Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Education is more than just teaching the acadmics

More people are jumping into the Presidential race in the United States. They all have their positions and say only they have the answers to the ills of the country, assuming of course, there are ills. The role of government in solving these ills will be debated, in some cases with great passion. How will we be able to make any judgment about what government can and should do if we don’t first think about what we expect from our community and its leaders.

In the first post of this series, a broad outline of the what a community should do to be successful was presented. In that post, the pillars of a success community were listed as protection, education, innovation and building. The last post explored the need for a community to provide protection from threats outside the country and from those that live in our community.

Education is the second pillar of a successful community. If the community can’t perpetuate itself, all will be lost. But, education involves more than just teaching the young about the academics, which certainly needs to be done. The community must also teach the next generation about how a good government should work and contrast and compare that to the one we currently live under.

Learning the basics is essential, but so is moving on to higher education levels. Without engineers, scientists, doctors and the many other professions that demand a longer education cycle, we will not be able to sustain our way of life or keep in front of the innovation curve that successful communities achieve.

We also need to have open and honest inquiry about how well government and the community operate. Without educating ourselves on the performance of the varies functions we expect from our community, we may never know if they are operating in the best interest of all.

Finally, as innovation happens, without re-investment in the education cycle for workers pass the traditional school age years, many will be left behind and present a drag on the community’s success. In today’s world, more so than any other time in human history, innovation takes over within just a few years. Technologies are developed, mass marketed and come to the end of their product cycle within a generation. The people that were needed to develop and build these technologies may need to change their skill set a couple times over a single life time. Without the opportunity to retrain and find other work, they will prevent a community from achieving full employment.

Education is more than “reading, writing and arithmetic”. It is also teaching about our way of life. It is also about researching our successes and failures so that this new knowledge can be applied to innovation.

And that is the subject of the next post.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A common defense is the first purpose of government

As the election cycle approaches, those that are running for office including the presidential suite, will be telling us all the things government should or shouldn’t be doing. If we don’t layout a frame work of the purpose of government in advance, we could be pulled in many directions. We will also shift our own positions a dozen times as we hear good words from each of the candidates at all levels.

In the last post we outlined four primary pillars. They are protecting, educating, innovating and building. Clearly, the first, protecting, was the first reason individuals decided to create a community. Living together in an agricultural setting made individuals and families venerable to outside raiders. If everyone in the community came to the defense of any individual, the outside attacks were less likely.

Life in a community has evolved since that time and the definition of a common defense has expanded. Now there is still the risk of outside invaders. A strong military is needed to protect the territorial boundaries of the country. Not only from other countries with their military but also from their business practices, non military invaders, migration and diaspora.

But threats to the individual and the community come from three other areas. First, there is the criminal threat. This threat comes in big and small packages. It, of course, comes with the common criminal that local law enforcement can tamp down, but also from large organized criminal operations. This needs a national law enforcement agency that can move around the country where ever the threat exists.

Second, there is the threat that develops when there is a lack of standards in business, medical, construction and other industries. By establishing and maintaining common practices and standards, those that are honest can depend on them and those are not can be stopped.

Finally, the last is our own civil rights. This not only includes the encroachment of government on the individual’s liberties, but also those that would like to marginalize individuals that don’t fit a very narrow mainstream definition of behavior. It is just as important to enforce laws that prevent criminal activity as it is to prevent marginalizing individuals whose behavior may not be common, but their actions do not cause any injury or loss to any other individual.

As you can see, defense comes in many forms and at many levels. The ability of a community to defend individuals from many threats is the first priority of government. By creating an environment that allows individuals to freely live their own lives is the healthiest environment for the other three pillars.

More to follow on education, innovation and building.