As I journey through life, I find I’m spending more and more time digging into the big “Why” of humanity. This post is a smattering of the best of the best ideas, thought leaders and communicators that may help answer the big questions;
- Why do we continue to wage wars?
- Why do some societies rise while others fall?
- What are the impacts of government action or inaction on monetary policy? On poverty? On crony capitalism?
- Why is our current society so unhealthy? Why does the Pima Indians have the highest rate of diabetes in the world?
- Why is our politics so divided and is this something NEW to our world?
- What causes society to move to and from religion?
- What’s the role of abundance or scarcity in a country?
- What can we learn from history, does it repeat?
- Which economic theories win out over time?
- Why are so many people today broken and medicating to deal with life?
- What separates a great President from a failed Presidency? What’s the magic formula for great leadership?
- When was the last time you visited a KMart? What causes one company to grow and another die?
All these answers are out there and it takes time and understanding to piece it all together. With 7 years on the air, my role was to devour every minutia of information locally, nationally and internationally. To successfully master the craft of live radio, I had to be able to speak of the issues of the day. Over time all these data points turned into a pattern. About 5 years into the radio program I started connecting these patterns into 12 arguments that show that America is in Decline. I’ve started to organize these arguments into chapters of a book. Here’s the intro.
Next, while building out an educational network that focused on history and classics, I spent years digging into the historical origins of man. The rise and fall of nations. The influence of religions and economic theories on society. I dug into philosophers, kings, and civilizations that at one point were at the pinnacle of the entire globe, and that is now laying in the archaeological rubble. From great literature, art, music, architecture to technological advancements and great migrations a story emerges.
Finally, after years growing up in Catholic education and being of service to a number of Catholic agencies, and spending quality time with men I respect in the Protestant faith I’ve started to look at what faith means to me and how it shows up in my life. From a weekend back in 2001 in Oracle and staffing a weekend in a southern Arizona hot springs, I learned about my shadows and motivations. By working with a group of men for over a decade I started to learn how wounds of the past show up in my life. With advice and counsel of strong men and mentor-ship from men in the faith, business and community leadership fields I have learned more about who I am and how I show up in my family, my career and in my faith.
To fully understand where we are today I’ve dug into the thought leaders from politics, sociology, psychology, and economics. I put forth the following lectures, discussions, and documentaries to paint a picture of how I see the human condition.
This is a long collection of my beliefs and analysis on (click for a Deep Dive by topic);
and much more.
Some thought leaders that I really have been intrigued by are Malcolm Gladwell, Angela Duckworth and Tim Ferriss. They’ve made observations and studies of people and society on a micro and macro level. Each of these authors and thinkers has a body of work on how to destruct what makes some people succeed while other people, who seem to have it all, fail. Here are a few of my favorite lectures by these people:
HERE with Pastor Rick Warren.
Angela Duckworth- GRIT and Perseverance! Ever wonder why friends or family members that have it all, money, looks, smarts and opportunity yet struggle at life? The missing ingredient needed is GRIT. Duckworth does a deep analysis of the science and psychology behind success. Get the book and devour it. Freakonomics covered a super bold project that Duckworth is proposing, check out the interview….Could Solving This One Problem Solve All Others?
Tim Ferriss and his first book, 4 Hour Work Week, started out his journey on figuring out the hacks that make great people great. From sports to money to cooking to military figures, Tim interviews and dissects the best of the best. Start with Tools For Titans and subscribe to his podcast.
THIS article from Inside Business is a great starting point to learn all things, Tim. Here’s what jumped out at me:
1. There are two parts to self-improvement
Oftentimes we see self-improvement merely as goal achievement. However, Tim realized that achievement is only 50% of it. He says, “The other 50% is gratitude and appreciating what you already have, not focusing solely on future accomplishments.” There are so many highly successful people who are never satisfied with what they’ve accomplished and it’s unfortunate.
As Tim mentioned, “They’ve conquered every mountain, slayed every dragon and they’re still not happy”. Don’t be one of those people! If you want to have any sense of well-being, you have to show appreciation for what you already have.
2. Improve two areas of your life at a time
For those of us who are Type A personalities, we tend to be super ambitious and self-critical as we’re always trying to improve our lives. Over the last 10 years Tim realized that “too much optimizing can be self-destructive.” Like with many things in life, things in excess tend to take on the characteristics of their opposites. So in this case, the sole focus on self-improvement can be misguided and can lead to depression and anxiety.
6. Focus on developing skills and relationships
When making important decisions and capping the downside, potential risks or mistakes, Tim focuses on two things: skills and relationships. The question he asks himself is, “Even if this fails, are there skills and relationships that I can develop that will carry over into other things?” Tim’s philosophy is that, “Failure isn’t failure if you can gain new skills and develop relationships for future advancement.”
7. It’s important to diversify your identify
When you’re passionate about your work, it’s easy to have everything vested in your business which can serve you well in most cases. However, Tim says that “100% dedication can lead to a disaster in the sense that you have all of your psychological eggs in one basket.”
10. Fame, power, money and alcohol just make you more of who you already are
Tim knows a lot of successful people who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. One thing he’s learned is that fame, power, money, and alcohol just make you more of who you already are.
He explained, “So if you’re neurotic, add 100 million to that, you’ll be super neurotic!” If you’re generous, add 100 million to that, you’ll be even more generous. Essentially your characteristic just get exaggerated when you add those things in life. So it’s important that you work on who you want to be before you get those things.
Here’s a long form interview with Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss. I remember listening to Tony Robbins cassette tapes in college and graduated to his CD’s. To hear the two together is pretty cool.
Want to dig into Social Psychology? Start with Canadian, Dr. Jordon Peterson – HERE – He weighs in on safe spaces and political correctness. My favorite in #1…be grateful!
