Only In America, Part 2: Keeping The Promise

The Concepts Behind the American Promise

Only in American, Part Two:  Keeping the Promise

Dr. Jerome Huyler’s work, Only in America: The Goodness Greatness Begot, has been featured by The Founding Project with this article being the third in the series and the second chapter of his work, entitled “Keeping the Promise”.

Huyler’s work is an observation of America and also on civics education in America and is presented by The Founding Project in a series of articles.   Dr. Huyler’s essay is a response to one author’s book, which has come to influence a version of civics education in America.  But, Dr. Huyler found that book’s content did not coincide with the full civics education programs once prevalent in American schools and recommended by our Founders or with America’s actual history.

Understanding the Promise

The introduction to Only in America (See link below.) began to contrast the message of the above-mentioned book and its conflict with prior decades of teaching and history.  In the first chapter (See link below.), Dr. Huyler delivered the studied history behind the flourishing of America.  The second chapter follows history and the concepts contributing to the astounding growth of America and its citizens and the crucial reasons behind the struggle for the promise of something better. Without understanding the concepts behind freedom and the promise of a better life, keeping that promise alive becomes difficult. 

The Founding Project further welcomes Dr. Huyler and hopes our members appreciate this important series.  Be sure to note his biography, below, for more books by Jerome Huyler, PhD.

[Editor’s Note:  Some sub-titles and paragraph changes from the original work by Dr. Jerome Huyler are supplied by TFP’s website editor for ease in reading and also to meet demanding SEO website requirements.]

Part Two: Keeping the Promise

It goes without saying that values worth gaining are worth keeping.  But to be kept, they must be appreciated and nurtured.  Above all, men must understand what made their first appearance possible.  Improvement was a value worth gaining and one well worth keeping.  A firm attachment to the principle produced the highest standard of living ever recorded and brought ever greater levels of comfort to a remarkably free, diverse and inventive people.  It is the promise of American Exceptionalism and, for the better part of the nation’s history, incontrovertibly delivered.    It’s what Americans, until recently, were able to take for granted but, now, sadly, wish they could enjoy more of.  But, what exactly is it that needs to be recovered?  And what was it that made the original achievement possible?    

1) Origins of a Civilization Open to Improvement:

Scientific Research, Technological Application and “Animal Spirits” 

When was this passion for progress planted in the rich soil of American culture?  From where did this wonderful attachment to improvement come?   What is necessary to preserve it for ourselves and future generations?  At root, the idea of “improvement” is an inheritance derived from the long record of Western thought.  

The noted historian Paul Johnson wrote of the culture of the Middle Ages’ and it’s other-worldly outlook.   “It lay like a log across the stream of human progress for a thousand years.”  The Christian centuries gave nearly undivided attention to Jesus Christ and man’s burning desire to find salvation in His loving embrace.  For more than a millennium intellectual attention devoted itself to unraveling the mysteries of Holy Scripture,  and little else. 

With the breakdown of Rome’s Pax Romania*, conditions grew increasingly harsh.  Life largely became a hapless, hopeless “veil of tears” and remained so for centuries.  The only comfort lay in the realization that one’s mortal existence was as a blink of the eye, compared to the eternal joys and jubilation that awaited the faithful in everlasting life.    *-The term “Pax Romana,” which literally means “Roman peace,” refers to the time period from 27 B.C.E. to 180 C.E. in the Roman Empire.

And, Then Came St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas from

As more and more ancient Greek and Roman texts began coursing through the stream of educated discourse, a shift in interest gradually emerged.  No one did more to alter the course of human events and refocus interest on the here-and-now than St. Thomas Aquinas.  Deeply devout himself, he hoped to blend the Pauline theology of St. Augustine with the empirical learning nowhere more fully captured than in the works of Aristotle. Aquinas developed a “Dualistic” view of existence.  His aim was to reconcile the material conditions and requirements of life on earth with man’s immutable spiritual needs.   

Man is designed in the image of God, an all-knowing (hence reasoning), creative and productive Spirit.  Man is meant to use his God-given faculty of Reason to discover the Laws of  Nature and Nature’s God.  They inform him how he is morally and politically obliged to behave in this world.  Man must also have Faith in his Savior, Jesus, to reach rapture in Heaven. In this way, St. Thomas prefigured another vital development:  “the separation of church and state.” 

