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Chapter 1

 


WHY CERTAIN CORE VALUES ARE
ESSENTIAL TO OUR WELL-BEING

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George Washington

". . . There is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity.”

Source: First Inaugural Address, 1789, reported by Constance Bridges in Great Thoughts Of Great Americans. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1951, page 27.
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Trust may be defined as "a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another."¹ It is essential, if interpersonal relationships are to be meaningful and productive.

Trust is nurtured by everyday commitment to shared values and goals and the capacity to honor this commitment through the practice of self-restraint. And these observations apply to all situations — whether we are dealing with

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relationships in a primitive tribe, family life, business, professional services, military operations, religious or charitable activities, sports, or everyday social encounters. These realities were apparent to Charles Darwin many years ago. He observed that:

"The virtues which must be practised, at least generally, by rude men, so that they may associate in a body, are those which are still recognised as the most important . . . No tribe could hold together if murder, robbery, treachery, &c., were common; consequently, such crimes within the limits of the same tribe are branded with everlasting infamy.

"There cannot be fidelity without truth; and this fundamental virtue is not rare between the members of the same tribe: thus Mungo Park heard the negro women teaching their young children to love truth . . .

"We have now seen that actions are regarded by savages, and were probably so regarded by primeval man, as good or bad, solely as they obviously affect the welfare of the tribe.”²


A larger society or nation is really a "confederation" of smaller societies or cultures. It can be viable and productive to the extent that its members share certain over-arching values and goals — in the absence of seriously conflicting ones — that relate to personal behavior that affects other people.

Francis Fukuyama, a Rand Corporation scholar, stresses the need for this kind of inter-group sharing. He asserts that such trust is a key to markets, and ultimately, a nation's

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wealth; that kinship groups in low-trust societies may be tightly bound, but their members have difficulty in trusting “outsiders." He points out that it is only in more trusting societies that businesses can succeed more fully by reaching beyond kinship boundaries to thrive nationally and globally.³

Consequently, he is particularly concerned about our preoccupation with group rights and with irresponsible experiments with multi-cultural reforms in education, because such efforts are diluting the common culture that pulls us together. He feels that the viability of a liberal state is grounded in old-fashioned virtues.4 In this regard, Joseph Plaud and Nancy Vogeltanz provide Bronowski's list of universal values that are required to create a social climate that will be supportive of intelligent inquiry and planning for the future: honesty; freedom of inquiry, thought, and speech; justice; and respect for human dignity.5

Generally, those who succeed in life — both psychologically and materially — do so as the result of positive attitudes, the pursuit of an adequate education through deferred gratification and self-discipline, and sustained hard work thereafter. True, a man can starve through no fault of his own and, understandably, steal a loaf of bread to feed his family. But this type of need hardly applies to many commonplace crimes today — such as rape, gratuitous assault, stealing to satisfy addictions, or auto theft — that reflect the absence of sound personal values.

The Need To Distinguish Peripheral Values: We need to distinguish a society's core values from less-socially-essential ones; that is, ones that have to do with personal indulgences and preferences that do little harm to others and

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are largely peripheral to the values required for mutual trust and harmony.

Unfortunately, the need for this distinction is frequently overlooked by the ruling elders of a society. In their zeal to prescribe for others, they often forget their own youthful need for "breathing-room" to further define and defend a fragile identity and to accommodate relatively harmless growing pains. As a consequence, many small communities have seen their young people alienated and lost to big cities because the local culture failed to adequately distinguish fads from basic values, individual style from substantial issues.

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Undue Emphasis Upon Peripheral Values
(Essence of a Statute Passed in 1660 in the Massachusetts Colony)

Publick Notice

The obfervation of Christmas having been deemed a sacrilege, the exchanging of gifts, greetings, dreffing in fine clothing, feafting and similar satanical practices are hereby forbidden with the offender liable to a fine of five shillings.

Source: Atlantic Monthly, December 1979, page 91.

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Choosing Core Values: Ideally, a society should choose its core values by considering the type of harm that certain behaviors can cause — physical, economic, or psychological, or a combination of these — in relation to the intensity of such

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harm; for example, individual versus group harm, and the extent of monetary loss. However, more often than not, a society's values are created and retained by belief and tradition, rather than by objective investigation or analysis, as these are handed from one generation to another — through instruction, stories, personal example, and the absence of proposed alternative beliefs and ways of doing things.