What I enjoy
Listening to: My favorite bands tend to be from the decade of the 1970’s. I grew up in the 1980’s but never really connected with that time period musically. Of the favorites of favorite, if I had to listen to one playlist for the rest of my life, stranded on a deserted island, it would have to be Pink Floyd. I got a chance to see them and spend time in their hotel room during the Division Bell tour in Phoenix in the early 1990’s. Check out a cool new website, Sutori and their anthology of Pink Floyd. Follow me on Spotify for an eclectic mix of musical playlists, especially ‘Joe Can’t Get Enough‘.
Watching: I despise reality TV. I enjoy the new medium of the long form, binge-worthy, series that have been prevalent on various cable outlets. Homeland and House of Cards continue to weave real-world political storylines into a very intriguing plot line. If I’m not into a series, I’m always looking for a great documentary. Many of the best I’ve shared in this post.
Podcasts: If you haven’t stumbled into the world of podcasts yet, I highly recommend you do. Get the free app, Stitcher, set up themed playlists and sample as many different shows as you can. I go in waves of shows that I follow and devour. After 7 years on live radio, every morning, I start to appreciate and understand what makes a good show. I’m particularly drawn to great interviewers. The art and talent of a great interviewer are something to admire.
Here’s a few I’m listening too right now:
Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders – Stanford U
Here’s The Thing – Alec Baldwin
Story Corp – NPR
EdSurge On Air
Conversations with Tyler
Revisionist History – Malcolm Gladwel
lThe Art of Manliness
Hidden Brain – NPR
On Being – Krista Tippett
TED Radio Hour
London School of Economics
Harvard Business Review – Ideacast
Tim Ferris Show
Ken Rudin’s Political Junkie
Banter: AEI Podcast
Exchanges at Goldman Sach
Rich Dad Poor Dad
Mark Steyn is probably one of the best communicators I’ve ever watched. His ability to pull together topics and deliver them in a fun and impactful way is second to none. I find Peggy Noonan’s ability to communicate in writing similar to Steyn’s ability to communicate verbally. They paint a picture with their words. It’s an amazing skill.
William S Buckely – Firing Line
Dig into Firing Line with William S. Buckley, the use of language and the art of DEBATE is absolutely beautiful to watch. To think that Buckley had this platform for so many years tells me how deep society was and how much of a hunger there still is a good and civilized debate. In an arena where Bill Moyers and Charlie Rose had similar formats, Buckley was in a class of his own. His ability to go deep and give an opponent a biting backhand with a smile. This particular exchange between Christopher Hitchings and Buckley is legendary. Jump in about 15 minutes to really geek out.
More classic Buckley – HERE –
Buckley v Alinsky – HERE.
His show Firing Line was un-produced and simple. Not cuts, a door bell meant it was time for a commercial. The show was just Buckley asking pointed questions with thought leaders of the day. Buckley’s interview with Billy Graham in 1969 about the role of Christianity in society and it’s decline is fascinating….especially since these same discussions are happening almost 50 years later.
Two giants dance.
One of my favorite series to learn from is the PBS Frontline. Here’s a great one on the DEBT BOMB (the first chapter in my book), and crony capitalism THE WARNING (the 5th chapter in my book), and LOSING IRAQ and RUMSFELD’s WAR (the 8th chapter in my book on our role as police force for the world) and TOP SECRET AMERICA (the 4th chapter in my book on bureaucracy gone wild). Perhaps the most important Frontline episodes were the inside connection between Wall Street and Washington DC. The players are in and out of Goldman Sachs and the highest levels of government. The episode, INSIDE THE MELTDOWN is probably the scariest and most troubling episode of them all. It’s troubling because it lays bare how government policy (everyone needs to own a home) and human greed collided and almost took the entire world back to the Great Depression era. Pay close attention to the role of Moral Hazard. Suffice to say, Moral Hazard is still an issue and the inflated markets are much much bigger than they were in 2008/2009.
Nixon, My Second LEAST Favorite President
Blind ambition, narcissism, a man grabbed and consumed by power, you name it, Nixon suffered from it. From early in 1968 where he was behind extending the Vietnam war to make Johnson look bad;
There was no doubt, said Johnson, that Nixon’s campaign team was trying to scupper peace talks aimed at ending the Vietnam War. They were afraid that peace in Vietnam would help Nixon’s Democratic rival, Hubert Humphrey, to clinch the election.
Johnson threatened to go public with his information. The election was just days away.
But Johnson never did go public. He received an emphatic denial from Nixon in person the next day. And perhaps more importantly, Johnson never had the definitive evidence he needed tying Nixon himself to the efforts being made by his campaign team.
A new discovery by historian John Farrell might well be the smoking gun that Johnson needed. It’s published in The New York Times.
The peace process in 1968 was real. The Soviet Union had persuaded North Vietnam to come to the table, the US just needed to deliver South Vietnam. At the beginning of November, both sides made goodwill gestures to prepare for the talks. The Communists stopped shelling cities and halted attacks across the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Vietnam. Johnson ordered a halt to the massive US aerial bombing campaign. “We’ve had 24 hours of relative peace,” he said in that Nov. 2 call to Nixon’s friend, Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.). “If Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the conference, well, that’s going to be his responsibility. Up to this point, that’s why they’re not there.”
To starting of the EPA, OSHA, enacted price and wage controls and probably the most devastating short term move any President could make was that he took the US off the gold standard and cut a deal to make sure the Petro-Dollar was adopted by all oil producing nations. Frustrated by a slow economy going into the 1972 elections (the Watergate election), Nixon removed America from the gold standard and forever put the central bankers and the federal reserve in charge of running up the largest deficits in history. With Kissinger at his side, securing the Dollars place as the primary currency for the trade of oil gave America a 40 year run of prosperity. Prosperity at a cost. The constant battles and interventions in the middle east are always in the name of protecting American interests….the petrodollar.
“Can you imagine what this man would have been like if somebody would have loved him?” —Henry Kissinger
Here’s one of the biggest decisions made that Nixon made. It was an election year, we were leading into the Watergate scandal and Nixon knew he’s get a temporary bump from leaving the gold standard. Fast forward 40 years and we can see what the fiat money system has morphed into. My favorite line ‘the many responsible lenders of the International banking community’.
