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  • Introducing the Council on Domestic Relations (CDR)

    Author Peter Berkowitz, in his book Never a Matter of Indifference, said, "Our political society can no longer count on our civil society to support a free society." For the past year, over a series of blog posts on my website,, I have made the case that strengthening the bond between children and their biological parents will restore our civil society. I have just now established the Council on Domestic Relations (CDR), a 501(c)(3) non profit corporation for the purpose of strengthening this bond by remediating and reducing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in every community in America. The Council on Domestic Relations will mimic an organization which has had enormous impact on international affairs for decades, the Council on Foreign Relations. Founded in 1921, this nonprofit think tank specializes in US foreign policy and international affairs. Its membership of over 5,000 includes senior politicians, more than a dozen secretaries of state, CIA directors, bankers, lawyers, professors, and senior media figures. The Council has served as a “breeding ground” for important American policies such as mutual deterrence, arms control, nuclear non-proliferation and laid the groundwork for such monumental accomplishments as the Marshall Plan an NATO. Our civil society is jeopardized much like Europe was after WWII, and it warrants an equal amount of organization and effort. The Council on Domestic Relations will employ a similar strategy to strengthen America here at home. The CDR will convene meetings with government officials, business leaders and prominent members of the entertainment and philanthropic community for a discussion about how their organizations and industries can help reduce ACEs nationwide. It will make recommendations to Presidential administrations and the Congressional community, testify before Congress, interact with the media, and publish domestic policy issues. The CDR will seek out influential men and women in every city and bring them together for discussions on the affects of ACEs in their own communities. These committees will influence local leaders and shape public opinion to build support for the Council's policies. They will encourage and assist in the establishment of ACE remediation centers like the Resiliency Center in Fresno, and ACE Overcomers in Merced, California, to provide resiliency to ACE victums and break the generational cycle of ACEs. The CDR will conduct ongoing, long term studies, such as the Child Abuse and Neglect report recently released by the University of California, Merced and ACE Overcomers. Strengthening the bond between children and parents will reduce ACE's over time and reverse key negative social indicators, such as crime, incarceration, declining education, abortion, mass murder and gender confusion. Baseline data, case studies and long term tracking will prove that civil society can be restored by breaking the generational cycle of child abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction by ending Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Many of our nation's leaders believe that America's problems are a bottomless pit and seek endless amounts of federal funding and regulations to solve social problems. As civil society is being restored, the Council on Domestic Relations will encourage, through favorable federal, state and local tax policy, an increase of charity and a decline in public welfare spending. In 1982, believing in the power of charity and brotherly love, as opposed to welfare programs that drive entire communities into a bleak and heartless dependency, Ronald Reagan created the Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives to decrease dependence on government and transition social programs to the private sector. President Reagan's initiative was not successful because charities and nonprofits refused to even consider accepting responsibility for the enormous dependency class created by decades of Great Society public policy. While the government is obligated to provide a social safety net, welfare spending has increased to $909B dollars in 2019, while private charity amounted to $427B in the same year, a margin of two-to-one. The CDR will reverse this ratio over time, by resurrecting President Reagan’s Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives, adding to it the elimination of Adverse Childhood Experiences as a national goal. While it may take a generation, improving our civil society by reducing ACEs will provide the justification to relieve government of these responsibilities. By connecting tax policy to private charity and the elimination of ACEs, the President and Congress will reduce welfare and generate more effective and life changing charitable giving, and finally reduce welfare spending to what a true safety net should be, just a fraction of the charity of the American people. The Council on Domestic Relations will also promote, via Constitutional amendment or court action, initiatives that will limit government intervention in the private sector and the public square. Research, utilizing the Congressional Research Service, shows that little has been accomplished to limit the growth and reach of Congress, or the Presidency over the last 200 years. The same is true with state legislatures such as California, by ballot initiative. The CDR will influence other think tanks like American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) to promote the restriction of the federal government via the courts, constitutional amendments, or ballot initiatives in the states, including in-session time restrictions and what the federal government is allowed to even consider. It is clear that our political society is in disarray. In the past, we've relied on the great success of our Constitution, and Capitalism as a political system, but times have changed. Large scale domestic reform must take place. Our free society depends on it. With the goal of ending adverse childhood experiences and restoring brotherly love to its proper role in the private sector, the Council on Domestic Relations (CDR), will restore civil society and freedom in America . Click here to find out more about how you can help.

