“The public library system of the United States is worth preserving.”
---Henry Rollins (American Musician)
This is the first of four articles where we'll discuss what's needed to truly reform education in the United States. Up front, we'll make one thing perfectly clear: we are definitely NOT in favor of nationalizing our primary schools nor our secondary educational institutions. Under our Constitution, these matters reside with our state and local governments; and we believe that it should remain that way..
That said, you’re a fool if you fail to recognize that the fabric of American education changed dramatically as a result of the digital revolution. Indeed, the education market in the United States has grown dramatically since the advent of the Internet and it's only expected to grow more over the next several years. In short: the ED hasn't kept pace with the changes; and it’s time we recognize the cultural shift that has occurred as a result.
In other words, we need to re-engineer and re-tool our educational systems; and we need to do so quickly!
HERE ARE OUR FIRST TWO PROPOSALS
1. A search engine, an encyclopedia, and other reference tools (e.g. a dictionary and a thesaurus) ought to be considered part of our national library system;
2. It makes sense for Google & Wikipedia to become public utilities (similar to AT&T way back when), or whole parts of the ED as soon as possible.
The proposed system would effectively be an extension our Department of Education and greatly bolster National Security and Defense initiatives. We'll explain why in this article:
A STARTING POINT FOR EDUCATION REFORM
The amount of information available today to the public over the world wide web is unprecedented in our history. Concurrently, the information age has spawned a number of innovations in the way we study and conduct primary research. Among the most sweeping changes:
When you take a step back and look at the big picture, it's quite evident that how and where we learn in the information age is much different than it was before. This made us ask the following questions:
These are the fundamental questions we’ll address in this article. We’ll argue that Americans need to fully understand and quickly accept the fact that educational tools like Google, Wikipedia, and the Dictionary.com’s of the world all serve the public interest and ought to be nationalized to some degree. In other words, complete re-tooling and re-structuring of our Department of Education is long overdue.
MOST OF US NOW CARRY A “POCKET LIBRARY”
Like 77% of all Americans, I own a smartphone; and I often download useful apps for personal education, writing and research purposes. The apps on my device include a couple of different Search Engines (Google and Bing), a global encyclopedia (Wikipedia), a dictionary and a thesaurus (my preferred version is Merriam-Webster), as well as a multitude of other small reference tools (e.g. area code lookups and zip code lookups, etc.).
If you were born after 1989, these things seem natural. However, for those of us who are older, the Internet revolutionized access to libraries of information as well as research tools. Imagine: before the 1990's, people actually had to travel (by automobile or by foot) to a library to access a wide body of research materials if they weren’t fortunate enough to own them themselves. Furthermore, if the research was extensive, they often had to travel to multiple locations to complete their research!
Research tools and materials are vital necessities for individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset: people who wish to invest time and energy in determining their own future. Nearly every entrepreneur and investor will tell you that if you want to gain advantages over your competition, you need to excel in school and continuously strive for personal growth. In other words, you spend a great deal of time in library facilities.
Any way you look at it, a public library is about education, growth. and learning. It’s a core extension of the public education system. As Campbell Brown of Facebook notes, “It comes down to what your priorities are, and if public education is about children and learning. It’s a core extension of the public education system. As kids, then every decision we make should be focused on the question of 'Is this good for a child?' And that should be the driving focus and the priority when we decide what our policies should be and what our laws should be.”
Keep in mind that we are all considered children in eyes of our Creator to a certain degree regardless of our age... Currently, we have libraries in our public school systems for our children from grades K-12; and reference materials are of course vital to those systems. Ask any teacher, and they’ll definitively tell you that high-caliber tools facilitate quality education. So then, why aren't the tools in our "pocket library" considered an extension of our public education system, if public libraries in fact are?
It boils down to this: the tools of our pocket library must be integrated into the ED in order to effectively manage public education in the United States today. We'll explain why next:
A CASE FOR NATIONALIZING THE POCKET LIBRARY
Is it in our best interests to have all our digital research tools developed, managed and updated by private corporations and select non-profits? The answer is unequivocally NO!
Of course, Innovation and entrepreneurship are the driving factors behind the success of the corporations we’re talking about (Google and Microsoft as well as the Wikimedia Foundation and others). For example, Google launched in 1996 as a research project by PhD students at Stanford University. Two years later, the company received a $100,000 angel investment; and away it went!
