Mike Lotus Speaking to the Indianapolis Federalist Society Lawyers Chapter about America 3.0 on August 14, 2014

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I will be speaking about America 3.0 to the Indianapolis Federalist Society Lawyers Chapter on August 14, 2014.

The event is a luncheon at the Conrad Indianapolis, 50 West Washington.

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Because I will be speaking to lawyers, I will focus on the role of lawyers in each of the phases of American life over our history, in the present transitional era, and offer some speculation about the future.

You can sign up here.

Non-members are welcome.

I look forward to being back iin Indiana and seeing classmates from Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington. I spent three happy years there, not least getting the student chapter of the Federalist Society re-started.

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Thoughts on Bastille Day

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Our sister republic, France, is in trouble. And is so often the case, the problem is self inflicted.

The EU is a failure, the French political class is the architect of the disaster, and they dare not admit how bad it is, so the French are paralyzed.

Emmanuel Todd, above right, whose work Jim Bennett and I used in America 3.0 has been vocal about this problem. I had a post up the other day with a lengthy discussion by Todd in English on this topic.

Continue reading

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Emmanuel Todd, Speaking in English, on Why the Euro is a Failure

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asPsJagGgAY#t=370

Todd applies his family structure analytic model to explain why the Euro is doomed to fail. He notes that the French and the Germans, for example, have little in common. He expressly says that the French individualism is much closer to the Anglo-American individualistic culture, distinct from the German authoritarian style. He says that the French elite caused the problem and they cannot admit their mistake or the entire foundation of the French political structure would collapse.

The European idea of a union of free and equal states has been destroyed by the Euro, and it is now an economic hierarchy, with the Germans at the top. Further, democracy itself is incompatible with the Euro.

Todd notes that the very low birth rates in Europe have a positive benefit: There will be no open or violent conflict to resolve the current political conflicts. Rather, contentious issues are kicked up to the “European level” — which means nothing whatsoever will happen.

He sympathizes with the British position. Britain is dependent on a dying content, Europe. “It is committing suicide under German leadership.” But Britain is part of a much larger Anglo-American world, which in ten years, on current trends, will have more people than all of Europe.

Of course, America 3.0 is based in large part on a “Toddean” understanding of American culture, and this talk is consistent with our understanding.

A fascinating talk.

H/t Brian Micklethwait

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Wave the Flag

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Happy Independence Day

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence.

RTWT.

God bless America.

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Quote of the Day from Winston Churchill, July 4, 1918

The Declaration of Independence is not only an American document. It follows on the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights as the third great title-deed on which the liberties of the English-speaking peoples are founded…. The political conceptions embodied in the Declaration of Independence are the same as those expressed at that time by Lord Chatham and Mr. Burke and handed down to them by John Hampden and Algernon Sidney. They spring from the same source; they come from the same well of practical truth….

Winston Churchill, speech given at the Anglo-American rally at the Albert Hall on US Independence Day 1918.

RTWT.

(Note that Churchill’s reference to the “Bill of Rights” is to the English Bill of Rights of 1689.)

Quoted in a review by Andrew Roberts of Mr. Churchill’s Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the “Special Relationship” by Peter Clarke.

We made a similar argument in America 3.0:

[T]o fully understand the meaning of the American Founding, and of our Declaration and Constitution, we need to go back even farther, to see where they came from. The Founders were not writing on a blank page. Far from it. They made a Revolution because the American people already held strongly to certain principles that they saw coming under increasing threat. And they wrote our Founding documents as a conscious attempt to preserve a valued way of life, at least as much as to make something entirely new.

And Daniel Hannan made much the same point in Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World, when he wrote:

American Patriots didn’t just propose ideas that were inspired by the philosophy of Magna Carta. They saw that document itself as a part of their inheritance. When, as they perceived it, George III violated their patrimony, they too up arms to defend it.

We rightly celebrate our independence, and the Declaration that proclaimed it.

And we are right to recognize that the freedom our Founders fought for was ancient and the Declaration was the embodiment of something very old.

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Ron Paul reading America 3.0? Apparently so!

Ron Paul

According to the Ron Paul Channel he is.

On their page entitled What Ron’s Reading, there’s America 3.0!

I hope he gives the book to Rand Paul when he is finished with it. Chapter 9 in particular will help him transcend the misleading and fruitless neocon versus isolationist terminology on foreign policy. Anyone who disputes the type of engagement typified by the protracted engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan should not be subject to the dismissive label “isolationist.”

The review by David Desrosiers in the Washington Times said “Sen. Rand Paul — and his supporters — should make “America 3.0” their book of ideas.”

Maybe Sen. Paul is having the old man check it out before he reads it himself?

As Jim Bennett and I have noted, we are standing by to brief Sen. Paul about the book at his convenience! And we would be happy to autograph Ron Paul’s copy!