I’m really enjoying the large discussions and topics covered in The Art of Manliness
AoM is a blog about growing up well, aimed at men and their unique challenges and interests. We explore all things manly — from the serious and philosophical to the practical and fun. We seek to uncover how to live with grandpa’s swagger, virtue, and know-how in the present age by wedding the best of the past to the best of the present. The end goal is to create a synergy of tradition and modernity that offers men a way forward and signposts on how to live an excellent, flourishing life.
Ultimately, the Art of Manliness aims to encourage our readers to be better husbands, fathers, brothers, citizens — a new generation of great men..
Here’s a few of my favorite episodes:
Tyler Cowen, one of my favorite economists. The Complacent Class
Honor, Courage and Themos, Plato’s Ideas of Manliness – Angela Hobbs
Ancient Honor – Dr. Barton
What Ancient Greeks and Romans Thought About Manliness – Ted Landen
The Road to Character – David Brooks – I bought the book after this interview.
The Untold Story of Jimmy Stewart in WWII – Robert Matzen – A man at the top of the world …… turns to service. Great story!
Justice: Free To Choose
Highly recommend Harvard’s hugely popular series by Professor Michael Sandel. His lectures are sold out, his ideas behind morality, markets, and choice really make you think. Here’s a sample, I highly recommend if you like what you hear you keep listening to his larger body of work. Here are a few other interesting lectures from Sandel -Lecture on Adam Smith (jump in about 15 min for the free form and Q&A) – HERE – A great sampling of Prof Sandel – HERE and the lost art of political debate – HERE
Meet Senator Ben Sasse
Thank goodness we have Senators like this elected. Stumbled on him and want to read his book :
He’s sitting is Daniel Patrick Monyihan’s desk. He is a history guy, turn around pro and former President of a University. Born in 1972, a new US Senator from Nebraska and he’s talking about Tocqueville, the meaning of work, and the inability to for leaders to solve the big problems. He calls out parents for not transmitting work ethic to the kids. He calls American’s in perpetual adolescents because of our tremendous affluence. We’ve forgotten how to grow up. Look at the college experience, student loans and you can see his ideas in reality.
Here’s another deep dive from Sen. Sasse….the topics on work, raising kids and the future are exceptional:
Freakonomics Radio – Dig In And Think
Freakonomics Radio is one of the more fun and informative franchises (podcast, book, video) that I enjoy listening to. They dig deep into topics that are odd and quirky but put together paint an important picture of the big ideas. They start with a big question and then visit thought leaders and answer that question. I am particularly intrigued by their new Earth 2.0. The hypothetical question is; ‘What would you do differently if you could reboot society?’
If we could reboot the planet and create new systems and institutions from scratch, would they be any better than what we’ve blundered our way into through trial and error? This is the first of a series of episodes that we’ll release over several months. Today we start with — what else? — economics. You’ll hear from Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, the poverty-fighting superhero Jeff Sachs; and many others.
In pursuit of a more perfect economy, we discuss the future of work; the toxic remnants of colonization; and whether giving everyone a basic income would be genius — or maybe the worst idea ever. Tyler Cowen makes an appearance.
HERE‘s how I think ex-Presidents should act when out of office. Want to know why our politics is so divided. It culminated with eight years of THIS sort of rhetoric. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Since the confirmation hearings of Judge Bork, the tit for tat battles has been ratcheting up in America. Sprinkle in redistricting that makes Congressional seats lifetime jobs, huge money from Unions and Corporations flooding politics, the decay of States Rights, fractured and biased news bubbles and an electorate that will un-elect anyone who tells them ‘no’ and is it any wonder we are at this point in American politics?
Weighing in on the Trump Phenomenon. +
Seven years on the air, covering the play by play of American politics I consider myself more up on current events than most. I predicted a Romney win in 2012 and predicted a Trump loss in 2016. So much for a career as a political prognosticator. In the end, after changing horses twice in the GOP primary, I voted for Trump. I reconciled the vote for one reason…HERE. What we’ve seen over the past 20 years is an abdication of power by the Congress and a concentration of power in the White House. We’ve witnessed an erosion of States rights and a runaway entitlement system fueling huge deficit spending. Voters ping pong back and forth looking for the new Hope and Change. We are looking for the next emperor to Make America Great Again. Sadly the power grabs by the Presidency has gone way beyond the visions of the Founders of America. The one remaining check to an imperial Presidency is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the ultimate referee and the Constitution is the playing field. Is the foundation of what our government a living breathing document or should it be taken literally as written over 240 years ago. That decision happens at the Supreme Court. Look no further than the Affordable Care Act decision that compels every American to buy a product. Talk about commerce clause over reach. Roberts had to bend and contort the intent of the Congress and reclassify the bill as a Tax just to keep the law in tact. There will be other Presidents that push for a Patriot Act or attempt to spy on their citizens. There will be more Obama’s and Trumps that get elected by angry mobs. The Supreme Court is our last best hope to call a strike a strike and a ball a ball.
Now America is reaping what the elites have sown.
Months and months before the presidential election, I began thinking of Trump not as a cause of American disruption but a symptom of it. And as much as I don’t like quoting myself, here is something from March 2016:
“It’s obvious the American political system is breaking down. It’s been crumbling for some time now, and the establishment elite know it and they’re properly frightened. Donald Trump, the vulgarian at their gates, is a symptom, not a cause. Hillary Clinton and husband Bill are both cause and effect.”
The establishment pushed the wars and free trade and their partners in the corporate-government matrix agreed to the sending off of capital (and jobs) to foreign lands.
For all the talk of partisanship, Democrats and Republicans were the two horns on the head of the goat.
And Trump voters? They were forgotten, left behind, mocked as deplorable.
Would Trump the barbarian have been elected president of the United States even 10 or 20 years ago?
No. He seems determined to prove he is socially unfit for the office. His rude personal style ruffles the feathers of many who see him as a pretender or a huckster. But he’s not dumb.