  • Hollywood and World War C

    “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.” Plato Today's special is Mediterranean Gem salad. Gathered around the table, at The Fig and Olive is a monthly, informal lunch meeting of the chairmen and directors of powerful Hollywood associations, the Motion Pictures Association (MPA), the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Producers Guild. They meet regularly to talk about the issues of their industry and how to improve things. Wayne La Pierre's friend, David Mackenzie (See the previous post), was late to take a seat in the trendy restaurant in Los Angeles. Someone asked, "Did you get your gun toting friend off to sea? "Yeah, what a mess," he said. "No one can defend for one moment the horrible shootings that are happening, but I honor the second amendment. The NRA's in a tough spot." "No offense but I hope your boat sinks and your gun toting buddy goes the way of those slaughtered by gun violence," said one of his lunch companions. "We had an interesting conversation this morning," said Mackenzie, "I think he's had an epiphany, but not in the way one might think. He saw that oped in the LA Times that says that most mass shooters experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. He's getting an education on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and he's convinced that they contribute to the increasing violence in our culture. It's more than gun violence and I think he's on to something. It's about how parents raise their kids. You should look at the ACE statistics. Frankly, I think all families, nuclear, single parent and custodial need help. We are in a culture war really, and the victims are the vulnerable part of our population - kids." He went on while the waiters brought the salad. "We bend over backwards to be ever so inclusive on 'family' issues that affect only a very small fraction of our society, yet forty percent (40%) of children go to sleep in broken homes. No wonder there's so much disfunction and craziness out there." Somewhere, in the back of the mind of one of these luncheon guests came the thought, "I wonder if our industry can be part of the solution." World War Culture (WWC) Rallying Hollywood to a worthy, or unworthy cause has been done before. When the United States went to war in December 1941, so did Hollywood. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, studio executives, filmmakers, actors, and directors knew that movies were essential for boosting the morale of troops overseas and Americans at home. The Roosevelt administration asked Hollywood to ask itself, "Will this picture help with the war?" Larry Margasak, 2016 Today, Hollywood is often dismissed as a conglomeration of corporate studios creating hardly anything but terrible sequels and remakes. However, our country once relied heavily on the films produed there. During World War II, Hollywood produced films that acted as propoganda, increasing military recruitment rates, assisted in military training, and boosted the morale of American soldiers and civilians alike, easily making cinema the most important form of popular media in the war effort. An Unknown Ally: Hollywood's Role in WWII. Joel Pelsue, co-founder and CEO of Arts & Entertainment Ministries, explains, in this article, how the political left uses movies and television to promote their ideology, and challenges conservatives to consider how they can be a positive influence within the entertainment industry. He says, "This is going back 50, 60 years of people intently putting in little themes of communism, of socialism, of anti-entrepreneur, anti-small business people." These messages are strategically worked into the media by 90% of the writers who are from the same university with the same worldview that was pretty much socialist, communist mentality." Hollywood can be inspired to act. We are losing the battle for freedom and responsibility (strong social institutions) because our enemy, advocates for government control, have been infiltrating Hollywood for decades. Highlighting Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can serve as a rallying point to bring disparate groups together for a common conservative cause. With this issue, the entertainment industry could be infiltrated from within and enormous social pressure, not legislation, brought to bear from without, so that someday Hollywood asks itself, "Will this picture help win the war against Adverse Childhood Experiences." America's chief export to the world is not just freedom, it's freedom and responsibility. The entertainment industry influences not just the United States, but the world. Pelsue goes on to say, "we’re exporting these TV shows around the world, to China, India and Third World countries, all the way across the world." World War Culture can't be won without Hollywood.

