At times in the past, my editorials have decried the failing state of U.S. education at all levels, with pleas that industry fill voids as a matter of self-interest. It is not a question that employees should be available with adequate skill in reading, math or civics to be productive workers and citizens. The fact is that many young members of the workforce have not learned sufficiently to be good members of society.
James Madison’s words were: “Only a well-educated people can permanently be a free people.” In 1788, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “It is from civil society that industry, civility, rectitude, science and prosperity arise.” The founders of America gained these views after years studying philosophy and history, which led them to their epiphanies in creating the Constitution. Much of their wisdom is contained in the thought that “the mission of protecting civil society and restraining political society is at the very foundation of our Republic.”
Today the U.S. is at this “understanding” crossroad. This is not some wishful and ethereal concern in do-goodism but is a practical call for education by people like you for schooling of employees to install what public-education systems have failed to provide. Over the next decade or two, readers of this page, and Americans in general, may well prosper or fail based on response to this idea.
Upon reflection, I think most agree that American culture is decaying and isn’t as vibrant and healthy as in past years. In political forums it seems hard to find wisdom, courage, honesty, subordination of egomania, moderation, seeking the common good, charity and self-discipline. Indeed, American culture seems to have degenerated into celebrations of vice, ignorance, drivel and self-promotion.
Bruce Fein at American Freedom Agenda says, “It is inconceivable that a Washington, Madison, or Jefferson or Lincoln could emerge from the contemporary culture.” But that is exactly what America needs today. Mr. Jefferson sermonized, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” While it is quite true that diagnosing cultural flaws is much easier than prescribing cures, my suggestion is that industry assume a teaching role to replace and supplement the failed role of the tax-funded public-education system as a necessary, least costly, self-saving option for the American free-enterprise system. This can be done with mandatory classes in fundamentals for employees – after work hours without pay – to cover lacked disciplines.
I contend that the modern liberal’s concept of good government has divorced freedom from responsibility and has created a false sense of morality. Changing the role of government from the one envisioned by the founders (protecting persons and property) to the unlimited achievement of social justice has broken the oath of Congressional members, justices of the courts and the President to uphold, preserve and protect the Constitution. This idea of federal government only doing what it is authorized to do and leaving all other responsibilities and actions to states and the people is a concept that must be reinstalled as the way America leads its life.
Since 1995, Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) has introduced legislation (Enumerated Powers Act, H.R. 1359) every year in each Congressional session that reads: “Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise and definite statement of the Constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act.” This bill has only 28 co-sponsors. (The Constitution gives Congress 18 specific, enumerated powers listed in Article I, Section 8, reinforced in the 10th Amendment.) It seems like such a good, simple idea. Readers should instruct their representatives, House and Senate, to enact this legislation. Further, if we expect elected government to be responsible and uphold oaths of office, we must take responsibilities ourselves as participants in the industrial economy. A better-educated workforce will improve business and the country.
The average American probably thinks that the Constitution authorizes Congress to do things based upon what members believe is good for the nation and for which a majority vote is achieved. But that is not how a democratic republic operates. The nation lives under a system where all three branches of government are restricted by the Constitution to defined roles. Our current federal government exhibits contempt for these strictures.
This may sound like a futile, academic argument, but it is not. As America enters this election year and aspires to improve, please keep these thoughts in mind.IH
A Need for Education and Responsibility
February 1, 2008