Whether you support it or not, the recent dispute over the Second Amendment has the makings of a serious controversy in coming days.
With the current refusal of as many as 300,000 Connecticut gun owners who legally possess rifles that have just now become illegal in that state, we are witnessing a profound example of civil disobedience.
The amendment in question states:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
In the 2008 Supreme Court case of D.C. v Heller, it would seem that this issue had finally been put to bed, but the debate rages on. The final paragraph of the majority opinion of the Court concerning D.C. v Heller delivered by Justice Scalia makes their ruling clear:
We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution. The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns, see supra, at 54–55, and n. 26.
But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.
Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
We affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
Here is a chance for all citizens, regardless your politics, to become informed and stand for something. For more information on this topic I recommend the following:
And the following opinions in these links:
The President of the United States believes that our role in the global community is to punish the Syrian government for military strikes on Syrian civilians resulting in hundreds of deaths and diminishing the Assad regime’s ability to deploy biological agents in the future.
Whether or not it is the duty of the U.S. to punish another sovereign nation against which we have not declared war is an important question.
Another pertinent question is, is it possible for the U.S. to retaliate on behalf of innocent victims without further civilian casualties?
War is armed conflict between nations. It is unrealistic and dishonest to suggest that any act of war (or international violence) can be accomplished without civilian casualties or “collateral damage.”
Another questions is, is the U.S. bound by international law? I have my own opinion, but what matters is, does the Obama administration adhere to international law or not?
Does the United Nations and the International Court of Justice have the force of law globally? If they do have the full force of law, then how does Obama justify military action without the approval of the UN Security Council?
These questions and others to follow, came to mind as I was contemplating the advice that would have been given in this situation by the little remembered French economist and legislator Fredric Bastiat (1801-1850).
Bastiat is well-known by his readers for expounding the philosophy of “that which is seen and that which is not seen.”
In essence, he taught that every action taken based on what is seen or known in the moment would always be followed by a myriad of unaccounted for or unseen consequences.
He predicted that as we then attempted to deal with these unforeseen results of our initial rash actions, we would typically make more ill conceived decisions that simply complicate and make matters worse.
Bastiat’s solution was to think about the unseen for a long time before taking any kind of action, and like an expert chess player, think about the consequences of a single move many moves into the future before taking that first move.
Take Syria for instance.
WHAT IS SEEN? A totalitarian regime allegedly targeted civilians, hundreds were killed.
For this, the U.S. president and some members of Congress wish to respond with more military action.
WHAT IS NOT SEEN? This question leads us to ask more questions:
Were the targeted civilians viewed by the standing government to be actively engaged in the current rebellion against the Assad government?
Did the Assad government warn these civilians before the suggested attack?
Were known rebels using civilians as human shields and setting up their operations in civilian populations?
How will Syria and her allies react to U.S. military intervention?
How will U.S. intervention impact the region and consequently the U.S. economy?
How will the U.S. react if Syria or its allies retaliate?
How many U.S. soldiers will loose theirs lives in escalated U.S. intervention?
This thought process begs more questions:
What is the proper role of the U.S. government? Policing the world or protecting its soil and citizens?
Does the international community have the right to discipline the United States as it sees fit? If not, why not? And if not, why then do we have the right to take such offensive actions?
Are human rights and dignity best protected by military force? What other options are there?
Does the U.S. government have the right to risk the lives of our soldiers— our fathers and mothers, our sons and daughters—simply to protect the rights of foreign civilians?
If yes, then why are we not intervening in the affairs of at least ten other troubled nations around the globe currently abusing the human rights and freedoms of their own citizens?
I don’t have all the answers but I do have many more questions that need to be asked and answered before I would be in favor of a strike on Syria. I would ask lots of questions about our 12 years in Afghanistan and our more than 20 years in and out of Iraq.
Have we ultimately increased American freedoms and human rights through these military actions? Was the cost worth the effort, or another way to ask the question, was the threat sufficient for the price we have paid both in lives and in dollars?
I encourage all of you to take some time to read the full essay “That Which Is Seen And That Which Is Not Seen.”
