Note: this transcript is unedited and can not be used for any other purpose except those specifically authorized by the Progress and Freedom Foundation
Renewing American Civilization
"pillar two: personal strength, the key pillar of American Civilization and Drucker's Effective Executive" January 21, 1995
The following is a special program produced by RCTV, Reinhardt college television, in Waleska, Georgia. From Reinhardt college in Waleska, Georgia, this is Renewing American Civilization. In this, the third of 10 class presentations, congressman newt Gingrich, an adjunct professor at Reinhardt college, will continue his course, which presents the foundational principles necessary to the renewal of American Civilization. This week's lesson, pillar two, personal strength, focuses on personal strength as the key pillar of American Civilization and peter Drucker's "the Effective Executive" as a guide to empowering citizens in the third wave information age.
Let me first of all welcome everybody who's here this morning, and also I want to welcome the students of Mind Extension University available all over the country, and I understand that there are a growing number of cable systems who are just picking us up randomly. In fact, I think we start in Washington, DC., On cable on Saturday. And I want to remind you you can mail your comments to: Renewing American Civilization, PO. Box 6008, Marietta, Georgia 30065. Or if you're more excited, you can fax your comments to 404-528-9806. And if you are on the cutting edge, you can either e-mail your comments to America Online at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can get involved with the class transcripts and other class materials which are available on our Internet web page http.//www.pff.org. And any of you who got all that, good luck. But it gives you a framework. You can also order "American Civilization" newspaper, video, and audio tapes and course readings by calling 1-800-to-renew, which is the easiest of all the instructions. So anybody who gets confused with all that other stuff, you can call 1-800-to-renew. Now, the course here at Reinhardt focuses on the five pillars of American Civilization, which are the historic lessons of American Civilization: personal strength, entrepreneurial free enterprise, the spirit of invention and discovery, and quality as defined by Deming. Each of those will take two hours, and we're dealing with building sort of a framework in which to think about American Civilization. Then we're going to apply the four -these five pillars to four areas towards the end of the quarter. First, to the concept of the third wave and American Civilization. Second, to creating American jobs in the world economy. Third, to replacing the culture of violence and poverty with a culture of productivity and safety. And, fourth, how will citizenship and community in the 21st century America, how will it operate? And our goal in these last four sessions will be to take the five ideas inherent in the five pillars, and then to apply them in a problem-solving mode so that people can actually deal with and begin to see how you take the five pillars and apply them to a specific topic or a specific idea that is central to American Civilization.
Now, today's topic is personal strength, which I believe is the keystone of everything else. That is, as we'll go through it in a little bit, if you can't come to grips with the requirement for personal strength, I think you really can't deal with the requirements of a free society. In order to talk about personal strength, though, remember we talked about a analytical planning model of vision, strategies, projects, and tactics. So we're going to lay out: what is our vision of personal strength, what are strategies to get personal strength, what are some projects that would implement those strategies, and then tactically, every day, what do you do?
Now, I'm also going to draw a contrast between the vision of personal strength that grows out of American Civilization and what has happened in the last 35 years. Remember I made the point last week that you have from 1607 at Jamestown and 16 -- 1920 in New England, you have, up until about 1965, a continuum. We played Franklin Delano Roosevelt's radio address to the nation on D-Day where he prayed for eight and a half minutes with the American people in a way that you couldn't imagine in the modern age, because my argument, essentially, intellectually is that between 1965 and 1994, there is a discontinuity, to use Alvin Toffler's -- I mean, to use peter Drucker's phrase, and that this discontinuity was an effort by a series of elite groups for a variety of reasons to replace American Civilization with an alternative model, which today is the multicultural political correctness left-wing sort of vision of reality. And that this was a very serious -- it was not a conspiracy. It is a general attitude by a wide range of people that this civilization was bad and that it had to be replaced.
Now, what we're going to lay out here in part is that the model that grew up out of that, which is the model that you are surrounded by, has certain inherent values. I'm going to lay out what American Civilization's definition of personal strength is and contrast it with this discontinuity's alternative model, and then what we are doing here, in a sense, is we're talking about reasserting and renewing. And frankly, it's been in the course of teaching this three times that I began to realize that we are reasserting American Civilization as well as moving to renew it.
Let me give you an example. At the vision level, we would argue, I think, in American Civilization that personal strength is vital. Whereas, the elite alternative would argue that most people are victims needing help. Now, if you were trying to teach this and we had an entire course just on this topic, you could take a week's newspapers, you could probably take this morning's newspaper, and you could go through and say: now, what happens?
When we run into a problem, do we say, "boy, you'd really better draw on your personal strength"? Or do we say that sadly -- remember the twinkies defense? The guy who killed the, I think it was -wasn't he -- didn't he kill the city council member in San Francisco? And his defense was he'd eaten too many twinkies, and therefore he was biologically unbalanced. This is not a joke. Or the Menendez brothers. They were so afraid of their parents that their only legitimate response was to kill their parents. I mean, don't ground your kids, they may kill you, because after all, look how you've scared them. I mean, think about the defenses that will be concocted on a regular basis in America today. And then think about this text: is the key to your future personal strength, or is the key to your future recognizing your victimization, banding together with other victims and forcing somebody else, who must have personal strength, since you're now going to force them to take care of you?
And William Raspberry wrote a column this week where he said he saw a documentary which said -- in which somebody said in the late 1960s, "I do not need to work. You need to give me money. And unless you give me enough money, you will not have -you will not have, you know, fairly compensated me for my victimization. Now, let me give you a second example. If personal strength is vital, American Civilization would argue that there are internal habits of strength to focus on. Whereas, the victimization theory would argue you need external compensation for weakness. Now, this may look like this is simple. This is at the core of what we're going to talk about. It's also at the core of a book you're going to hear me talk more and more about, which is Marvin Olasky's "the Tragedy of American Compassion," which I believe is one of the most important books written in the last 30 years. Olasky's argument is that to help the poor, you have to have a transformational experience which strengthens their internal habits of strength.
Whereas, the modern welfare state basically says to you: tell us what kind of a victim you are, and we'll tell you how big a check you get. Another example: in the American Civilization model, we study winners. In the elite culture model, we focus on losers. I'll give you -- again, if you wanted to have -- like, for a school room, if you were teaching the course and had the time to do it, go look at the sports page for any four days and then go look at the front page. Look at the extraordinary culture difference. Sports pages are about winning. Interview with the best coach, interview with the most successful player, interview with the Heisman trophy winner. What does it take to be a winner? You know, if the sports page was like the front page, interview with the worst coach in America. The trauma of never winning. The psychological sense of loneliness of the long-time -- of the long-time loser. The victimization of the weakest team in the league. I mean, literally take the two sets of articles, put them up side by side, and look at the code words and the analytical framework. The front page is about losing, and the focus is on victims. The sports page is about winning, and the focus is on success. And it's a radical difference. Now, the only difference -- the other difference, of course, is that the sports page is also about hometown teams, so you're loyal to them no matter what you're doing, but then it's the loyalty that's the reward.
These are our guys or these are our girls, these are -these folks are out there, you know. Who cares, as long as it's our hometown high school team? We're rooting for them no matter. But that's good, too, because it teaches a different set of strengths, which is bonding and loyalty and a sense of togetherness. And then apply that to the way we treat city government. I talked this week with a guy in a major city who's a major manufacturer who'd been working to help his city and finally got so mad, he went to the local newspaper, saw the publisher, and said, "why are you doing more each morning to destroy the city than I'm able to do to rebuild it?" And he's now been asked to join the board of the newspaper, because they were so shaken as he took them through story after story which focused on the negative. Let me give you another example. The American Civilization strategy would review and encourage success, whereas the elite culture strategy restricts, undermines, and takes from success to give to losers. So when you hear me talk about class warfare, taxing the rich, just think about the psychological implications behind that kind of rhetoric.
Now, to get one that's really controversial: the American Civilization model would award for merit. The elite culture will reward based on quotas. We want to know: what have you achieved? They want to know: who is your grandmother? That, by the way, is one of the most powerful cultural problems in American Civilization. Which matters? Do you matter, or does your group matter? Does your future matter and your effort matter, or does your past matter? Because, remember, if you reward somebody, you punish somebody else, so you're now using the state to pick winners and losers based on a particular formula, which has nothing to do with you as an individual. It's a very profound question about the nature of America, and very antithetical to American Civilization's core values. Another example. At the projects level. I want to talk briefly about earning by learning versus applying for a set-aside. We designed earning by learning about seven years ago at West Georgia college with Dr. Mel Steely.
We go into public housing projects for second and third graders. We pay them $2.00 a book for every book they read in summertime, and we lay out a framework. We use adult volunteers and public libraries. Now, if I can here for a second, notice the model. We're talking here about a system which is remarkably thin and non-bureaucratic and is truly voluntary. That is, it's voluntary at two levels. It's voluntary, first of all, because the money is not coerced from you by the government. I used the term this week "Coercive Volunteerism," and my reference was to the fact that if you don't like a particular government program, you decide you won't volunteer, that is, the IRS calls and said, "hi, we'd like you to volunteer to pay for this program." You say, "well, I think I just won't volunteer this year." What happens to you? They take it anyway, right? I mean, first the IRS visits, then the US. Marshal visits, then we visit you. Is that not right? Part of what I'm trying to do -- I know it gets me in trouble sometimes with the elite media -- but part of what I'm trying to do here is cut down through all the baloney to get to the core underlying realities. Because we have so many layers of garbage words that have no meaning. You remember last year one of the phrases for tax increase was "contribution."
Now, that can only make sense in a culture in which words -- and I'm a very big fan, if you've never read it, of George Orwell's work on "Politics and the English Language." It's a short essay, the essence of which: words have meaning. Now, when I read it, I was just -- I read it 15 years ago -- I was just blown apart by it, because I suddenly realized if you're going to talk about volunteers, they should actually volunteer. If they're being paid, they're not volunteers, not in the classic sense.