Understanding “Separation”

It was Galileo who demanded that the Church was instituted to show men how to go to heaven, not to tell men how the heavens go.  The State was instituted to allow men to study nature and live well on earth.  The thing is that the business of either one is no business of the other.  Two separate Callings and institutions designed for two separate and distinct purposes.  By the end of the 17th century, this would be John Locke’s ultimate basis for demanding Toleration for all believers .  It wasn’t government’s business what God anyone worshipped.  

The thing is that the business of either one is no business of the other.

By early in the 17th century a spectacular turning point was reached when Sir Francis Bacon proclaimed Novus Organon¸ a revolutionary new and visionary outlook.   He had it with the long centuries of empty Scholastic disputation, the unproductive clash of competing Scriptural interpretations all claiming to pronounce the “True” Will of God.  Where has that gotten mankind?  Lord Bacon had something else in mind. 

Knowledge as Power

Lord Bacon saw knowledge as power.  It was time to harness the human understanding for the benefit and use of mankind, for the sake of improving the conditions of life on earth.  He went further, saying that if the deadly forces of nature are ever to be tamed, they musts first be carefully examined, i.e., rationally understood. “Nature to be commanded must be obeyed,” is how Bacon put it.  Not long after, Britain’s Royal Society was formed to rationally and systematically investigate the workings of nature. 

By the end of his life, Bacon arrived at some 114 separate (“micro”) fields for empirical investigation.  Following the Ancients, he called them “Natural Histories.”  They were eventually divided and combined in what we today call the Natural Sciences:  Physics, Chemistry, Biology and their related fields and sub-fields.  The rational, but resoundingly empirical study of nature would unlock the key to progress and improvement.  And so it did.  

Harnessing Innovation

In countless ways, technological innovation was harnessed to combat nature’s many challenges.   The result, a steady infusion of life-saving labor-saving articles.  But, in the end, technology was but the clever, practical application of discoveries made in the research laboratory.  Discoveries in the realms of gravity, magnetism, momentum, radiation, combustion, propulsion, electrical conductivity and chemical reactivity found practical application in all manner of useful articles.  

Tinkerers, inventors, mechanics, engineers & accomplished scientists got down to work.  Technological application of basic, scientific discoveries , that was the ticket.   It all can be attributed to what, by the 18th century, was man’s emerging passion for Reason, the capacity to “expand the human understanding.”  

To Reap What One Sows

Scientists and philosophers grasped that reason, man’s chief means of acquiring knowledge was, therefore, man’s chief tool of survival.   It would only be necessary to find far-seeing, enterprising men to bring the final results to market.  In a political climate freer than any other, one that allowed individuals to reap what they sowed, to enjoy the just fruits of honest industry, that would be a snap.  

Nowhere is this more evident than in the area of bio-medical research.  Not long ago, the aged would live out their final years in lonely nursing home rooms where at least they could be cared for.  Then came heart transplants, hip and knee replacements, a broad range of life-saving pharmaceuticals and countless cures for myriad human maladies.  Today, men and women in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s spend their days on tennis courts and golf courses.  They are active in a dizzying variety of indoor and outdoor hobbies and activities in splendid, full-service retirement villages.  Now, that’s “Improvement.”

Origins of a “Civilization Open to the Talents” 

Owing to a rich abundance of natural resources spread across a continent-wide wilderness and the wide berth of freedom men were allowed, America grew to become a golden land of opportunity.  But Freedom implied an explosive corollary, Equal Opportunity.  “All men are created equal,” said Jefferson on behalf of his Age.”  All shortcomings and contradictions aside, the principle of “Equal Opportunity”  was more fully achieved in the United States of America than in any other place or prior period – period.

All shortcomings and contradictions aside, the principle of “Equal Opportunity”  was more fully achieved in the United States of America than in any other place or prior period – period.

For the better part of mankind’s history individuals were bound together in a hierarchical noose of inelastic ranks and stations.  Arthur O. Lovejoy famously named it “The Great Chain of Being.”  At least since the 3rd century reforms of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, men were situated in strict socio-economic classes and expected to practice the trade their parents practiced. 

Born a Serf, Die a Serf

Artwork entitled “Serfdom” c. 1310

The Medieval Mind constructed a strict ranking of all of God’s Creation, from the Lord above, to the heavens below Him, to all Earth’s creatures, down to the tiniest bug crawling deep below the earth’s surface.  Of course this meant the bulk of mankind, the unwashed masses, remained trapped on the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder.  Slaves, Serfs and peasants made up the bulk of the population and remained where they were.  And, there their posterity stayed.  After centuries of social immobility, suddenly the chance for personal advancement in a largely untouched, resource-rich wilderness opened up and, after a while, became available for nearly all comers (if, at first, just the White European males of the species).