  • How the NRA should respond

    Wayne LaPierre flopped down on an exotic leather couch aboard the Illusion, a luxury superyacht owned by a friend and Hollywood film director David McKenzie. There was another horrific school shooting and, aboard the yacht and out to sea, he and his family would be safe and secure, away from multiple death threats against he and his family. The Illusion was a dependable safe haven, used often by the LaPierre family after Columbine, .... Sandy Hook, ...... Parkland, ...... Santa Fe, ....... on and on. In addition to threats on his life, LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association (NRA) was also under enormous pressure to relent on the NRA's unwavering support of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, the public's right to bear arms. School shootings just kept happening and he needed a response to the ongoing massacres. His friend, McKenzie, was furious with his initial response to this latest shooting, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." He said, "You have to come up with a solution Wayne, not a one-liner!" LaPierre mentioned that the NRA had been discussing plans to develop a National School Shield Emergency Response Program, a “multifaceted” education and training program “available to every school in America free of charge.” They even selected former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) to lead the effort, and serve as its national director. “School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single solution,” Hutchinson said in his brief public remarks. “But I believe trained, qualified, armed security is one key component among many that can provide the first line of deterrence as well as the last line of defense.” McKenzie gave the idea some thought and said, "So, Wayne, let me get this straight, school safety is a complex and difficult problem to solve so all your'e going to do is make schools bullet proof. Is that your solution? You know, the gun control lobby uses the same kind of excuse, like 'school safety is a complex issue, so let's just take all guns away from everybody.' Why don't one of you address the real problem, Wayne? Why is there an increasing trend of deranged boys and men slaughtering innocent children in our schools? How has our culture become so course, with such savagery against innocent life? Don't you understand, the public needs a solution and you should help find it!" LaPierre felt a knawing in his stomach as McKenzie finished off his glass of wine, wished him well and left the boat as it departed for the open sea. There was a time, not that long ago, when a rifle could be mounted in the back window of an unlocked pick up truck and no one cared. Both men were left with one question on their minds "How has our country come to this?" Sleep did not come easy that night. Early the next morning, with coffee in hand and through blurry eyes, LaPierre looked down at the coffee table to see the headline of an oped in the morning addition of the LA Times: LA Times Op-Ed: We have studied every mass shooting since 1966. Here’s what we’ve learned about the shooters For two years, Jillian Peterson and James Densley studied the life histories of mass shooters in the United States for a project funded by the National Institute of Justice. Here's what they found: "First, the vast majority of mass shooters in our study experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. The nature of their exposure included parental suicide, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence ...... The trauma was often a precursor to mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, thought disorders, violence or suicidality." Early childhood trauma. At risk kids becoming unstable adults. That's it!! That's the problem! LaPierre was determined to learn more and with further inquiry he discovered something called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and the ACE test, a simple 10 question test to determine traumatic experience in a person's life occurring before the age of 18 that the person remembers as an adult. These experinences are grouped into three categories: The oped, the study and ACE's opened up a whole new world to La Pierre. The research demonstrated the relationship between childhood trauma and adult health and social outcomes. Adverse childhood experiences have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. LaPierre called McKenzie in Los Angeles. "David, Check this out. Here's the problem! I know this must sound strange to you, and it will to the NRA Board of Directors at first, but I have 5 million NRA members and over 15,000 affiliated clubs, associations and businesses throughout the country and they need to know more about ACEs in their communities." McKenzie said, "Ok, now that we understand the problem, what is the solution? Is there is a program to reach and help kids and adults who've had a high score on their ACE test?" ######## (The NRA National School Shield is helping to secure schools, but the work to end mass shootings remains to be done. Reducing childhood trauma and improving the relationship between children and their parents is the key to ending school shootings. Future blogs will identify ACE community programs and what role communities and the nation, including Hollywood, can play in restoring our culture, and ending mass shootings, in the New World.)

  • The New World

    If America were on the mend, what would it look like? How would it happen? Dollar Lake and Fin Dome in Sequoia National Park I'm very close to fulfilling my dream of hiking the John Muir Trail, a 211 mile trail along the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, from Yosemite Valley to Mt Whitney. I hiked the first 30 miles by myself almost 40 years ago, and another 180 miles over the last three years with my buddy Dave Fogarty. We just finished 90 miles this August. I could not get a permit to exit Whitney Portal, so I will go back and summit Mt. Whitney from near Lone Pine, a mere 1.9 miles and I'll be finished. During our backpacking trip, we were not connected to the outside world for 9 days. As we exited the high country, our phones loaded up with messages and emails when they finally connected with a signal. The curiosity of what we missed while we were gone became an inspiration for my next series of posts. What if we were all gone for a period of time, out of touch with the outside world and we returned to see America, and the world in a better place .... on the mend? Starting at Bishop Pass. Dave went on to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from the Mexican to the Canadian borders. Finally the lesson had been learned, our country was lost without cultural reform. Realizing this, Americans came together, organized and pulled the few but powerful levers to restore our society. Their influence grew, word spread throughout the land, people began to listen and the gap between us began to close. Corrosive and mean-spirited rhetoric started to disappear and people came together to solve community problems. Slowly, schools started to improve, mass shootings came to an end, prison populations went on the decline and our neighborhoods became safe again. Eventually, amendments to the Constitution enacting a part-time Congress and reducing the reach of federal government were passed. In the end, socialism was defeated by freedom, brotherly and parental love and the world took note. Mount Whitney near Guyot Creek My next series of blogs will show how this could happen. Americans from all walks of life galvanizing around a few simple objectives. People in groups like the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), a Wall Street executive, a United States Congressman, the motion picture Directors Guild of America (DGA), forgotten men and women, the Chairman of Fox News, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), County Supervisors, the President of the United States, a former New York City Police Commissioner, the National Rifle Association (NRA) evangelical preachers and more. They convinced America that the conservative way is brotherly love and freedom and it will win the war against Socialism. Stay tuned.......