They're government employees. If you're being paid with a charitable contribution, it's a voluntary donation. If you're being paid with government money, it was coerced from someone. It's the nature of government. Government -- in fact, there's a quote from Washington that government is about power. And so you'd better think through the power you're giving somebody else to say to you, "you will give me this money." Now, what we do with earning by learning is very simple. And very different from the welfare state model. First of all, we use volunteer adults, no money. Second, we use public libraries. That's why they're there. No money. Third, we use free space in the public housing common room. So the overhead is totally volunteer, the entire structure is totally volunteer. The only money goes to the kids. So if you have $1,000, you can pay -- at $2.00 a book, you can pay for 500 books. Whereas, in the welfare state model, if you have $1,000, you pay $850 of it for the bureaucracy.
Totally different model. There's a second part: it is incentive-driven. That is, if you read 20 books, you get $40. Why are you reading the books? Because you'll get a reward. And I have people that say to me, "oh, that's terrible you have to pay them." These are little kids who watch baseball players on strike, they watch rock stars make millions. They read about congressmen getting four and a half million dollar book advances. You can't take all this stuff too seriously. And then we turn to them and say, "oh, but you shouldn't really think about this." What nonsense. I mean, we live in a society where the only way they can make money right now is to be a pimp, prostitute, or a drug dealer. It's illegal to go to work. They want some cash, they live, by definition, in a public housing project. Nobody around them reads, they have a broken home, nobody's there nurturing them, and we walk in and we say, "hi, we'll actually give you the money if you'll earn it. Because now it's your money." Then they get to spend it.
Most of them -- we've done it for seven years in 17 Different states by now -- most of them spend it on clothing. But the important thing is it's theirs by right, because they've earned it. So we're teaching them to earn. And we're teaching them that honest work leads to honest pay. And we're connecting them with an adult who cares, which may be the first adult they've ever seen who cares. We had one young child in Jonesboro, Georgia, who had very, very bad teeth deformation who was our best reader that year. He was in the fifth grade. We let him in because he was so lonely and so isolated that they made the local voluntary decision to let him in and break the rules. At the end of the summer, two orthodontists took him under their care and gave him two years of free care and changed his entire life. All of it done for free. Finally, the reason it got started, we teach literacy by doing. How do you teach reading? You read. If you'll read long enough, you can read. It's not about, you know, all of this fancy stuff, what do you do in class. It's simple.
Get them to look at the book. Get them to look at the book. They hold enough books, they read enough books, they'll read. Now, compare that novel -- I mean, compare that model with the welfare state model, which is applying for a set-aside. "you owe me. I deserve." No, no. You earn it. It's a totally different system. Let's go a stage further, a project. Imagine a TV show on how to rise versus a TV show on pathological behavior. One of the real points of the Eberly book, which we're using in this course on community and citizenship -- and it's a really important point, the theme -- one of the underlying themes of the book is when you look at your common culture, what does it teach? If you were a martian anthropologist and you arrived on earth and you just turned on American evening television, what would the signals be sent? This would be a great paper by somebody someday. Again, I'm trying to give you an example of how you could take this very compacted course and suddenly explode into a range of interesting studies.
Look at the five most popular sitcoms, and just watch them for two weeks and ask yourself: what were the values I would have learned in those sitcoms? They're mostly destructive, they're mostly trivial. They're just silly. So where would you turn in your common culture to say: I am a very poor 7-year-old, I really -- and I'm Black or Hispanic, and I'd really like to know how did 7-year-olds who were very poor and Black and Hispanic rise? Tell me a show that shows you. I'd like to know what the habits are of being successful. I'm sitting here in public housing, I've got a television set, I'd like to be able to tune on and see a show that is entertaining and shows me somebody being successful. Businessmen are mostly people who are conspiring to dump toxic waste in your back yard. Creatures are probably chasing the leader of the choir. Politicians are probably all accepting graft. Policemen are probably corrupt. I mean, have you looked at the common value systems of the culture on television?
And have you looked at what Hollywood does to America by the -- and it's not that there's some evil set. It's just that if you're a normal -- if you're a normal child and you're trying to get signals, what are the signals being sent to you and the thing you're most likely to watch, and what is it you're not going to see? And it would be fascinating to see a show which actually had a healthy church or a healthy synagogue that truly cares about spirituality and actually was helping people.
It would be wonderful to see a show about a family working in a mission setting who were actually transforming a -- what if you saw a show that was positive? I mean, in a sense, "little house on the prairie" was in this tradition, and the show that he started when he died, what was the one about the angel of -- highway to heaven. There are occasional brief moments of hope in what is otherwise a wasteland of cynicism. But let me get to the area of tactics. One would be: read rather than getting -- going for a handout. Now, if we simply said to everybody who wanted a handout: the public library is seven blocks away -- and I'm not talking to people who are without food, but if you talk to people who have lived in the streets, they'll tell you food isn't the problem. There are lots of places in America that now serve as mission centers. The problem is: what do you do in between meals? I'd say read. If you're not willing to learn, you're not going to get there.
And we need to say that over and over. Another example: working harder versus feeling sorry for yourself. I lost two campaigns. If I'd spent much time moping about it, I would not be in congress today. Now, you open up a small business, it's really hard. The answer is: work harder. Learn more, think it through. You go bankrupt. The answer is: get back up and go do it again. It's amazing how many first-generation millionaires went bankrupt at least once. But their reaction was, "wow, what did I learn out of that one?" The reaction wasn't, "gee, I think I'll go quit now." Another example, learning from others versus complaining to others. You can't -- and this has been one of the keys to my life.
I go around looking for teachers. I know I don't know something. Who knows it? "would you please teach me?" As opposed to complaining that I'm ignorant. If you'll try to learn, you'll be less ignorant tomorrow. It's a day-by-day experience. Another tactic, asking the question: what should I do? I mean, imagine that every poor person in America today had these two choices. We would say to them, ask yourself this morning, "what should I do?" What the welfare state says is, "go ahead and say you're helpless. We'll send a bureaucrat with a check." In fact, the welfare state's structured to punish you if you answer the question, "what should I do," "I think I'll go get a job." That's illegal. "I think I'll save for my daughter to go to school." That's illegal.
Let's go back to the vision level. I want to argue that personal strength is necessary both for freedom and for a free market. That, in fact, you're in a situation where you have to have a sense of being personally strong both to be politically free and to be effective in a free society. Now, let's look at this in a bigger context. A healthy, successful civilization provides at least six qualities of life. These are minimums: safety, family, work, health, learning, and spiritual meaning. That a civilization -- this is not a government, this is a civilization, the value structured, intellectual framework of your life, and that in America, the argument would be that the key to providing these qualities is all of us working together, with each of us doing our share. Now I'm going to walk you just for a second through these, but the argument I'm going to make to you is that personal strength is vital to each quality.
That any answer which says, "how can I not bear my share of the responsibility and you take care of me" is an answer which probably won't work. Let's start with safety. A neighborhood that watches out for its neighbors is almost certainly a safe neighborhood. And there are studies of this. You can build a hallway entrance, and if you have I think it's up to four doors, it's a safe hallway. But if you build a common area that has too many doors, it becomes impersonal space, and the amount of predatory behavior goes up dramatically. But if you create bonding, if you create a neighborhood where people know each other, pay attention to each other, that's why cul de sacs are safer than thoroughfares. Because people tend to know each other and tend to watch out for each other. If you create habits of safety, again, those of you who -- I have two daughters. They're now grown. But something as simple as: always go out in a group. You know, that may strike you as, "gee, you shouldn't have to live like that." In virtually every urban society in history, women are safer in groups. Now, you can say, "well, you shouldn't have to do that." No, you shouldn't have to do that.
The question is: statistically, are you safer? Don't be in downtown Washington or downtown Atlanta at 3:00 o'clock in the morning by yourself, whether you're male or female. That's not because -- that's not because you have to live a frightened life. It's just because you ought to be rational about what the risks are. You know, there's an old rule: don't go in -- don't go into a sailor's bar in new Orleans at 3:00 o'clock in the morning if you're not a sailor and think you can automatically handle yourself. You're out of your league. So you have to have some discipline to be safe. Now, I'm not saying that's good or bad. I'm not saying that's desirable or undesirable. I'm saying that it's real, that American Civilization's great hallmark is that it's real. Family. Any of you who have had a strong family know if you're going to keep a strong family, you have a lot of work you have to do. That you just -- you don't keep a family together unless you work at it. That takes personal strength. Work is another one. It's Monday morning, you don't feel like it. You go anyway. You're a salesman, you've been turned down four times, you make the next call. Takes personal strength. Health. One of our great problems in America is we're not straight about this. You drink a quart of liquor a day, you don't do any exercise, you're 65 pounds overweight, don't complain to the doctor because he failed or she failed. There has to be some level of personal responsibility. People who get a disease who recover versus people who don't. Personal strength's a big factor in who bounces back. People who live to be 90 and they're healthy, like Edwards Deming or like peter Drucker, who's in his mid 80's, you'll find a lot of discipline, a lot of constant thought. They don't -- it just doesn't happen genetically. They're not just lucky, although that's a factor, obviously.
But it's amazing people -- Chamberlain, remember when you saw Chamberlain last week? I was told this story later by Bill fortune. Chamberlain, the year after Gettysburg, was shot leading a charge. Died at 84 with the wound never having fully healed, having spent every day of his life after the war in pain, having served twice as governor, President of Bowden college, professor and writer with 50 years of pain, or 40 years of pain. Now, somebody else could have easily said, "boy, that debilitates me so bad I can't do anything." Chamberlain lived a full life because he doesn't know when -- he said, "okay, I'm in pain. Now what am I going to do?" Learning. Learning is not easy, and it's not always fun. And when it's not easy, you've got to work harder at it, and when it's not fun, you've got to buckle down and do it, because otherwise you won't learn.