Nevertheless, Google has received a great deal of scrutiny and criticism recently from conservative political pundits and conservative economists; as well as from radical leftist ideologues like Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Not surprisingly, the concerns expressed by the conservatives make a great deal of sense. Conservative political pundits accuse the tech monolith of down-ranking sites and pages that don’t align with corporate’s political positions, thereby suppressing free speech. The concerns of the conservative economists are largely geopolitical in nature. For example, Google has agreed to build a censored version of their search engine for communist China. Both sets of concerns suggest that Google deliberately stifles competition and suppresses the very principles that led to the company’s founding: entrepreneurship and innovation!
On the other hand, far-left zealots have seized upon these factors to push forth visions of an impossible socialist utopia. For example, Sanders (a self-proclaimed "Democratic Socialist” demagogue) contends: “You go to your public library, or you call your fire department or police department, what do you think you are calling? These are socialist institutions.”
To be blunt, Senator Sanders full of crap. The police, the fire department and the public library ARE NOT socialist institutions. Rather, they’re community resources; and there’s are HUGE differences between the two!
BERNIE SANDERS MAY BE AN IDIOT... BUT HE DOES MAKE A POINT
Several of the research and reference tools I’ve listed (i.e. search engines, dictionaries and encyclopedias) and are in-fact fundamental educational research tools used in libraries the world over. However, unlike brick and mortar libraries, the information available within our "Pocket Library" is decentralized, poorly curated and loosely maintained at the present time.
For example, a dictionary reference tool now often appears in Google's search results when you include the word “definition” with a search term. That said, the word inclusion criteria (and definitions) appear to be determined by Google itself!
This should concern anyone who believes in the American Dream. If you look under the surface, you'll find that terms like Fascism were completely omitted from Google's dictionary tool last year after the Daily Caller questioned the definition that Google was supplying.
Perhaps even more disturbing, Google has now integrated a feedback tool to report “wrong and offensive” definitions; quite possibly modifying definitions on a day-to-day basis in extreme cases.
Google currently dominates the search industry. Coupling search with a dictionary and thesaurus in effect makes Google (and the semi-anonymous voting body that supplies feedback on word acceptance) the principle arbiters of English, Spanish and a multitude of other human languages!
We must question whether it’s reasonable and prudent to allow companies like Google and non-profits like Wikimedia such enormous sway over the literacy and education of the American public! It seems to us that leverage these monoliths have over our society could in fact fuel the Fascism; very word Google omitted from their dictionary back in 2017!
THIS IS A NO-BRAINER
Clearly, The "Pocket Library" we’ve discussed here is of vital to our national interests. In fact, you could can say that it’s a national treasure of sorts: Young and old men and women of varying backgrounds and ethnic persuasions scour their Pocket Resource Libraries daily seeking to educate themselves, better their lives and expand their horizons.
When it comes to the tools and resources in our "pocket library" we need to ensure there's a level playing field. We have to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the information available to the public, preserve our national heritage and cultivate advancements that strengthen our society.
So, why not nationalize some of the tools and materials that comprise the Pocket Library? Why not create a repository under one branch of the federal government, where the library's tools and resources can be effectively curated, expanded and protected? Both ideas make clear sense to us.
Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 'socialist utopia' fantasies are a farce. They're a means to an apocalyptic end for American free enterprise and for free education. We’re not proposing an end to the free market in the case we've presented. Instead, we’re talking about centralizing a core set of vital national services; just like the United States postal service does for mail and package delivery. Not the whole enchilada mind you; just the meaty part of it.
We also argue that setting up such a service will lead to a much fairer competitive environment and open the door for a wide array of entrepreneurial business ventures within the industry. You only need look at the success of shipping companies like Federal Express, UPS and DHL to realize that opportunity will eventually open up in this space if the federal government steps in and asserts a degree of authority.
Jesus, I hope we realize the strategic importance of the research and reference tools that comprise our national pocket library and address this problem quickly!
Author: Erik Gagnon - Founding Partner, Chi Rho Consulting
Thoughts On The Kavanaugh Hearings, Due Process, The Court Of Public Opinion, and What It All Means For America
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
---George Santayana (American Philosopher 1906)
So far, 2018 has been a very busy and productive year for our consulting firm. So much so, that we decided to put our blog articles on hiatus while we focused our attention on our clientele's priorities. We’ve also gone dark on our social media pages for much the same reason.