  • Social Systems or Brotherly Love

    Brotherly Love is a Powerful Lever Recently, three hundred economists, philosophers and social scientists gathered together to examine the prospects for social progress in light of these challenging times. Believing that social scientists have never been so well equipped to provide answers, thanks to the development of all the relevant disciplines since WWII, these educated scholars from top universities around the world are concerned about the "crisis of social-democracy in recent decades that seems to have generated a decline of hope for a just society." Organized as the International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP), their mission is to: "harness the competence of hundreds of experts about social issues and will deliver a report addressed to all social actors, movements, organizations, politicians and decision-makers, in order to provide them with the best expertise on questions that bear on social change." Their report included three publications covering socio-economic transformations, political regulation and governance, transformations in values, norms and cultures and a sixty eight page summary entitled Rethinking Society for the 21st Century. The IPSP believes that developing countries "tend to mimic the developed, or rich countries, rather than inventing a new model of their own, and, in spite of reduced poverty in several countries, social hardships reminiscent of the early phase of Western capitalism are widespread." In 1973, another foundation called Freedom House launched a new initiative, a report that assesses the level of freedom in each country in the world. Known as Freedom in the World, each year they produce a map ranking each nation of the world as Free, Partly Free, or Not Free. Through the years, Freedom in the World has gained attention and influence in the media, the policy world, among foreign governments, and among educators and scholars. They've been called the “Michelin Guide to democracy’s development and essential reading for policymakers and political leaders.” Freedom House reported an increase in free countries every year since 1973, when 148 nations ranked as follows; 44 Free, 36 Partly Free and 68 Not Free. In 2020, 83 nations were Free, 63 nations were Partly Free and 49 nations were Not Free, for a total of 195 nations. It looks like freedom is on the rise, but a closer look at the data shows that the number and percentage of both free and partly free countries have been decreasing since 2005. They document the decline of democracy in the world, or global freedom, over the last 15 years: "As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world in 2020, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny. Incumbent leaders increasingly used force to crush opponents and settle scores, sometimes in the name of public health, while beleaguered activists—lacking effective international support—faced heavy jail sentences, torture, or murder in many settings. These withering blows marked the 15th consecutive year of decline in global freedomThe long democratic recession is deepening." This isn't Rocket Science If you look at the Freedom in the World Map, most of the free nations, democracies or developed countries come from, or came under the influence of the West. But, in their study, the IPSP makes the mistake of defining the West as Western capitalism. They also recommend a proactive government agenda, a social program of federally funded initiatives ranging from a guaranteed minimal base income to public health, education and welfare benefits for undeveloped countries. And, to the detriment of the child, the IPSP defines family as a variety of consensual adult partnerships. Childhood detachment from the biological or adoptive parents is the common denominator of the breakdown of our society. In their report, there is no accounting for the benefit of private charity, goodwill or brotherly love, and to leave the issue of family so poorly defined is to unmoor a nation and set it adrift onto the sea. In effect, the IPSP emphasizes capitalism and big government solutions to manage a declining social structure. This explains why freedom in the world has been declining for the last 15 years. Criteria for any report about freedom in the world to social actors, movements, organizations, politicians and decision-makers should include the following: Does this nation acknowledge God? Does private charity surpass the public welfare safety net How strong is the bond between children and their biological parents Does the nation have a free enterprise economy The IPSP is correct, developing nations mimic free nations. But deteriorating social institutions in free nations reduces the ability to influence developing nations that yearn for a free and just society. This isn't rocket science. The reformation of charity and family is the task at hand.