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Kevin D. Williamson: “Politics Pays: No society can long thrive by making its innovators subservient to its bureaucrats”

It is baffling that my progressive friends lament the influence of so-called big money on government while at the same time proposing to expand the very scope and scale of that government that makes influencing it such a good investment. Where government means constables, soldiers, judges, and precious little else, it is not much worth capturing. Where government means somebody whose permission must be sought before you can even begin to earn a living, when it determines the prices of products, the terms of competition, and the interest rates on your competitors’ financing, then it is worth capturing. That much is obvious. Progressives refuse to see the inherent corruption in the new ruling class — and, make no mistake, we now have a ruling class — because it is largely made up of them, their colleagues, and people who are socially and culturally like them and their colleagues.

Politics Pays: No society can long thrive by making its innovators subservient to its bureaucrats., by Kevin Williamson.

Williamson is always good. Be sure to check his posts daily.

There is a growing awareness in the air these days that there is a shared mentalité among our current elite, which makes them believe they are entitled to live off of government power, and at the direct and indirect expense of the productive citizenry, instead of through creative effort. However awareness of this attitude of unearned superiority is not yet common enough. A modern classic in the genre is Angelo Codevilla’s essay from 2010, America’s Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution, which is worth reading, as is the book that grew out of it.

Williamson ends “Politics Pays” with this: “It is time to start calling this what it is and treating it as what it is: corruption.”

That is correct. And his subtitle is also correct. Making innovators subservient to bureaucrats is not long-term viable.

But, as we live through the decay of America 2.0, we can count on its institutions and incumbents doing everything in their power to thwart the rise of the new and emerging world.

Getting rid of this sort of government, an outdated and toxic relic, is the mission of our era. The scale and scope of its power need to be cut back to Constitutional limits. Otherwise, it is not only too expensive, and corrupt, it also incompetent.

Michael Barone makes this last point, about government incompetence in a review essay entitled Why government isn’t working and how to make it better. Barone cites to three new books for the proposition that “[g]overnment just doesn’t work very well.” The books are: (1) The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, (2) Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better, by Peter Schuck, and (3) The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government by Philip K. Howard. They all sound good, and I have started reading The Fourth Revolution. It is pretty good so far, though I see serious differences between the historical understanding of the authors and what Jim Bennett and I propose in America 3.0. Perhaps I will have more to say about it when I finish it.

Of course, the defects of modern government, and the massive changes on the way, are key themes of America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come.

We predict America will successfully overcome this epoch of corruption, blown budgets, ineptitude — and the smug, corrupt, spendthrift and incompetent class that benefits from and dominates public life in this transitional era. They won’t be missed.

Notably, Williamson is also long-term optimistic about America’s prospects, which further shows how smart he is.

Be sure to read his book The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure. Williamson is one of the few, the happy few, who see that America is bigger and better than this vicious, venal and small-minded era we are living through.

America’s greatest days are yet to come, and they are going to be awesome.

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Walter Russell Mead Calls for a Vision of a Better American Future

Walter Russell Mead Calls for a Vision of a Better American Future

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The always interesting and often brilliant Walter Russell Mead has a post titled The Right Wrestles with the Inequality Debate. It is mainly an analysis of the disparate views within the political right about income equality. First, he correctly notes that people on the conservative and libertarian side generally don’t object to inequality, to the extent it is earned by people who create value.

by giving free rein to the talents and ambitions of the strongest, we are setting in motion a process which over the long run will make everyone better off. The talented will invent new technologies, discover new drugs, make compelling art and otherwise enhance the general human storehouse through their own unfettered pursuit of happiness. Any heavy handed government efforts to keep the talented from becoming too successful will slow down the pace of innovation and change that historically has seen living standards for average people skyrocket over the last three hundred years. This idea isn’t going away anytime soon and the reality that three hundred years of capitalist development has in fact raised living standards to unprecedented levels in much of the world suggests that there may even be some truth in it.

Mead does not focus on the question of resentment against unearned wealth. Where political connections are the source of wealth, that wealth does not benefit the public or create value. It is zero sum, parasitic.

Mead devotes most of the piece to a historical discussion of the cultural divide among white voters in the American South, between an oligarchical elite and a populist majority that did not object to Federal spending for its own benefit, such as benefits to farmers to prop up rural incomes, and as rural electrification. Mead sees this cleavage echoed in the current conflict between the populist Tea Party and the GOP establishment. He sees ambitious GOP politicians trying to create a master narrative that will lead to party unity and political victory. Mead notes that the liberal narrative on this point “sees the ancient path of righteousness as the trail blazed by FDR and the New Deal.”