We have been saying for years that the day would come when the concepts and results of a liberal education would again be valued in politics, business, and society in general, that citizenship would enjoy a renewed position of importance in our nation, and that statesmen would rise up in our capitols to provide courageous leadership in the face of party politics—particularly one’s own party.
That period of history has just commenced.
We believe that when Senator Rand Paul stood on March 6 to filibuster the U.S. Senate John Brennan consent vote, and spent nearly 13 hours to call the executive branch of the United States government to account for its unclear policies regarding the use of unmanned drones in U.S. airspace, he unwittingly triggered a movement back to the principles and values upon which this nation was built.
Paul’s determination to personally take a stand against the executive branch—an act many in his own party have rebuked him for—shows the triumph of personal conviction over party hierarchy.
Much of his testimony and debate during this famous filibuster, detailed the convictions that all lawmakers should espouse: principles of sound government, accountability, the value of the rule of law, acknowledgement of Divinity, and the firm foundation and lessons from history.
Rand stated that he had not planned this filibuster in advance, so I think it is fair to surmise that the stream of support from both sides of the aisle was fairly spontaneous and genuine.
It shows that when someone leads out for truth and right, others will follow.
Not all Americans will instantly embrace these ideas and values—in fact, we predict that most Americans won’t—but we firmly believe that enough mothers and fathers will refocus the education of their children, that enough business leaders will reevaluate the purpose and methods of their businesses, and that enough political leaders will rise up as statesmen to lead the charge for liberty—to make a real difference.
This is why Monticello College exists, we are dedicated to cultivating an education and environment that foster public virtue, induce moral character, and emulate the courage and foresight of the American founding period, preparing our graduates to guard the principles of liberty.
It will take time to clearly discern the impact of this event.
But we predict that Pandora’s box has been opened and more and more Americans will look to Paul’s example and begin to take such measures in their own lives, which will undoubtedly lead to an increased interest in the founding principles, that have set America and the United States as a light on a hill.
P.S. I challenge you to watch all 12.5 hours of the filibuster (C-Span or youtube) as a show of solidarity for his act and as a means of responsible citizenship. We did at Monticello College.
Bringing You Up To Speed
If you will recall from part one, for the past twenty years, we have taught that America was somewhere on the “pre-bondage” side of the cycle, between Selfishness and Dependence.
As we enter 2013, we have clearly entered the Bondage phase. Just consider the events of the past 12 months:
- NDAA 2012
- Congress passed Obamacare and it was sanctioned by the Supreme Court
- The national plunge over the Fiscal Cliff on January 1, 2013
- The likely lifting of the “Debt Ceiling”– spearheaded by the president
- 23 Executive Orders restricting the Second Amendment out of existence (in addition to hundreds of others the president has issues during his first term in office)
If this doesn’t spell BONDAGE then nothing does.
So now that we are in bondage, how do we get out? The normal pattern of this cycle indicates that you don’t –you stay in bondage for about 200 years, then an event of significant magnitude catapults you out of bondage momentarily. While you stand bewildered and blinking at the sun like prisoners from Plato’s allegoric cave, the power you just overthrew regroups and brings you back into bondage as you quickly circumnavigate the cycle to your original position.
However, all is not lost. There have been a couple of times in history that men did not follow their worst nature and did secure a position in Abundance rather than Bondage and changed the course of history. The 200 years of abundance of the Roman Republic is one of those times, and the 200 years following the creation the United States is another.
America, thanks to founders, has been very slow in working its way back into Bondage, but make no mistake, we are here. And now that we are in bondage, we do not know how long we will be here and that can be scary. But we do know that the only way out of Bondage, the way both the Romans and the people of the American founding era got out was by becoming a people of high humility, high integrity, high literacy, and devotion to Deity—developing Spiritual Faith.
The natural consequence of a people in Bondage developing Spiritual Faith is the advancement of Courage.
Acting on that Courage leads to Liberty. Liberty with such a people always leads to great Abundance.
This is precisely what the pre-American founding era did. They left the religious and tyrannical bondage of England and Europe and removed themselves to the wilderness of America. That removal and subsequent hardship moved them to rely on God and develop Spiritual Faith, Courage, and Liberty in a way they may not have otherwise.
