As the saying goes: “The times they are a changing. . .”
Unlike previous administrations, the Trump administration is: standing up to America’s allies and our enemies in our foreign policy, making major progress in the area of reducing excessive regulation, especially at the EPA, and making genuine progress toward Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.”
These positive actions started me thinking about the Reagan administration and some of the similar positive steps they initiated and why many of them did not, unfortunately, stand the test of time. Reagan too tried to re-invigorate America’s economy with his supply-side economics program, but his successor George Bush did not understand or agree with it and ended up foolishly reversing himself on his “Read my lips, no more taxes. . . “ pledge thereby dooming his re-election campaign. Things worsened under Bill Clinton and the steps taken by Reagan toward reducing government intrusion in the lives of Americans seemed lost until Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America campaign exploded onto the political scene in 1994. Unfortunately, that would-be political/cultural revolution also failed to launch when Gingrich could not answer accusations that he was being “selfish” and “mean spirited” in his attempts to cut back on the welfare state expenditures. He could not articulate the necessary moral perspective of: one person’s need does not constitute a claim on another person’s life or pocketbook.
These actions did not become permanent because those promoting a “vision” of the future did not have the necessary philosophical base to make that vision a reality. Those of us striving for positive political/cultural change in our world of today must always keep this in mind. It is why in my book, Solving America’s Greatest Conflict: The Public Interest vs. Private Rights, I did not focus solely on politics, but rather on the moralprinciples that political rights rests upon.
For these reasons, we will continue to focus on that philosophical foundation needed to make lasting positive political/cultural change. In this issue we will be continuing with Tasha Stacey’s review of David Kelley’s outstanding work, The Art of Reasoning, reviewing what “winning” looks like in regards to reform taking place at the EPA, and discussing a short video of Hollywood’s Golden Age and discuss its meaning in the present day.
As always, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions regarding this newsletter or ROAR’s operations, please contact us.
Founder and President, Restore Our American Republic, LLC
In my part 5 review of The Art of Reasoning, by David Kelley, I will touch base on one of the fundamental principles that David Kelley mentions—definitions and their relevance in everyday life and ROAR’s mission to restore the republic in America. For example, although Americas’ Founding Fathers were political innovators, they were not philosophers. Consequently, they were unable to properly define critical principles in our founding documents such as “ general welfare,” “common good,” and “rights.” As a result, opponents of the Enlightenment and the emphasis on individual rights ushered in by the American revolution were able to, over time, undermine the philosophical foundation of the world’s first republic. (For more details on this see Solving America’s Greatest Conflict: The Public Interest vs. Private Rights, by ROAR’s founder, Mike Gemmell.
One important aspect of definitionsis to identify whatis and what is notincluded in a given concept. A good definition condenses the knowledge we have about a concept, giving us the highlights, the key points, the essence. They help us to become more precise in our thinking. A second function of definitions is to clarify the relationships among concepts. A concept groups things together into classes on the basis of similarities, and Kelley explains this in a unique manner.
Consider the concept education. If you were trying to explain this concept to someone, what concrete objects could you point to? A teacher? The school? The playground? These concrete symbols are not the essence of education and lack the precision needed to define the concept. In his attempts to reform education in the U.S. with his Common Core program, Bill Gates failed to properly identify what good education is. He focused primarily on the setting of goals, rather than “the systematic development of an individual’s rational faculty and development of a hierarchy of knowledge” And by doing so only worsened an already poor public education system. “The systematic development of the rational faculty” is the definition of education used by the VanDamme Academy and their consistent application of it has led to far superiaor results in the education of students.
Kelley’s explanation of definitions has helped me to look beyond the understanding I had when I was in school. When I was learning a definition in school, I would briefly go to the dictionary to look up the specific word that a typical dictionary would offer. However, I’ve learned through Kelley’s book that a dictionary often does not: (1) provide the full context or (2) take the care in deciding what should be included as well as (3) identify what should not be included in any given definition. This experience has shown me not to blindly trust a dictionary as the last word when formulating and validating important definitions.
I have learned through my work with ROAR and particularly with Kelley’s book, how to think, versus the training I had before that merely explained what to think. I was given David Kelley’s textbook to review in the same manner as someone without any formal training in logic. The only instruction was to read and present whether it has been a positive intellectual experience, and if so why. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity. The book reminds me of a blank canvas that opens the reader up to a new world of possibility. In the process I have learned a variety of tools to help me develop my independent thinking and to confidently approach difficult problems on my own. Has it been a challenge? It doesn’t come easy, but if you are willing, you will gain real and lasting knowledge.
Tasha Stacey was born (1994) and raised in Grand Junction, Colorado. She has an entrepreneurial heart and officially opened up her business this year, ServeFlow, LLC. She serves as her clients’ ultimate off-site administrative and/or clerical office assistant and offers services such as dictation, documentation editing, digital copywriting, and more. In addition, she has built websites, created logos, and managed projects involving writing, marketing, and networking skills.