Slaves, Serfs and peasants made up the bulk of the population and remained where they were.

The same Sir Francis Bacon who saw that nature to be commanded must be obeyed also dared to imagine “a civilization open to the talents.”  It would be a social order where men were promoted by merit, through employment of their personal talents, skills, ambition and effort.  During the English Civil War (1640-1660) Oliver Cromwell applied the principle, advancing soldiers through the ranks on the basis of their conduct on the battlefield. During that 20-year period, “Master-less men” rose to prominence, unbound by customary hierarchical ties. 

Jefferson and Locke

John Locke from

But the dream was nowhere more fully realized than when Jefferson, on July 4th 1776, proclaimed certain “self-evident” truths. including that “all men are created equal” and possess “certain unalienable rights.”  John Locke characteristically filled out the idea’s fuller meaning:  

[T]here is nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to the same advantages of nature and the use of the same faculties should be equal one amongst another,                                              without subordination or subjection.

The State of Nature has a Law of Nature to govern it, and obliges every one; and Reason which is that Law teaches all mankind who but consult it that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another                                                     in his Life, Health, Liberty or Possessions.

The American Experiment in Freedom

The ideal, that promise, was nowhere more fully realized than in thirteen North American colonies by mid-18th century.  Here, the blessings of “upward mobility” would be distributed throughout the population to an extent never before experienced (as always, excluded groups, excepted).  Unbounded opportunity awaited those American settlers who braved the choppy Atlantic seas yearning to find an easier way of life.  

The Industrial Revolution furnished, a steadily-increasing supply of much-desired articles at steadily reduced prices.  Constant improvements in industrial materials and manufacturing processes allowed for astonishing productivity gains.  Brisk competition sparked an inescapable urge to make operations ever more efficient and cost effective.  Produce more for less, cut prices and make your goods affordable to an ever-expanding consumer base.  That was the ticket, the key to the kingdom of commercial success…bringing more promise of human flourishing. 

Hardships, Yes, But Still There Was Promise

Thomas Jefferson from

Life was never what you would call easy.  The demeaning treatment endured by African-Americans, the Irish, the Italians and East European Jews, in turn demonstrated this.  But, despite the human hardships families were forced to endure, despite a succession of costly and bloody wars, 19th and 20th century America must be counted the most opportunity-filled environment ever to be constructed by man.  If nothing else, the hard scrabble head of household could say, “no matter how hard I may have it, I know my children, and their children will have it so much easier and enjoy so much more.”  That’s all a loving parent would need to face the daily grind.  

Yes, depression and hardship struck, and struck routinely (approximately every 20 years).  But that was no reflection on the private sector economy.  The laissez faire model was marred and compromised from the start.  The unendurable periods of hardship were never  the “inevitable” outcome of anarchic market forces, but of government’s interfering hand.  It generally consisted not of regulating and restraining free trade, but sparking economic growth by awarding special grants, benefits and privileges to influential, “public-spirited” concerns (i.e., well-connected interests pleading and “paying” for risk-free allowances). 


A well-stocked stream of Corporate Welfare policies, enduring patterns of corruption, cronyism and ill-conceived monetary inflations and deflations allowed  ever-larger bubbles to be blown  up, until the moment they burst.    It was the periodic crises caused by CORPORATE Welfare and government’s interfering hand that created the “need,” demand and excuse for SOCIAL Welfare reform from the Progressive Era to the New Deal and beyond.  It is as Samuel Pentengill wrote at the height of the Great Depression, “when it is said that free enterprise has failed, I answer we have never permitted it to work” (in Jefferson, the Forgotten Man, 1938).

Samuel Pentengill wrote at the height of the Great Depression, “when it is said that free enterprise has failed, I answer we have never permitted it to work” (in Jefferson, the Forgotten Man, 1938).

Origins of a Civilization Open to “Self-Interest” 

For Americans, improvement meant much more than bringing home the latest labor-saving gadget to be advertised in the local paper or put on display in a shopping mall window.  It also meant the aspiration to better one’s condition by one’s own effort, i.e., to work hard and climb the ladder of success.  America’s great achievement was in creating a golden “land of opportunity” that would allow so many to accomplish so much during the course of their lives. 