So our path is clear—to get out of bondage we must as a society develop spiritual faith or become a people of high humility, high integrity, high literacy, and devotion to Deity. How do we do that? Let’s tackle these one at a time.
Humility and Integrity
The annals of history are full of accounts of people suffering and turning to Deity for relief. The old adage, “there are no atheists in foxholes” is alive and well (a foxhole is a hole or indentation that a solider creates to avoid being shot on the battle field). Humility is not a state of abject poverty or groveling. It is a deep and abiding acknowledgement that we are dependent on a Higher Power. While it may take sometime for the general populace to realize the predicament we are in, we as individuals and families, even communities can become humble, turn to Providence now and aknowledge His ever-protective embrace.
Integrity is a choice. We do not have to go along with the prevailing culture of “take care of me first” or “it’s not personal, it’s just business” or “if they are dumb enough to fall for trickery, they deserve it.” Integrity is a decision to be honest 24/7. This does not mean gullible or foolhardy, it just means being honest and fair, in all situations.
In a phrase – live your religion. I don’t care what that is, just stand for something, declare your principles and live by them so that all can see your good works and praise God.
Literacy is always the beginning of liberty. From the 1845 Narrative of Fredrick Douglass we get the essence of the value of literacy. Falling into a rage of anger over the discovery that his young wife was teaching 10-year old Fredrick to read, Douglass’s master declared, (Douglass uses his master’s own words):
If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell (Old English – 45 inches). A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master—to do as his is told. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.
These words [said Fredrick] sank deep into my heart, stirring up sentiments within, that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. . . I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty—to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man.
Masters and slaves come in all colors, sizes, and shapes.
This leads us to an in-depth look at literacy and the liberal arts.
In ancient Greece and Rome, the population experienced a natural segregation into two distinct classes; the slave class (those who were slaves or plebes who lived at the level of slaves limited by a slavish mentality) and a class we call, the Liber.
Liber is the Latin word used today for botanical purposes meaning the inner layers of tree bark.
In times gone by, when men had command of written language they would record their histories, laws, businesses transactions etc. on clay tablets, animal hides, papyrus, or even thin layers of tree bark. The creation of these records required a person to possess the skills of thinking, reading, writing, engaging in commerce, contract, and politics. We associate the word Liber with those freemen who possessed and used these skills.
There were varying levels and types of slaves and peasants, and likewise different types of Liber: from citizens to merchants to the aristocracy and royalty. But the fundamental difference between slaves and Liber was the exercise of freedom. It was not enough to be born into a free class, if a person did not exercise that freedom (through daily use of the above mentioned skills) there were plenty of political and ecclesiastical powers ready to snatch it up and exercise it for the free citizen, thus transforming him into a slave.
What is Liberty?
Liber is the root word for liberty. It is also the root word for libro (book) and library. Liberty is the state of being Liber. There is a distinct and deep relationship between the holding and use of a library (especially a private library) and the state of liberty. Liberty is not just the absence of bondage, but the fitness of an individual to exercise the liber skills to be a free citizen (we distinguish freedom from liberty thusly, freedom is individual and liberty is a social or collective action).
The concept of liberty is all but lost in America today. Being a society in bondage, the ability to see our way without government involvement and oversight has vanished. The conception of having a voice and standing completely on our own is nothing but a shadow, eradicated from the modern role of citizenship.
Liber is also the root word for the phrase “Liberal Arts”, such as in liberal arts colleges; the arts in a Bachelor of Arts or B.A. degree comes from the term “liberal arts.”
The term Liberal Arts or better known as Artes Liberales during the middle ages (10th through 14th centuries) does not mean arts as we understand the word at this present day, but those branches of knowledge which were taught in the schools of that time.
They are called liberal, because they serve the purpose of training the free man, in contrast with artes illiberales, which are pursued for economic purposes.
Artes illiberales or illiberal arts where important but almost exclusively acquired via internships and residencies for good reason as modern employers are finding, regardless the degree a new hire possesses, they still need to engage in OJT to be worth their salt.
