Is America the New Rome?

roman colosiumThe example of the first great republic in recorded history (509 B.C. to 29 B.C.) was omnipresent in the minds of America’s founders as they created a new republic centuries later. As a consequence of their deliberations and, perhaps, the “protection of divine Providence” as written in the Declaration of Independence, the United States of America, in the mind of many of the founders, was intended to be the modern equivalent of the Roman Republic. The Roman Republic ended with the infamous assassination of Julius Caesar in 27 B.C..
 
After a protracted civil war, Octavian became the first “Imperator Caesar,” or Roman emperor. The subsequent period – post-republic – of Roman dominance is known in history as the “Roman Empire.” While Rome enjoyed an additional 500 years of world dominance and internal conflict under the Caesars, history reports its disintegration in the fifth century A.D. (476 A.D.) following the successful invasion of the barbarian Germanic tribes.

Common Influences on the Founding of Each Society

While the facts of the founding of the Italian city Rome are shrouded in myth, the Roman Republic was established in 509 B.C. by the overthrow of the last Roman king (Lucius Tarquinius Superbus) and expulsion of the Etruscan theocratic government by the Latins, one of the three Italic tribes in central and southern Italy. Similarly, the “Republic for the United States of America” was birthed in a bloody revolution against the British King George more than 2,000 years later.
 
According to historian Carl J. Richard in “Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers,” the earlier Roman Republic heavily influenced the founders of America who shared many common fears and hopes of the earlier architects of that Republic. These included the following:
 

Fear of Centralized Authority

Having learned the lessons of despots and emperors, both societies attempted to establish checks and balances to avoid abuse of unchecked government power. The Romans replaced their king who served for life with a system of two consuls elected by citizens for an annual term. America’s founders created the executive, legislative, and judicial branches to diffuse potential power and abuse.
 

Open Societies

Rome welcomed other people – particularly its vanquished enemies – into Roman citizenship, even accepting the gods of the newcomers. Likewise, America has long been recognized as a “melting pot.”
 

Selfless Leadership

Rooted in agrarian societies, commitment to family and mutual citizen interdependence were basic in each society. Cincinnatus, a Roman farmer, saved the republic from invading Aequi tribes in 458 B.C. and again in 439 B.C. when a conspiracy threatened the government. In both cases, he was named dictator, but shortly thereafter resigned his commission to return to farming. George Washington, a Virginia farmer who led the fight against the British, resigned after his second term as president to return to his Virginia estate. Both men are examples of leaders who put the needs of their country before their personal interests.
 
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What Is Global Warming and Climate Change – Facts & Effects

climate-changeClimate change – specifically global warming – is one of the more controversial issues mankind is facing. Consensus about climate change’s definition, effects, and causes, especially the role that humans play in the acceleration of climate change, is virtually impossible to reach. The controversy is particularly clear in the energy industry, where many assert that there is no scientific agreement about the causes of global warming or its potential problems.

Differing Opinions on the Effects of Climate Change

James Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at the Heartland Institute, claimed in a 2013 Forbes Magazine article that the majority of scientists “believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.” His conclusion was based on what Taylor stated was a “peer-reviewed survey” appearing in Organization Studies.
 
Further fact-checking reveals that the scientists surveyed for the Organization Studies paper were not considered experts in climatology. And despite the claim of Mr. Taylor, the study wasn’t designed to to gauge scientific belief in global warming. In fact, the study group consisted of 1,077 professional petroleum engineers and geoscientists in Alberta, Canada, and its purpose was to understand the bias and rationale of those who consistently deny a link between global warming and human activity. As such, the scientists were specifically chosen because they worked for the oil industry.
 
The difficulty of sourcing impartial and accurate information about global warming and its possible causes in the midst of aggressive campaigning by both sides (environmentalists and energy advocates), dilutes the importance of the issue and confuses the average citizen. And interestingly, concern about global warming and its existence is split along partisan political lines according to a Pew Research Poll released January 27, 2014. It found that:
 
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How to Climb the Corporate Ladder – 5 Keys to Career Success

corporate-ladder1It’s good to be the boss. People in charge of an organization not only make more money, they also have happier family lives, are more satisfied with their work, and worry less about their financial futures, according to a Pew Research report. Those in the top levels consider their employment a “career,” not just a job that pays the bills.
 
Of course, promotions to those top levels are never guaranteed. However, there are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances of advancing your career—whether with your existing employer or a new one. Long-term success relies on having as many options as possible and ensuring that you’re prepared when an opportunity arises.

What You Need to Advance in Your Career

Getting to the top of the corporate food chain becomes increasingly more difficult in the higher tiers of management. In many organizations, average performers in the lower ranks can expect some promotions simply by being competent and building tenure. Attaining higher positions or advancing at a faster rate, however, require the following elements, at the very least.

1. Corporate Opportunity

The more opportunities available to you, the better. For example, a rapidly growing company is dependent upon numerous managers to implement its strategies, whether introducing new products, expanding into new geographic territories, or capturing a larger market share. On the other hand, mature companies that already dominate an industry may have slower career paths, but may provide valuable experience and security for those willing to wait for their turn in corporate leadership.
 
Some mature companies have policies aimed at inducing turnover at the top levels. They may offer early retirements, buy-outs, and titles with superior compensation but no authority or responsibility—a kind of in-place retirement—in order to retain younger, aggressive managers who might otherwise leave the company. Your selection of employer is a critical element in the speed of your progression up the ranks.
 
Surprisingly, according to the Pew report, a greater percentage of employees are satisfied in their current position (43%) than those seeking promotion (39%). Nevertheless, competition increases as you climb the ladder, simply because there are fewer and fewer jobs the higher you get. Many may hear the call, but few are chosen.
 
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Are America’s Schools Failing?

students-classroomA headline in the December 2013 issue of The Atlantic claimed that American schools compared to the rest of the world—the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)—were “expensive, unequal, bad at math.” Their conclusion was based upon American student performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2012. Far East countries such as China, Korea, and Japan were top performers, while most European and Scandinavian countries ranked higher than the U.S. as well. Even the country’s former Cold War competitor, the Russian Federation, ranked higher than the United States in the assessment.
 
At the same time, Universitas 21, a global network of research-intensive universities, ranked the American higher education system—its colleges and universities—as the best in the world in 2014, a rank it has retained for years. It is also the reason that foreign students flock to the United States from around the globe.
 
So what is the truth about the American school system? Is it a success or a failure? What should we expect from our schools, and how can we improve them?

History of Public Education in the United States

Contrary to popular belief, the right to an “education” is not mentioned in the Constitution. In the early years of the republic, public education was considered important to the nation’s progress as evidenced by the granting of more than 77 million acres of public domain to the individual states for the support of public schools. At the same time, the responsibility for education was delegated to state and local governments. The Federal Government was not heavily involved in the administration of public education until the end of the Civil War, establishing the original Office of Education in 1867.
 
It was not until the 1960s and 1970s that the Federal Government assumed a dominant position in the administration of education, primarily stimulated by racial discrimination. A second driver for the Federal Government’s increased role was the perceived failure of the state-run schools, especially in science and math, compared to national rivals. The passage of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) was in direct response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik as a consequence of the general perception that “American schools and colleges were not producing the quantity and quality of scientific and technical specialists necessary to keep pace with the Soviet Union.”
 
As a consequence, the first federal student loans capitalized with U.S. Treasury funds for college students in science, math, and foreign languages were instituted. Since that time, financial assistance has alternated between direct loans capitalized with U.S. Treasury funds and loans from private parties secured by federal guarantees.
 
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