A lot of our failure with modern schools is we don't tell kids the truth, which is if -- you know, you've got to work. You've got to do homework. You've got to study. And the person being cheated by the teacher who's nice is the student who won't get a job because they don't know anything. Being nice is not as important as being effective. And so you've got to say to people, "it takes personal strength to learn, because learning sometimes is really hard." Finally, spiritual meaning. It's not about brainwashing. It's about the quiet moment where you decide for you what you believe. And a healthy, safe society, it seems to me, has to have some concern that if we're endowed by our creator, that is, by definition, a spiritual phrase. So that Americans have -- and there's -- it's not an accident that this is the most religious of all the western industrial nations, because it is a nation that has a spiritual meaning at its core. Now, when I talk about personal strength, let me suggest to you seven key aspects. You might come up with others, but I think these are a pretty powerful base. The first is integrity, then courage, hard work, perseverance, discipline, responsibility, and respect for others. Let me -- we started with integrity. We argued about this a long time.
We were looking for different words. Integrity is very important. It doesn't mean not lying. It means behaving with some exemplary honesty that it is the way you wished others would behave, and I believe it's at the core of a free society. A society without integrity is a society which has cancer at its heart. And it's one of the reasons that reestablishing a sense of trust is so powerful -- so important and so simple. This is not a peripheral issue. Integrity is at the heart of a free society. If we have a transaction, I have to believe that the check that you gave me is good, that credit card you gave me is honest, that the dollar you gave me is real. That your promise that a year from now you'll do "x" means our partnership can work. Integrity is at the core of freedom and at the core of a free society. I think that to be free, you have to have courage.
I mentioned the other day that the New Hampshire state slogan is "Live Free or Die." I think that's a very powerful concept. It takes courage to be free. It takes courage to have integrity. Integrity means saying "no" when everybody in the group wants you to say "yes." It means disagreeing when everybody wants you to be agreeable. Not because you're obnoxious, but because you have to do what you believe in, and to do what you believe in takes great courage. To listen to yourself sometimes and do what you -- and do what your inner self tells you sometimes takes great courage. Third, I think there has to be hard work. I do not think it is possible to have a free society without hard work. I don't think it's possible to have personal strength without hard work. And I would suggest that because the first two are, in a sense, internal to you, I mean, you have to know whether or not you have integrity. You have to live out whether or not you have courage.
Hard work is easy to identify, and I would suggest that it is a building block we ought to reinsert into the entire culture. And if you're not working hard, you're somehow not getting it about American Civilization, and that doesn't necessarily mean working long. Doesn't necessarily have -- doesn't mean you've got to put in 90 hours a week to prove you're an American. But it does mean you've got to be prepared to be energetic and committed and enthusiastic. It's why if you look at the great work tradition in the midwest, that on the weekend when you had time off, people also -- they painted their house, they sewed, they cooked dinner.
There's an energetic kind of constant activity that is at the core of American life. It also means perseverance. Things don't work. Things break down. You make mistakes. You just aren't that smart, and then you have to get up and do it again. I've always believed that for leadership, perseverance is the most important quality. Much more important than IQ. It's why I think this whole bell curve argument is sort of nonsense. I don't care -- I don't care what the IQ. Results are by racial stock. It's irrelevant, first of all, because you're an individual. I want to know how you're doing. And, second, because IQ. Is dramatically less important than character. If you have courage, integrity, you have hard work and you have perseverance, you'll beat a smart person every time. A lazy, indolent, dishonest, smart person will be wiped out in a free society by just a -- by just a competent, average, hard-working person with integrity and perseverance. And we don't teach the right values.
We focus on the wrong things. Perseverance, by the way, grows out of discipline. If you don't have discipline, you aren't going to get it. Now, discipline doesn't mean you have to wear a military uniform and stand ramrod straight. But it does mean when the time has come to get up -- I'm going to do this right now. I swim at 6:15 or 6:30 each morning for a half mile. I hate swimming -- I love to swim. I hate doing it at 6:15 in the morning, and I hate having it built into my schedule, because I don't like being controlled. I also know that I'm 51 and I have an obligation to keep my health up and I drink too much beer and eat too much ice cream, and if I don't swim, I will look like a little round bowling ball and it will be disgusting. So the combination -- and we now know what sound bite they'll distort this week, don't we? But the truth is, for all of us, there are things, there are times, there are places where you've got to do it, and the only way you can do it is to discipline yourself.
Except no comment later on about the degree to which I may already look like a bowling ball. There are limits to academic freedom. All of that, I think, grows out of a sense of responsibility. That you -- remember, you are endowed with the right to pursue happiness. But that means you have the responsibility to exercise that right. So responsibility, a word which has almost disappeared in the elite culture. And then out of all of this, I just want to suggest to you you still can't have a healthy society unless you have respect for others. Now, respect for others really does mean putting together and working together in a way that given all the characteristics I just outlined, you've got to give others those same characteristics. Now, if you take all that -- I think I have a summary question that will last for a long time, and it's this, that the key question for all public policy should be: will this proposal help people become more responsible, more productive, and more safe so they can be prosperous and free, so they can pursue happiness? Notice that set: more responsible, more productive, more safe. If I give you money, does that make you more responsible or less? If I give you money, does that make you more productive, or does it actually encourage you to be -- to not worry about your productivity? What are you doing? And notice what the goals are Here: so you can become prosperous and free, so you can pursue happiness.
We don't -- we never guaranteed happiness. We guaranteed pursuit. Now, in that framework, I want to suggest to you that the greatest failure of the welfare state was its direct and indirect undermining of personal strength. That the actual effect of the welfare state is to weaken and cripple the poor, to encourage more people to slide into poverty and to set up a structure in which personal strength decayed because of the very actions of government behavior. So it's not: should we have a cheap welfare state or an expensive welfare state? It is the structure and culture and psychology of the welfare state which is devastating, because it destroys personal strength.
And we're going to spend two hours on this later on talking about how we replace it towards the end of the quarter, but for the moment, I want to go back and just say to you: the best single work I mentioned earlier is Olasky, "the tragedy of American compassion." Because it really, really outlines what the welfare state has done and what used to work. And, in fact, there's a column in "Newsweek" this week which points out that this book and another book which I haven't read yet by Bea Himmelfarb on Victorian morality says flatly, in the 19th century, there was a steady drop in poverty, alcoholism, and addiction, and, in fact, we were winning the struggle, and the model was radically different than the elite model we've tried for the last 30 years. What I'm suggesting to you is the welfare state attitudes, taxes, and regulations discourage work, which undermines perseverance, discipline, and responsibility. That the whole structure of the welfare state actually cripples us. I'm also suggesting that the welfare state undermines the family. And, in fact, as I may have mentioned the other day, the earned income tax credit, if you earn $11,000 a year and you marry somebody who earns $11,000 a year, you lose $4600 in earned income tax credit by the act of marriage, and then we wonder why people don't get married. Now, a state which punishes marriage by taking over 20% of your income by getting married is crazy. It is literally, certifiably nuts. And it has destructive behavior. The welfare state, the sheer volume of rules and regulations undermines integrity. Fact is, when you have enough red tape, you cheat on it. That is a fact. May not be desirable, but it's a fact. How many of you have found yourself at some point in the last year fudging on something, where you know you broke some rule? Just raise your hand. Virtually all of you. Okay. So why should it shock you that a person on food stamps does the same thing? Why should it shock you that a person on AFDC does the same thing?
Why should it shock you that a person in public housing does the same thing? We have built a law dominated, bureaucratically dominated, red tape dominated system in which everybody believes they should cheat at something. Not that they mean to be bad, but after all, we all know we do it. I mean, how often do people say, "yeah, well, you can do it. Go ahead. It doesn't really -- it's not a real rule." All right? Sort of a rule. It's a rule that matters if they catch you. That is --that is a cancer at the heart of a free society. You're going to have few rules ruthlessly enforced rather than many, many rules mostly neglected. Furthermore, the welfare state's litigation system attacks virtually every aspect of personal strength. Somebody's in a car wreck, you stop to help them. You get sued for malpractice. Have you ever thought about how many different ways you're now legally vulnerable so that trial lawyers can get richer, and how much that biases against the system? In addition, what happens is people come to rely on government instead of their own strength. That instead of focusing on "how can I be personally strong," people focus on how to get the government to send them money. "you owe me."
Now, this core assertion of this, which I think all of the Founding Fathers would have agreed with, is that governments can't give you what you don't earn. Now, when governments try to give you what you haven't earned, the result is loss of self-respect, loss of humanness, and the rise of pathologies. And I think that's where we are today. Now, our vision is, first of all, everyone can have personal strength. And I would debate this anywhere in the country. And you're going to see in a little while Max Cleland and hear his story. You've seen Charles Krautheimer on television. When you see the examples of people of courage who overcome tremendous odds, senator Bob Dole, then they -- then you see an able-bodied person tell you that they're a victim and it's just too hard, what you've got to say to them is, "get a grip on yourself." Everybody can have personal strength. Our vision is that with effort, help, and faith, extraordinary things can happen.
And now, before anybody says, "oh, yeah, Gingrich is just talking about, once again, all those rich people who are able- bodied who get to do good things. He doesn't care about those who have real problems," I want you to listen to a leading Democrat, Secretary of the State of Georgia Max Cleland, and really, I think you're going to be very impressed by this interview.
Max Cleland: I was about 15 miles east, setting up a radio relay site on a mountain, and had gotten off a helicopter with my radio team, and looked down and there was a grenade. I didn't think it was live, and I really thought it was mine. I thought it had fell off my web gear and stuff, so I was carrying an m-16 in this hand and reached down to get it, and just before I reached it, it went off. So I was absolutely stunned and terrified, obviously, and looked down and my right hand wasn't there, and looked down and my right leg wasn't there, and my left leg was so badly mangled, it was amputated within the hour. So within the space of one hour, I was, one, lucky to survive, but, number two, lost three limbs right there. Bad things happen to good people, and difficulties happen to people in life, but that doesn't mean it has to stop you. And my heroes now are the people who went on to succeed regardless.
