In ‘Resolved: 13 Resolutions for Life‘, Orrin Woodward first introduced us to his five laws of decline; showing how if we are not aware of them, our life, our organisation, and our country, will suffer the consequences.
In ‘Leadershift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead‘, Orrin and Oliver DeMille go through these laws more in relation to a country. Although these laws apply to everything, and all business leaders should be aware of them for their companies sake, it’s in relation to our nation they really hit home. You may not mind if a company goes under because of these laws, but you will certainly mind if the country does.
As not everyone will go out and get those books, we will go through some of the key concepts; let’s ensure as many people becomes aware of them as we can.
For some of these laws, left on their own, things might not be too bad, even if it’s still a problem. The real issues come when all of these laws are left unchecked; which is often the case since one usually leads to another.
Today we will take a look at the first law of decline.
Theodore Sturgeon was a science fiction writer who defended his genre when it was being criticized for being full of crud; that it didn’t keep up with the times and new technology. Sturgeon’s reply was to point out that 90 percent of it was indeed crud… just as it is in everything.
That is Sturgeon’s law: 90% of everything is crud.
If you’re not sure about this, think of YouTube videos; or American Idol. about 90% of them are crud, we usually go through some kind of filter to get to the good ones. What about the people you work with? Think of all the economists out there, and how many of them truly understand the subject.
When you apply this law to a nation, this means that 90% of our leaders and our politicians are not good. When it comes to business leaders, many of the successful big business leaders aren’t actually good leaders. As Stephen D. Palmer mentions in his book ‘Uncommon Sense’, many of them only ask “is it legal” instead of “is it right.” I don’t think many of them even care if something is illegal, but only care whether the gains will outweigh the possible fines. Although this reasoning stems from the second law of decline, Bastiat’s law, I’m sure that 10% will still do what’s right while the other 90% can’t be counted on at all.
This law also applies to politicians; although one might easily argue that more than 90% of them are crud. Most people can find a couple politicians that might actually be considered ‘statesmen‘. I for one considered Ron Paul to be one such politician, who was not into politics for his own personal gain or to take advantage of people; but truly wanted to make his country a better place. Whether you agree with his beliefs or not, I don’t think you’ll be able to find any intent from his actions other than to make his country better. I think if we really studied each politician in depth, we would find 10% are truly there to build a better future, even if you think their methods are wrong.
The purpose in understanding this law is to be aware that not everyone who is voted into office can be counted on to do the right thing. If you leave room in the constitution for politicians to do something bad, 90% will. If we don’t follow politics enough while having a good understanding of economics and freedom, we won’t be able to ensure our elected officials actually obey the constitution; even if it was perfect.
An example of where this law of decline can be worrisome is giving a president or prime minister the power to potentially do something bad. Even if the current person is a saint, a future leader might not be. Take for example the NDAA 2013 for the United States. This defense budget bill allows the president to arrest people indefinitely; without charge or trial. Even though you might trust the current president to not use this power, he is only allowed to keep the position for a maximum of two terms. Due to Sturgeon’s law, you can’t count on a future president to act the same way. While that law is in place, we can’t ensure someone later on won’t start arresting people just because they hold a different viewpoint, or because they are journalists about to expose some big government conspiracy.
The only way to keep the first law of decline in check is to pay attention to our politicians and what they do. We need enough people to understand leadership principles and economics. We need to vote properly, and have the right people running for office in order to vote for them. We need a system in place that restricts the 90% from being able to misuse their power.
Communities explode when the 10 percent of leaders fill the leadership spots responsible for creating the current of progress. Alexander the Great understood this thousands of years when he declared, “An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.” Communities decline when the 90 percent sheep are given leadership spots since they are incapable of reversing the current of decline.
Countries decline when the 90 percent uneducated politicians are given leadership spots. When I write ‘uneducated’ I mean those people that don’t understand, or don’t even read that laws they are passing. I mean those that don’t understand the true principles of economics. Many of them have moral beliefs about how people should act, and create laws to force this goodwill on others; they have much less understanding of how people actually will act in a particular situation. They will act according to Bastiat’s law, the second law of decline. Bastiat’s law states that since men are naturally inclined to avoid pain, which labor is itself, it follows that they will resort to plunder whenever it is easier than work.