And neither are the almost 63 million people who voted for him. They’ve long been dismissed as stupid or unlettered or unsophisticated. They’d been written off as pathologically angry by the media that cleave to the establishment and see distrust in government as some kind of mental disorder.
I grew up with these people. They don’t deserve the shaming that comes their way.
They were betrayed. And all they want, really, is meaningful work and to not be told they’re idiotic or hateful simply because they dare support traditional values, and that a nation should shape its culture by controlling its own borders.
They knew Trump was loud, they knew he was vulgar, they knew he was trouble. And they voted for him because they wanted him to make trouble.
They wanted him to punch the Washington elites in the mouth, to kick them and stomp on them as they had been kicked and stomped on. They detest the ruling elites in the modern Versailles so much that they installed a character like Trump.
Fixating on Trump doesn’t really address this.
And you might want to ask yourselves, what happens 10 years from now, with the next Trump, from the right or from the left?
Because things aren’t going back to normal, are they?
Listen to “The Chicago Way” podcast, previewing the 2017 Printer’s Row Lit Fest with Elizabeth Taylor, the Chicago Tribune’s literary editor: http://wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/thechicagoway/
The author of Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Tales is on Bloomberg trying to explain the Donald Trump phenomenon. It’s worth a listen.
The role of the Liberal Arts in Education.
Epstein and Ferguson explain how a well-rounded education. In this day and age of transition, I believe our education system needs to adapt to focusing on generalist, critical thinkers.
Dear tech world, STEMism is hurting us
In a blistering assault on the value of the liberal arts many months ago, former Sun Microsystem CEO Vinod Khoshla offered anything but nuance in his opening indictment: “Little of the material taught in Liberal Arts programs today is relevant to the future.”
The rest of his article is a tirade against majoring in the liberal arts.
However, Khoshla’s own field, tech, is full of people who’ve devoted their university days to the liberal arts:
Susan Wojcicki (CEO of YouTube) majored in history
Reid Hoffman (founder of Linkedin) majored in philosophy
Stewart Butterfield (CEO of Slack) majored in philosophy
Alexa Hirschfeld (cofounder of Paperless Post) majored in Classics
Parker Harris (cofounder of Salesforce) majored in English Literature
Jack Ma (cofounder of Alibaba) majored in English….
Steve Jobs understood the advantage of incorporating fields that focus on pushing the boundaries of human knowledge. His obsession with beautiful fonts stemmed from a course on calligraphy at Reed College. As he once said, “it’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.”
Our world overflows with talented minds that have achieved entrepreneurial success aided by a value for visual aesthetics and trained in literature, history, and philosophy. This is not news for the business and tech world. Yet whenever STEM evangelists in tech preach the gospel of STEM, they inevitably trash the “soft disciplines.”…
A company comprised of people with HEAT backgrounds will produce diversity of thought — the yeast of innovative thinking. Training in psychology, anthropology, art, literature, history, philosophy, Classics, and journalism are skills that will advance innovative and creative thinking in an organization.
Scott Hartley articulates not just the value of the humanities in the tech world but the vital role the liberal arts will play in its future:
“When we talk about ‘software eating the world,’ there’s a flipside to that. Software is touching every aspect of our lives, which in turn means that we require more diversity of thought, passion, and methodology to apply that tech meaningfully to the biggest problems we face. Code is necessary, but not sufficient. Lost in the drumbeat of STEM is the human context.”
Thomas Sowell – Vulgar Pride of Intellectuals
The Value of Work – Blue Collar America
In America, there’s an assumption that the most meaningful careers are found in office buildings, among those taking part in the information economy rather than in the nitty gritty of blue collar trades. To be eligible for these desirable white collar jobs, you need to take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans so you can go to college for 4 years to get a degree. The sacrifice is always worth it though, or so we’re told.
Dismantling America – Thomas Sowell
For the person who lives a virtuous life, of steadfastness and good judgment, happiness is always within reach
Seneca wrote a number of tragedies that directly inspired William Shakespeare, but was also one of the main exponents of the Stoic school of philosophy, which has made a surprising comeback in recent years. Stoicism teaches us that the highest good in life is the pursuit of the four cardinal virtues of practical wisdom, temperance, justice and courage – because they are the only things that always do us good and can never be used for ill. It also tells us that the key to a serene life is the realization that some things are under our control and others are not: under our control are our values, our judgments, and the actions we choose to perform. Everything else lies outside of our control, and we should focus our attention and efforts only on the first category.
Yep. Teach, study and learn the above and good things will happen.
Listen to this discussion by Eva Moskowitz, the CEO and leader of Success Academy Charter Schools. I knew of the NY charter network and their high results but after listening to Moskowitz’ journey to believe that school choice was the solution to failing schools I have a deeper appreciation for her work. Eva started out as a NY City Councilperson and made it her mission to improve outcomes in public schools. After run-ins with the teacher’s unions, she embarked on building out the Success Academy network. A dozen years later, her system has 40+ schools with thousands of kids receiving a top-notch education. Give the lecture a listen;
What’s The Cost-Benefit Of A College Degree Today?
A friend of mine, Frank Antenori weigh in;
Elitists, crybabies and junky degrees
Antenori said many young people would be better off attending more affordable two-year community colleges that teach useful skills and turn out firefighters, electricians and others. Obama promoted that same idea, launching new efforts to boost community college and workplace training. But Antenori said he believes Obama pushed young people too hard toward four-year degrees.
“The establishment has created this thing that if you don’t go to college, you’re somehow not equal to someone else who did,” Antenori said, sitting with his wife, Lesley, at the dining room table in their modest one-story ranch house.
Antenori said when he was in high school in the 1980s, students were directed toward college or vocational training depending on their abilities.
“The mind-set now is that everybody is going to be a doctor,” he said. “Instead of telling a kid whose art sucks, ‘You’re a crappy artist,’ they say, ‘Go follow your dream.’ ”
The Antenoris did not steer their two sons, 23 and 22, toward college, and neither went. One helps at home on the ranch, and the other is enlisted in the Army.