People like Abraham Lincoln, who ran for public office many, many times and lost and ultimately ended up president of the United States in 1860. Or Thomas Edison, who was told by his teachers he was too stupid to learn and went on to become the most prolific inventor of modern times. Or Helen Keller, who worked through three devastating disabilities, blindness, deafness, and the inability to talk, worked through that and became a great humanitarian. So my heroes now are people who are able to work through the valley of the shadow and come out, as Hemingway said, "strong at the broken places." So in many ways, I think I'm probably stronger because of that experience, but it hasn't been easy. It's possible to be strong after injury or adversity or tragedy. It is possible, but it's not easy. So in terms of personal strength, I think what happens is you find along the way people say to me, "oh, I couldn't do that," or, "if that happened to me, I'd never have the energy or strength to get out of -- get out of the bed or get out of the corner or go do things." You really don't know what you can do. I think that's one of the things I've learned. You never -- that there's great power and potential in the human body, mind, and spirit when it goes all out either to fight for survival or to fight for some goal or for some idea, or just to fight for one's own dignity. Victor Frankel, the great psychiatrist out of world war ii, said that "to live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in suffering." I think when something dramatic happens to you, something traumatic happens to you, loss of limbs, loss of friends or family, a divorce, some catastrophe in your life, you spend a long time thereafter trying to sort out what it all means. You have a search for meaning. And the ability to survive after that depends on your ability to find some kind of meaning out of it all.
As I was going through my valleys and struggling so much with the Vietnam experience and a sense of loss and hurt and trying to make sense of it, trying to find a sense of meaning and purpose out of it, these words meant a lot to me, and as I've continued my struggle and my search for my own destiny and how things are going to work out for me and what I should be doing and so forth, a lot of the answers of life, so to speak, this prayer has meant more and more to me, not less and less. "I asked god for strength that I might achieve. "I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. "I asked for health that I might do greater things. "I was given infirmity that I might do better things. "I asked for riches that I might be happy. "I was given poverty that I might be wise. "I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. "I was given weakness that I might feel the need of god. "I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. "I was given life that I might enjoy all things. "I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I had hoped for. "almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. "I am, among all men, most richly blessed."
>>what's your reaction?
>>his prayer is very similar to the prayer of St.. Francis of Assisi.>>Now, if you took that -- and you can take that five minutes and we could get>>volunteers to go out and visit every home of every so-called -- every person who lacked money who was not necessarily poor. A huge difference here. In the 19th century, we didn't -- we talked about paupers, who were people who lacked the core structure, and then people who were poor, which meant you had no money. Today, poor has come to mean "pauper." Many people in history have had no money, and yet they've not been poor. They've been rising. They would have money soon. Their children would have money. In fact, if you look at "little women," it is, in fact, a movie about a family which has lost money, but is working very hard not to lose status. And it's really very interesting.
There's a recent "New York Times" essay on the three versions that have been made that we still have available and what they each meant in their own generation, how they reflected the values and structures of their own generation, and it's worth seeing "little women" and thinking about that in that context, and then you think about: all right, what if every person in America told you today they couldn't make it saw that five minutes? And you said, "now, tell me again what your problem is." This is at the core of what we're trying to say, yet part of it which is totally outlawed in the modern system, is if you were to say, first of all, who is so challenged they can't find personal strength? There are some people who have genetic disabilities, they have birth problems, they have -- you know, they're a very tiny group, and for those people, I believe we should all of us through the government generously find ways to maximize the third wave information revolution opportunities to improve their lives.
I mean, there are lots of things you can do with computers and with technology and with rehabilitation. Those folks we ought to invest in to get them up to a point where they have a chance to lead a decent life. But they're a very tiny number of people out of 260 million. For everybody else, it seems to me you have to start by saying: you're going to have to find personal strength. Now, the problem with that and the thing which has been so driven out by the elite culture in this discontinuity is that in American Civilization, we know that faith is central to personal strength. Let me give you some examples.
These are among the great success stories of 20th century America, which very seldom make page one. Alcoholics Anonymous. This is the big book, the basic text for Alcoholics Anonymous. This is what they say on foreword to the first edition as it appeared in the first printing, 1939, second paragraph: "it is important that we remain anonymous, because we are too few at present to handle the overwhelming number of personal appeals which may result from this publication. "being mostly business or professional folk, we could not well carry on our occupations in such an event. "we would like it understood that our alcoholic work is an avocation. "when writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as a member of alcoholics anonymous. "very earnestly we ask the press also to observe this request, because otherwise, we shall be greatly handicapped. "we are not an organization in the conventional sense of the word. "there are no fees or dues whatever. "the only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking. "we are not allied with any particular faith, sect, or denomination, nor do we oppose anyone. "we simply wish to be helpful to those who are afflicted." Totally different model. Costs no money, has no structure, and is, I think, arguably the most successful single anti-alcoholism operation in the world.
Second example, if you take a look at "one day at a time" in al-anon, which is their book, al-anon is the drug addiction parallel to the system. They emphasize a lot about the degree to which you have to confront yourself. You have to worry about yourself. This is for January 15th. They have one day at a time. Literally, every day they have a little message. They say, quote, we pray for sobriety for the alcoholic because -- I'm sorry, "we pray for sobriety for the alcoholic because we believe this will solve all our problems. "this is an illusion. "sobriety is only the first step in building a good life. "unless we both work to overcome the emotional conflicts within ourselves, we remain at a standstill. "our troubles only take new forms because they did not stem from alcoholism, but from the personality flaws that caused the alcoholism and from our irrational reactions to them. "even when the alcoholic has conquered the compulsion to drink, I must remember that I have much to learn about adjusting to the sober alcoholic. "today's reminder: I will not delude myself into thinking that sobriety is the sole goal. "I will deal with each problem that comes to me with the help of the 12 steps and the loving interchange with my friends in al-anon." Quote, I pray for the wisdom to take a rational and tolerant attitude toward whatever troubles I must face each day. In terms of personal strength, notice how it is being driven in again and again. "24 hours a day," which is meditations which relates again back to alcoholics anonymous as a program, this is for day one -- this is for January the 1st. Prayer for the day, "I pray that god will guide me one day at a time in the new year. "I pray that for each day, god will supply the wisdom and the strength that I need." This is central over and over. You are smaller than your problems. Only god can help you. You can get through today. We can't save the rest of your life we can help you save today.
And then tomorrow, you can get through tomorrow. So it's a very consistent, one day at a time. Finally, one of the books that made me a revolutionary. This is "how girls can help their country." I bought it at the girl scout house down in Savannah, Georgia, where the girl scouts were founded, of course, Juliette Lowe, and it is a wonderful book on "how girls can help their country." And my point to you would be that when you look through this, the common sense, the basic commitment again and again, this book was written in -- published in 1913 before there was an ERA. It's emphasis on helping others. It's emphasis on strengthening yourself. It's emphasis -- for example, every girl should get two jobs -- should have two trades so that if one dies, she can earn a living at the other. When you read that passage, then you think about modern unemployment compensation and the attitude of waiting. There's a -- this book is a profound statement for women of a set of values in a time when most of you probably assumed they were unliberated.
But, in fact, it talks about professions, it talks about patriotism, it talks about serving your country, and, of course, imagine how old-fashioned the concept, "how girls can help their country." Not how their country can help the girls. Now, in that framework, I just want to suggest to you that voluntary school prayer matters, because we are endowed by our creator, and authority comes from a supreme being. And I want to wrap this up, because it comes right back, in a sense, to personal strength. The thing that Marvin Olasky says he found fascinating is that when you talk to the successful philanthropy groups who really help people cease to be a drug addict, cease to be an alcoholic, learn to rise from poverty, they emphasize over and over again they start with faith. When you read the big book of alcoholics anonymous, it starts with faith. And I'm going to come back to this later, but when you read the 12 steps, it starts with faith.
When you go through item by item, it is a continuing again and again process of saying: if you don't dig into yourself, where d O you think personal strength's going to come from? And Olasky tells a story of a very powerful mission system, I think it's in California, that was doing really well, but they -- and they would help the local poor, they'd help the homeless, they had a tremendous 75% getting off of drug addiction. The local government loved them so much, it came to them and said, "we'll give you the money to triple your mission, but you have to quit this prayer stuff." And they said, "we'd love the money, but it's the prayer stuff that is the reason we're successful." The average rate for secular government programs, according to Olasky, is, like, eight or 10% success. They were having 75%. They said, "what you're telling us is to get the money from you, we have to quit doing everything that works, which is the reason you want to give us the money." And so my argument's very simple, and I am totally against state prayer, I'm totally against the teacher praying, but I think we've got to have a debate and a dialogue about reestablishing the right to have some level of concern for faith and spiritual being everywhere in America.
And it has to be diverse and it has to represent everybody, and it can't be in any way an establishment system. But if you start by saying: in order to solve our problems, we will not discuss faith, spirituality, or inner strength, you are saying, in fact: we're not going to solve our problems. And no matter how much money you pour into an empty vessel, if the bottom of the vessel is open, it's going to go straight through. And the whole point of this opening hour is to suggest to you that if you want a healthy, free society, it starts with personal strength. Personal strength starts with some inner strength and inner sense of courage, inner sense of integrity, inner sense of spiritual faith, and that unless you address that, you're not going to have a healthy, free society.
And every government solution that precludes those, that undermines strength by giving you an excuse not to get up, that Undermines family by punishing you if you get married, that sends signals that tell you, "these things don't matter, but why don't you come down to the bureaucracy and apply for a check," are, in fact, undermining the very goals that they're designed to achieve. So what we'll do in the second hour is we're going to take this back up again and work our way through some examples and then discuss the works of peter Drucker at the very end. We have five minutes. Okay, thank you.