Our Inherited Core Values: We are fortunate that our inherited core values — for the most part — satisfy the positive criteria presented above. They are values that have made it possible for us to be free from the tyranny of an individual or a majority. In fact, they have made it possible for our democratic form of government to survive until now. Let's consider two important aspects of our heritage:

A Common Philosophy: We owe much to a commonly held political philosophy on the part of our founding fathers. Unlike the fathers of other revolutions, they not only wrote a constitution designed to facilitate and safeguard equitable democracy, they personally tried to uphold it in their everyday lives. For example, in Federalist Paper No. 2, founder John Jay, observes that:

"Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.


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"This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it were the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien

To stress the special requirements of our system, James Madison (or Alexander Hamilton) wrote the following in Federalist Paper No. 55:

"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy among some of us faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.”7

John Stuart Mill — eminent English philosopher, economist, and ethical theorist — in his essay, "On Liberty," adds:

"Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no

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application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion . . . 8

"All that makes existence valuable to anyone, depends on the enforcement of restraints upon the actions of other people. Some rules of conduct, therefore, must be imposed, by law in the first place, and by opinion on many things which are not fit subjects for the operation of the law." 9

And George Washington cautions us:

"Do we know that the first form of self-government is governing ourselves — not through indifference or rigidity, but through respecting our fellows and wanting to play an honorable part in the world . . . Do we understand that liberty isn't a vacation from restraint, but a duty to govern? ¹°

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Lord Moulton, Noted English Judge, On The Virtues Of
Commitment And Self-Restraint

"The real greatness of a nation, its true civilization, is measured by the extent of . . . Obedience to the Unenforceable."

Source: Talk presented to the Authors' Club in London, prior to his death in 1921, (printed in The Atlantic, July, 1924, page 2).

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Based upon his stay in France in the early 1790's and his experience as our ambassador there, starting in 1792,

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Governor Morris was convinced that our system of government, to succeed, places special requirements upon its citizens. In fact, he predicted the failure of the French Revolution due to the absence of these special requirements:

"I wish much, very much, the happiness of this inconstant people. I love them. I feel grateful for their efforts in our cause . . . But I do not greatly indulge the flattering illusions of hope, because I do not yet perceive that reformation of morals without which liberty is but an empty sound . . .

"When a man of high rank and importance laughs today at what he seriously asserted yesterday, it is considered as in the natural order of things . . . The great mass of the common people have no religion but their priests, no law but their superiors, no moral but their interest.”¹¹

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Louis D. Brandeis, Former Associate Supreme Court Justice

"Democracy in any sphere is a serious undertaking. It substitutes self-restraint for external restraint. It is more difficult to maintain than to achieve. It demands continuous sacrifice by the individual and more exigent obedience to the moral law than any other form of government."

Source: A 1922 letter reported by Constance Bridges in Great Thoughts Of Great Americans. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1951, page 206.

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In addition to stressing the need for liberty, coupled with self-restraint, our founding fathers supported the idea that certain basic, non-conflicting, individual and minority rights must be protected, while giving priority to the shared values and goals of the majority. Also, they demonstrated their commitment to self-sufficiency through ambition and hard work.

Thus, we see stated or implied in the material presented so far the core values of duty, accountability, honesty, education, self-sufficiency, responsibly exercised personal liberty, and equality of opportunity — with abstinence from treachery, theft, and murder.

The Issue Of Slavery: As a matter of record, most of the founding fathers opposed slavery. President Lincoln observed: "If those who wrote and adopted the Constitution believed slavery to be a good thing, why did they insert a provision prohibiting the slave trade after the year 1808?" He also pointed out that free Negroes were voters in five of the original 13 states.¹² Here is a sampler of founding-father views:

George Washington: "There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it.”¹³

John Adams: "Every measure of prudence, therefore, ought to be assumed for the eventual extirpation of slavery from the United States … I have through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in … abhorrence.” 14

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Benjamin Franklin: "Slavery is … an atrocious debasement of human nature.” 15

James Madison: "We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.” 16

Thomas Jefferson: "The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of . . . the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.” 17

John Jay: "Those who know the value of liberty, and are blessed with the enjoyment of it ought not to subject others to slavery ... “18