Antenori is just as happy his sons aren’t hanging out with the “weirdos” he reads about on Campus Reform, a conservative website with a network of college reporters whose stated mission is to expose “liberal bias and abuse on America’s campuses.”
In a sign of the intensely partisan climate on campus, its recent headlines include: “Prof wants ‘body size’ added to diversity curricula,” “Students cover free speech wall with vulgar anti-Trump graffiti” and “College Dems leader resigns after declaring hatred of white men.”
The federal government spends $30 billion a year on Pell grants, which help lower-income students, including a large number of minorities, attend college. But studies show that half of Pell grant recipients drop out before earning a degree.
The overall college dropout rate is also high. Only 59 percent of students who start at four-year institutions graduate within six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That leaves millions with debt but no degree.
More than 44 million Americans are paying off student loans, including a growing number of people over 60, according to the Federal Reserve. The average student loan debt of a 2016 college graduate was $37,000. At $1.4 trillion, U.S. student loan debt is now larger than credit card debt.
Antenori said taxpayers should help pay only for degrees, such as those in engineering, medicine or law, that lead directly to jobs. If a student wants to study art or get a “junky” degree in “diversity studies or culture studies,” they should go to a private school, he said.
And he said dropouts who have received government aid should pay it back: “That would be awesome,” he said, flashing a big smile.
“You want to create someone who’s going to be a contributor, not a moocher,” Antenori said. “Go out and generate revenue; that’s what it’s all about.”
David McCullough is one of the best storytellers of all time. (60 Minutes – Journey Through History) Jump up to about 30:00 to this lecture to hear about the power of education and the type of education I believe in.
Education and How To Fix America;
1990 Teacher of The Year Acceptance Speech
Check out John Taylor Gato’s speech in 1990 as he was accepting the New York State Teacher of the Year Award. Almost 30 years ago Gato was bringing out the role of parenting and critical thinking in American education. Some of his ideas are a bit much but it shows the power of the public education system forming our country. (Read it all HERE). Some of the excerpts that jumped out at me include:
Our school crisis is a reflection of this greater social crisis. We seem to have lost our identity. Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to a degree without precedent – nobody talks to them anymore and without children and old people mixing in daily life a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact, the name “community” hardly applies to the way we interact with each other. We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that. In some strange way school is a major actor in this tragedy just as it is a major actor in the widening guilt among social classes.
The hunger for community is very pronounced in society today. The community used to take place in churches, in neighborhoods and in civic club and events. As our churches emptied and security concerns keep kids indoors and the role of service fades in our busy society we are seeing a rise in anit-depressants, loneliness, and opioid drug abuse. As humans, we evolved to be social and adapt in groups others to survive. One of my favorite books by Jonathan Haidt, Righteous Mind, explains from an evolutionary point of view why we developed morality.
Here is another curiosity to think about. The homeschooling movement has quietly grown to a size where one and a half million young people are being educated entirely by their own parents. Last month the education press reported the amazing news that children schooled at home seem to be five or even ten years ahead of their formally trained peers in their ability to think.
And if you take the references of Televisions and shift them to ‘screen time’ to encompass the games and phones in a child’s life, this quote, again from 30 years ago, starts getting really scary;
Two institutions at present control our children’s lives – television and schooling, in that order. Both of these reduce the real world of wisdom, fortitude, temperance, and justice to a never-ending, non-stopping abstraction. In centuries past the time of a child and adolescent would be occupied in real work, real charity, real adventures, and the realistic search for mentors who might teach what you really wanted to learn. A great deal of time was spent in community pursuits, practicing affection, meeting and studying every level of the community, learning how to make a home, and dozens of other tasks necessary to become a whole man or woman.
But here is the calculus of time the children I teach must deal with:
Out of the 168 hours in each week, my children sleep 56. That leaves them 112 hours a week out of which to fashion a self.
My children watch 55 hours of television a week according to recent reports. That leaves them 57 hours a week in which to grow up.
My children attend school 30 hours a week, use about 6 hours getting ready, going and coming home, and spend an average of 7 hours a week in homework – a total of 45 hours. During that time, they are under constant surveillance, have no private time or private space, and are disciplined if they try to assert individuality in the use of time or space. That leaves 12 hours a week out of which to create a unique consciousness. Of course, my kids eat, and that takes some time – not much, because they’ve lost the tradition of family dining, but if we allot 3 hours a week to evening meals, we arrive at a net amount of private time for each child of 9 hours.
It’s not enough. It’s not enough, is it? The richer the kid, or course, the less television he watches but the rich kid’s time is just as narrowly proscribed by a somewhat broader catalog of commercial entertainments and his inevitable assignment to a series of private lessons in areas seldom of his actual choice.
And these things are oddly enough just a more cosmetic way to create dependent human beings, unable to fill their own hours, unable to initiate lines of meaning to give substance and pleasure to their existence. It’s a national disease, this dependency and aimlessness, and I think schooling and television and lessons – the entire Chautauqua idea – has a lot to do with it.
Think of the things that are killing us as a nation – narcotic drugs, brainless competition, recreational sex, the pornography of violence, gambling, alcohol, and the worst pornography of all – lives devoted to buying things, accumulation as a philosophy – all of them are addictions of dependent personalities, and that is what our brand of schooling must inevitably produce.
And what do we do to correct the problem:
It’s high time we looked backwards to regain an educational philosophy that works. One I like particularly well has been a favorite of the ruling classes of Europe for thousands of years. I use as much of it as I can manage in my own teaching, as much, that is, as I can get away with given the present institution of compulsory schooling. I think it works just as well for poor children as for rich ones.
At the core of this elite system of education is the belief that self-knowledge is the only basis of true knowledge. Everywhere in this system, at every age, you will find arrangements to place the child alone in an unguided setting with a problem to solve. Sometimes the problem is fraught with great risks, such as the problem of galloping a horse or making it jump, but that, of course, is a problem successfully solved by thousands of elite children before the age of ten. Can you imagine anyone who had mastered such a challenge ever lacking confidence in his ability to do anything? Sometimes the problem is the problem of mastering solitude, as Thoreau did at Walden Pond, or Einstein did in the Swiss customs house.