  • The ACE Test

    Childhood is a Powerful Lever for culture reform The Sacred Bond Between Children and Parents The term “ACE” is an acronym for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). It originated in a groundbreaking study conducted in 1995 by the Centers for Disease Control and the Kaiser Permanente health care organization in California. The test itself asks a series of 10 questions about common traumatic experiences that may have occurred before the age of 18. As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, emotional or social problems. Because we are all equipped, or saddled with, what we did, or did not receive in our childhood, how we grow up has an enormous financial and cultural impact on our country. According to Aces Too High, a website that disseminates ongoing research about positive and adverse childhood experiences: Childhood trauma is very common, even in employed white middle-class, college-educated people with great health insurance. There is a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as depression, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence. More types of trauma increases the risk of health, social and emotional problems. People usually experience more than one type of trauma – rarely is it only sex abuse or only verbal abuse. See this four minute video: The emotional detachment produced by broken and dysfunctional families is the common denominator of mass shootings, the high cost of public education, crime and incarceration, abortion and gender confusion. Tonight, forty percent (40%) of children in America will go to sleep with only one parent in the home. That is an alarming statistic. But perhaps more alarming is that zero percent (0%) of the 537 elected federal officials in Washington DC fully comprehend the relationship between the broken home and government costs. Committed parenting early in life is essential to the pursuit of happiness and its absence is the cause of the runaway cost of government. Recent presidents have a least acknowledged the plight of the fatherless child. In a 2008 speech on the subject of fatherhood, President Obama stated the following, "Children who grow up without a father (an ACE) are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. All of this burdens our economy and governments by increased costs of education, law enforcement and prison incarceration." Thankfully, no government program was introduced to solve this problem. A recent Rothenburg report found that sixty nine percent (69%) of Americans believe that no matter how bad things are, Washington will always find a way to make them worse. Perhaps the miserable failure of the “Great Society” can explain why Americans, tired of social programming, feel this way. The reality is, the growth of government and the degradation of our culture are intertwined and conservative governance of America is out of reach until we reduce the welfare state. Additionally, we cannot reduce the welfare state without strengthening the bond between children and their biological or adoptive parents. History has proven that governments are utterly incapable of solving this problem. Any attempt at change must come from the persuasive power of the common man and the bully pulpit of national leaders in every sector of our society. Together we can propose something other than myopic legislative fixes, a far-sighted proposal to shift the focus out of the beltway and state capitols and into each and every community to: Strengthen the bond between children and their parents in nuclear, single family and custodial families, thereby reducing fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and divorce, each by 30% within ten years. Increase donations to organizations that do the research and help meet these goals and block grant federal welfare, not to states, but to individuals, dollar for dollar, who participate in this effort. Achieve nationwide awareness of this goal. Encourage the pursuit of these goals with the same fervor of a liberal activist college student of the ‘60s. Aligning Nation with Kingdom means strengthening the bond between children and their parents in nuclear, single parent and custodial families.

  • What Paralyzed the Reagan Revolution

    The institutions of the private sector, not government, are the engines that will fuel the rebuilding of our faltering nation. It ended soon after it began, this revolution. Not with a bang, or even a whimper. The soldiers, unsure of their cause, simply left the battlefield. As the sun set on the retreating army, the sun also set on the vision of President Ronald Reagan's "Shining City on a Hill," which remains darkened to this day. The revolution’s first salvo came not from the barrel of a gun, but by the stroke of a pen. President Reagan’s vision that government was the problem, not the solution, sought outlets to reduce government’s role in the life of the nation. Believing that a robust economy would give private charities the resources to step in and provide social services as the federal government slowed its welfare spending, President Reagan signed Executive Order Number 12329 on October 14, 1982 creating the President’s Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives. Finished by New Year’s Eve 1982, midway through Reagan’s first term, the Task Force reported back to the president the disappointing news. Richard C. Cornuelle, a libertarian and once a member of the intimate circle around the émigré Russian novelist Ayn Rand, and author of Reclaiming the American Dream, observed: C. William Verity, the chairman of the committee…. told the press, “It is unrealistic to expect us to fill what is not just a gap but a chasm.” The New York Times reported: “Leaders of private charities say they will not be able to meet President Reagan’s challenge to raise enough money for the needy and provide enough volunteers to offset cuts in federal social programs.” Brian O’Connell, president of the Independent Sector, said on cue, “It would be a disservice to the president and the public to exaggerate what voluntary organizations can do.” When the dust had settled it appeared that when the president had called on the independent sector to help roll back the welfare state, it responded that it could not and would not, and moreover begged him to stop threatening to reduce the rate of increase of the federal grants on which it had come to rely. It is difficult to sustain a movement based on Reagan’s vision if the movement does not want to move. The private sector, the army in which Reagan had placed such great faith, had blinked; mortally wounding the conservatism that he believed was the vaccine to stop the spread of the welfare state virus. As a movement to change America, conservatism was finished. Woefully ignorant of the private sector and how to transition government responsibilities, conservatives moved on to government led programs like “Thousand Points of Light” and “Compassionate Conservatism.” But these programs had the opposite of the desired effect, becoming new outlets of government expansion into the private sector. Like liberals, conservatives have become government activists, endlessly looking for smaller government solutions from “inside the beltway.” They are on a fool’s errand. Instead of reducing the ranks of citizens who rely on the safety net of government welfare as a last resort, they assumed that the transfer of government programs to the private sector was a dollar for dollar match and would be sustained or increased. They failed to understand and utilize powerful levers and keystone habits, faith’s power of persuasion to convince people and communities to do right regardless of what the law allows, or a family’s power to build a strong foundation under the next generation, or the power of the economy to expand and create more jobs because people are living successful lives not mired in dysfunction and dependence. Somehow the Great Communicator’s message got lost in translation. It’s about time conservatives and libertarians got reacquainted with it: The institutions of the private sector, not government, are the engines that will fuel the rebuilding or our faltering nation. Cornuelle eventually left the libertarian movement and devoted the rest of his life, until his death in 2011, promoting a “renaissance of independent action” that “starves government of its responsibility.” It is a fascinating choice of words. Starving government of its responsibilities. This would be the most dramatic shift in American political thought since the New Deal, and it must happen or the United States will slide into the pit inhabited by much of the West.