As evidence that this was not meaningless rhetoric, some 5,000 slaves from every part of America who fought in the Revolutionary War were freed (except those from South Carolina and Georgia) — though Alexander Hamilton had proposed this type of emancipation for South Carolina, as well, while he served on Washington’s military staff. 19

Joseph Ellis tells us of Ben Franklin's unsuccessful petition to Congress for the abolition and complete cessation of slavery,²° and the House of Representatives of New York, a slave state, formally resolved in 1776 that slavery is "utterly inconsistent with the avowed principles in which this and other states have carried on their struggle for liberty.²¹ Subsequently, it, and seven other states, abolished slavery, either gradually or immediately: Vermont in 1777, New York

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in 1799, Pennsylvania in 1780, Rhode Island and Connecticut in 1783, Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the 1780's, and New Jersey in 1804.²²

According to Thomas West, Jefferson proposed a law in 1779 that provided for the gradual emancipation of slaves in Virginia. It was not passed. Then, he proposed a law in Congress in 1784 to ban slavery from the entire Western territory, and this came within one vote of passage.²³ But these failures were short-lived. In 1787 Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance which outlawed slavery in the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica reports that George Washington's "care of his slaves was exemplary. He carefully clothed and fed them, engaged a doctor for them by the year, and refused to sell them — 'I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human species’ — and administered correction mildly. They showed so much attachment that few ran away."

He provided for their emancipation in his will and stated that it was "among his first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery in his country might be abolished by law.” 24 Henry Wiencek adds that Washington instructed that those under 25 "be taught to read and write, and to be brought up in some useful occupation," after which, they, too, would be freed. 25

Slavery remained legal in the South; however, surprisingly, the first census in 1790 reported 32,000 free blacks there. And by 1810, this number had grown to 108,000, due largely to the action of certain slave owners

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who willingly relinquished the investment involved. 26 To appreciate the magnitude of their financial sacrifice, consider that a young, healthy, male slave sold for as much as $1,000 in the 1850's — the equivalent of some $50,000 today! 27 Another interesting fact is that the owning of slaves was not, uniquely, a white phenomenon. According to Sandburg, at least one in every 100 free Negroes owned one or two slaves — and a few owned as many as 50 or more! 28

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Abraham Lincoln

"I never knew a man who wished himself a slave. Consider if you know any good thing, that no man desires for himself."

Source: Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years And The War Years. New York: Galahad Books, 1993, page 495.
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If the ideals expressed by the founders and the language of the Constitution were sincerely meant, why was emancipation such a drawn-out and painful process? West points out that the founding fathers were confronted with two conflicting principles: the concept of equal rights and the right of consent to be governed, with the latter right (via voting) belonging just as much to the prejudiced as to the more enlightened.

Given the strongly held feelings of those slave owners who were bent upon protecting their investment and their way of life, it seems clear that insistence upon the immediate freeing of all slaves would have precluded the continuation of

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the union. But even had the owners been willing, compensating them would have been quite an undertaking. There were some 3,204,000 slaves in the South valued at more than 1.5 billion dollars! 29

In addition, desire for immediate emancipation was tempered by another concern. As was pointed out earlier, many of the founders felt that our new system of government — more than any other system — requires commitment to certain values on the part of its citizens; that it would take a period of time for former slaves (or others who were alien to our system) to become sufficiently educated and well-versed In these values before they could properly function as citizens. Consequently, many anti-slavery advocates favored the concept of gradual emancipation, and honestly believed that abolition was inevitable despite the concessions they were making to the Southern states to preserve the union.

In this vein, Jefferson, Madison, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and (later) Lincoln believed that slaves had a right to liberty, but not to immediate citizenship. Therefore, they felt that the best way to give full and immediate freedom would be to assist the former slaves — via compensation to their owners, money, educational opportunities, and protection — in going to other places where they could establish communities according to their own values and stage of development, just as the English colonists had left Europe to found a new form of government in the new world.³° But there was little enthusiasm on the part of free Negroes for doing this.³¹

That these concerns about immediate emancipation were warranted is suggested by the undemocratic and destructive

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exercise of self-government by free blacks and ex-slaves and their descendants in Liberia (see the end of Chapter 6) and by the behavior of many blacks in the post-Civil War Reconstruction governments of the South. With regard to the latter, historians Morison and Commager point out:

