"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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The current plan is to have the lunch keynote discussion be on the topic of America’s Future. It will be a “three chair” format. The moderator will be Brian Calle, and the other person in the interview will be the distinguished Prof. Charles R. Kesler.
America as it exists today changed from something else to what it is now — and it will change from what it is now into something else again.
What the new something else is — is up to us.
Socialist ideas are wrong. Socialist policies fail to deliver. Socialist programs are value destroying. Socialist public bodies are wasteful and ruinous. Socialist promises are lies. Socialist politicians are fools or scoundrels. Socialist authority tries to coerce outcomes that it can never achieve.
Socialism cannot work.
Socialism always fails.
So as American gets more socialistic, it is simply that much closer to the exhaustion and disintegration of socialism, American style.
It is a matter of when and how, not if, a socialistically organized American public sector, or corporatist-public sector, will fail.
So, America as we conceived it is not only not done, it is going to be only alternative remaining when the people who benightedly or maliciously tried to “vote themselves rich” have imposed enough ruin on themselves.
Ronald Reagan was right about the Soviet Union, and everybody else, including me, was wrong. While earnest looking men in suits advised the President about that invincible Nemesis sprawled athwart Eurasia, Reagan would respond with a joke about how the elevators and toilets never work in Russia.
American style crony capitalism and political machine hackery will die a similar death for identical reasons.
We are having this discussion because even Rev. Sensing himself surely believes there is an America worth living in that we may yet succeed in creating — as hard as it will be to do that.
A while back I dissected the debt of Detroit, the classic America 2.0 case. By this, I mean a gigantic government presence, working with manufacturing and unions to push off obligations into the future with no clear plan of really what to do. In the end, of course, it all came crumbling down and yesterday we got a slight glimpse into just how bad it can get.
To review, here is the diagram I had to make after reading several sources on the subject, to help wrap my head around the calamity that was the city of Detroit’s books:
This looks crude, and it is, but it really helped me get my brain around the nightmare.
From everything I have been reading, Kevyn Orr is getting ready to propose that the general obligation and pensions get settled out at .25 on the dollar. That sounds a bit expensive to me, and as Lex Green said to me in an email certainly isn’t “fire sale” prices yet, but that is what the consensus seems to be saying.
In an odd bit of news, many private foundations have been trying to gather enough money to offset an auction of Detroit’s art collection, estimated by some to be worth up to a billion dollars. If I were Orr, that would have been the first thing I would have done is liquidate that stuff, but I am quite a bit less sensitive than I would need to be to ever consider a career being a politician.
All of this is subject to the whims of the BK judge, but if I were a retired Detroit fireman, I would certainly begin tightening the belt stat, if that wasn’t done already.
This may affect municipal investments, but honestly I imagine any fallout from it is already baked into the pie.
Is Chicago next? We shall soon see.
From a political standpoint, the Republilcans should make the Democrats own this just like they should own Zerocare ™ and the nightmare in Illinois/Chicago that is coming down the tracks. How easy can it get for a Republican? All they have to say is “look at that” and they should get easily elected in any of a number of districts in 2014.
(Disclosure – I have many different municipal investment vehicles in my portfolio).
Thanks to the Men’s Group at St. John of the Cross Catholic Church, in Western Springs, Illinois, for inviting me to speak to them about America 3.0 this Saturday. Two big cups of coffee put me in good trim. 40 minutes me talking, about 45 of lively and pointed questions and discussion. It was great to see the big turnout on a cold Saturday morning. Perhaps I even convinced one or more of them that America’s greatest days are yet to come! I hope so.
You should be. It is “John Robb’s open notebook on the future of the American Dream.” It is also the first draft of the book he is working on.
Mr. Robb’s analysis of the collapse of the Blue Model, 20th Century legacy government and economy is very similar to the arguments made by James C. Bennett and myself in our book America 3.0. He sees, as we do, that they are doomed. He sees, as we do, that a much better world is coming. Ah, but the transition period. That will be a challenge.
This is the quote of the day:
All layers of government — city, state, and federal — want the old, bureaucratic economy to continue, unchanged. They can’t imagine a world without plentiful flows of taxes levied on corporate profits and withholding from personal incomes.
Without this flow of tax income, the entire edifice of the current economy falls. It is the source of the financial life-support to the increasingly obsolete bureaucracies – from the civil bureaucracy to education to national security to banking to health care — that still offer traditional jobs. The rest is spent providing services, from health care to retirement income, in an attempt to keep the existing economic system alive.
People who tell me the the current corrupt model cannot be defeated have it backward. It cannot survive. The only question is how hard the transition to a better political and economic order will be. Not if, not even when, but how.