As we noted in America 3.0:

Very roughly, the aspirations on the Left are a revived 2.0 model with government, unions, and corporations restored to solvency, providing a secure life for the general population through stable employment mediated by regulation and union borrowing power, generating a cash flow through taxes and union dues automatically deducted from regular paychecks. It is more or less an idealized version of the US economic structure of the 1950s with Progressive personal values and family relations.

Mead then notes “the conservative narratives look farther back: to the economic and social ideals of pre-New Deal America.” This is correct. American conservatives often hark back to an idealized vision of an older America, which we call America 1.0. Mead refers to this as “a right pining for the 1890s.” But I don’t believe this is correct. It is much more vague, idealized and incapable of being pinned down. The conservative nostalgia sometimes focuses on the Founding era, sometimes on the frontier. However, sometimes the nostalgia is for fairly recent times, postwar America, when times were better for new business formation and smaller businesses. Still, Mead is right about the large element of nostalgia.
Mead describes the two version of the Conservative “inequality story” as tales of a fall from grace. One is an “economic jeremiad”:

America once lived by the true faith, the economic conservatives argue, but we have turned aside. We have embraced the hell-spawned alliance of a large corporate establishment and a powerful central government. We have deserted the shrine of true liberal economics to worship the false idol of crony capitalism. Rent seekers have driven true entrepreneurs out of the temple; corrupt elites in politics and corporate life swap favors and powerful interests have captured the mechanisms of the regulatory state to buttress the power of the rich and well established.

The other is focused on social and religious issues:

In this vision, our economic troubles and especially inequality result less from errors in economic policy making than from a national moral collapse. Social conservatives tend to see a series of threatening social changes that are eroding the institutions and beliefs that have made America work. A culture that looks on human sexuality as a recreational pursuit rather than an encounter with transcendence inseparable from monogamous marriage and childbearing has, for many social conservatives, lost touch with the values that any society needs to stay healthy and prosperous long term. The decline of the two parent family, the rise of a culture of instant gratification, the pornography explosion, the acceptance of homosexuality: for many Americans, these developments are the harbingers of the decline of our political and economic life. Unless Americans return to the spiritual and personal values that marked our society in earlier times, we face inexorable decline – our society will become less just, less free, less equal, less honest, less safe and less rich.

Mead suggests these can be “”blended into a kind of unified field theory of conservative populism”:

Traditionally, one can argue, the United States was guided by a culture that combined the love of small government, free markets, religious faith and strong family values. That culture is under assault today, and as it loses its power, we face an ever growing sea of troubles. Weak family values lead to children growing up without the ability to build strong families themselves or earn good livings. More and more children grow up in economically and socially insecure single parent households. This in turn creates a culture of dependency; people are willing to cede more power to the state in return for more handouts. The bloated state becomes increasingly dysfunctional, imposing higher taxes and regulatory costs on an increasingly sluggish economy. Greedy rent seekers flock to Washington, diverting ever larger masses of wealth into their own hands and further distorting economic processes. The Hollywood and Wall Street elites, amoral to the core, reap ever greater rewards as in their different ways they continue to undermine the foundations of American social stability and economic prosperity.

This version of the story, however, is anathema to the GOP old-timers: “There are lots of establishment Republicans (and Democrats) who are quite happy with a Washington culture of back scratching and favor-swapping. Many of the Tea Party versus establishment battles inside the Republican Party today are about the efforts of insurgents to dismantle a system that the career politicians consider a natural and necessary way of getting the nation’s business done.”

Mead is being too nice here. There is nothing natural or necessary about the degree of corruption which is going on in Washington now, the amount of wealth which is gravitating there, or the degree to which government power has been harnessed to private greed. It has gotten a lot worse in recent years. People who have been there a long time may have gone native and notice anymore. But there is no excuse for that.

Luigi Zingales, in his brilliant book A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity notes that the return to investment in lobbying is massive, dwarfing the return on improving goods and services and competing in the marketplace. In a genuinely horrifying passage Zingales notes that the awareness of how much inside dealing is worth has only recently penetrated the awareness of American business, and overcome older habits, values and attitudes which pushed against seeking government favors as a primary way of making a living.

Mead is especially good in his conclusion.

[B]oth left and right populism in America today are nostalgic; they seek to restore old orders rather than to imagine or build something new. This again is characteristic of eras like ours. The transition from late industrial society to an early stage information economy is hugely disruptive and painful. At the moment, it is easier and more natural for many people to worry about what is being lost than to look forward to the new possibilities that technological progress is creating for our future.
 

 

At the moment we don’t as a society even have a real vision of what a better, non-nostalgia drenched future might look like, much less a sense of what policies might help us get there faster.
 
This needs to change.

It is hard to imagine the America which is now coming into existence. It will be different from anything we have ever known, in many ways. It takes a leap of the imagination to think about what it will be like. And it takes a leap of faith to believe it will incorporate the best of what has come before, that it really will be better. It will take effort as well as imagination and faith to reimagine and repurpose what we have done in the past, make it relevant not nostalgic, make it work for us again, but even better, make the emerging technology serve our values, not be our master.