"The vast majority of the freedmen were quite unprepared for the exercise of any political responsibility . . . their innocence exposed them to temptation and their ignorance betrayed them into the hands of astute and mischievous spoilsmen who exploited them for selfish and sordid ends …

"The resulting state administrations were characterized by extravagance, corruption, and vulgarity.”³²

And Frederick Douglas, the noted black abolitionist, stated in 1848:

"What we, the colored people, want is character . . . [O]ur general ignorance makes [intelligent and educated blacks] exceptions to our race . . . Character is the important thing, and without it we must continue to be marked for degradation and stamped with the brand of inferiority . . .“³³

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A Little-Known Instance Of Emancipation

In 1827, the slave ship Guerrero was wrecked on Carysfort reef in Key West, Florida, and all but 41 of the 561 chained-together slaves were saved by the

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local residents. Since maritime slaving had been illegal since 1808, the survivors were declared free and were returned to Africa at federal expense.

Source: Bureau of Archaeological Research, Florida Department of State.

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Unfortunately — though it occurred in the North — the expected gradual withering away of slavery did not occur in the South. To the contrary, as the South became increasingly dependent upon slave labor to produce its cotton, there was a resurgence of pro-slavery sentiment. This led to a total rejection of the Constitutional concept of liberty for all — in the future as well as the present — and the inevitability of the Civil War. The Southern position was clearly stated by Alexander Stephens, the Confederate vice president:

"The prevailing ideas entertained by [Jefferson] and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically . . . the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away . . .

"Our new [Confederate] government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea . . . that slavery subordination to the superior race — is [the Negro's] natural and normal condition.” 34

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The Need To Teach Our Heritage: The American revolution, and its aftermath, are truly unique in world' history. It was led by prominent individuals who sought no material gain by success, but could anticipate great personal loss through failure. They persevered and won against overwhelming odds, and then — avoiding any attempt at self-serving material gain or ascendancy to power — they established a new form of government that had never existed before.

Yet, knowledge of this priceless heritage is no longer adequately transmitted to new generations. Based upon their review of six, 1970's, high school history books, Glazer and Veda report that "the central processes that integrated American society are trivalized.”35 And Ravitch and Finn, on the basis of their study of high school students in 1987, found that more students knew who Harriet Tubman was than could identify Washington as commander of our revolutionary army or Lincoln as author of the Emancipation Proclamation.36

In 1992, Authur Schlesinger reported that "students could graduate from 78 percent of American colleges and universities without taking a course in the history of Western civilization. [That] A number of institutions . . . require courses in third world or ethnic studies but not in Western civilization . . . . 37 The Council of Trustees and Alumni observed that, by the year 2,000, not one of our top American colleges or universities required a course in American history! 38

Fortunately, some initial remedial steps are being taken. Samuel Huntington reports that organizations, such as the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the National

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Association of Scholars, have been created to fight this trend — that Congress unanimously approved a resolution in 2000 that urged educational authorities to improve the teaching of our history, and added millions of dollars to the budget of the Department of Education to support this goal. In addition, in 2003, a successful bill was introduced by Senator Lamar Alexander that created summer academies in American history and civics for school teachers and high school students. 39

Support For Core And Related Values Today: Survey data show that most Americans still support the core values presented in this book, and — as we will see — anecdotal and research data provide impressive evidence as to why they should.

Duty, Honesty, Integrity, And Being Responsible: The importance of integrity is underscored by the testimony of Vice Admiral James Stockdale, who honorably survived eight years of deprivation, humiliation, and torture as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese and wears the Congressional Medal of Honor:

"Are our students getting the message that without integrity intellectual skills are worthless? . . . The linkage of men's ethics, reputations, and fates can be studied in . . . vivid detail in prison camp. In that brutally controlled environment a perceptive enemy can get his hooks into the slightest chink in a man's ethical armor and accelerate his downfall. Given the right opening, the right moral weakness, a certain susceptibility on the part of the prisoner, a clever extortionist can drive his victim into a downhill slide

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that will ruin his image, self-respect, and life in a very short time."