The aim of the classical liberal arts was to prepare the student not for gaining a livelihood, but for the pursuit of science in the strict sense of the term, i.e. the combination of philosophy and theology known as scholasticism. This was a preparation for one’s philosophy of life, one’s moral perspective, a way to see the world and interact in it.
There are seven original or classical liberal arts arranged in two groups, the first comprising grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic, or in other words, the sciences of language, of oratory, and of logic, better known as the artes sermocinales, or language studies; the second group comprises arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, known as the artes reales.
The classical liberal arts possess a special interest for historians, for in spite of modern pedagogical practices, here stands a two thousand year-old system, still active today, that challenges modern notions of education, surpassing them in both duration and in local ramifications.
But it is equally instructive for the philosopher because thinkers like Pythagoras, Plato, and St. Augustine shared in the framing of the system, and because in general much thought and pedagogical wisdom have been embodied in it.
Further, it is of importance to the practical teacher, because among the comments of so many schoolmen on this subject may be found many suggestions that are of the greatest utility. Aside from the ancients, there are authors such as Locke, Shaftsbury, and Turnbull who have commented greatly on these arts or skills for the development not of a career but of one’s personal moral philosophy, which of course dictates so much of what we do in the rest of our lives.
In our day, there are still two types of people—the Liber or liberal arts educated and the not Liber or not liberal arts educated. A liberal arts education does not guarantee moral judgement or moral action, that must still be instilled from youth. But in general, those who are Liber (moral or not) are those who lead society because they know how to think. Those without this type of education, have no choice but to follow.
Other Liberal Arts
In addition to the seven arts cataloged above, over time other great thinkers and teachers have added to the list. Here are Aristotle’s considerations for a list of arts required to check the abuse of power and maintain the liberty of society:
- Fine Arts
- Political Economy
To be Liber, according to Aristotle was to have a serious depth of knowledge in all of these areas, not just one or two. Today we have B.A. or B.S. degrees that focus in just one area, but originally the B.A. degree meant to have depth in all the arts of freedom. We cover this in depth in another paper – The State of American Education.
Mortimer Adler the assistant editor of the Great Books of the Western World, a collection published by Britannica and the University of Chicago in 1952, listed the following as skills required to maintain freedom:
Adler stated that, “Training in the liberal arts is indispensable to making free men out of children. It prepares them for the uses of freedom — the proper employment of free time and the exercise of political power. It prepares them for leisure and for citizenship.
Robert Hutchins, Adler’s partner in the project and president of the University of Chicago at the time declared, “I am afraid we shall have to admit that the educational process in America is either a rather pleasant way of passing the time until we are ready to go to work, or a way of getting ready for some occupation, or a combination of the two. What is missing is education to be human beings, education to make the most of our human powers, education for our responsibilities as members of a democratic society, education for freedom.”
Hutchinson continues, “This is what liberal education is. It is the education that prepares us to be free men. You have to have this education . . . if you are going to be an effective citizen of a democracy; for citizenship requires that you understand the world in which you live and that you do not leave your duties to be performed by others, living vicariously and vacuously on their virtue and intelligence. To be free you have to be educated for freedom. This means that you have to think; for the free man is one who thinks for himself.”
More Liberal Arts
In the late 1990s a number of prominent schools, Harvard and Princeton to mention two, published lists of skills they projected would be necessary to succeed in the 21st century. Some of these fit our criteria for maintaining liberty and so we include them here:
Harvard School of Law
- The ability to define problems without a guide
- The ability to ask hard questions that challenge prevailing assumptions
- The ability to quickly assimilate needed data from masses of irrelevant information
- The ability to persuade others that your course is the right one
- The ability to discuss ideas with an eye to application
- The ability to think inductively, deductively, and dialectically*
Princeton Undergraduate Program
- The ability to think, speak, and write clearly
- The ability to reason, critically and systematically
- The ability to think independently
- The ability to take the initiative
- The ability to judge what it means to understand something thoroughly
- The ability to see connections among disciplines, ideas, and cultures
In the year 2000, Oliver DeMille added his thoughts to those already mentioned and suggested 4 additional skills for the mix:
- The ability to understand human nature and lead accordingly
- The ability to discern truth from error regardless the source or the delivery
- The ability to discern true from right
- The ability and discipline to do right
The age we are currently experiencing is not only a bondage period of the Tytler cycle but it is also an alignment of the Tytler Cycle and the Saeculum or the Century Cycle. This only happens once in every 8 generations or turnings/seasons of the Saeculum. What we do during this “fourth turning” which means the next couple of decades, will have a dramatic impact on the next two centuries of American existence.