Happy Holidays from Chicago! And I want to give a special thanks for the writers of America 3.0, who are taking time out from their busy lives and mercantilistic duties in order to try to bring a positive set of recommendations for the future.
For our friends who are insomniacs or working third shift: Sunday, December 22st 1 AM to 4 AM CST — in other words, the wee hours TONIGHT — Mike Lotus and Jim Bennett will be interviewed on Coast to Coast Radio by John B. Wells, discussing America 3.0.
We look forward to our conversation with John (pictured here on his motorcycle) and his listeners, and we thank Coast to Coast radio for having us on.
I will circulate a link to any podcast when it becomes available.
There is a strong admonition on the excellent blog Cold War Warrior to read America 3.0 and to listen to the radio show during the wee hours tonight. The Cold War Warrior cites the great Frédéric Bastiat, about the perversion of our public life since the end of the Cold War:
The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.
Converting “plunder into a right” sounds very much like the cronyism which is ransacking our country under color of law. Cold War Warrior goes on to write:
There is a restlessness, an uneasiness among the population that is palpable. The federal government’s response has been one of fear. The government gets more abusive as it becomes increasingly fearful. The tide will change. The people will rebel at the ballot box and in the picket line but then what? What is the plan? Voices decry the current situation but few offer solutions. America 3.0 is the right idea presented at the right time. The John Wells interview is a long format so the ideas can be explored.
Jim Bennett and I are looking forward to this conversation.
For income growth to occur in a society, a large fraction of people must experience changes in the possible lives they imagine for themselves and their children, and these new visions of possible futures must have enough force to lead them to change the way they behave … and the hopes they invest in these children: the way they allocate their time. In the words of [V.S. Naipaul] economic development requires “a million mutinies.”
It is a pretty good ad. Zerocare has been a debacle, as we all expected it to be. It isn’t just a “broken website”. It is a classical 20th century big government scheme, completely unprepared and unable to deal with a 21st century economy – this is one of the main thrusts of America 3.0.
Every Republican (and the groups cheering for them) should just shut up about pretty much everything but this one issue. Make the Democrats own it. It is theirs. It passed by a straight party vote. Make them eat it in 2014.
The core of his thesis is this: It is the English-speaking world, the “Anglosphere” (UK, Ireland, India, USA, Canada, Australia, … ) that somehow came to view the law as an ally of freedom rather than an instrument of state control. It is that very elevation of the individual over the state, in the law, that has brought us freedom and prosperity. In America and Britain, says Hannan, that principle has been taken for granted so long that now we risk losing it.
Starting around 49:00 Mr. Hannan describes a technologically advanced future which is clearly based on America 3.0, though he does not mention the book by name. Mr. Hannan gave America 3.0 a rave review, so we know he liked it!
Thanks to CommPRO.biz for publishing my recent piece on optimism.
The subtitle of America 3.0 which has provoked the strongest response is this:
America’s Greatest Days Are Yet To Come.
In the article I ask:
Do you agree? Or do you think America’s greatest days are long gone? But if America’s greatest days are yet to come, then our personal lives and our business careers take on a more hopeful cast.
In the USA today we have a shortage of optimism. For the first time, Americans say their children and grandchildren will have a worse life than they did. But despair about America’s future is a factual, historical and analytic error. We are not on an inevitable road to tyranny and poverty. Predictions of the end of American freedom and prosperity are deeply mistaken.
Optimism must be based on facts, or it is just wishful thinking. So, what is the foundation for optimism about our future?
You can get the short answer in the CommPRO.biz article, or get the full and complete answer by reading America 3.0!
Thank you to the Washington Journal show on C-Span and its gracious host Peter Slen. Thank you also to callers, whose questions and comments I tried to respect and respond to.
Mr. Slen asked open-ended questions and gave the me the chance to speak at length about America 3.0 and what we are trying to get across. The entire show was about 45 minutes, which is a substantial amount of time, and a great opportunity.
First of all I want to thank Michael Lotus and James Bennett for taking the time and energy to write and promote America 3.0. It cannot be underestimated how much work this book took to research, write and publish and these 2 gentlemen (I really only know Mr. Lotus, but I am making assumptions on Mr. Bennett) are very busy individuals who have to earn a living for themselves and their families.
Throughout, they made a giant effort to make the book positive, upbeat and solutions-focused. This approach is radically different than the “conspiracy theory” or “single issue” approach that mars most books of this genre (although there really aren’t a lot of books that spring to mind when I think of likely comparisons). Even though the book would generally be classified as politically on the “right” by the general public, the authors go out of their way to not characterize their opponents as “bad people” and show the fundamental (positive) motivations that drive some of their actions, even if the results ended up being disastrous or misguided.