Admiral Stockdale goes on to quote from an ancient source — the Enchiridion, the Roman philosopher Epictetus's "manual" for the Roman field soldier:

"It's better to die in hunger, exempt from guilt and fear, than to live in affluence and with perturbation . . . Lameness is an impediment to the body but not the will . . . If I can get the things I need with the preservation of my honor and fidelity and self-respect, show me the way and I will get them. But, if you require me to lose my own proper good, that you may gain what is no good, consider how unreasonable and foolish you are.” 40

It is instructive that these values of honesty and integrity, as well as other core values, have been selected by thousands of parents to be taught and emphasized in our schools. These programs are discussed in Chapter 7. In addition, core values were stressed by a Council of the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1993. In their "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic," they state:

"We take individual responsibility for all we do. All our decisions, actions, and failures have consequences . . . We must speak and act truthfully and with compassion, dealing fairly with all.”41

Four national surveys, conducted between the years 1968 and 1981, revealed that a representative sample of American adults still gave high priority to being honest and responsible

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and to providing family security.42 More light on what this means was provided by a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll conducted in 1998 based upon a representative sample of adults 18 or over via telephone interviews: seventy-four percent said that adultery is always wrong, with an additional 14 percent saying it is wrong almost always.

Sixty percent said divorce should be harder to obtain, and less-stable marriages were identified as the single most important factor associated with negative change in the American character since the 1950’s.43 In 1960, traditional families (married couples with children under 18) comprised 45 percent of all U.S. households. They comprised 30.2 percent in 1980, and only 23.5 percent in 2000.44

Such emphasis upon the importance of intact families has been validated by extensive research findings. For example, Henry Biller and Richard Solomon surveyed over 1,000 studies of single-parenting outcomes and found that children so raised do significantly poorer on any criterion of social health, including delinquency.45 Single-parent homes supply 70 percent of our juvenile offenders,46 and even when we control for income and race, boys from single-parent homes are significantly more likely to become criminals than those from two-parent homes.47 A child raised by a single parent is six times more likely to take drugs, drop out of school, and participate in the birth of an illegitimate child!48

Furthermore:

Since 1976, as the divorce rate soared, the rate of child abuse increased 331 percent.

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Children from fatherless homes comprise 60 percent of our rapists and 72 percent of our adolescent murderers.49

Why is single parenting usually inadequate? Here are some important reasons:

When single-parent births are the result of promiscuity, a frequent result is the absence of adequate nurturing of the babies. The diagnostic label for this is "reactive attachment disorder." 50 It occurs, as several psychiatrists have pointed out, because continuing sex without commitment tends to erode one's feelings of self-worth, and this undermines one's ability to nurture others. 51

Urie Bronfenbrenner, founder of the Head Start program, thinks that the greatest disadvantage of single parenting is the inability of the single parent to provide sufficient periods of personal interaction that are needed to supply enough intellectual and emotional stimulation for the child. Though extended family members and others may try to fill this need, it is difficult for them to do so and, typically, they are not as effective as mutually supporting parents. 52

Hart and Risley support this view. They describe extensive observational studies of children that were conducted over a period of 2 1/2 years or more. They found that less interaction with significant adults was associated with diminished cortical and psychological development, and they point out that early deficits are hard to remedy because cortical development is largely finished by the age of four.53

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Adding to these problems, Bryce Christensen reports that single parenthood resulting from divorce is one of the most common causes of childhood depression, as well as other mental and physiological afflictions. He notes that over one-third of these children are still troubled and depressed five years after a divorce.54 Also, divorce tends to make boys more hostile and withdrawn than peers from intact families.55

In addition to the need for adequate economic and emotional support and interactive stimulation, there is a need for the firm and consistent administration of discipline. Andrew Thomas, an assistant attorney general for the state of Arizona, observes that:

"While many of America's single mothers have shown inspiring courage in the face of indifferent former lovers and ex-husbands, it is now undeniable that many of these mothers are simply unable to control their children . . . Teenage boys today are often ungovernable because they lack one of the basic and crucial deterrents to juvenile misconduct — fear of answering to an angry father . . . Anyone who questions parental awe's unique capacity to deter naughtiness in young males should enter an inner-city school and compare the behavior of boys in classrooms headed by male and female teachers.”56

A member of a black gang in Los Angeles describes the difference:

"Most of the time your momma knows what's going on, but momma's not going to be the one to tell the

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kid to stop it . . . Moms are too gentle. When I started gangbanging, my mother tried to get me to stop. I wouldn't; she saw that's what I wanted.”57

To whom do fatherless teenagers turn for male role models, emotional support, peer acceptance, a sense of common cause, and protection from a hostile environment? They turn to anti-social gangs and their irresponsible and immature leaders. Andrew Thomas reports that by 1990, some 90,000 young people had joined gangs in Los Angeles County, alone.58

