-entrepreneurial style of thinking and expertise that founded and built the freest nation in history.

If we want a society of freedom that lasts and prospers, we must as citizens become talented and practiced in the arts of freedom.

America was created on the basis of freedom, and until we choose to become a citizenry steeped in freedom principles and actively involved in their promotion, freedom will not likely increase.

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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 : Constitution &Entrepreneurship &Government &Liberty &Producers

The Entrepreneurial Foundations of Free Society

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

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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

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