Independent study, community service, adventures in experience, large doses of privacy and solitude, a thousand different apprenticeships, the one day variety or longer – these are all powerful, cheap and effective ways to start a real reform of schooling. But no large-scale reform is ever going to work to repair our damaged children and our damaged society until we force the idea of “school” open – to include family as the main engine of education.
There you have it. Family, experience, time to think, apprenticeship, a study of history…and on and on. All pretty basic and pretty cheap stuff to fix our nation.
For more on the state of education and our countries future, I caught an interview done by AEI with a panel of military retired Generals and Admirals. (Military Readiness and Early Childhood; What’s The Link?)
Gatto has similar beliefs in the future of work and the skills needed for a future society as Seth Godin in his book Linchpin. When I read it my ideas of what children need to prepare themselves for the future shifted. It’s not the value of writing a five paragraph essay or understanding the Pythagorean theorem, instead, the skills needed for tomorrow have to do with critical thinking, values and virtues and a heavy dose of Grit (Angela Duckworth -Grit)
(Ethos3) For years there has been only two teams in the workforce: management and labor. Godin proposes that a third team now exists: the linchpin.
A linchpin does not need a map to follow. A linchpin creates opportunity and vision without a manual.
The linchpin brings humanity, connection and art to work everyday.
Every person has the potential to bring his or her humanity and artistry to work, and become a linchpin.
Godin proposes that part of the human brain, the amygdala, resists anything that seems risky or dangerous, including being bold in business. The amygdala is the reason that there are not more linchpins.
Godin’s list of what makes a linchpin indispensable:
- Providing a unique interface between members of the organization
- Delivering unique creativity
- Managing a situation of great complexity
- Leading customers
- Inspiring staff
- Providing deep domain knowledge
- Possessing a unique talent
The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.
How Society is Evolving
Abundance leads to apathy. This documentary breaks down the philosophy that Strauss and Howe coined and studied a theory known as the 4th Turning. In a nutshell the 4th Turning is a study of how generations rise and fall in an 80-year cycle. The pair studied history and put forth a fairly important argument. Below is a documentary by Steve Bannon, yep that Steve Bannon that holds a very important seat in the Trump White House. Al Gore, while Vice President bought copies and sent the books to all the members of congress in the late 1990’s. So the idea is bipartisan! Below is Neil Howe explaining the theory of the 4th Turning and generational archetypes.
“Worldwide, people are losing trust in institutions,” he said. “Trust in the military, small business, and police is still there. But trust in democracies, media, and politicians is dropping.”
“When was the last time we saw these changes and the rise of right-wing populism?” he asked. “The 1930s.”
Howe’s statement is borne out of a June 2016 Gallup poll. When poll takers were asked how much confidence they had in institutions in American society, the results were troubling.
Just 15% said they had a “great deal” of confidence in the US Supreme Court. Banks trailed behind at 11%, followed by the criminal justice system (9%), newspapers (8%), and big business (6%).
Meanwhile, just 16% expressed a “great deal” of confidence in the presidency, with that number plummeting to 3% for Congress.
In his keynote, Howe shared his forecasting logic:
“My method is to step back and realize one thing: There is something we know about the world in 20 years’ time. The people who live there will be all of us, 20 years older and playing a different role. I call this ‘looking along the generational diagonal.’”
The critical thing to remember about the current crisis period is that what comes next will be an era in which there is a new order.
According to the Strauss-Howe generational theory, as this new order takes root, individualism declines and institutions are strengthened.
“History is seasonal, and winter is coming,” Howe has said. But after winter, comes spring.
As the American Revolution was followed by calm, as the Civil War was followed by reconstruction and a gilded age, and as the Great Depression and World War II were followed by an age of peace and prosperity, so too will this crisis period be followed by a calm, stable era.
It’s simply a matter of time.
“Imagine some national (and probably global) volcanic eruption, initially flowing along channels of distress that were created during the Unraveling era and further widened by the catalyst. Trying to foresee where the eruption will go once it bursts free of the channels is like trying to predict the exact fault line of an earthquake. All you know in advance is something about the molten ingredients of the climax, which could include the following:
- Economic distress, with public debt in default, entitlement trust funds in bankruptcy, mounting poverty and unemployment, trade wars, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation (or deflation)
- Social distress, with violence fueled by class, race, nativism, or religion and abetted by armed gangs, underground militias, and mercenaries hired by walled communities
- Political distress, with institutional collapse, open tax revolts, one-party hegemony, major constitutional change, secessionism, authoritarianism, and altered national borders
- Military distress, with war against terrorists or foreign regimes equipped with weapons of mass destruction”
The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe
Jonathan Haidt is looking closely at society and how things evolve. Jonathan David Haidt is an American social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His academic specialization is the psychology of morality and the moral emotions. Jonathan’s book, The Righteous Mind, is a fascinating read on the why’s, how’s and what’s of human morality. Morality you ask? How boring! Well at the root of all things on earth, at the intersection of all events in history, at the rise and fall of all civilizations, in your daily interactions with your family or at work, morality, and how we as people process our world is the root of everything.
Haidt weaves a theory that is well argued that there are 6 pillars which create the human moral compass. He looks anthropologically to prove the point that humans are social beings, we use our moral tools to get along and thrive in groups.
1. The Care/Harm Foundation
This foundation makes us sensitive to signs of suffering and need. In order to maximize care and minimize harm, we enact laws that protect the vulnerable. We punish people who are cruel and we care for those in suffering.
2. The Fairness/Cheating Foundation
This foundation leads us to seek out people who will be good collaborators in whatever project we are pursuing. It also leads us to punish people who cheat the system. People on both the right and the left believe in fairness, but they apply this foundation in different ways. Haidt explains:
“On the left, fairness often implies equality, but on the right it means proportionality – people should be rewarded in proportion to what they contribute, even if that guarantees unequal outcomes” (161).