In reviewing 1976 U.S. crime data, Dady and Wilson found that a child who had lived with one or more substitute parents was some 100 times more likely to be fatally abused than a child living with biological parents; that a child who lived in a Canadian city in the 1980's was 70 times more likely to be killed by a parent, when living with a parent and stepparent, than when living with two natural parents. And children under ten were 3-4 times as likely to suffer non-fatal abuse (depending upon their age and the particular study) when living with a parent and stepparent, than when living with two natural parents.59 Furthermore, studies in both England and the U.S. estimate that 60-80 percent of felons come from the foster-care system.60

The report of the Council on Families in America makes a point that is often overlooked:

"The parental relationship is unique in human affairs. In most social relationships, the reciprocity of benefits is carefully monitored, since any imbalance is regarded as exploitative. But in the parental

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relationship, as has often been pointed out, 'the flow of benefits is prolongedly, cumulatively, and ungrudgingly unbalanced' . . . No amount of public Investment in children can possibly offset the private dis-investment that has accompanied the decline of marriage.”61

This view is strongly supported by the experience of kibbutzim (agricultural communes) that raised thousands of children over many decades in Israel. By design, the "family" became a voluntary association of adults and children, with the children being raised by qualified personnel in on-site nurseries.

However, after only one generation, this "ideal arrangement" was questioned. Both children and parents preferred spending their evenings and nights "at home" together. Though the placement of all children in Kibbutz day-care centers has survived ? since both parents work ? there has been a significant increase in parental authority and involvement in running them. Irving Kristol observes that: "Amid continual soul-searching and self-criticism, family relations came more and more to resemble those in the bourgeois world that the founders had rebelled against.”62

Even well-run, day-care centers here in America may not turn out to be a happy panacea for absentee parents. Ron Haskins found that early-care children who had spent more time in day care suffered greater ill effects, regardless of the quality of the care. He found that they were "more likely to . . . hit, kick, and push than children in the control group . . . [also] to threaten, swear, and argue." And their teachers were more likely to rate them as being seriously

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over-aggressive.63 And Rutter, Bagley, and Bronfenbrenner report similar findings from other studies.64 The most critical period for these adverse effects of non-maternal care appears to be before the age of 41/2 years — with the first six months being of particular importance.65

More recently, a joint U.S.-Israeli study found that kibbutzim children who had received 24-hour day care were at greater risk of developing mental disorders. And a long-term National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study of 1,364 diverse-background children in 10 states found that day-care placement provides a significant prediction of poorer mother-child interaction and reduced linguistic and cognitive development.66

Interestingly, a recent Roper Poll shows that 75 percent of Americans believe that mothers who have children under the age of three are threatening family values when they work outside of the home. And the Pew Center found that only 41 percent of women who work full time feel confident that the arrangement is good for their children.67

Being Ambitious, Hardworking, And Aspiring: Four national surveys, conducted between the years 1968 and 1981, revealed that a representative sample of American adults still gave high priority to being ambitious, hardworking, and aspiring.68 In addition, a Wall Street Joumal/NBC poll, conducted in 1998 — based upon a representative sample of adults 18 or over via telephone interviews — revealed that 83 percent ranked "hard work" as very important.69 And the value of "performing to the best of one's ability" was selected by a majority of 1,200 adult

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members of the Parkway School District in: the St. Louis area, after due deliberation.70

There is little question that ambition and hard work coupled with integrity, a sense of responsibility, and the practice of self-restraint — underlie personal achievement, productivity, economic well-being, and the blessings of personal freedom. America did not become a leading world power — offering unparalleled levels of individual freedom and economic opportunity — due to manna from heaven, government welfare, or merely the presence of abundant natural resources. Productivity has been the key to our well-being, and this productivity has been the result of imaginative enterprise and innovations that are grounded in individual freedom, ambition, hard work, and interpersonal trust.