Next part in this series – The Liberal Arts During Bondage: Part Three; The Fourth Turning: The Opportunity of The Century
*Inductive reasoning or thinking is the method of processing information from detailed facts or observations to broader general principles or theories. Deductively reasoning is basically the opposite process, beginning the process from generalities and distilling them down to specifics. Inductive reasoning is sometimes called “bottom-up” thinking and deductive reasoning is called “top-down” thinking. While both methods of reasoning are used in science and elsewhere, induction is used to follow a hunch or dream up a theory, which may of may not be true, while deduction is used to meticulously prove out theories or ideas created by induction.
When thinking dialectically, the thinker will take two or more opposing points of view and pit them against each other, developing each by providing support, raising objections, countering those objections, raising further objections, and so on. Think of opposing attorneys in a court case or debaters.
Dialectical thinking or discussion can be conducted so as to “win” by defeating the positions one disagrees with — using critical insight to support one’s own view and pointing out flaws in other views or, if being fair and honest, by conceding points that don’t stand up to critique, trying to integrate or incorporate strong points found in other views, and using critical insight to develop a fuller and more accurate view.
And so it begins…
Of the almost 127 million voters, a majority preferred a governing system that favors high taxes, a saturated welfare system, forced health care, and an abundance of government dependent workers.
Apparently we have learned nothing from the real-time occurrences in Europe, most recently in Greece.
As Oliver DeMille put it in a recent article, “Make no mistake. Whatever the pundits say, we fell off the fiscal cliff on January 1, 2013.
‘Until House Republicans stand up and simply say “no” to the Obama super-spending agenda, the Spendocracy will grow and a depression is looming.
Indeed, conspiracy theories aside, those who want government to grow are actually benefited by recession and depression because they gain even more demand for increased government involvement.”
There is no turning back; in fact, according to a recent Forbes article titled “Do You Live In A Death Spiral State?”,this government growth and spending frenzy is not just a national government phenomena; the state and municipal governments are joining the party as fast as they can.
Face it, with more than 20% of the states already upside down, this is our new reality; and the sooner we warm up to it and adjust our thinking, the better for us in the long term.
Quoting from the Forbes article:
Don’t buy a house in a state where private sector workers are outnumbered by folks dependent on government.
Thinking about buying a house? Or a municipal bond? Be careful where you put your capital. Don’t put it in a state at high risk of a fiscal tailspin.
They can look forward to a rising tax burden, deteriorating state finances and an exodus of employers.
If your career takes you to Los Angeles or Chicago, don’t buy a house. Rent.
If you have money in municipal bonds, clean up the portfolio.
Sell holdings from the sick states and reinvest where you’re less likely to get clipped. Nebraska and Virginia are unlikely to give their bondholders a Greek haircut.
California and New York are comparatively risky.
Two factors determine whether a state makes this elite list of fiscal hellholes. The first is whether it has more takers than makers. A taker is someone who draws money from the government, as an employee, pensioner or welfare recipient. A maker is someone gainfully employed in the private sector.
Let us give those takers the benefit of our sympathy and assume that every single one of them is a deserving soul. This person is either genuinely needy or a dedicated public servant or the recipient of a well-earned pension.
Taxes get too high.
Prosperous citizens decamp. Employers decamp. That just makes matters worse for the taxpayers left behind.
Let’s say you are a software entrepreneur with 100 on your payroll.
If you stay in San Francisco, your crew will support 139 takers. In Texas, they would support only 82. Austin looks very attractive.
Ranked on the taker/maker ratio, our 11 death spiral states range from New Mexico, with 1.53 takers for every maker, down to Ohio, with a 1to1 ratio.