The American Dream

Sammy Davis, Jr. (3rd from left) pictured with Peter Lawford, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra (l-r), often referred to as the “Rat Pack” from

It’s still called The American Dream and it still draws millions to these shores.  All that was required was some native talents, training, patience and grit.  Sammy Davis Jr, the acclaimed 20th century actor, singer, dancer and comic wasn’t the first or last Afro-American to say Yes I Can.”  He made it the title of his glum-to-glorious auto-biography.  He could and he did, and he was adored by all who were blessed to witness his life’s work.       

Self-advancement in one’s chosen calling was the key to personal progress.  Here was a race of men and women looking to make their mark on the world and, when successful, revel in their just rewards.   It created jobs and a still greater demand for the rich fruits of human labor.  Americans watched as Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” directed capital to those enterprises that promised rewards commensurate with their accompanying risks.  Why not strive to live a safer, more comfortable life and hope and expect to have it easier than those who came before you?  There is so much to gain from a climate unmatched in the freedom and opportunity it offered.  What was there to fear? 

Origins of A Civilization Open to Free Association

The View of America’s Critics

Those who disparage and denigrate the America Experience invariably depict the scene as one governed by “greed.”  It is American Capitalism that they find so revolting.   They see Capitalist profits and the reverence for private property as ever forging an unacceptable inequality in the distribution of wealth.  To America’s detractors, this is viewed as utterly disruptive of social harmony, not to mention “unfair.”  This laissez faire “fix” created a “dog-eat-dog” “look out for #1” climate where cutthroat competition created, in the immortal words of Thomas Hobbes, “a war of all against all.”  It is what comes of encouraging the human lust for pecuniary gain.  Here, men are lonely hogs in a meat-grinder world.   America’s detractors look out and see a marauding pack of lone wolves, a-social actors lacking regard for the welfare of others, wholly lacking in civic spirit or any sense of social, here it comes, “solidarity.”   

Exposing the Error of the Critics’ View

It’s a preposterous depiction, since it defies the entire record of experience, not to mention what anyone living today sees all around.  America’s critics speak of a “demolition of society.”  It’s a complete fiction.  If men were at last allowed and expected to live for themselves, it did not mean they had to live by themselves.  Nor did it preclude the performance of “good deeds” for the benefit of others.  America’s exceptional embrace of Individualism (where the State lives for the sake of the People, not the other way around), would prove no insuperable barrier to the formation of strong social bonds. 

If American independence produced a nation of movers, it also created a nation of joiners.  From the earliest years, Americans formed deep fraternal bonds, all to further their shared values and interests.  Only now, the friendships, partnerships, associations, righteous crusades and commercial projects would be of voluntary and mutual accord.  

Tocqueville, the famous French aristocrat who captured and chronicled the American experience in the early 19th century, found that Americans “have . . . carried to the highest perfection the art of pursuing in common the object of their common desires, and have applied this new science to the greatest number of purposes.

American Fraternity

Echoing the very sentiment, but writing half a century later, James Bryce wrote:

Democracy has not only taught the Americans how to use liberty without abusing it and how to secure equality.  It has also taught them fraternity . . . [T]here is in the United States a sort of kindliness, a sense of human fellowship, a recognition of the duty of mutual help owed by man to man, stronger than anywhere in the Old World and certainly stronger than in the upper or middle classes of England, France of Germany.

Precisely because America was a Christian nation believing men were sent into the world “to care for the least amongst us,” her people were and remain the most compassionate and generous people who’ve ever peopled the planet. 

The Promise of a New Principle

George Santayana from

Writing thirty years later, the noted visitor and philosopher, George Santayana, explained: 

Everywhere co-operation is taken for granted, as something that no one would be so mean or so short-sighted as to refuse.  Together with the will to work and to prosper, it is of the essence of Americanism, and is accepted as such by all the unkempt polyglot peoples that turn to the new world with the pathetic, but manly purpose of beginning life on a new principle.

Americans today form or join associations for every imaginable purpose and interest under heaven (and, viz. astronomy clubs, above it, too).  There are trade associations, labor unions, fraternal orders, service societies, veterans organizations, self-help groups, medical societies, alumni unions, campus sororities and fraternities, think tanks, animal rescue groups, and gun, fan and auto clubs, to name a few.  Leisure and disposable income make it possible.

The Moral Status of a Civilization Given to Unbridled “Selfishness”

For a nation steeped in the moral code of Christianity, the foregoing does beg a critical moral question.  Was this golden land of opportunity just a devilish temptation goading a Godly people to violate God’s Golden Rule?  Americans never abandoned their deep faith in the Gospel of Jesus.  And, that Gospel placed an unmistakable emphasis on altruistic sacrifice – on doing onto others. 