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J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur On America (1782)

"The American ought therefore to love his country much better than that in which he or his forefathers were born. Here the rewards of his industry follow with equal steps the progress of his labor . . . without any part being claimed either by a despotic prince, a rich abbot, or a mighty lord. Here religion demands but little of him — a small voluntary salary to the minister, and gratitude to God . . . "

Source: Constance Bridges in Great Thoughts Of Great Americans. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1951, page 24.
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In 1776, the average farm family, working from sunup to sunset, produced enough food to support itself and one other

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person. Today, due to imaginative enterprise and innovative technology, a typical American farm family can feed itself and some 35 others! However, during this same period, farm output in many other parts of the world remained the same, or even declined. Why so? Typically, we find that factors such as corruption and/or the lack of personal ambition, interpersonal trust, and foresight are the causes of poor performing economies to a greater extent than the absence of natural resources. As cases in point, consider the high productivity of Hong Kong and Taiwan. Their output cannot be attributed to an abundance of natural resources.

Millions of immigrants who embrace American core values have come here and prospered. Koreans have developed a thriving community of some 400,000 in Southern California. In fact, through mutual financial support and personal assistance, one in ten Korean adults now owns a business.71 And Thomas Sowell reports that, as of 1980, a larger percentage of West Indians, Japanese, Filipinos, and Chinese were lawyers, doctors, and teachers in America than were Anglo-Saxons! He also points out that certain ethnic groups — such as the Japanese, Jews, Poles, Chinese, and Italians — made more money. 72

Workable individual freedom presupposes individual accountability for responsible behavior toward others and the long-term ability to support one's self. When freedom is provided without these constraints, predatory and self-destructive behaviors are encouraged, and burdens of dependency and lawlessness are created that society cannot tolerate or afford. Unfortunately, many today appear to have lost sight of these basic realities, though our founding fathers were well aware of them. The largely unregulated economic

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system they created worked as well as it did, because leading citizens were constrained by personal commitment to certain values (influenced greatly by involvement in their religions) and knowledge that the community would strongly censure individuals who tried to seek personal gain without contribution.

For example — even during the Great Depression — most respectable citizens could not imagine an honorable individual who, by filing for bankruptcy, would claim exemption from personal responsibility to pay his or her creditors, however long it might take. Yet, today, many people consider this attitude almost laughable. The present trend toward unlicensed individual freedom without responsibility to others is an invitation to disaster. As Andrew Thomas observes:

"Indeed, one of history's iron lessons is that the speed of a nation's descent ultimately depends on its citizens' degree of willingness to forgo private pleasures for public duty. The choice . . . is both manifest and simple: freedom practiced responsibly or no freedom at all."73

Emphasis On Learning: Four national surveys conducted between the years 1968 and 1981 revealed that a representative sample of American adults still gave high priority to "seeking wisdom or a mature understanding of life.”74 In addition to other areas of accomplishment, this includes a need for passing scores on special examinations in math, science, and English as a pre-college requirement, and teacher accountability for student progress on standardized,

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national tests. It also implies parental/community moral and economic support for educational achievement.75

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Thomas Jefferson

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.

Source: Letter in 1816 to Charles Yancey, reported by Constance Bridges in Great Thoughts Of Great Americans. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1951, page 42.

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It should be apparent why competence in reading, writing, and speaking English are basic requirements for responsible citizenship in our present-day, complex democracy. It may be less obvious, however, why even greater academic achievement is necessary for personal opportunity and success in today's economic world: technological advances have caused an accelerating increase in the proportion of higher-skilled to lower-skilled jobs.

Timothy Parks, president of the Pittsburgh Alliance, observes that the proportion of U.S. unskilled jobs shrank from some 60 percent in 1950 to only 25 percent in 1997; that it will decline even further to 15 percent by the year 2000!76 Detroit lost 51 percent of its manufacturing jobs between 1967 and 1987. And, by the late 1980's, inner-city black men who had not completed high school experienced a 44 percent jobless rate in the Northeast, 58 percent in the Midwest, 49 percent in the South, and 66 percent in the West.77

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The needs of the Lincoln Electric Company and Scott Paper illustrate this trend. Lincoln manufactures motors and welding equipment. To qualify for recent, entry-level openings an applicant must be able to do high-school trigonometry, read technical drawings, and have the aptitude and motivation for learning how to operate computer-controlled machines.78

Workers at Scott's new tissue products plant must develop production schedules, enter data for computer spreadsheets, buy supplies, take attendance, interview applicants, vote on merit pay raises for each other, and deal with customers and production staff. Then, to become regular employees, they must pass standardized English and high-school algebra tests, and complete some 740 hours of training their first year in such matters as using Microsoft Windows software, performing lab tests for fiber strength, operating fork-lift trucks, and handling confrontations with fellow employees.79