  • An "ism" for the Kingdom

    God is all about freedom, the kingdom is freedom and freedom defeats socialism. An "ism" is a distinctive practice, system or philosophy that reflects an economic and/or a political ideology. "Isms" explain ideologies and ideologies are a belief about the world. Socialism, capitalism, communism and fascism are some of the more common "isms," but I found a website that identifies two hundred and thirty four of them. It's hard to believe that, among all of these, there is no "ism" that expresses a kingdom view of the world. The ideology of capitalism put down roots in 18th century Europe and spread to the American colonies. Liberty and Virtue in the American Founding author Harvey Mansfield finds, in the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, "a wry exposition of the new virtue in the young commercial republic..... ......self-interested, pragmatic, industrious, focused on personal gain and private happiness....the founders do not speak much about civil society, education, marriage, family, and religion. Critics have contended that this is because they embraced a crude, mechanical view of moral and political life, one that assumed that virtue, to the extent that it was necessary, would take care of itself." Peter Berkowitz, in Never a Matter of Indifference, speaks of the erosion of social and cultural institutions in more modern times: "....They [the founders] recognized the connection between character and the institutions of civil society that sustain it, but they did not envision a political society in which the institutions of civil society, as a result of changes in culture and government, could no longer be counted on to discipline self-interest." As cultural and social institutions erode, government expands, according to conservative commentator Stanley Kurtz: "Changes in culture and government turned a liberal democracy into progressive liberalism, a kind of secular religion." And finally, revolutionary author Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense what was true then and is true to this day, "Writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between the two; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins." The truth is, government has its origins in our Constitution and society is meant to have its origins in the Cultural Mandate, which can be found in the biblical book of Genesis. While the benefits of capitalism cannot be understated, this mandate has four directives to pursue in the pursuit of happiness. God is all about freedom, the kingdom is freedom and freedom defeats socialism. An "ism" for the kingdom could be called, say, Alignism, or in a play with words, it could be called Lionism to give it a regal feel. Define it as a social, economic and political theory which advocates strong social institutions supporting worship, charity, procreation and free enterprise, with minimal governance in the pursuit of happiness. Not only would this ideology acknowledge God and support free market capitalism, it would also support: The orderly transfer of charity from government to the private sector. Welfare spending has grown dramatically over decades to $1.03T in 2019 (US Senate) and now outpaces private charity, which was $427B for the same year (Giving USA), by a margin of 2-to-1. Knowing that state sponsored charity (welfare) programs drive entire communities into a bleak and heartless dependency, a kingdom ideology would reduce federal welfare spending and reform the tax code to provide more substantial tax credits for charitable donations that strengthen the bond between parent and child. This would reverse the charity ratio and make the government welfare safety net just a fraction of charity. Private sector initiatives that strengthen the bond between child and parent in every community. The emotional detachment produced by broken and dysfunctional families is the common denominator of mass shootings, the high cost of public education, crime and incarceration, abortion and gender confusion. Statistics from The Fatherless Generation show that: 71 percent of children from broken homes drop out of high school. 85 percent of children who come from broken homes exhibit behavioral disorders making them 20 times more likely to have a behavioral disorder. America’s out-of-wedlock birth rate is the highest in the world at 23 percent. Children from broken homes are: 5 times more likely to commit suicide 32 times more likely to run away 10 times more likely to abuse a chemical substance 20 times more likely to end up in prison Today, 40% of American children go to bed at night with only one parent in the home. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, 2.5 million children (one in thirty) are homeless and, according to the Orphan Society, 4.1percent of American children have no parents at all. Aligning our nation with the kingdom for freedom is meant to be our national heritage. How can people see the bigger picture if you don't have an "ism" to describe it?

