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America’s Great Degeneration – Oliver DeMille

Speaking of how the government runs its finances today, historian Niall Ferguson wrote:

america_crumbling“The present system is, to put it bluntly, fraudulent. There are no regular published and official balance sheets. Huge liabilities are simply hidden from view. Not even the current income and expenditure statements can be relied upon. No legitimate business could possibly carry on in this fashion. The last corporation to publish financial statements this misleading was Enron.”

This basically sums up the modern American problem. The government operates on one set of rules, hides it from the regular citizenry, and enforces a different set of rules on businesses and families.

No such system has ever remained free.

This is already extracting a terrible toll from our economy. As Ferguson put it:

“In a 2011 survey, [Michael] Porter and his colleagues asked [Harvard Business School] alumni about 607 instances of decisions on whether or not to offshore operations. The United States retained the business in just ninety-six cases (16 percent) and lost it in all the rest.

“Asked why they favored foreign locations, the respondents listed the areas where they saw the U.S. falling further behind the rest of the world. The top ten reasons included:

1. the effectiveness of the political system
2. the complexity of the tax code
3. regulation
4. the efficiency of the legal framework
5. flexibility in hiring and firing.”

In short, a number of other countries have more economic freedom than the U.S. We have more regulations, a more complex tax code, and other problems that make business abroad more attractive for about 84 percent of businesses deciding whether to stay in America or leave.

The average citizen isn’t aware of this reality, or the fact that corporation after corporation is moving to other countries because of Washington’s policies.

Our freedoms are being lost, as business leaders see every day. Yet it continues to happen, and most Americans simply don’t realize it. Nor do they realize how much this hurts our economy and the pocketbooks of U.S. families.

As regulations increase, making it harder and harder for businesses to make a profit, more jobs, capital, and corporations are leaving. The American Dream is declining day after day, right in front of our noses.

For most Americans, the only solution in mind is to elect better government officials. But this hasn’t fixed the problem yet — not by a long shot. The problem gets worse (government spending and regulations increase) whichever party inhabits the White House.

Some other solution is needed, and it will require a return to good, old-fashioned American initiative and innovation — from regular people, not government. Yes, the government makes this more difficult with nearly every passing regulation, but freedom is worth overcoming it anyway.

If we rekindle the American spirit of entrepreneurialism in the next few years, this is a battle we can win. Nothing else will fix the problem.

What are you doing to promote, spread, and teach entrepreneurialism?


odemille Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.


  1. Hunting.Targ says

    Last year, I was at a convention, and one of the speakers made a point that became very salient in my thinking. Gallup did a survey of Americans from all geographic, social, and economic backgrounds, and the answer to one question was cited in the talk: “What is the best way to become wealthy?” What do you think would be a top answer?

    Got yours?

    The top three answers were:
    -Win the lottery (#1 by a large margin)
    -Obtain an inheritance or trust
    -Litigation (win a lawsuit of some kind)

    I gleaned something very meaningful about the thinking of North America from these answers. Knowing that Robert Kiyosaki, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, Jeff Olson, Tim Marks, Randy Gage, Les Brown, and many others, have offered their knowledge on how to become wealthy, why do so many people look to avenues where the outcome is so far removed from the effects of their actions?

    Here’s the big revelation I had:
    They believe in the pie, and that there’s only so much, and they want (politically charged phrase incoming) “their fair share.” They’re like a party room of children fighting over who gets what, when the slightly wiser, smarter, more tough-minded, set about baking another pie. Then they fight over that one, and the next one, never noticing that THE PIE COMES FROM SOMEWHERE.
    The populations of western countries have been fed employment thinking for so long, that we have all but forgotten the mentality and behavior that built our prosperity to begin with. Instead of learning how to produce for ourselves and invest in value-producing systems, children and young adults are now taught, not just in schools, but by media and social groups, to produce for others and spend what we are given in exchange on ourselves. ‘Tax and spend’ isn’t just a problem off the shores of the Potomac River, it’s a problem in the kitchens and living rooms across the North American continent. We tax our families, the next generation, with dependency thinking, and we spend what we could invest on alleviating the symptoms of our decline, while the pathogen of impoverishing thinking runs rampant. We can be far more effective than elected officials at policy making – I don’t mean for the whole country, I mean for our own checkbooks and households. Families can (and, I daresay, ought) to make their own policies about behavior, values, and choices, not hand their fate over to an army of distant, impersonal ‘experts’. Family units were once the ‘experts’ of virtue, value, and social justice, and can be again. We just need to start thinking about where the pie comes from and how we can each have our own.

  2. I agree with your comment, ” We can be far more effective than elected officials at policy making.” It does start with the individuals and the families!
    We do set the tone and beliefs for the future. I love this idea.
    Regarding Oliver’s Q: What am I doing…
    My friend and I have started a club for young adults (15+) who are interested in entrepreneurship. Our goal it to take them through the research needed for a start-up, actual start-up of a business, and then running the business learning all aspects of the business. Then each individual can go on to specialize in what they like best or start their own business. We started the club meetings 3 weeks ago and hope to open a business by August.
    Regarding one of the first statements in the above article about the system being fraudulent, I whole heartedly agree but in a different way (not financially alone.) Government can be natural, voluntary or coercive. If it is coercive, it can be forcefully so or it can be fraudulently so. Deceptively would be the synonym that I would use.
    The American Revolution of 1776 dethroned the monarch and the divine right of kings idea – the force kind of coercive government but the founders established another form of government that is still coercive only of the fraudulent kind. To get rid of fraud, your light must shine! my light and others’ too!

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