In my judgment, few insights are more important for would-be cultural reformers than the understanding of what a cultural “win” looks like. Without an understanding of this, the political/cultural scene may appear to be an endless back and forth see-sawing with little real progress being made. One needs to be able to distinguish that sort of situation from those where real and lasting progress is being enacted, and recognize why genuine progress is occurring. Thankfully, through the diligent work of Joe Bast and the Heartland Institute we have a stunning example of what looks to be real, lasting progress on an important issue: environmental regulations. In tribute to him and his organization, I have used his catch phrase as the title of this essay.
Making this win even more remarkable is that it is being announced, somewhat inadvertently, by an environmental publication E&E News that rarely if ever is on the same philosophical “page” as the Heartland Institute. E&E News has been unabashed supporters of manmade climate change and an aggressively regulatory regime to reflect that. This remarkable change is announced in their recent article E&E News, “EPA Emails show skeptics plan to prod agency,‘This is winning,’ ” 5/29/2018, and includes the following actions taken by the Trump administration:
· No mention of global warming in EPA’s strategic plan
· Announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord,
· Approving the Keystone XL pipeline,
· Moving toward axing President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and
· Developing proposals to dramatically scale back climate change research across the government.
In my introductory comments to this newsletter, I mentioned the need to focus on the philosophical foundation underneath cultural issues so that positive political/cultural change becomes permanent change. Applying that thinking here leads to the following question: Why has the Heartland Institute been so effective in turning the tide against destructive environmental policies? There are several reasons, but above all they have been relentless in their efforts over several decades to show that the environmental ideology underlying public policy of guilty until proven innocent is deeply flawed, and have in particular focused on this ideology in regard to the issue of “climate change.”
Heartland has also collaborated with the efforts of world-class scientists at the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) and other organizations who not only have impeccable scientific credentials, but also understand that the environmental ideology of treating human activities as guilty until proven innocent needs to be challenged. Scientists such as Patrick Michaels, Willie Soon, Richard Lindzen, Robert Ball, Fred Singer, among others, working side by side with Heartland’s Science Director, Jay Lehr and recently retired President, Joe Bast, through sheer diligence and willpower have brought us these unprecedented series of policy changes at the EPA.
Every man, woman, and child in the U.S. owes these heroes a debt of gratitude, and I hereby offer mine. – Mike Gemmell
With this issue we are including a link to a video of Hollywood’s Golden Age. For readers wondering why we are doing so, our answer is this:
To use a vision of the best of our past to guide us in creating a vision for our future.
Although Hollywood churns out many forgettable movies today, there was a time when things were different. Their “Golden Age” was in the 1930s and 40s when talented performers in music, dance, and drama presented inspiring and even unabashedly patriotic visions of America. Frank Capra among others led the way in this regard. This “Classic Hollywood” video presents some glimpses of that wonderful time. We hope readers will see it as we do as a reminder of a different age and as a motivation and inspiration for us to create a beautiful and inspiring future based on the timeless elements it contains.
Since the authors of this essay are of two different generations, we thought readers might be interested in those two perspectives as we present different aspects of our vision of our future.
Even though the Hollywood video is old, it has timeless elements that can inspire people as we head into the future. It has expressive dancing from very popular scenes, and brought back joyful memories and appreciation of our culture.
The video uses beauty, music, and dance to help us gain insight to the human experience, past and present. By doing so, it prepares us to understand and respect the way others think, work, and express themselves. By observing and learning from the artistic thought and creativity represented here in dance and music, individuals can begin the creative artistic process on their own. The independent thought initiated by this sort of exposure to art is an important step toward the development of self-discipline and motivation leading to genuine self-esteem. And possessing a healthy self-esteem is a necessary prerequisite to effectively cooperate with others in ways necessary to achieve success in life.
Artists (producers, painters, sculptors, dancers, composers, etc.) in my experience start with the “heart” in developing visionary ideas. Visionary and life-affirming art is able to move people to actions to create significant cultural contributions. Without these creative and spontaneous thinkers, it would be an uncreative, unimaginably dull world. We can use their examples of creativity to foster our own and help shape our world into something that we love and can share with others.
Much of what we see on today’s public stage in political and cultural contexts of today has little grace or eloquence to it, and perhaps this should not be surprising considering the typical movies of today. Art affects culture, and as culture changes it affects the development of art. In today’s world, special effects are too often used as a substitute for a compelling story and the music used as soundtracks is often an assault on the senses. It helps to remember that it has not always been this way, and by getting in touch with our past we can, hopefully, find the emotional/spiritual fuel we need to build a brighter future.
We hope readers have enjoyed the multiple perspectives on cultural change presented here from the emphasis on logical thinking in Tasha Stacey’s review of The Art of Reasoning, to a vision of what “winning” looks like in reforms at the EPA, to the artistry of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Our purpose here is to be as comprehensive as possible in pursuing ROAR’s mission of restoring the republic in America by demonstrating the importance of creating and articulating a vision for our future using science, art, philosophy, and related fields.