3. The Loyalty/Betrayal Foundation
All of us, whether on the right or left, are “tribal” in some sense. We love the people on our team, and loyalty makes our team more powerful and less susceptible to our failure. Likewise, we have a corresponding hatred for traitors. Those who betray our “team” for the other side are worse than those who were already on the other side.
Though Haidt sees both left and right as being tribal, he recognizes “the left tends toward universalism and away from nationalism, so it often has trouble connecting to voters who rely on the Loyalty foundation” (164).
4. The Authority/Subversion Foundation
Authority plays a role in our moral considerations because it protects order and fends off chaos. Haidt explains:
“Everyone has a stake in supporting the existing order and in holding people accountable for fulfilling the obligations of their station” (168).
5. The Sanctity/Degradation Foundation
No matter the era, humans have always considered certain things “untouchable” for being dirty and polluted. The flipside is that we want to protect whatever is hallowed and sacred, whether objects, ideals, or institutions.
People on the right talk about the sanctity of life and marriage. People on the left may mock purity rings.
6. The Liberty/Oppression Foundation
This foundation builds on Authority/Subversion because we all recognize there is such a thing as legitimate authority, but we don’t want authoritarians crossing the line into tyranny. Both the left and the right hate oppression and desire liberty, but for different reasons.
The left wants liberty for the underdogs and victims (coinciding with their emphasis on Fairness/Cheating). The right wants liberty from government intrusion.
He digs into great thinkers like Plato and Hume who intuitively put forth arguments as to who’s in control in our minds, the urge driven ego or the rational moral compass. Haidt, like Gladwell and Duckworth (below), uses research studies and cross discipline analysis to prove, probably the most important point of all, which is ‘what makes people tick?’ His use of analogies like the real motivations in people are the large elephant and the part that controls our impulses and urges is the nimble rider help illustrate that to changes someone’s mind and belief system, you can’t appeal to the rider, you must get the elephant to WANT to change. Haidt references my favorite book of all time, How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The Righteous Mind is a great read if you want to get to the root of the ‘why’ of human nature.
Haidt sums up his morality as an evolutionary tool theory:
Dr. Joseph Henrich on Society and how we evolved. Henrich comes from an anthropological view point. His examples are fascinating. Henrich focuses anthropologically and sets up many of the arguments Haidt takes on using both how we evolved and where we are today.
Here’s The Thing – Alec Baldwin – WNYC
I spent a whole day listening to Baldwin interview leaders in the entertainment industry. First, I know about Alec’s life from a distance and his battles with addictions, anger and how he’s grown as a man. He proves my theory that most men are broken and their journey to be fixed makes them a deeper spirit and someone I am drawn to. Second, his knowledge of his industry, his credentials, and his interview style makes these long form interviews really interesting to watch. He reads his guest, he’s patient, his ability to build rapport and get guests to open up is truly world class. If you can imagine, celebrities get interviewed for a living. I’ve never really enjoyed listening to a typical mega star interview. I find them superficial. Not on this show. Alec is a respected peer and he’s honed his interview skills to a point where he gets big stars to open up, share stories, get to the root of who they are and what makes them tick. I recommend you dig into HERE’s THE THING. I particularly liked the Jimmy Fallon interview, it’s a great start.
The Jerry Seinfeld interview is pretty special. Funny men through history have typically been some of the highest paid celebrities of their generations. Think Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, Bill Cosby. Jerry breaks down his past, dissects the art of stand-up comedy and why he’s found his sweet spot. His conversations about the entertainment industry and his philosophy of doing what you love is pretty inspiring. Jerry exhibits the Grit Philosophy and obviously has the talent. He very clearly explains that the secret of success is tenacity.
Victor Davis Hanson on Great Literature
Victor Davis Hanson explains how the great works of literature, found in Classical Education, is more relevant today than ever. Of course, I happen to be building out an educational network that focuses on the Classics. The deeper I dig the more I like it. Give it a listen – HERE
Victor Davis Hanson – Book Discussion on Wars from the past and today: HERE
Black Mirror Looks At Society
For a little flashback to the old Twighlight Zone days, the Black Mirror series on Netflix is great. My favorite episode speaks to the world we now live if with likes and selfies and a constant obsession with social media. All the episodes have a deep meaning but this one is so chilling.
Art of Manliness: Jordon Peterson on Exploring Archetypes – Show Highlights
Why do societies across the world and across time share some of the same archetypes? Author Jordon Peterson digs into the phenomenon and does his best to explains the patterns and how are time is much like other times. History does repeat itself.
- How Jordan’s interest in myths percolated
- A quick primer on Carl Jung’s philosophy
- How stories and myths give meaning and order to life
- The Darwinian nature of myths that have been passed down thousands of years
- How myths — like creation stories, worldwide floods, and apocalyptic events — relate to everyday life
- The big archetypes found throughout world history and cultures
- How meta-narratives instruct us and set the pattern for action and behavior
- Why accepting and even welcoming struggle is important for a flourishing life
- Why ideologies are dangerous
- Nietzsche and the death of God
- Making the case for mythology in a post-secular world
- Why Jordan’s work attracts far more men than women
- Why men should forego the pursuit of power and instead seek competence
I just finished my third year as a panelist on a healthcare policy day for a local leadership training group. I continue to be impressed that they bring me back. Each year I’m teamed with an insurance professional, hospital administrator, payor or pharma executive. The panels view of the the healthcare market, the problems and solutions couldn’t be farther apart. The debates are lively and the audience of 40+ people come from all backgrounds and political philosophies.
I represent the independent medical doctor and their unique challenges in American healthcare. As insurance companies merge, hospitals get ever larger and piles of regulations come out of Washington DC, it’s the small family doctor that is getting squeezed. The consequences of less and less competition for healthcare services comes more concentrated power. With more buying power comes higher prices. Basic economics.