Let me start with a couple of things just -- first of all, somebody reminded me, and I appreciate you all sort of keeping me up to speed on all this, that Marvin Olasky, the author of "the tragedy of American compassion," which I showed you a while ago, will be interviewed on C-Span's "book notes" program on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m.., I guess it is. So you get a chance to see Olasky personally. He's a very, very interesting guy, and I think you'll find it very interesting to have a chance to see him. Let me also suggest to you, somebody brought me -- one of the students brought in -- this is the "how to read a book" by Mortimer Adler. Adler wrote this. It was originally published in 1940 and then rewritten on several occasions and republished. And it starts with how to read, you know, your first book, although you obviously have to be able to read a fair amount to be able to read it. But for parents -- you know, for parents, it's a pretty good introduction to helping your kids read, but also, how to read history, how to read plays, how to read practical books.
I mean, Mortimer Adler was, in some ways, the greatest popularizing philosopher of his generation. And this was his effort to really explain how to approach books and how to get things out of them. So when we talked about active learning last time, this would be -- this would have been very useful. And I appreciate very much your bringing it in, and you gave it to me, but I'm now going to loan it to Kathleen Minnix, so if you could pass it back up to dr. Minnix. She gets to read it while I go back to Washington this week. Let me also say that I want to get into a very controversial section for a few minutes. We're not going to talk about giraffes, so don't get panicked, but I want to get into talking about personal strength in some of the most difficult areas, and I want to start by arguing that personal strength applies to every American. And that literally -- remember I said earlier, people who are born with genetic challenges, mental or physical, people who are born -- people who get into an accident that severely -- leaves them with a severe handicap or disability, that's -- that's a separate challenge.
I think we have to think there how we help those people, and, in effect, give them compensatory investment and education and rehabilitation and technology in order to give them a chance to lead a full life. But if you except that very small number, I want to suggest that if you are relatively able-bodied and relatively intelligent -- and that's a very, very broad range. Now, we're talking about probably 256 or 257 million out of the 260 million Americans, and I'm sure there will presently be an article that analyzes exactly how many it is. But if you take that concept, for the vast overwhelming majority, that you're sort of born as a person. I used to use the word "normal," but I'm told that's not correct anymore. So but you're born as -you're a human being without a significant disability or a significant mental or physical challenge, that personal strength applies to you, and applies to you wherever you are today, whether you are a street person or a homeless person or you are living in poverty or you're the richest person in America. Personal strength applies to you.
Now, what I want you to do is we're going to start this by looking at a fabulous introduction, and I should -- to Marva Collins, who is a great teacher in Chicago who teaches at a private school which is extraordinarily successful in exactly the same neighborhoods that the public schools are destroying the kids because they have structures that are so undisciplined, lacking in challenge, and they have the wrong attitude about the kids. Marva Collins is a very tough disciplinarian. And I want you to watch this story of her school, and particularly look for a little girl who you'll never forget for the rest of your life when you see her.
You won't hear students reading about dick and Jane at Marva Collins' west side preparatory school in Chicago. Even for the little ones, it's back to the basics and the classics. Cleopatra and Mary queen of Scots are all stories of very strong women. The classics to me is a real world, it's life. It's about struggle, it's about hard times, it's about overcoming the hard times of life. It's about not quitting. While the crumbling buildings in the inner city neighborhood near the school may say "quit," Mrs.. Collins teaches her students that "can't" is just "can" without the "t." Every child in here will tell you we do not take average papers. We tell them average people are never in short supply. If we strive for excellence, we can become all that we want to become.
Great expectations prompted Collins to begin West Side Prep 15 years ago with her own money. The teacher believes that there are no poor students, there are only poor parents and poor teachers. There are more and more people who cannot raise their families in dignity and self-esteem, and I never intended for that to happen to any child that ever passes my way. They really do not have a choice to fail if they stay here. Since failure is not a choice here, Collins reminds students they're bright, and discipline and correction are made with positive affirmations. When she says that, "I love you, you're too bright to do that," they just know that they are too bright and they just stop it. Like a magic that she has over the children. At other schools, teachers, they didn't care. I've had teachers tell me, you know, "I'm here to get my paycheck. I don't care if you get this or not." While some educators have been critical of her teaching methods, students do not share their skepticism. She's a fun teacher.
>>it's a small school, but yet it has such big hearts and such expanding minds. And students of all ages have great expectations for themselves. People without vision perish. People without education don't make it very far. I've learned that I can do it if I try and that god made me so I can -- so that I can achieve, and I will achieve. Socrates taught Plato, and Plato taught Alexander the great, who said, "my parents gave me life, but you taught me how to live it," and I think it just goes on and on and on and it lives infinitely.
Don't you think that little girl's probably going to have a fair chance of succeeding? But notice how it's all, in a sense internalized, and notice how Marva Collins makes the history of the human race relevant to those kids. So you study the classics, because they have been powerful ways of expressing your life. That the dilemmas of Ulysses and Hercules in a sense are your dilemmas, or the dilemmas of Diana, the huntress, are your dilemmas. I mean, if you think about the Greek mythologies, the roman mythologies, the effort to bring to bear Shakespeare, that it's an effort to say: every person should somehow come in touch with the rich historical tradition.
And yet we have a crisis in our culture which I think we have to talk about openly and honestly, and that is, in a sense, the dilemma of African-Americans. That the choice is the following two principles: by personal strength, I can learn the rules of success and become a successful American versus no matter what I do, racism will trap me in my Blackness. And it's a very key debate which I think we're going to have to engage in the next five or six years, because the question is, in America: is my success or my race the key factor? Am I more like an unemployed, uneducated "brother" or "sister," or more like other successful Americans, even if they are of Asian, Hispanic, or native American background? Now, this is not my view. I agree with it, but in a sense, I was profoundly moved by Shelby Steele. You remember we showed last week dr. Martin Luther king's great speech in Washington at the Lincoln memorial where he said, "I have a dream of an America where my children will be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin." Well, dr. Steele took the content of our character, a new vision of race in America.
I would encourage every American who's really interested in the challenge of race in America to read this, because it's a very personal book. And he walks through from his own personal experience being in rooms, role playing, playing games and how he feels about it, and also the challenge. He says the following. This is on page 164 of the paperback edition. He says, "I recently spoke with a Black woman who described herself as a cultural nationalist. "in her view, there were virtually no opportunities for Blacks to enter the mainstream of American life, which she saw as fundamentally racist. "she was, as we say, the Blackest of the Black. "yet this purified identity was achieved by an absolute denial of mainstream Black opportunity. "in her scheme, the more opportunity one admitted to, let alone took advantage of, the less Black one was. "the power of memory and inversion had virtually called this woman back to slavery and left her no option but collective action, since individual possibility was all but invisible to her.
"she was an extreme case, but also an extreme version of the paradigm that touches many Blacks. "even among middle-class Blacks who function well in the mainstream, when the time comes to declare one's identity, to announce one's Blackness, there is invariably a denial of Black opportunity. "this is the denial that brings one securely back inside the circle of Blackness that quite literally lets one feel Black. "to point to opportunity is to stand outside this circle, to be less Black." This is a real crisis of our civilization, because it goes to the heart of quotas, it goes to the heart of set-asides, but it also goes to the heart of the cultural debate about who we are. Are we 260 million people? And think about it this way. In American Civilization, we would argue there are 260 million of us and that we're each individuals. But in the current elite alternative view, there's this sort of thing called America.
But then there are a series of blocks, and the real test for you is: Which block are you in? If you think I exaggerate, look at government forms. Do they say you're an American? They say: who are you? And what if you are Anglo-American whose mother was Dutch and Protestant, whose father was Greek orthodox? And I would argue in the 19th century, they would not have thought of that as Anglo-American, but they would now, because Mediterranean people weren't considered the same as Northern Europeans. And you marry somebody whose mother was Black and father was Chinese. But who -- but the father was Chinese-Hispanic, because his mother was Hispanic, while his father was Chinese. Which box are you in? And the correct answer is what? See, you don't think.
>>no, no. Think for a second. In the real world, in all honesty, if you were filling out a job or scholarship application, which of the boxes would you check? Black.>>Probably Black, probably. It would depend. The correct question -- now, listen, listen, listen. You're not thinking. >>>>all right, take us through it. Right. But the correct question is: at this school at this time, which group has the best shot of getting the scholarship? I mean, let's be honest. I want you to think about it. That's why there was a scandal in San Francisco in the fire department, because everybody was inventing an American Indian great grandmother. Isn't that exactly what the system does? And furthermore, notice how it drives you apart. And yet look at the threat. If you're in one of these -- if you're in a favored group, favored because of some victimization, you know, if we suddenly say, "you're just an American," you lose all of your group rights and your group identity, and you get into a big cultural conflict, which, by the way, is not new. This has been going on since the 18th century, when the Germans arrived and lived in German communities. Go look at the Amish today. The history of America is the history of a tension between who you were and who you're becoming, and it's a very powerful question. And yet the crisis of the inner city is really a clash between American Civilization and a culture of poverty and violence.
This is one of the things -- and this -- I really believe the inner city is not about racism. It's not a Black problem or a Hispanic problem. And you're seeing it gradually spread. If you look at white births outside of marriage, they're now about where Black births were in 1960. Black births in 1960 are actually closer to white births in 1960 than they are to Black births now, because what's happened is the first group to get hit were Blacks, because they were the most pushed into the welfare system, the Blacks and American Indians. Nobody has honestly looked at American Indian reservations as centers of pathology brought on them by the government and the way the government Indian bureau works and the standards and system. That, by the way, is breaking down for a most ironic reason. They're opening up casinos because they have a legal loophole, so they're becoming centers of wealth. So they're rapidly become Americanized.