As a well-informed reader (by the standards of the world at large, if not always by the extremely high standards of Chicago Boyz, and often when I read Trent Telenko’s articles on military history I feel rather ignorant indeed) there were many areas of the book that were very new to me, increasing my interest in the topics that they raised. Given my focus on business, economics, energy, taxation, and military history, I really haven’t thought much at all about the role of the family and how it shaped America’s growth, but that topic was the seminal driver for the book. It felt very true and aligned with my experience, that the nuclear family and the ability of sons and daughters to marry off and “find their own way” contributed greatly to our successful outcomes. In the course of my business and travels I see the facts arrayed differently, and I can also see how individuals that I know from these countries have adjusted (and often embraced) this new, freedom-seeking and independent course of living.
The idea that we can reform our institutions and have the Federal government take over tasks that it logically should hold while devolving other roles to state and local government makes a lot of sense. They also discuss the “great haircut”, a single event to reform our finances across all the institutions simultaneously, as a logical approach, along with new barriers to ensure that it doesn’t re-occur.
I will think about the areas of my expertise and how they can be applied to concepts similar to America 3.0 in the future. There is a lot of de-centralization coming with energy and services and these can be aligned to the capabilities and responsibilities of our citizens, rather than being a top-down phenomenon in the process of disintegrating, which is the current trajectory.
Thanks again to the authors for an excellent book, and they are a credit to this site and what the founders have attempted to portray, which is a positive, forward look at the issues that we face and how we can solve them with political, economic and personal freedoms.
Our government is crushingly expensive, failing at its basic functions, and unable to keep its promises. It does not work and it cannot continue as it is. But the inevitable end of big government does not mean the end of America. It only means the end of one phase of American life.
America is poised to enter a new era of freedom and prosperity. The cultural roots of the American people go back at least 15 centuries, and make us individualistic, enterprising, and liberty-loving. The Founding generation of the United States lived in a world of family farms and small businesses, America 1.0.
This world faded away and was replaced by an industrialized world of big cities, big business, big labor unions and big government, America 2.0. Now America 2.0 is outdated and crumbling, while America 3.0 is struggling to be born. This new world will bring immense productivity, rapid technological progress, greater scope for individual and family-scale autonomy, and a leaner and strictly limited government.
This transition to America 3.0 will surprise many Americans, and astonish the world!
Don’t miss this discussion of a bright view of America’s future with a dynamic and intellectually stimulating speaker. For a preview of what you’ll hear, listen to Mike’s recent discussion about his book on the Heartland Daily Podcast: Part 1, and Part 2.
I am immensely pleased to announce this upcoming event. It is a real privilege to speak at the Heartland Institute.
Many people on the right believe America is on a downward slope into who-knows-where. They see no signs of improvement and think the future is dire. But not Michael Lotus!
He and co-author James C. Bennett wrote a book titled, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century. The book explores the possibility of a new era in America. The new era — they call it America 3.0 — is one that is less centralized ( less “top down”), and where we operate on more of an individual scale and become ever more productive.
In this podcast, Lotus discusses the previous two American eras — 1.0 and 2.0. America 1.0 is the time from the founding of the nation until just before the Industrial Revolution, which then takes us into America 2.0. Lotus says we are now at the tail-end of 2.0, in a kind of stagnant “transitional period.”
Why are Lotus and Bennett so hopeful? Well, they think that technology develops autonomously, regardless of the government obstacles in place (which cause it to slow down, but never cease improving). Furthermore, Lotus says that we have underlying cultural foundations that are unique — such as the nuclear family — that make us more resistant to the institution of socialism.
Even the host, Jim Lakely — Director of Communications at The Heartland Institute — began to transform his pessimistic attitude by the end of his conversation with Lotus!
Heartland’s summary of part II:
With all of the government debt, and the looming liabilities like Social Security, how is it possible that in thirty-some years America will be getting better?
Michael Lotus offers up his answer in Part II of the Heartland Daily Podcast about his new book titled, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century.
Lotus is confident that as technology develops, it will provide ways for us to lower the cost of living and liberate the economy. What if we could use a 3D printer to print and assemble a house in four days?
Everything is transforming right before our eyes; the geopolitical landscape, education, and societal values, among others.
Jim Lakely, Director of Communication at The Heartland Institute, asks Lotus about the geopolitical future of the United States. They discuss the fact that our founders meant for the U.S. to be much less centralized than it is, and how — in such a large country — it’s important for different parts of the country to live as they please, with smaller units of government.