However, this past Saturday a client of ours posted a statement on his personal Facebook page which I happened to catch. His statement related to the allegations of sexual assault made against Supreme Court Justice Brett during his confirmation hearings. Frankly, the sentiments our client chose to share disturbed me greatly. So much so, that I felt they warranted a response.
Sadly, much of social media has become a thought ghetto in recent years. Rational debates and logical discussions have largely been silenced and replaced with emotional outbursts by angry mobs. Their comments are largely rooted in animus and in fear; and are oftentimes agenda driven. Consequently, I decided to write a personal letter to him expressing my concerns instead of posting my thoughts to his feed or sending him an instant message.
As I said, our client’s statements on this matter were deeply disconcerting on many levels. The responses he received troubled me even more. As a result, I've chosen to share my response letter publicly. His original comment is included near the opening of my very lengthy response which follows below:
OUR LETTER IN RESPONSE TO THE KAVANAUGH CONFIRMATION HEARINGS AND THE QUESTION OF DUE PROCESS
THE INEVITABLY DIRE CONSEQUENCES IF WE DEMOCRATICALLY FORGO OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
I have yet to receive a response to my letter from our client. That said, I am hopeful that he will take the time to reflect on my arguments, recognize the extreme nature of his original statement and recant his position. That said, we are witnessing a rapid spread of absolutist rhetoric within our society today. It is a very real danger to anyone who disagrees with agenda-driven propaganda based on subjective truths and partial facts. That's why I felt compelled to come forward and speak out on this matter.
Radical leftist ideologues repeatedly ignore objective truths in order to push forward agendas premised on "equality of outcome". They fail to grasp the fundamentals of Natural Law. Additionally, they willfully or blissfully ignore the repeated failures of Marxist and Socialist ideology all throughout history. The fact of the matter is that "equality of outcome" is an impossible Utopian ideal. Humans are inherently flawed; and there are individuals among us who crave absolute and unlimited power over others. There always have been and always will be such individuals. All throughout history, they have risen within socialist regimes to impose authoritarian or totalitarian forms of rule.
Based on the circus we have witnessed on Capitol Hill in recent days, my hope is that more and more Americans are waking up to the fact that leftist rhetoric is becoming increasingly radical in our society. It's no wonder this is occurring when you take into account that authoritarian extremists permeate our educational institutions and our media outlets. In fact, journalistic standards have been all but been abandoned by a majority of prominent American media outlets that lean left of center.
To loosely paraphrase the Santayana quote I cited above: we will one day find ourselves in shackles if we forget the aggregate lessons world history teaches. Make no mistake, sowing distrust in our judicial system and chipping away at our Constitutional protections are but a means to an end. Evil in fact exists. There are individuals walking the planet today who would like nothing more than than to see an erosion of America's founding principles and the complete destruction of our Constitutional Republic. Doing so would open the gates for tyranny, injustice and oppression around the world.
the shadows of ignorance if more Americans who believe in MLK's Dream don't soon wake up to the fact that we are forgetting a fundamental chapter of world history. Indeed, we are starting to repeat mistakes that led to the the death of countless millions during the political upheavals of the 20th century. May God help us all.
For anyone interested:
Author: Erik Gagnon - Managing Partner, Chi Rho Consulting
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"It is business that generates the jobs, income and taxes that keep a country going."
---Mark Skousen (American economist)
If you keep up with current events, I'm sure you're aware that the Republican-controlled Congress passed a sweeping tax reform bill last week. We’re not going to address the full minutia of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in this article. However, here are a few of the salient highlights for American businesses:
The substantial cut in U.S. corporate tax rates is undoubtedly the single greatest change in our federal tax laws in the last 30 years. It also seems to be the most controversial portion of the new legislation. Indeed, left-wing politicians and left-leaning media outlets have been quick to condemn the new Tax Act as a gift to the wealthy at the expense of the middle-class.
Before and after the House and Senate votes were taken last week, the pollical hyperbole was in full effect. According to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY), the tax bill seemed to “stuff even more money into the pockets of the wealthy and the biggest corporations while raising taxes on millions in the middle class.” House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) went even further stating, “This GOP tax scam is simply theft, monumental, brazen theft from the American middle class and from every person who aspires to reach it. The GOP tax scam is not a vote for an investment in growth or jobs.”