It will become a great crisis among native Americans in the next generation, because they'll come to be rich enough to say, "fine, I'm glad I'm a native American. Send me the check. I've got to go to brazil for a vacation." It will change their whole world, because they'll suddenly start being capitalists. But what happened gradually is as the welfare state values have been spreading, it is spreading a culture of poverty and a culture of violence. I want to read to you -- Leon Dash wrote a tremendous book called "when children want children: the urban crisis of teenage childbearing." And I want to read two quick passages, but it is absolutely an astonishing work. He says, "I began my research into adolescent childbearing" -- let me back up. Leon dash is a Black reporter, African-American reporter, at the "Washington Post," who was required to do this book to live in a public housing area for 18 months in an apartment, going out, listening to and probing people. Trained by the greatest investigative reporter of our time, bob Woodward, who insisted he go back again and again and again.
Listen to what he says. "I began my research into adolescent childbearing burdened with adult presumptions. "I assumed that the high incidence of teenage pregnancy among poor Black urban youths nationwide grew out of youthful ignorance both about birth control methods and adolescent reproductive capabilities. "I also thought that girls were falling victim to cynical manipulation by the boys, although the number of babies born to adolescent girls appeared to be awfully high for this to be the dominant pattern." Remember, this is a Black reporter who lived in the system. "I was wrong on all counts." I want to repeat this, because since all modern welfare state policy is based on the preceding paragraph and all of the recent surgeon general's arguments are based on the preceding paragraph, listen to his conclusion. "I was wrong on all counts. "among the adolescents in Washington, DC. Whom I interviewed, I found that teenage boys and girls as young as 11 knew more about sex, birth control, and their reproductive abilities than I had known at the same age. "others had had extensive school courses in sex education in the 6th or 7th grade. "I found that the girls, far from being passive victims, were often equal or greater actors than their boyfriends in exploring sexuality and becoming pregnant. "girls were as often the leaders in their desire to have a child as the boys were. "I did not find one adolescent couple where both partners were ignorant about the results of sexual activity without the use of contraception. "in time, it became clear that for many girls in the poverty stricken community of Washington highlands, a baby is a tangible achievement in an otherwise dreary and empty future."
I want to repeat this sentence because it's so powerful. "a baby is a tangible achievement in an otherwise dreary and empty future. "it is one way of announcing: I am a woman. "for many boys in Washington highlands, the birth of a baby represents an identical right of passage. "the boy is saying: I am a man. The desire for a child is especially acute among adolescents who were doing poorly in school. "they knew implicitly and had been told explicitly that they were not likely to graduate from high school. "these were the youths age 15 to 17 and still in the 7th grade who were at highest risk to get pregnant or father a child. "while the better students strove for a diploma, the poorer students achieved their form of recognition with a baby. "if the crisis of Black teenage parents was simply a matter of ignorance, then it might be relatively easy to solve, but poor academic preparation that begins in elementary school, the poverty that surrounds them, and social isolation from mainstream American life motivate many of these boys and girls to have children."
The only other point I would say to you is that he estimated that on average, it took him -this is Leon dash, African-American, reporter at the "Washington post" -- on average, it took four months for him to get a girl to tell him the truth. That he listened and asked, listened and asked, came back a week later, listened and asked, four months. Which says what about most of your academic studies, most of your newspaper reporting, and most of your government servants? They're useless. They're totally misleading. Leon dash, until I'd read Olasky, I thought this was one of the most powerful books. It's a great book, and Leon dash did great work and deserves -- he has a new book -- a new report coming out, because he's gone back into the period before urban poverty to look at it, but it's a great work. The argument I'm trying to suggest here to you is that given what he's saying, this is not about birth control education. That, in fact, personal strength is the key to replacing the culture of poverty.
If you really want to replace the culture of poverty, you've got to focus on personal strength, and you've got to redesign the entire system to focus on personal strength. Now, we're going to spend two hours on this later on, but let me, for today's purpose, outline for you nine vision level principles for personal strength. First, will this proposal help people become more responsible? You'll notice, we did this earlier, more productive and more safe so they can be prosperous and free so they can pursue happiness. Every time a proposal is clearly going to undermine responsibility and productivity, you ought to say to yourself: why are we doing this? If you went through the current welfare state and every single item which undermined personal strength was eliminated, you'd replace about 80% of the welfare state overnight, because it is actively destructive. It's not that it's failing to help. It is actually undermining, because it is sending the wrong signals.
Second, everyone must have full citizenship, and that includes both the rights and responsibilities. That means when you see a homeless person, you say: fine, I'll go halfway. But you've got to go halfway. If you see somebody who is poor sitting there 17 years of age doing nothing: we will help you, but then you have to help yourself today. By the way, every successful program says it starts today. Not two years, not six months, today. Work begins day one. I just met with a sister who's in charge of covenant house, which is a catholic charity that has 41,000 girls a year who come through it. She said: our principle is simple. You have to work the first day. No other system works. So when you hear somebody say: we'll get around to it. You have two years to sit around and wait and then we'll start, well, if you're going to start, why wait two years? Why ruin two years of their life? Why entrench deeper the habits of not doing things? Three, everything costs something.
There is no free lunch. And as a citizen, you have some obligation to help out a little at all times. The 19th century traditionalists have a wood pile next to the mission house, and when the homeless showed up, they cut wood before they ate. Because if you wouldn't cut wood, you weren't prepared to do your share. And they cut wood both for themselves and for one widow, because you have an obligation to have dignity by contributing. Think about that model compared to the current model. Again that's Olasky. Four, reward what you want to encourage, punish or make more expensive what you want to discourage. How's that for turning the welfare and tax codes on their head? You want to reward savings? Make it tax-free. What do we do? We punish savings and we reward credit. Go through the whole list. You want to reward entrepreneurship? Make it advantageous. You want to reward going to work? Have a very low marginal tax rate when you go to work. We do just the opposite. The FICA tax gives you a very high marginal tax rate as soon as you get a job.
Ask any young person the first -- how many of you had that shock the first time of getting a paycheck? Raise your hand if you got a paycheck and you were stunned how much smaller it was than you thought it would be. Okay. Five, these rules apply from childhood throughout your active life. In a few weeks, we're going to see a great entrepreneur on videotape who talks about he went to work when he was 9 or 10 years old because he wanted to buy a pony. Okay. It turns out in a recent "Wall Street Journal" study or a "Wall Street Journal" report of a study, over half of all the first-generation millionaires they interviewed had their first job by the time they were 10. It may be a lemonade stand, it may be cleaning up around the yard, it may be carrying newspapers, but notice how different that is from the welfare state mentality. Can you imagine what trouble I'd be in if I said every poor child should actually be earning money? Gingrich wants to exploit child labor. Return to -- you know, return to 19th century coal mines.
I just threw that in so the reporter who's distorting the class can go ahead and do it, will have some help. You know, and yet as a matter of pragmatic reality, when you see a study that says over half the first-generation millionaires rose because very early in life they acquired the habits, and then you start talking to middle-class parents: do your kids earn their allowance? Just think about it. The families that are healthiest, I'll bet you they earn them and they don't give them. I even know millionaires whose parents made them work for their allowance to instill the habit. You aren't given this money, you earn it. Then it's yours. If it's given to you, then it's really not yours. It's your mom or dad, and they have the strength. But if you earn it, it's your money. Now, if you're physically or mentally challenged, you should receive the best possible rehabilitation and assistance to lead the fullest possible life, and as I said earlier, I really feel very, very strongly about that.
Seventh, the key is not a big leap. It is one day at a time with continuous improvement. That's the key to success. You've got to do a little bit every day. You've got to try to improve every day. You don't get this done in a big jump forward. You get it done one step at a time. And again, every time you run into people, they say, "well, that doesn't get you very far." No, but it's the right direction. It's the right movement. There's no hamburger flipping job. Any job beats welfare. Because it's the step, it's the beginning. It's where you get started. Now, in that framework, you want to build on opportunity and success, not focus on problems and failure. This is going to be one of my greatest challenges this year in the congress, is convincing our committees to have hearings on success. What are the 10 best addiction reform programs in America? What are the 10 best alcoholic programs in America? What are the 10 best small inner city schools in America? What works? So people can copy what works, not just study the pathologies.
And, ninth, and this one will obviously be -- fit my personality, or at least my experience: do not shy away from controversy. This is a choice between two value systems, two power structures, and two visions of America. Conflict is inevitable and direct. Blunt debate is desirable. That until you're prepared to engage the issue of personal strength and talk honestly about what it implies, you're not going to get anywhere, and that, by definition, is going to be controversial. Now, let me give you some examples. I would suggest that in American Civilization, that Americans favor work over idleness, saving over debt, family over individual chaos, helping your children over abandonment, responsibility over irresponsibility, learning over ignorance, and responsible citizenship over indifference. Now, and in every case, my point -- this is not just nice words. My point is in each case, the law and the government should favor the former over the latter.
That is, you ought to literally go through the tax code, the welfare code, the bureaucratic rules and regulations. You should go through the entire structure of government and say: are we sending signals that favor work over idleness? That favor saving over debt? That strengthen family over individual chaos? That give you an incentive and a legal structure to help children rather than abandon them? How are we doing this? Or, in fact, do we, without even realizing it, send the opposite signal? Go to work and we'll tax you and we'll kick you off Medicaid. Save and we'll raise your social security taxes. Try to get married and the earned income tax credit will take $4,600 away from you. Try to adopt a child and it can cost up to $50,000 to adopt a child, so they're trapped in foster care and they're trapped -- and, you know, people attacked me over the orphanage argument. This is a society which has artificially made it expensive to adopt children. Just the opposite of a good, strong pro-family environment.
Now, the reason I said that we should look at the law and The government is because the law is a great teacher. And I really don't think you can fully appreciate the power of this. You know when a teacher is saying, "you ought to work hard," out in the yard there's an illiterate drug dealer driving a Cadillac, then the law is tolerating a lesson to be taught, and no matter how often you say it in the classroom, it's not going to work. So you've got to structure the law so that you are learning from your government and society what you wish to teach in the classroom. And if the classroom is teaching one thing and government and society is teaching another, you should assume that at best, you're going to have conflict, and at worst, that the ultimate reality of the society will drown in the classroom. Doesn't do any good to say, "lets teach it to them," if the law doesn't teach it, too. And so you've got to think about the law as a teacher. In addition, frankly, leaders can be teachers.