The taker count is the number of state and local government workers plus the number of people on Medicaid plus 1 for each $100,000 of unfunded pension liabilities.
(Sources: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and a study of state worker pensions done in 2009 by two academics, Joshua Rauh and Rovert NovyMarx. Professor Rauh estimates that the shortage in pension funding is on average a third higher today.)
Conning’s analysis focuses more on dollars than body counts. Its formula downgrades states for large debts, an uncompetitive business climate, weak home prices and bad trends in employment.
Conning rates North Dakota the safest state to lend money to, Connecticut the most hazardous. A state qualifies for the Forbes death spiral list if its taker/maker ratio exceeds 1.0 and it resides in the bottom half of Conning’s ranking.
A final word.
Ideas have consequences, and the consequences of the ideas that are shaping our fast approaching fiscal reality could not be any more obvious. Sure, go ahead, hope and pray that a miracle will occur or that government will come to its senses and stop all new spending and cut deeply into current spending (yes, that means real budget cuts such as reducing or stopping all non-vital services, no new construction projects, and pay raises).
And while you are waiting for that miracle or change of heart, you might consider entertaining the same steps that we have been suggesting for at least two years:
1. Read at least one of the depression books listed below within the next 30 days (no really, just do it).
2. Re-evaluate your current economic and family situation and make hard choices to re-position with a better strategy (down-size, more family time, grow a family or community garden, food storage instead of family vacation).
3. Get as liquid as possible and out of debt as soon as possible. Fire sale opportunities will be on the rise over the next 5-10 years.
4. Start a mini-factory (develop multiple streams of income – home-based business, a cottage industry, enhanced education to shift to more flexible income, parallel incomes, CSA, Network marketing business, etc.) and be as creative and optimistic as possible. These sentiments will soon be in short supply.
5. Create a culture and community of service
6. Create a family legacy. This means lay the groundwork for a multi-generational organization that unifies and protects your family — come what may (true happiness can only be found in family).
Take a look at this list of books to help adjust your thinking and position yourself to succeed during economic hard times at a level we have not experienced in our lifetime:
The Great Depression Ahead – Dent
America’s Great Depression – Rothbard
The Fourth Turning – Howe and Straus
The Third Wave – Toffler
5,000 Year Leap – Skousen
The Cube and the Cathedral – Wiegel
The Servile State – Belloc
A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens – DeMille/Brooks
P.S. Please be sure to do your own research. I am ok if you don’t believe me, but for heaven’s sake, do not believe those who are saying “don’t worry, things are just fine.” Get your own sense of truth by doing your own investigation.
While some jobs/careers do require specialized training, the scheme of requiring a degree in most cases, is more a function of credentialism and jumping through hoops than actual job preparation.
Just ask the thousands of employers who interview tens of thousands of “qualified” applicants only to find themselves forced out of necessity to hire perfectly credentialed and completely ill-equipped employees.
Historically (1636-1920’s), American higher education was designed to build character, not train for employment.
Almost all job training (beyond day labor) was accomplished through apprenticeship.
But during the 1940’s to 1980’s the educational plan promoted by higher education was to secure a degree, which would lead to 40-50 years of service to a single company, after which the employee would retire with a good pension.
Today, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average employee will hold no less than 14 distinct jobs or career positions with different companies and in different fields over the same 40-50 years with little to no retirement plan.
Other statistics show that 75% of all college graduates do not secure employment in the field of their degree and the percentage increases significantly a decade after graduation.
So attending college for the purpose of job training for a single career has been obsolete for 20 to 30 years. This being the case, what is the point of college education?
From the perspective of history, the rationale for a liberal arts college education has never changed—at least in the United States, it has always been to build individual character and national citizenship. It was never designed to train students for employment—that was the role of the free market.
The legacy of American higher education training independent, self-supporting citizens who were highly literate, well versed in history and literature, philosophy and languages, science and mathematics, law and virtue, and devoted to Deity was the foundation of American society for nearly 400 years.