It’s interesting to note that the final votes in both the House and Senate fell squarely along partisan lines. While a handful of Republicans opposed the bill in the House, not one single Democrat representative voted in favor of the legislation. The same was true in the Senate where all but one Republican (Bob Corker (R, TN)) voted yea and the entire Democrat Senate voted nay.
The apocalyptic reactions to the bill's passing from Democrat leadership and the left-wing media are deeply disturbing, particularly when you take into account that most nonpartisan economic think tanks project sizable economic gains under the new tax plan. For example, the Tax Foundation (a non-partisan Washington D.C.-based think tank) conservatively estimated in their preliminary analysis that the new Tax Act will generate:
Keep in mind that the Tax Foundation used very conservative assumptions for their forecast model and did not take into account any real compounding effects. In contrast, several other noted economists are predicting far, far greater returns over the long run. For example, Forbes contributor Bill Conerly recently remarked, “The biggest impact will be the gradual improvement in economic growth year after year. A small increment added to our recent growth rates would be inconsequential in any one year, but the increments will cumulate and even compound. Twenty years from now, the difference will be significant.” In other words, it's very feasible that the new Tax Act will create economic boon conditions and actually increase tax revenues over the long run.
While the true long-term economic impact of the new tax legislation remains open for debate, a sizable number of high-profile American corporations are already beginning to return immediate dividends to their workers. Several companies (including Boeing Comcast, Fifth Third Bankcorp and Wells Fargo) announced new investments, minimum wage hikes and employee bonuses the day after the tax reform bill was passed by Congress. More major companies are expected to quickly follow suit, thereby negating much of the original hyperbole surrounding the bill.
advantage of many of the loopholes and special deductions that major corporations could. Additionally, the draconian 35% corporate tax structure discouraged venture capitalists from taking sizable risks on startups in the U.S. market for years.
Smaller businesses are the backbone of the American economy. In 2017, over 60% of American private sector jobs are with companies with less than 1000 workers. For a good number of these companies, the new Tax Act dramatically changes their scalability dynamics. Although not every small to medium size business owner wants to grow the size of their enterprise, a good number in fact do. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the newly enacted tax legislation frees up financial capital for growth, research and expansion that was previously earmarked for the coffers of the federal government.
In parallel, it’s very likely that Venture Capitalists will begin to invest more and more in startup opportunities in relatively dormant American industries. Again, we're not going to get into Tax Act's minutia in this article (i.e. tax implications for VC investments). However, a basic understanding of economics leads to a realization that a sizable reduction in corporate tax rates makes American investments more attractive to VCs. Therefore, the likely influx of investment capital will undoubtedly lead to greater innovation. These investments will also increase demand for skilled American labor in a number of industrial sectors as competition increases. Consequently, real sustainable wage growth for American workers appears within reach for the first time in nearly two decades.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that an estimated 40-45% of all Americans pay no federal income taxes whatsoever today. There are many factors behind this astounding figure. However, an economic stimulus package of this magnitude will most certainly reduce welfare and unemployment figures in the years to come. In addition, the average American worker who pays taxes is expected to realize a sizable tax reduction under the new plan.
More important to our nation's future, American industry will once again have competitive advantages in the global arena. The truth of the matter is that our nation benefits wholly when job creators have more capital available to create, execute and innovate. Unleash the financial handcuffs from the John Galts of American enterprise and the free market will flourish. The positive effects will certainly ripple though society much as Mr. Conerly stated in his recent Forbes column.
In closing, a sad truth was revealed in the final Tax Cuts and Jobs Act debates and voting tallies last week. The leadership of the Democrat Party, as a whole, has now moved as far to the left on the political spectrum as the self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” Bernie Sanders (I, VT). They seem to have completely abandoned the virtuous, free market principles that have guided our Constitutional Republic for the last 241 years. Their "progressive" label appears to be a thinly veiled euphemism for neo-Marxist ideology. If John F. Kennedy were alive today, I imagine that he'd be aghast at what's become of his Democrat party.
Author: Erik Gagnon - Managing Partner, Chi Rho Consulting