The boogie man in healthcare in the 1990’s was the evil insurance companies and their HMO’s. Today, the hospitals have taken up the mantle of Goliath and they are merging and buying their way to market dominance, city by city. As the hospital grows, their ability to dictate every higher prices from insurance companies grows as well. Through the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies have been turned into highly regulated utilities similar to your local electric or gas company. The government dictates who the insurance company must take, what they can rate their policies on and how much of the premiums have to be spent on services. In highly regulated markets, the bigger survive because they can afford the layers and layers of systems and people to manage the complexity. The losers are independent doctor groups and in the case of banking and finance, the local community banks. (more…)
Decline of America – 12 Arguments That America Is In Decline
The decline of a great society doesn’t happen overnight. There are certain stages and warning signs that are hard to miss. As you go about your day you may be like me and you come across a story or, a fact or, a chart that makes you pause to ask yourself ‘that can’t be a good thing’. This book is my attempt to string these ‘that can’t be a good things’ together and look at macro trends happening in America. Some of these trends have been going on for generations and others can be started or compounded from one election cycle to the next. This collection first started for me during the daily grind of 7 years in morning radio. I started to see some alarming patterns. These patterns and trends were first gathered into 25 categories. As I researched and edited, I finally developed the top 12 areas that I believe are leading to the decline of a great society. Those top arguments are arranged into the chapters that make up this book.
Taken individually one of these 12 topics can be seen as a crack in the foundation of what made America great. Taking them all in conjunction you can see how each of the chapters of this book contribute to a pattern and the piling together of the patterns are leading our Country to a decision point. Will this decision point be a conflict, will we wake up and change course, can we turn the ship around? These are all questions I ask myself every day. Hopefully, this book will help you make decisions for your family, your community and ultimately our country.
It will be easy to counter argue a particular point I’m making but I challenge you to take the analysis in their entirety and judge for yourself. Judge our Country on the dozen items I put forward and ask yourself if we are a Country on the rise or the decline. Analyze your particular school or city council. Look at your State and how our country rules and makes a decision. Use these points and start watching the news or reading the newspaper with a more enlightened analysis of where we are heading as a society.
When researching this book, it helps me to look at the history behind some of the decisions or directions our country is taking. I’ve been fascinated with the formation of America. The debates, the amendments, the structure, all were deliberately put together to ensure that the human desire for power and the focus on self-interest would be minimized for a greater good. The Founders of our country studied the fall of great societies and tried to put in place a form of government that pitted branches of the federal government against each other. They pitted States rights against a Federalist system. They built a government and a nation that survived over 240 years. My contention is that the more we erode the founder’s original structure of government the more damage we’ve done to our Country. The erosion of State’s rights, the election of Senators by popular vote instead of from the State legislatures have all had profound and negative impacts on our society.
The natural inclination, as I researched these topics, is to step back and ask yourself ‘how does this end up?’ Once you are aware that the path we are on as a country doesn’t look very promising, ‘how do I take care of my family?’ In the final chapter, I’ll spend some time pontificating on how our society will react to societal pressures, political vacuums and market gyrations. No one knows the future but we can look to the past to get an inkling on what happens next.
This book has something for everyone, politically that is. I am a Republican, I do a morning radio show on a conservative Christian talk network. I’ve run for elected office, I’ve helped local Republican candidates and as an entrepreneur, I step into the arena every day. I am the grandson and son of a butcher. I grew up in a small farming community. I value hard work. I believe the free market is the best way to deliver goods and services between two parties. I believe the answer to poverty is a healthy economy, unmarred by heavy government intervention. I believe in small government and lean libertarian on many issues. I stay clear of social issues relating to how people choose to live their lives, who am I to judge. I’ve been blessed in my life and I return the favor through board services with organizations that I believe in. I believe that in America, no matter where you started out your life, you can make any dream come true.
My radio show, columns, and this book are about putting ideas out into my community aimed at helping families see a different narrative than is portrayed in the media. I hope to weave a number of data points that you see on the evening news into a trend that paints not so bright picture. This book is about how I see my Country. For the past ten years, I’ve immersed myself in politics, faith, education, society, and culture. Being a part of the media has given me access to the leaders and decision-makers in my community, my State and in the Country. Over the years I’ve seen patterns emerge. I’ve seen the challenges at making a true change at the ballot box, I’ve seen the contrast between liberal and conservative governance. I’ve observed how people handle the mantle of power and what affects their decisions. These life experiences have to lead me to write this book.
Decline of A Great Society
When you look at the decline of other great societies there are historic clues that don’t always line up perfectly with the arguments I put forth in this book but there are definitely patterns that should scare you and make you take notice. Alexander Fraser Tytler, a European historian published The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic. In his analysis, Tytler concluded that from his research that the following stages of societal growth and decline are clear guideposts that great societies follow:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over a loss of fiscal responsibility, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world’s great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith,
From spiritual faith to great courage,
From courage to liberty,
From liberty to abundance,
From abundance to selfishness,
From selfishness to complacency,
From complacency to apathy,
From apathy to dependency,
From dependency back again to bondage.”
The American experience, at just shy of 240 years old, is following Tytler’s stages. From our Countries foundation and the pushback against tyranny at the hands of the British empire to the roaring 20’s, industrial revolution, post WWII economic booms on through to the rise of the counterculture, hippies, free love and into the rise of illicit drug use through the cocaine and crack 80’s and 90’s. The final stages we are now living include lack of trust in our governmental institutions from Congress to your local school district, the rise of the entitlement state and the ‘selfie generation’ who ask ‘what is my government going to do for me?’ (more…)
Protected: Business and Governments All Too Cozy Relationship in America – Book Notes – ‘Decline of America in 12 Chapters’ – J HIggins
Protected: US Military – The Police Force For The World – Book Notes – ‘Decline of America in 12 Chapters’ J Higgins
Protected: Flight To Cities – Pension Crisis and Election Consequences – Book Notes ‘Decline of America In 12 Chapters’ – J Higgins