This educational legacy which lasted from the 17th century well into the 20th, perpetuated a culture of the single income American family with mother caring for the children and the family supporting father in the family business or ranch/farm. It promoted a sense of honesty over prosperity, family values and fidelity over selfish needs and wants, service over entertainment.
So why is that legacy not our standard today? Why has the percentage of active Christians declined decade after decade for the past sixty years?
The answer is easy—we have forgotten who we are. The strength of America has always been her fiercely independent, creative and religiously reverent people. A people who used their Yankee ingenuity and their Puritan work ethic to solve any problem or hardship that came their way. It was a culture grounded in doing what is right—even at a loss, where a hand-shake was as good as a written contract, and where people seemed to be in competition to sacrifice for the next generation. Until we recover our collective memory, we will suffer in the depths of bondage and ignorance.
This former sense of obligation to preserve the past and safeguard the future, to make decisions where money or entertainment are not the prevailing criteria, where thoughtful consideration of how our actions will impact our spouse, the rest of our family and the community at large, is the desired philosophical outlook of a liberal arts education.
Benjamin Franklin said it well when he declared that the purpose of education was to train us to, “pray as if we will die tomorrow and work as if we will live for 100 years.”
What Employers Want
Job training is a relatively easy process and in most cases only takes a few months of OJT.
Rather than credentials, what most employers really want are prospective employees who have a real work ethic, who are punctual, who value personal hygiene, who are creative, and exhibit initiative.
They crave employees who can follow the rules to perfection and at the same time, think outside-of-the-box to improve the rules for greater efficiency.
Employers want people working for them who are honest, who have common sense and who value loyalty.
Virtually none of these characteristics are part of modern job training diploma programs. Training citizens in the above-mentioned qualities in addition to an “abundant,” mind-opening education is the purpose of liberal arts education. I don’t know how to say it any clearer. And if you the reader, will stop for one minute and carefully consider what I am saying (especially employers) you will find yourself in agreement.
So why do we continue to promote a “job training” system of higher education when it has been failing to meet our workforce needs for so long?
Why are we so enamored with credentialism and the false security of a stable, long-term career?
What does the future hold for our children and grandchildren? Can we honestly see the current national structure maintaining prosperity?
Study History to Navigate the Future
Alexander Tytler, a university professor of history, a contributor to the Scottish Enlightenment, and a contemporary to the American Founding, taught that every 200-250 years, society completes a full revolution of this cycle:
For the past twenty years, we have taught that America was somewhere on the “pre-bondage” side of the cycle, between selfishness and dependence.
As we enter 2013, I think it is clear to anyone who will honestly look at the facts, that we have without a doubt entered the “bondage” phase.
Just consider the likely conclusions of three obvious trends in America today (and don’t forget the historical evidence):
- the direction and probable fate of the U.S. dollar/economy
- the direction of American culture
- the irreversible direction the U.S. national debt
This bondage phase will become more and more obvious over the next decade. What does this mean for our families and our finances? It means that we will soon need to adjust to a new standard of living. It means that those qualities and desired results of a liberal arts education will be in higher demand than ever before.
What does it mean for our form of governance? It means that government will increase dramatically as a top–down, anti-local, over-the-top taxing entity or it will fail and we will be left to our own devises in a very fractionalized, almost tribal environment.
Other cycles corroborate the Tytler Cycle and indicate that we will likely face war conditions on American soil within a decade. It means that those qualities and desired results of a liberal arts education will be in higher demand than ever before and may very well be the difference between creating solutions and increasing freedom or submitting to the powers that be—contrary to principles we know to be true.
Some would say that such talk is negative and doomsday-ish. We see it more as a reality with incredible potential opportunities to do good, to be righteous, and to provide true leadership—leadership that one must be prepared and trained for. We also believe that we have entered a time that requires a heightened awareness and frankness not found in a third turning (see the Fourth Turning).
Monticello College is the only institution of higher education in America that I know of, that is consciously preparing leaders and citizens for these historically sound inevitabilities.
Is this crazy talk? Only time will tell, but until our predictions come to fruition, we will continue to build Monticello College as a training ground for a new kind of leader—a leader needed to pilot a people out of bondage back into abundance.