Lakely and Lotus also discuss education. Lotus believes that government is the “boulder” holding us back and he says if we move that boulder, the world would “drop its jaw” at what we could accomplish. It seems that in this part, Lotus has lifted Lakely’s pessimism … at least for now.
British politician Daniel Hannan’s Inventing Freedom is an ambitious account of the historical origin and spread of the principles that have made America great, and their role in creating a sphere of economic and political liberty that is as crucial as it is imperiled.
According to Hannan, the ideas and institutions we consider essential to maintaining and preserving our freedoms—individual rights, private property, the rule of law, and the institutions of representative government—are the legacy of a very specific tradition that was born in England and that we Americans, along with other former British colonies, inherited.
By the tenth century, England was a nation-state whose people were already starting to define themselves with reference to inherited common-law rights. The story of liberty is the story of how that model triumphed. How it was enshrined in a series of landmark victories—the Magna Carta, the English Civil War, the Glorious Revolution, the U.S. Constitution—and how it came to defeat every international rival.
Today we see those ideas abandoned and scorned in the places where they once went unchallenged. Inventing Freedom is a chronicle of the success of Anglosphere exceptionalism. And it is offered at a time that may turn out to be the end of the age of political freedom.
Mr. Hannan’s argument sounds terribly convincing! In fact, it is much the same argument that we make in America 3.0.
Here is a powerful and persuasive book. I confess to using the phrase “powerful and persuasive” in the sense that most bloggers do, to mean “agrees with me”. The authors have drawn on the same sources that I most frequently turn to: the brilliant Cambridge historian and anthropologist Alan Macfarlane; Oxford’s James Campbell, the supreme authority on late Anglo-Saxon England; David Hackett Fischer and Kevin Phillips, whose histories of the United States contextualise the great republic within the Anglosphere continuum. They have returned, too, to the foremost Victorians, notably Stubbs, Freeman and Maitland, who fell out of fashion during the twentieth century, but whose truths will endure when more recent interpretations have been found wanting. I think I also detect Macaulay’s elegant spoor, though he isn’t cited directly. And, of course, they pay due reverence to America’s founders, above all Jefferson – whose words were unfailingly wise, even if his deeds didn’t always match them.
One further influence on Mr. Hannan, cited in his book, is my coauthor James C. Bennett. Jim popularized the term “Anglosphere,” which first appeared in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel The Diamond Age.
For as long as I can remember this little book has been moving with me from home to home. I have had it for a long time.
“History of the United States Illustrated, Volume IV, 1861-1888″ by E. Benjamin Andrews. Printed in 1903.
Having put a stop to most of my book buying until I read my current stack, this one was next. I am glad I hung on to it. Knowing the way I operate I am sure that I got it from a garage sale or something.
Mr. Andrews, and I would suppose that most people around the turn of the century, were intensely proud of what America had accomplished up to this point. This was made pretty clear after the Civil War and Reconstruction portions of the book. The public works and transportation projects that were completed were astounding given the technology of the time.
One portion of the book in particular caught my interest over all the rest, and that was the section on the Fisheries Disputes. Oddly, there isn’t even a wiki entry on this, as a whole subject.
Basically, these disputes were between the US, Great Britain and Canada over fishing rights. Many treaties had been drawn up over the years, but due to wars, some treaties were considered null and void, and typically one side would have one strong position with their legal points, and the other side would do the same. I don’t want to bore you with too many details in this footnote of history, but I found it fascinating how the author of a general history of the United States during this time found the Disputes so important to include them in the volume.
I had never even heard of the Fisheries Disputes before, and I have been reading history books all of my life.
Which brings me back to the main point of this rambling post. I remembered part of America 3.0 while reading the part about the Fisheries Disputes. This from page XXV of the Introduction:
However, the focus of this book is on the longer term, centuries into the past and decades into the future. Over such a large span of time our current political struggles, as engrossing as they are now, will mostly sink into history as mere noise around a discernible signal. Only the passage of time will confirm what that signal is, and whether our hopeful predictions were well grounded.
Does anyone remember the Dubai Ports Scandal? I am sure some of you do, but in a few years there won’t be too many left that do. Interesting how history keeps teaching me.
I will be my great privilege to speak about America 3.0, as part of the Heartland Institute Author Series Thursday, December 12, 2013, at The Heartland Institute library, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago. Lunch will be served. $10.00 for the event, or $30 for the event and a copy of the book. Additonal books can be purchased onsite for $20.00 each.