Formulating such a vision, and the necessary policies to make it happen, is what America 3.0 is all about.

Mead’s thinking, in his books, his articles and on his blog, are similar to the ours on many points. He sees the scale of the change now under way. He sees the need for a reformulated politics to address the change. And, unlike most people, he sees that the future can be and should be a great era in America.

We are eager to hear more from Mead about his vision and proposals.

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Mike Lotus at the U.S. Army War College 2014 National Security Strategy Seminar

Army War College

I had the great good fortune to attend the U.S. Army War College 2014 National Security Strategy Seminar, which ran from June 2-6, 2014.

The War College runse an annual course for colonels and lieutenant colonels, personnel from the other branches, as well as officers from foreign armies. According to the Army War College website the resident class of 2014 included 385 students including: (1) 216 Army officers: Active, Reserve, Guard, (2) 64 Navy, Marine, Air Force and Coast Guard officers, all components, (3) 77 international officers/ fellows, and (4) 28 senior national security civilian professionals.

The final week of the year, civilians are invited to attend the National Security Strategy Seminar, which consists of lectures and participation in seminar discussions. The NSS very well organized and professionally run.

The seminar I participated in is depicted in this photo:

MJL NSS Photo

Military officers who reach these ranks are, in my limited experience, an extremely impressive group. The participants in this seminar were no exception, with most having served multiple tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. The opportunity to listen to them in the seminars, and to talk to them informally, was the most rewarding part of the event, for me. I also had fascinating conversations with officers from foreign militaries.

The seminar discussions touched on many subjects related to the security of the nation and the future of the U.S. military. Some recurring themes in the discussion were (1) the impact of shrinking military budgets on the capabilities of the US military, (2) concern about losing the corporate knowledge gained in over a decade of fighting and non-combat activities gained in over a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, (3) concern about a disconnect between the military and the civilian population, (4) the over-sue of the military, as the only part of the government that works, to solve all problems, to “hit the M button” instead of using the other DIME elements (diplomacy, information and economics) (5) discerning what the main threats in the future will be, and how to prepare for them, (6) making the professional transition from being executors of strategy and policy to originators of strategy and policy.

The concern about shrinking budgets and capabilities appeared to be the subject of greatest concern. Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the Commandant, gave a talk to the visiting civilians. He mentioned that he had decorated the Commandants quarters with pictures of the Army during the era after the Civil War and between the World Wars, both eras when it had to struggle with reduced budgets. The public seems to think that despite cuts in the budget the US military will still remain very powerful. The internal viewpoint I was hearing was that the US military was being reduced massively, akin to early periods of virtually starving the military.

(I of course managed to weave America 3.0 into my interventions in the discussion.)

The lectures included a talk on the first day by Gen. Barry McCaffrey entitled “The Role of US Power in the World.” It was a good overview of threats facing the USA and it was a practiced presentation. However, Gen. McCaffrey had a habit of dropping politicians names, and being, to my ear anyway, overly obsequious about it. I did not see why that would have been necessary in the setting where he was speaking. I found it grating. Perhaps it is the norm. I hope not. The video is here.

The lecture on the second day was by Rachel Maddow. I was not sure what to expect. I do not watch her TV show, but I understand I would not agree with her on very much. However, she gave a good talk. She drew on her book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power. The gist of her argument is that the American Founders intentionally made it difficult to engage the country in a war, and that it is now too easy for the political leadership to turn to the military to solve problems. Her regard for the military and her desire to see them only sent into danger after deep and due deliberation was clearly sincere. Generally, I agreed with her presentation. I added her book to my anti-library.

There was a choice of lectures on the second day, and I attended the lecture by Prof. John Troxell on the subject of Chinese Economic Power. Troxell was very good. It was interesting to contrast McCaffrey’s vision of China as a long term threat with Troxell’s vision of China as a nation and an economy so bound up with the USA, and with its own internal challenges, that open conflict would be too costly for China to initiate it. The video is here, and is worth a listen.

Unfortunately, I had to miss the last day of the event, due to professional obligations. I therefore missed a talk by Peter W. Singer. Video here, which I have not listened to yet.

I also very much enjoyed drinks at the hotel with other civilian participants in the evening, who were an remarkably talented, distinguished and interesting group of people.

Overall, this was an extraordinary and unique experience. My respect and regard for our military personnel, always deep, was deepened further by participation in this event.

I am grateful to my friend who nominated me, to my sponsor, an Army Reserve Lt. Col. and a police officer in civilian life, to the participants in the seminar, and to everyone at the Army War College who made this event possible.

MJL NSS Certificate

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