Public

One of the defining American debates is the ongoing question of Public vs. Private.  Another way to think of it is — what is mine vs. what is ours?  This question runs through issues related to economics, rights, education, health, property and so on.

Some see these ideas of public and private mostly at odds.  An example of zero-sum thinking (see here for a great summary of research on how this thinking plays out politically). 


A new way to give thanks this Thanksgiving

This week provides a welcome respite for many, as we put aside our daily troubles, gather with family and friends, and pause to give thanks for what we have and those who helped make it possible. 
 
It can come in the form a few words over a meal, a phone call or a prayer.  All are valuable practices in gratitude.
 
But often these moments can be fleeting and soon replaced by Black Friday sales, workouts, and holiday movies.


A Labor, then Love

In 1894, Labor Day became an official federal holiday.

The year before a different kind of labor inspired a 26-year-old nurse to become one of the most important social reformers the country has ever known.

Lillian Wald was teaching a homemaking class on the Lower East Side when a little girl burst in begging for someone to help her dying mother.  She had struggled in labor before giving birth but was now badly hemorrhaging blood.…


What will you do at 3:00PM today?

Across the country today, graves will be marked by American flags and adorned with flowers.  Each will be a poignant reminder to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
 
The origin of Memorial Day is not without controversy.  Many date its unofficial beginnings to the period immediately after the Civil War when southerners began decorating the graves of fallen soldiers.  What was seen as an incredible act of conciliation, the women of the South who led this effort, treated the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers that same – decorating both. …


Where does wealth come from?

By definition, wealth is “an abundance of resources.”  In other words, you have more than you need.
 
It may seem counterintuitive, but research shows the primary determinant for wealth is not how much we make (income) but how much we are given (intergenerational transfer). 

This can come in three forms.  

  • Inheritance that is passed down upon the death of a parent or grandparent or other older relative.

What If It Was Called The Declaration of Interdependence?

The most well known passage of our founding document is… say it with me, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

After listing the twenty-seven different ways in which England was violating these rights, we declared our separation from this tyrannical rule and the rest, as they say, is our history.…


What To Remember This Memorial Day

In 1943, off the coast of North Africa, my grandfather, Burton Poucher was one of 1,149 U.S. soldiers who were killed aboard the HMT Rohna.

The ship was sunk by a newly designed remote control German glider bomb – a precursor to today’s “smart” missiles. It was the largest single loss of life in the sea during the war.


Prior to shipping off, Burton was stationed in Indiana for training.…


Three Reasons History Rocks

Jimmy Carter was the first US president born in a hospital. That is the kind of historical fact that makes you go “hmmm that’s interesting.”
 
But history is more than a collection of interesting facts, dates and events. It is who we are and from where we came. 
 
David McCullough’s new book, The American Spirit, is a collection of speeches some stretching back more than twenty years. 

How To Save Art

During a classroom visit last week, my nine-year-old daughter showed me a project, featuring side-by-side drawings of the same subject – in her case spring. One was a realistic depiction and the second an abstract version. Accompanying the pictures was a biography on the Russian artist Kandinsky whose work they learned had a similar transition from the realistic to abstract.

The most remarkable thing about this lesson in perspective was that it was not part of their art class, but instead central to a social studies unit on Russia.…


Are You Up For A Road Trip?

There would appear to be something deeply ironic about our country’s name today.

To look at an electoral map, with it’s blues on the coasts and red in the middle, makes a clear enough case that at least politically there is nothing united about these states at all.

But upon further inspection, our geographic borders and how they came to be, tell another story altogether.

In his new book, Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America’s Role in the World, Robert Kaplan takes us on a road trip from New York to California.…