It's very, very important to recognize that leaders play a very, very important role, and the way they model, what they say, where they go is a very important part of this process of teaching. Do you go to the boy scout jamboree or not? Do you go to the girl scout national meeting or not? Do you think the salvation army is important enough to visit or not? How does a leader spend their time and where do they go and who do they see and then what do they talk about? These are important factors. I wear a habitat for humanity pin. I understand the other night that on "Saturday night live" that the person that caricatures me also had a habitat for humanities pin on, but I'm sending a signal. I'm saying habitat for humanity is a good program and that others ought to have a pin, too. You pick the program you like, but tell me what you're doing that's important, because these are signals. They matter. They communicate. Public symbols and awards can teach. It's why the thousand points of light wasn't a bad idea. That's why when you find ways -- you know, as you'll see later on when we talk about Deming and quality, creating a Baldrige award at least created a sense of looking at things.
You know, people would say, "well, they must think quality's really important." Getting a scholarship, having a star student. These are good things to do, because they help the society talk to itself about what it values. And again, we come back to the core point about why civilization matters. Civilization must be learned, so values must be taught. And for Americans, personal strength must be at the center of those values and of our civilization. So if you go out and you start with head start and you look at the curriculum, how much are we emphasizing personal strength? How much are we communicating it? If you look at the way government bureaucracies work, how much do they talk about personal strength? Olasky makes the point that when you have 200 cases and you're a welfare worker, you have no personal contact. That in the 19th century, because it was all volunteer, the average was one to one or one to two. You actually knew person you were trying to help.
At 200 cases, you're filling out the paperwork and sending the check. So how can you teach personal strength? And so you've got to really think it through in terms of how we teach these things. Now, I want to take for the next few minutes one of the two people who I think is at the center of the revolution in American productivity and success in the 20th century. He's actually, interestingly enough, an Austrian by birth, came to the US. In the early 19 -- late 1920s, still alive, still writing in his mid 80s. Has an article out this month in the "Atlantic Monthly" in the February edition called "really reinventing government" by Peter Drucker. And it's just fascinating to me, here's a guy who in his -- I think he's now, like, 85 or 86, still teaches at Claremont college, still writes, clearly the greatest management writer of the 20th century. He and Edwards Deming, who I'll talk about in a little bit, who died at 93 while still teaching, they're exemplary models of the idea that in the information age, our whole Sense of aging is going to change, which as I get older I think is cool.
But what I want to talk to you about is the book that we have as a required reading today, which is Drucker's "the Effective Executive." Now, I hope all of you began the process of reading it. This is the paperback edition. I hope all of you have bought it, and I want you to keep it forever and I want you to mark, like, January of each year, and I want you to take it back up for at least four or five years and reread it. Now, you may say: why is Gingrich being nutty about this? I read this book for the first time in -- and you're going to have to really cue me on this, because I'm just going to go rolling for a while because this is so important. I read this book for the first time, I believe, in 1969 when I was in Brussels working on my dissertation, and it shaped my entire life. In the first place, really good books lead you to people. In my case, Drucker led me to Alfred Sloan and he led me to who was the creator of general motors in its modern form, and he led me to George Marshall, who was the creator of the American army in its modern form.
And he said: these are two of the three greatest management leaders of the 20th century. Theodore Vail was the other one, and I have not read much on Vail. But I found Drucker himself came to the US., Was actually a philosophy professor, came to the US. He'd also done merchant banking in Vienna, and he began writing on management, and then in one of those great moments -- and you'll hear me talk a lot about the idea that life is lived organically by bonds of people. That is, if you look at great NFL coaches, you'll find out they often studied under great NFL coaches and actually find sort of schools of coaching. Well, the same thing's true of learning. Drucker was asked by Alfred Sloan, the man who created general motors, to come and spend a year in the modern -- he took over a company that was bankrupt and rebuilt it. It was on the verge of bankruptcy and rebuilt it.
Sloan said to him, "I want you to come and spend a year inside general motors and explain to us how we operate." It was the greatest industrial corporation in the world. He wrote a book, I think it came out the year I was born in 1943, called "the concept of the corporation," which in terms of just reading a great work on management and history is extraordinary. He begins the book by saying, "I'm a little bit like the scholar of china who found he was almost ready to write and then there was another century he hadn't studied." And one day decided that he'd better start writing, because there were always going to be more things about china than he could ever learn, and if he didn't stop in ignorance and start writing, he'd never get anything written. So he said, "I confess up front general motors is so complex and so extraordinary, I don't really understand all of it, and this book is simply my effort to explain what I learned in one year." Which to me was a very helpful way of reminding us: we're never really experts. We never really know. There's always something more to learn.
And then he outlined how general motors worked in the early 1940s. From that, he began developing his approach to management. And Drucker's central argument is that the key to -- remember that in his lifetime, the central challenge to the democracy is totalitarianism, whereas in Washington and Lincoln's lifetimes it was aristocratic kingship. Well, kingships were gone, basically. But the new threat of the 20th century was that the way you organize humans is you have a secret police state with a totalitarian leader. Mao Tse-Tung- in china, Joseph Stalin in Russia, Adolf Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini, and to some extent imperial japan, which was a mixed system with an emperor but with a police state, a military dictatorship. In that framework, Drucker's trying to explain: how can humans organize themselves to be productive? And how can they do so in a way that they share power, with no one becoming a dictator? And he creates the concepts of management, the principles of management, has written over 20 books and is, I think, without any question, the most widely read management consultant in the world today.
More people -- more managers have read Drucker than anybody else. Now, he's older now, and there's a tendency to now skip his books and say, well, let's read the latest fad, which I would say is an enormous -- it's like skipping Shakespeare. You know, let's read the latest playwright. And I would say that at least two or three of Drucker's books should be permanent in every management school in the country, and at least one of them ought to be in every high school, and that's this one, because "the Effective Executive" makes this point. And this is a man, by the way, who wrote about the information age in the 1960s and was more accurate then than anybody who's writing about it now, because he understood core principles about human beings and how systems work. His point is: every one of you's an executive. The number of decisions -- I mean, just think about today. The class is over. How many of you came here by car? Two-thirds of you. How far could you go in a day by car? 600 miles? A few of you could go a lot further, but let's not admit that on public television. Draw a 600-mile radius. Look at that first choice. Second choice, you don't want to go very far today. Well, would you like to go to the movies? Would you like to go shopping? If you want to go shopping, there are within 30 miles of here 15 malls. Which mall would you like to go to? In a typical mall, there are four anchor stores and 280 shops. Which shop would you like to go to? Or would you rather go home and stop by blockbuster's and pick up a movie? There will be about 6,000 titles. Well, you don't want to do that, you're going to go by the county library. Or you'd rather go out and play softball, or you'd rather go hike in the mountains. My point is: you have at your fingertips such an enormous range of resources that you are the first generation in the history of the world in which every person is an executive.
Every person is controlling resources on such a scale that you have to think it through and you have to plan it and you have to make it work. And so Drucker's argument is if you're going to be an executive, because you can't -- you have to to do it. When you go to a grocery store, I think it's an average Wal-mart-mart has 100,000 items in it. I think there are some superstores, Publix and Kroger, that now are in about the same range. So you go to a grocery store, if you don't have a list either in your head or in writing, and you say, "I think I'll shop randomly," which some of you do -- I was going to say: don't feel guilt ridden.
You looked right at me when you said that. I looked at three different groups of people. You're the only one who reacted badly. We know a lot more about you. My point's just what Drucker's trying to do in this little book, and as you know, it's only 178 pages. And what he's trying to say to you is: effectiveness is a set of learned habits. It goes back to why the bell curve is sort of a goofy book. Effectiveness can be learned. It's not a function of being charismatic -- and he's very clear in here. It's not a function of being charismatic, it's not a function of being good looking, it's not a function of even being smart. It's not even a function of working long hours. It's a function of knowing what you're doing, thinking it through, doing it systematically, which means you have to learn the habits.
And so what I'm going to do, we -- at one point I started to put up a series of Chyrons so you could actually read key things, and then I realized as I went back and reviewed the book, I had literally -- and this is an important thing about certain books in life. The bible is another one that fits this. A lot of books you just read. You go, "well, that was interesting. What were the three big points?" Then occasionally you run into a book you shouldn't do that. Cookbooks are that way. I mean, imagine you tried to read a cookbook the way you read a novel, and then you tried to remember a recipe. Okay? This is a cookbook for effective life. And so part of my suggestion -- I stopped because I decided what you really need to do is go through here, mark it down, and then go back, and at each point you need to say to yourself: what does this mean to me? Now, I'll give you a couple of examples. Notice that he starts by arguing that this is not about managing other people. This is about managing yourself. Now, I cannot tell you in terms of how I became speaker of the house and done all the different -- and people say to me: how can you teach a course here, teach part-time at the industrial college of the armed forces, serve as speaker of the house, represent the 6th district, and have a TV show on Tuesday nights?
And the answer is this book. This book taught me a quarter century ago how to systematically discipline, plan, think through, delegate, trust others to build a system. Now, the day we were sworn in, when I got down as speaker after my speech and I spent about -- I spent I think about 40 -- an hour, I think, on the house floor, I left. I had other things to do. I did not go back to the house floor until 2:15 in the morning, and for 14 hours I just worked. Why did I work? Because of this book. That's how powerful I think this book is. This is a book I refer to again and again and again. It's the first book I ask all of my members and all the senior staff to read. Not all of them have done it yet, and I'll start reminding them in the near future, because I can tell when they haven't done it. And you may say to yourself: how can you tell when they haven't done it? There's a section in here which talks about effective decisions. It's chapter 7.
