Our country is doomed if we don't prioritize these two basic principles

Rene Descartes is widely considered the father of modern philosophy because he attempted to replace the old foundation of Scholasticism with a new foundation of subjective experience.  His cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) is still celebrated and influential today.  As it turns out, building a foundation on subjective experience has limitations, but we can take inspiration from Descartes’s attempt to build a philosophical foundation on fundamental principles.

Political debate usually boils down to disagreements about principles.  For example, in the case of abortion, one side might argue that the “sanctity of life” should define the issue.  The other side might argue that a woman’s “right to choose” should define the issue.  As long as both sides stick to their principles and merely repeat them, real debate stalls, because two conflicting principles can have some overlap — the “right to choose” need not result in pregnancy — but both principles cannot be true in all circumstances.  The challenge is to focus the debate on analyzing the validity of the conflicting principles.

The goal of this analysis should be to identify fundamental principles that are logically and morally sound and have stood the test of time.  Some would argue that liberty is a fundamental principle, but what makes liberty possible?  Others would argue that rule of law is a fundamental principle, but what makes this possible?  To move us in the right direction we should take Oxford’s definition of a nation — a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory — and consider a nation as a system with inputs and outputs.   We can analyze this system to identify fundamental principles that are beyond dispute.

First, if we assume that a primary goal of the system is to perpetuate itself, then we should identify an orderly and sustainable way for people to reproduce.  We know from biology that babies are the result of men and women mating, and we know from the social sciences that the altruistic bonds of biological families provide the most nurturing environment for raising children.  Therefore, assuming that children are the priority, we should actively promote and provide incentives for men and women to have enough children to perpetuate society (2 parents + 2 children = 0 population growth).  Just as we promote school for all children, we should promote biological families for all children.

Second, we should identify an orderly and sustainable way to manage our resources, such as food, shelter, and public security.  The important point for our analysis is not the quantity of goods and services, but where the burden lies for the work.  If we accept that children and the elderly must be provided for, altruistically or otherwise, then we should expect all able-bodied adults to be net producers of goods and services (produce more than consume) to more than make up for the children and the elderly who are net consumers (consume more than produce).  Able-bodied adults who are not net producers of resources should feel a healthy level of social pressure to up their game.

Selecting procreation and resource management as fundamental principles might seem incomplete — it is — but the irrefutable mathematics of both demand that we get them right.  We should also promote principles like liberty and the rule of law, to protect our freedom from tyranny, but these principles would not protect us from a shrinking population or a shrinking economy.  Both fundamental principles require able-bodied adults to accept the responsibilities and obligations of family and productive work, which means we might have to delay or even sacrifice some of our own dreams along the way.

The two fundamental principles often make difficult demands on our lives, but the good news is they are also often the primary sources of happiness and fulfillment.  As anyone knows who has experienced the love of family and satisfying work, these activities in the furnace of daily life make life meaningful and transform us in ways that otherwise would not be possible.  The alternative is to pursue only our own desires, without responsibility or obligation, but the satisfaction of one desire merely spawns another.  One of the most successful formulas in Hollywood is the immature person who finally becomes an adult.

For most adults, family and work consume the majority of our time, energy, and resources, which is why getting these two fundamental principles right is critical for sustaining a free and prosperous society.  They require concerted effort and do not happen by chance.  As such, any attempt to dismantle the biological family or create a dependent class of able-bodied adults would inevitably launch us down the path of social decay.

Anthony C. Patton studied mathematics and philosophy at Augsburg University and earned an MBA from Thunderbird — Global School of Management.

Rene Descartes is widely considered the father of modern philosophy because he attempted to replace the old foundation of Scholasticism with a new foundation of subjective experience.  His cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) is still celebrated and influential today.  As it turns out, building a foundation on subjective experience has limitations, but we can take inspiration from Descartes’s attempt to build a philosophical foundation on fundamental principles.

Political debate usually boils down to disagreements about principles.  For example, in the case of abortion, one side might argue that the “sanctity of life” should define the issue.  The other side might argue that a woman’s “right to choose” should define the issue.  As long as both sides stick to their principles and merely repeat them, real debate stalls, because two conflicting principles can have some overlap — the “right to choose” need not result in pregnancy — but both principles cannot be true in all circumstances.  The challenge is to focus the debate on analyzing the validity of the conflicting principles.

The goal of this analysis should be to identify fundamental principles that are logically and morally sound and have stood the test of time.  Some would argue that liberty is a fundamental principle, but what makes liberty possible?  Others would argue that rule of law is a fundamental principle, but what makes this possible?  To move us in the right direction we should take Oxford’s definition of a nation — a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory — and consider a nation as a system with inputs and outputs.   We can analyze this system to identify fundamental principles that are beyond dispute.

First, if we assume that a primary goal of the system is to perpetuate itself, then we should identify an orderly and sustainable way for people to reproduce.  We know from biology that babies are the result of men and women mating, and we know from the social sciences that the altruistic bonds of biological families provide the most nurturing environment for raising children.  Therefore, assuming that children are the priority, we should actively promote and provide incentives for men and women to have enough children to perpetuate society (2 parents + 2 children = 0 population growth).  Just as we promote school for all children, we should promote biological families for all children.

Second, we should identify an orderly and sustainable way to manage our resources, such as food, shelter, and public security.  The important point for our analysis is not the quantity of goods and services, but where the burden lies for the work.  If we accept that children and the elderly must be provided for, altruistically or otherwise, then we should expect all able-bodied adults to be net producers of goods and services (produce more than consume) to more than make up for the children and the elderly who are net consumers (consume more than produce).  Able-bodied adults who are not net producers of resources should feel a healthy level of social pressure to up their game.

Selecting procreation and resource management as fundamental principles might seem incomplete — it is — but the irrefutable mathematics of both demand that we get them right.  We should also promote principles like liberty and the rule of law, to protect our freedom from tyranny, but these principles would not protect us from a shrinking population or a shrinking economy.  Both fundamental principles require able-bodied adults to accept the responsibilities and obligations of family and productive work, which means we might have to delay or even sacrifice some of our own dreams along the way.

The two fundamental principles often make difficult demands on our lives, but the good news is they are also often the primary sources of happiness and fulfillment.  As anyone knows who has experienced the love of family and satisfying work, these activities in the furnace of daily life make life meaningful and transform us in ways that otherwise would not be possible.  The alternative is to pursue only our own desires, without responsibility or obligation, but the satisfaction of one desire merely spawns another.  One of the most successful formulas in Hollywood is the immature person who finally becomes an adult.

For most adults, family and work consume the majority of our time, energy, and resources, which is why getting these two fundamental principles right is critical for sustaining a free and prosperous society.  They require concerted effort and do not happen by chance.  As such, any attempt to dismantle the biological family or create a dependent class of able-bodied adults would inevitably launch us down the path of social decay.

Anthony C. Patton studied mathematics and philosophy at Augsburg University and earned an MBA from Thunderbird — Global School of Management.