Obviously, training for all of the specific skills mentioned above cannot be presented in high school. However, adequate academic preparedness greatly facilitates on-the-job learning. This is pointed out by Barbara Rogoff and Pablo Chavajay who report a c1ear-cut relationship between logical thinking and formal schooling.80 And further evidence is provided by a growing high-school-graduate/dropout earnings gap. Graduates, on average, earned $6,415 more per year in 1999, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and each year's dropouts will cost America more than $200 billion in lost earnings and unrealized tax revenue during their lifetimes.81

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Furthermore, staying in school is important for reasons other than the knowledge gained. Eighty-two percent of U.S. prisoners are high-school dropouts,82 and staying in school increases a student's IQ score to a higher level than it would have been had the student dropped out. For example, it was found that children of Indian ancestry whose schooling was delayed (due to the unavailability of teachers) experienced a drop of five IQ points for every year without schooling. More precisely, studies show that students lose ground from both their end-of-the-year IQ and end-of-year academic scores in each passing month! 83 Why is this important? General intelligence (as measured by IQ score) is an important predictor of the level of job complexity one can handle.

Providing Equality Of Opportunity: Four national surveys, conducted between the years 1968 and 1981, revealed that a representative sample of American adults still gave high priority to this value.84 And the value of "providing equal rights to all" was selected by a majority of 1,200 adult members of the Parkway School District in the St. Louis area for presentation in their schools.85

In addition, representatives of all of the religions of the world met as a Council of the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1993 and produced the following "Declaration Toward a Global Ethic":

"We must strive for a just social and economic order, in which everyone has an equal chance to reach full potential as a human being.”86

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The giving of equal opportunity implies that we should judge people more on the basis of their personal qualities and achievements than by their ethnic or economic backgrounds, or by the status of their parents. In addition, equality of opportunity creates significantly different quantity and quality levels of individual productivity. Therefore, one should be rewarded on the basis of her or his contribution. It follows, then, that the concept of equal opportunity is not compatible with the idea of equality of income.

Though the problem of racial discrimination is still very much with us, David Horowitz reminds us that "it is America's white racial majority that ended slavery, outlawed discrimination, funded massive welfare programs for inner city blacks, and created the very affirmative action policies that are allegedly necessary to force them to be fair.”87 There are few if any other nations — including those in Africa wherein the leaders, black or white, have made similar efforts of this magnitude.

Though certain aptitudes — like those for artistic expression, sports, singing, and instrumental performance — are inherited from one's parents, high levels of developed skill and achievement in these activities are not. They are the product of aptitude coupled with persistent hard work. Respect for this fact has helped to make America the leading land of opportunity. We have intuitively understood that an approach based upon it motivates individuals to excel; whereas, one based upon parental status and connections breeds mediocrity and a rigid class system, and discourages promising young "outsiders."

However, we cannot afford to forget that equality of opportunity requires respect for others, respect for property,

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and a justice system that assures the rights and personal liberty of every citizen. To realize these values, we must discourage and suppress theft, treachery, mob rule, physical violence, and murder.

Conclusion: When diverse people are not able to govern themselves, they invite some form of absolutism; usually, a brutal and insensitive tribalism that ignores the humanity of non-members. Then, "outsiders" are viewed as "nonhumans" who — regardless of their behavior — do not deserve the protection and support of strongly held "insider" values and goals about justice and interpersonal relations. They are subjected to unprovoked murder, robbery, torture, rape, and other abhorrent behaviors which are not only condoned — but are often encouraged — by other insiders.

In the short run, a society of such extremists can be quite cohesive and effective in pursuing its goals; however, in the longer run, it cannot sustain desirable change and creativity, and properly accommodate the legitimate individual needs of its own members, as well as those of people from other cultures. Our founding fathers realized this as they launched a truly unique experiment in self-government. Our allegiance to their creation is based more upon an ideology of shared values than upon race or ethnic identification. We have no "old country" as many Europeans and others have. Rather, we share certain core values that distinguish us, and make us viable as a nation, despite our diverse backgrounds and customs and our physical dispersion over half a continent. Above all, we value our freedom, but it cannot survive for long without self-restraint that is guided by shared values.

 

 

American Values Decline Cover Contents Introduction
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