And I'm deliberately just going to jump around, because I just want to take illustrations, because this -- I would have to teach for three two-hour sessions to carry you through this book in detail, and I don't want the people to get the Cliff Notes version: newt thought these were the six big points. Every page of this book is incredible. If you will read it and then stop and say: okay, what did that mean in my life? How do I change my behavior? He says in here, on effective decisions, that you have to look for disagreement. I'm trying to find the exact reference here. Somebody may want to help me for a second. But he talks about the notion that you're always looking for an argument or a disagreement, and he cites the fact that Alfred Sloan would often say, "if everybody agreed instantly," he'd say, "let's postpone this decision for a week so we have the time to find something to disagree about." Because he wanted people to slow down and talk through the decision. He wanted to make sure that everybody in the room understand the decision, because if you just say, "yes,"
And then later you realize, "oh, that means you're cutting my department 30%?" He doesn't want you to make the decision until you understand the decision. So when I watch my chairmen, if they rush something through, they haven't gotten Drucker yet. Because they're missing -- you want to cultivate all the disagreements before you decide. He has a section in here on -I think that particular reference is in "the elements of decision-making." He has a section in here in which he talks about building on strength. I've always vividly thought about this, because it's one of the great weaknesses of modern management, and it drives some of my associates crazy because they don't understand a particular style that Drucker emphasizes, and that, he says, flatly came out of both George Marshall and Alfred Sloan.
Now, what does building on strengths mean? Drucker's argument's real simple. He says: if you want a mountain, guess what you've got on both sides of it? Huh? You have valleys. If you want a plateau, you don't have a mountain. What does modern management -- what do modern human resource vice-presidents look for? We're not going to hire you because of -- we found valley "a" or we found valley "b." So you don't fit. You get enormous achievement in life if you focus on managing this, if you recruit strength. Why can I delegate and walk off? Because all around me there are people as powerful as Dick Armey and Tom Delay and John Casey and Nancy Johnson and Susan Molinari, and they're all -- they all have -- now, does every one of them have a down side? Of course. As some of you probably have noticed, so do i. And you'll notice, I never worry about the valleys. I knew when I said I'd teach a 20-hour course after becoming speaker that some idiot would deliberately distort what I said, so when we had the giraffe comment totally taken out of context, that's just one of the valleys. You can't go mountain climbing unless you're willing to have valleys. But if you assemble a team -- and this is one of the -- if you look at George Marshall and you look at Alfred Sloan, remember what Drucker says: Sloan would spend weeks thinking about personnel. He'd really try to be concerned.
Now, this book is so important, we're going to come back to it two more times. And I beg all of you, read it, mark it up, think it through, come in with questions next week. We may even get to it a third -- another time. We're certainly going to get to it next week on entrepreneurial free enterprise, and we're going to get to it the last week when we're talking about citizenship. So mark it up, look for questions, look for things you don't understand, things you don't agree with, but we're not going to try to build any Chyron out of this. We're not going to say, "here are the three big ones." Every page of this, if you read it and think about it and study it, this was a work of genius. This is -- Drucker is, I believe, one of the great men of the 20th century, and this was an extraordinary effort on his part to lay out the lessons he'd learned. When he wrote this, he was already in late middle age. And so this is a book I wish every American citizen would someday read and understand its implication, which is: you are powerful. You're a free person in a free society at the beginning of the information age, and you have resources and capacities un -- that no king in the ancient world had.
Every citizen has opportunity, if we can figure out how to make that true and how to get them to learn. Now, having said that, let me also suggest to you that you've got to reestablish, as part of that, heroes. Notice that heroism teaches the values to be lived for. If you'll notice, Drucker, in a sense, talks about heroes. Alfred Sloan's extraordinary achievement in building the greatest industrial corporation in history. Truly one of the great, great studies. In Sloan's two works, "my adventures as a white collar man," which is his earlier memoir written just before world war ii, and "my years with general motors," are extraordinary books, well worth your reading, but Sloan is a great man. George Marshall may well be the most -- certainly the most disciplined and maybe in some ways the greatest American of the 20th century. He built the modern army from 200 -- or 170,000 men to 15 million in three years.
One of the greatest leadership achievements in the history of the human race. And he was a man of such nobility that he rivals Washington in our lexicon of people who are truly noble. Theodore Vail created the modern telephone company, avoided nationalization, which was the current thing. But the whole concept in your book of readings today, "building a community of citizens," Don Eberly was the editor, the section by Dennis Denenberg on the role of heroes and heroines in the American story makes a very important point. And that is that when you are surrounded by heroes and heroines, when the pictures on the wall of your school are the pictures of real achievement, when you grow up thinking, you know, that you could be like Helen Keller, you could be like Clara Barton, you could be like Eleanor Roosevelt, you could lead a life that is dynamic and exciting, you could do things that are real, it's different than when you grow up without the -- because they, in a sense -- what heroes and heroines do is they remind us there are mountaintops and that humans get there, and that you, too -- not that you'll necessarily get there.
Drucker says at one point: you're not necessarily ever going to be able to write like Mozart, but you can play like Mozart. So maybe you only get halfway up the mountain, but it beats being stuck in the swamp. And the purpose of heroes and heroines is to both give us a goal to strive for and to pull us above where we would normally be. In a free society, every person has a chance to be a little bit of a hero or a heroine every day. There's a Reagan line to that effect in his first inaugural. Now, I want you to watch a section which I always watch with great emotion because my best friend, who's now dead, and I went to see this many times when we were in high school. This is an excerpt from an older movie, and I want you to listen carefully to Charles Bronson as a gunfighter that just had a fight, all of the local -- these are American gunfighters who have gone to a Mexican village to save the peasants from a group of bandits. And it's " The magnificent seven."
It's a derivative actually of Curacao, who was a great classic, and the seven samurai. And the parents hid because they're not gunfighters. Later in the movie, they become very heroic and they help wipe out the bandits, but at the moment, the kids are ashamed of their parents. And watch this scene, because I think it tells you a lot about heroes and heroines.
>>can we go with you, Renardo?
>>you like us, don't you?
>>I guess so.
>>you're one of us, aren't you?
>>yeah, I'm one of us, all right.
>>take us with you, please?
>>we're ashamed to live here. Our fathers are cowards. Don't you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun? Well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers, and this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground, and there's nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee will ever come of it. This is bravery.
Point being that if every person counts, then there may be no more heroic act than raising a child. There may be no more heroic act than earning a living or doing the right thing by your community. That heroism isn't just Horatio at the bridge. But in a free society, heroism is every man and every woman every day doing the best they can. Now, I want to remind you as you start thinking about these things and as we start applying them, we want to apply them in a framework of vision, strategies, projects, and tactics, so that we think them through at these four levels. But then you also want to discipline yourself into the habit that when you think you know what you're doing, that you go out and you listen to other people, you learn from other people, you help other people, and you lead other people, in that order. So when you think you've got it, you've got to go now and listen to see: well, does it make sense to them in their world and what are they thinking?
And I also want to remind you that the whole concept of this course is that these ideas are the beginning of a dialogue. This course is not about, you know, wisdom that we're guaranteed will work. This course is about starting a dialogue about: what is an American Civilization like? Now, dr. Minnix suggested for next week we got some great stuff, which we're going to codify and reproduce and get back to you on everybody who last week gave us their list of what they would teach immigrants, which is very helpful. Then we had the test, or the question was: if somebody who just arrived walked up to you and said, "what are the first five things I should do to learn to be an American," what would you list? Interestingly, I would say 70% listed "learn English" as the first thing. It was very interesting in terms of some national debates about bilingualism, but dr. Minnix suggested for next week that you just write us a couple paragraphs of one of two things: what is the best example in your own life of personal strength? Or, alternatively: what would be an example, again, in your own life, of a hero or a heroine?
And I think if you'd do that, what we're going to do is we're going to keep pulling together everybody's ideas, and I think you're going to find by the end of the quarter, we have some very interesting things to share with you, and that gives you a way of making it real. Let me stop now, because we have a couple minutes left. Questions? Reactions?
The point you were saying about having people disagree with you and stuff like that, I was wondering on the first day of congress, when you made all the rules about the three-fifths majority for a tax increase and the open laws on the floor, I thought -- I thought those rules were effective from here on out for every congress, and then I learned that it was just for this congress, and I was -- and I thought, you know, well, gee, that gives democrats more power, you know. Assure.
>>that they're in the minority now, and that gives them so much more power. Is that why you did that? You mean it gives them more power because they could vote "no"? Because next time -- the reason you did that is because -that's a good question. In the constitution, the house and senate are very different. The senate is a continuing body, because only a third of the senators get elected every time. The house, however -- so the senate rules carry over. The house, though, is entirely a single body. And the house is in a situation where we all get elected every time, so every time we create a brand new house, so the rules are brand new every time. And the house -- under the constitution, the house controls its own rules, so the constitution limits us to do that, which is, I think, fine. But that's a good question. I think we have time for maybe one other question before John yells at me. Yes, ma'am. With the advent of the third wave, the political categories we place people, conservatives, liberals, populists, is that going to change, or is that -- yeah, my personal guess is that all of the political language of the last 30 years is gone. We just don't know it yet, and we don't know what the new language is, but that an information age, world market society on the scale we're describing is going to be dramatically, dramatically different, and we'll talk about that. We're going to spend two hours on Alvin and Heidi Toffler's third wave and American Civilization, and we may well get into that, and then we'll talk about it again at the last session of the course, which will be two hours on citizenship and community. Now, let me remind you that next week's topic is pillar three: entrepreneurial free enterprise as the great producer of wealth, solution, and opportunities. I'm going to talk about that. And next week's reading is to finish up "the Effective Executive" and to read chapters 7 and 11 of "building" -- of "Building A Community Of Citizens."
Last Updated 3/1/95
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