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From its very founding, the architects of a successful republic have to get certain things right in order for the new enterprise to survive and thrive. Some things have to come first. In their approximate order of urgency, let’s consider solutions to the following challenges. Figure 1-1 illustrates these 10 basic components, or sub-systems, of a thriving republic. . . .
The history of America’s 250-year development, while seemingly haphazard, actually shows an intriguing pattern. If we rewind the movie all the way back to the founding and play it in slow motion, we can see a kind of cyclic progression of distinct phases, each spanning about 25 years or so. . . .
Global Warming: that phrase has become an emotionally charged shorthand—a handle for a whole grab-bag of controversies, conflicts, issues, problems, and—for some people—opportunities to bring the American Republic into the modern age.Few themes in the national conversation have generated so much heat and so little light, and few topics have tribalized Americans so intensely around competing ideologies.We need to unpack this relatively simple concept, look at its components, and get some sense of its politics—how Americans currently think and feel about it, if they think about it at all. . . .
The appalling casualty rate of ideas and initiatives on Capitol Hill has become intolerable. We can no longer afford to watch our biggest and best ideas die of asphyxiation. These are dangerous times and the stakes are much too high.We need another way to get the big things done—a way to bypass the legislative "sphincter" and turn good ideas into actions.We have such a way. It's called the "tiger team" approach, and it's been proven in lots of successful organizations, including the US military, some federal agencies, and in business enterprises.In a nutshell: whenever an organization is too sluggish, too . . .
According to Milton Friedman, professor of economics at the University of Chicago business school:“There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits, so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”The billionaire capitalist Malcolm Forbes, founder of the Forbes Magazine publishing empire, agreed with Friedman. Forbes put it even more simply:“The only sin in business is not making a profit.”A century earlier, the legendary robber baron John D. Rockefeller had shown the way . . .
Unless you’ve chosen to live a life isolated from the rest of society, you probably experience the national conversation every day, during much of your waking time. Your conversations with your family; your significant other; your neighbors; your close friends; your colleagues, co-workers, or fellow students; your casual acquaintances; the people in the shops you patronize—all influence the way you think about the Republic that you co-own and co-inhabit.In addition to our own personal microcosm of relationships, we modern citizens live our lives deeply and unavoidably embedded in an information environment. Let’s pause for a moment to think about this . . .
The Foreign Relations component of our Republic, more than most of the others, seems to involve the greatest sense of uncertainty, ambiguity, and unease in the minds of Americans.Throughout our history our leaders, big thinkers, activists, and citizens have struggled with two conflicting streams of thought. The national conversation has almost always involved some version of the same argument: should we engage actively with the other nations of the world or should we mind our own business and stay out of their affairs? . . .
When Americans consider the matter of public services—assistance of various kinds provided to citizens by government agencies—the national conversation tends to polarize around two contrasting views. One holds that government should provide a wide range of services for its citizens, especially those facing financial hardship and the effects of disadvantaged environments. The other holds that government should stay out of people’s lives and let them fend for themselves.On one side of the debate, the eternal bogeyman quickly raises its head: “Socialism.” The “nanny state.” “Do we want the government to do everything for us?” And, “Who pays for ... . . .
The noted scientist and intellectual philosopher Albert Einstein liked to say,“Everything should be made as simple as possible,but not simpler.”Let’s make it as simple as possible, but not simpler. I’ll state my premise out front: we haven’t solved the immigration problem because we never defined it intelligently.We’ve misunderstood it, misdiagnosed it, and mis-framed it as an emotionally charged stalemate between two incompatible mindsets. Regardless of which side gets its way, we won’t have solved it. Until we reframe our understanding of the problem and begin to apply some systems thinking, we’ll keep repeating the same old slogans and fighting the . . .
The Founders gave a lot of thought and debate to safeguarding individual rights. They knew well the violent history of the oppressive European monarchies, including their own ancestral homeland of England. They understood the risks of unbridled power in the hands of unaccountable heads of state.The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and John Jay, seemed confident that a strong central government would rule humanely. But the Anti-Federalists, led by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Patrick Henry, had their doubts. Indeed, they first opposed the new constitution entirely, because they saw it as shifting too much power from the . . .
The World Economic Forum estimates the total number of billionaires on the planet at just above 2,200. The wealthiest 26 of them own more “stuff”—money, stocks, bonds, mansions, cars, yachts, planes, art—than the 3.8 billion people at the bottom of the economic ladder combined.Currently a typical warehouse worker employed by Amazon gets paid about $10-12 per hour and has a net worth slightly above zero. The man who runs Amazon, according to Forbes’ estimates, has a net worth of over $200 billion.A review of the tax returns of 250 large American corporations for the years 2008-2015 discovered that eight of . . .
As a Republic, we spend a large share of our resources on trying to catch and punish people who misbehave. At city, county, state, and national levels, we’ve evolved a haphazard conglomeration of “correctional” operations—courts, jails, holding facilities, juvenile detention centers, and prisons. No one seems to know what or how they correct. . . .
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”—Dwight EisenhowerFive-Star General, US PresidentIf we want to rethink the role of military operations in the future of the Republic, we can analyze the various options and their costs in the cold, hard logic of return on investment. We face two questions: 1) how . . .
Where Have All the Leaders Gone?More and more Americans have started asking, “Does anybody in politics really care about the country any more? What happened to the statesmen, the thought leaders, the compromisers, the dealmakers?” Public opinion polls consistently show that Americans no longer respect or trust their political leaders. A recent poll showed Congress with an approval rating of just 18 percent.Meanwhile, the news industry, with its addiction to conflict as the standard model for framing the big stories, now relentlessly simplifies, personalizes, and amplifies the differences that divide the various factions.The practical effect of this paralyzing conflict and . . .
Plato, the Greek philosopher who taught and wrote about the idea of democracy 2400 years ago, offered a warning to all future generations. Democracy, he said, has one fatal flaw. Its greatest benefit, ironically, always becomes its greatest weakness. He had doubts about whether democracy would survive the centuries . . .
A hypothetical conversation between the updated version of my 'Sixties self and a modern woman, negotiating the terms of a mutually acceptable sexual experience. . . .
Certain American companies have stood for 100 years or more. What makes them go on and on and on? . . .
US airlines are still in reactive mode when dealing with noncompliant, deviant, and violent passengers. The cruise lines solved the disruptive passenger problem long ago, and their solutions can apply—with creative adaptations—to air travel compliance as well. Let's consider the possible lessons the airlines can learn from the cruise lines, and how they might make those adaptations. . . .
Seeing our flag flying proudly from the highest point on the pole has always communicated strength, resolve, and determination in the face of adversity. But when it is lowered to half staff, it seemsto convey a sense of weakness, woundedness, and even perhaps defeat.Perhaps we should have a second flag—a Memorial Flag, or pennant. That flag could fly just below the national colors and would symbolize the respect and remembrance of anyone or group who made the ultimate sacrifice for the Republic and its people. It would signal that this was a memorial occasion, while the national colors would still fly . . .
The day will come when water will be more precious than oil.It has already come in some places and cases, but as a society we haven't begun thinking of it in that way.Picture the "Great Hydro-Paradox": on one hand we have severe water shortages in places like California and various other agricultural regions; parched land; crops failing; animals dying; farmers and small business operators in financial crisis; the national food supply becoming precarious. (Typically, 11 US states experience episodic or chronic drought: Arizona; California; Colorado; Montana; Nevada; New Mexico; North Dakota; Oregon; Utah; Washington; and Wyoming.)At the very same time, . . .