  • The Beltway and the Bigger Picture

    "But George, I'm just a legislator!" was the reaction I got from a fellow Member of Congress just after I told him we needed to change our culture if we were ever going to win conservative victories in Congress. I held this view when I went to Washington and was more convinced it was true when I left sixteen years later. I entered Congress in 1994 with the Republican Freshman Class. It was the first time Republicans held the majority in the House of Representatives in nearly 40 years. I became President of the Freshman Class and, in 1998 with a great deal of blood, sweat and tears we balanced the budget for the first time in decades. In early 1999, there was a celebratory atmosphere at the famous Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, where Republicans held their annual retreat and planned the next session of Congress. At that time the national debt was $5.2T (65% of GDP). I spoke to my fellow Republicans about how important it was to start reducing the national debt now that we had finally balanced a budget. Suddenly all you could hear were crickets. I was met with blank stares, mostly from powerful appropriators anxious to start a spending spree after the restraining effort of balancing the budget. They won the debate and the spending resumed. As of 2020 the budget deficit is now $3.1T and the national debt is $27.7T (129% of GDP). I continued to look for ways to improve our culture, reverse government spending and welfare state influence. In 2002, again at the Greenbrier, I spoke to President Bush and Republican House and Senate Members, about a Joint House-Senate Resolution I co-sponsored with Harold Ford, Jr. in the House along with senators Santorum and Lieberman in the Senate. Ford was a Democratic member from Tennessee and an African-American, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a conservative Republican, and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a prominent Democrat. The sponsors of the resolution covered all parts of the political spectrum. The premise of the resolution was simple: if the national charitable giving rate was increased just one percent, from its historical rate of 1.5% to 2% of annual gross income, to 3%, it would provide more than $100B every year to churches, foundations and non-profit organizations all across America. Since charity is far more effective at reforming lives, we could justify reducing welfare spending, pay down the federal debt and reduce taxes. My idea left an impression, but the President and the Republican Congress were still clinging to the notion that Republicans, while in the majority, were going to solve the nation’s social problems the old fashioned way, from inside the Beltway. My resolution didn't have a strong enough impact on the President, but it did with the Chaplain of the US House of Representatives Daniel Coughlin, who was in attendance and heard my presentation to the President. At a meeting later in the Chaplain’s office in the United States Capitol, he and I discussed strategies for moving the issue forward. He agreed to take the resolution to the National Council of Catholic Bishops to get support. The outcome came as a bit of a shock. The Council of Bishops rejected the idea outright because of one small statement in the non-binding Resolution, “Whereas a one percent increase in charitable giving may reduce the federal deficit . . .” The federal government funds forty percent of Catholic Charities and the Council of Bishops did not want to risk their government funding, even for a dramatic increase in charity. Not long after retiring from Congress in 2010, I asked for a meeting with The Heritage Foundation in Washington DC to introduce Julie Bumgardner. Heritage is considered by many to be the vanguard "think tank" of American. Their mission is to build "an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish" and, according to their website, they rank number one over more than 8,000 think tanks in the world for their impact on public policy. Julie Bumgardner is the CEO of First Things First in Chattanooga TN, a private foundation that provides resources to guide people in their relationships so they can live better lives. With their help, Chattanooga was the first community in the nation to reduce fatherlessness, unwed pregnancy and divorce by 30% within ten years without government assistance. In order to achieve these goals, eighty percent (80%) of the people of Chattanooga had to be aware of them. The deteriorating relationship between child and their parents is the common denominator of almost every costly social problem in America. Can you imagine the impact Julie's program could have if it were established in every community across the country?! I wanted The Heritage Foundation to help me win the support of Congress and the Presidency and spread the word of Julie's program to their communities and help get the projects going. Heritage pulled together an impressive group of like-minded associations, non profits and staff from Member offices and Committees from the House and Senate for the luncheon presentation. Julie made a great presentation and her dynamic style won over the crowd. They were determined to act. Unfortunately, it quickly turned into a discussion of federal funding and appropriations and government programming. I put on the brakes. "All we need is the advocacy, the bully pulpit, of Heritage, the President and Congress to build awareness of this private sector initiative. If successful, we could improve our culture, eliminate federal spending and end many ineffective welfare programs." The meeting was pretty much over when I was told by The Heritage Foundation that I "was fifty years too late with that idea." So much for preserving America's heritage. Unfortunately, Julie's program never made it beyond Chattanooga. Strengthening the bond between child and parent is a powerful lever to improve our society, but the powers in Washington DC will not allow private sector programs to flourish and reduce dependency so that government can recede into the background. Without a shared sense of "the bigger picture" serving as a guide, our leaders, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrats are just legislators with no vision. They flop back and forth between majority and minority rule, falling prey to a socialism that is beginning to look like a state religion.

