Losing Our Way As A Nation
- Posted by Jeff Carter
- on June 18th, 2011
This is a good weekend interview. The first line is, “We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate.”
I don’t want to get into the debate about revisionist history being taught, or brainwashed, in the schools. No doubt that is happening. An aside, I had a history teacher tell my daughter she was disappointed that she could not persuade her to become a liberal.
But we are really losing our way as a nation and there are severe consequences to it. In schools these days, there is a big component on teaching “service”. Kids go and hand out soup at soup kitchens to the homeless. They work with little kids, developmentally disabled kids, disabled kids, paint fences and clean up playgrounds. Many people think that they are teaching the kids a valuable lesson. I think it’s bull.
All those things are nice. But what we really ought to be doing is teaching our kids entrepreneurship. We ought to be encouraging them to run little businesses. They have great ideas, and from some of them real businesses could spring. One organization dedicated to making that happen is Lemonade Day.
It’s a step in the right direction.
America was founded by a bunch of shopkeepers and entrepreneurs. The Pilgrim is the quintessential small business story. Risking it all for a chance at a better life.
Our educational system has let us down. Instead of trumpeting the skills it takes to take risk and start a business, they focus on social justice. There is no better social justice than providing a paying job for someone else.
In the social justice web, it’s not just a paying job-but a “living wage”. This again turns the American Dream on it’s head. The market determines how much your skill is worth, not an overarching regulation. If your skill level is ditch digger, you get paid as a ditch digger. Not everyone can be CEO. But, American educators act like everyone has the skill set to be a CEO.
Everyone might acquire the skills if they started teaching them correctly.
Instead of sending your kid to the soup kitchen to pointlessly ladle soup, send them to the grocery store to buy ingredients. Have them keep track of the costs, including their time, and then encourage them to make something and try and sell it on the street. If they make a profit, great. If they don’t, then help them to understand why.
I never pass a lemonade stand or cookie sale on the street when it’s run by kids. There is a powerful lesson that can be learned by giving them a quarter for a cup of lemonade. It’s the lesson of the American Dream.
It is time to go to the mountaintop and talk about the successes and failures of American entrepreneurs. Trumpet our successes and learn from our failures. We will regain our footing in a generation.
A number of readers have said colleges are now instituting community service as a condition to graduate. I know Tulane has, and so has Butler in Indiana. Tell the students that go to those schools to institute Junior Achievement programs in the high and grade schools around them! Or do Lemonade Day.
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Jeffrey Carter is an angel investor and independent trader. He specializes in turning concepts into profits. He co-founded Hyde Park Angels one of the most active angel groups in the United States in April of 2007. He previously served on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Board of Directors. He has done market commentary for (More...)