  • Keystone Habits and Powerful Levers

    I had the pleasure of meeting Paul O’Neill when he was sworn in as Secretary of the Treasury for President George W. Bush in 2001. He was a graduate of Fresno State, now California State University, Fresno (CSUF) and I felt a kinship since the university was in the heart of my Congressional district. After about a year though, he was forced out of the Administration, accused of being disloyal to President Bush. It wasn't Paul's tenure in the Administration that impressed me. It was his unorthodox and incredibly successful tenure as CEO for Alcoa Aluminum beginning in 1987. Here’s an excerpt from Forbes Magazine article written by Rodd Wagner quoting Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Introduced to a group of investors and analysts in October 1987, he [O’Neill] didn’t talk about revenue and expenses and debt ratios and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. “I want to talk to you about worker safety,” he told the Wall Street crowd. “Every year, numerous Alcoa workers are injured so badly that they miss a day of work,” he continued. “Our safety record is better than the general American workforce, especially considering that our employees work with metals that are 1,500 degrees and machines that can rip a man’s arm off. But it’s not good enough. I intend to make Alcoa the safest company in America. I intend to go for zero injuries.” When one attendee asked about inventories and another asked about capital ratios - the standard vocabulary for these kinds of sessions - O’Neill returned to the same theme. “I’m not certain you heard me,” said the new CEO. “If you want to understand how Alcoa is doing, you need to look at our workplace safety figures. If we bring our injury rates down, it won’t be because of cheerleading or the nonsense you sometimes hear from other CEOs. It will be because the individuals at this company have agreed to become part of something important: They’ve devoted themselves to creating a habit of excellence. Safety will be an indicator that we’re making progress in changing our habits across the entire institution. That’s how we should be judged.” One of the investors told author Charles Duhigg he bolted for a phone after hearing O’Neill’s declaration. “The board put a crazy hippie in charge and he’s going to kill the company,” the investor said he told his clients. “I ordered them to sell their stock immediately, before everyone else in the room started calling their clients and telling them the same thing.” "It was literally the worst piece of advice I gave in my entire career.” A prescient investor would have gone long on Alcoa stock. “By the time O’Neill retired in 2000, the company’s annual net income was five times larger than before he arrived, and its market capitalization had risen by $27 billion,” wrote Duhigg in his bestselling book, The Power of Habit. “Someone who invested a million dollars in Alcoa on the day O’Neill was hired would have earned another million dollars in dividends while he headed the company, and the value of their stock would be five times bigger when he left.” “What’s more,” Duhigg wrote, “all that growth occurred while Alcoa became one of the safest companies in the world. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit developed the notion of keystone habits and devoted an entire chapter telling the Paul O’Neill story: "So how did O'Neill make one of the largest, stodgiest, and most potentially dangerous companies into a profit machine and a bastion of safety? By attacking one habit and then watching the changes ripple through the organization. "I knew I had to transform Alcoa," O'Neill told me. "But you can't order people to change. That's not how the brain works. So I decided I was going to start by focusing on one thing. If I could start disrupting the habits around one thing, it would spread throughout the entire company." O'Neill believed that some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization. Some habits, in other words, matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives. These are "keystone habits," and they can influence how people work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything. Keystone habits say that success doesn't depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers….The habits that matter most are the ones that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns." There are two powerful levers, or keystone habits that if pulled, will ripple through this nation, reforming our culture and aligning it with the kingdom of God. Those are the reformation of charity and strenthened bond between child and parent. ######

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