Christians were called on to give, not take, to care for “the least among us” not glory in our own material gains.  The rich man, Jesus warned, could no sooner enter the gates of Heaven than a camel could be threaded through the eye of a needle.  

Selfishness Versus Selfishness

In truth, selfishness does not fit anyone’s idea of a virtue.  And it shouldn’t, when it is pursued at others’ expense – i.e., through the use of fraud, deceit, theft or worse, violent subjugation.  But “Selfishness” is a nuanced term and has other meanings.  It can mean: standing on one’s own feet, being independent, seeking success by trading fairly with others, accepting responsibility for one’s life and for satisfying one’s needs and wants.  That sounds like the self-confidence and life-affirming self-reliance mental health professionals say we are meant to feel.  

To be sure, Americans categorically rejected the notion that God made man to do nothing but suffer and serve others.  Humans, as was already noted, were designed in the image of God, a reasoning, creative and productive force.  He is suited for work.  And if personal enrichment in a free climate is what it takes, than why not break the slavish chains of altruism and pass the freedom?  Who will be hurt by it?  With uncommon Common Sense, Americans realized that serving oneself poses no necessary disservice to others. 

Serving Oneself Poses No Disservice to Others

Indeed, the largest “association,” of all, the one to which every American belongs, is the free-market economy (to the extent it is  “free”).  While that institution is most often associated with the fierce competition it fosters, it is also a vast cooperative endeavor  allowing millions of voluntary, mutually rewarding deals to be struck daily. 

One puts one’s products or services on the market in the hopes of becoming successful and growing rich.   Well, those hopes are driven by the confidence that others will appreciate the benefits these products and services can bring and be eager to place their orders.  The most successful entrepreneurs both retained and attracted the capital needed for business expansion and job growth.  There were winners everywhere you looked.  To put it simply, Americans had the good sense to realize there’s nothing inherently wrong with making money.    

Honest Ambition is No Vice

Men built businesses, honed valuable market skills, entered a dizzying variety of trades and salaried professions, opened businesses or just found daring, enterprising spirits in which to invest their savings.  Honest ambition was no vice.  It consisted of offering a quality product or service at a reasonable, mutually-rewarding price, of striking a bargain and keeping one’s word. 

There was one critical caveat.  Equality was not to extend in every direction or applied in all circumstances.  Equality of opportunity did not mean equality of result.  All were not equally inquisitive, talented or fixated on success and self-advancement.  Unbounded opportunity and freedom of enterprise guaranteed an eventual inequality in the attainment of wealth.  For the founders that posed no moral or actual difficulty.  It was as natural as air. 

The Fruits of One’s Labor

As Jefferson said, 

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and [possession of] the fruits acquired by it. 

There is something else about the alleged “selfishness” Americans practice.  It leaves millions with the disposable income it takes to partake of charitable good works.  Why not share one’s good fortune with those who have less and are in need.  It bears repeating:  Americans, the freest and most prosperous, are the most generous and giving people who’ve ever peopled the planet.

American Generosity

Jerry Lewis, comedian and actor, hosting his renowned telethon from

If you’re searching for anecdotal evidence, look no further than to what was a near-universally-viewed annual American tradition for generations:  The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.  Over the course of decades this indefatigable entertainer  brought together the world’s greatest talents to perform for millions of riveted viewers sitting in living rooms in every community in the country. “Jerry’s Kids” and those in the trenches fighting Muscular Dystrophy and rescuing afflicted families received $millions for the cause, year in and year out.  In fact, Americans threw their loose change in countertop containers for Muscular Dystrophy in near every diner and deli all year long. 

To this day, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital raises the sums it takes to tell every family whose child’s life their dedicated staff saved, “don’t worry, we won’t send you a bill.”  It is the milk of human kindness on ever-present display.  The statistics tell the fuller story as reported for the year 2015 by the highly-regarded  “Charity Navigator”, for example.  Despite a stagnant economy, at best, a flat income stream, rising medical expenses and sky-high taxes, Americans didn’t tell the phone solicitors, “I gave at the office.” 

A View of Charity over Several Years

No, charitable giving continued its upward trend in 2015, as an estimated $373 billion was given to charitable causes. For the second year in a row, total giving reached record levels. Taking 2014 and 2015 together, charitable giving had increased over 10% (using inflation-adjusted dollars). This increase and the overall size of charitable contributions is further testament to the integral role charities play in our society, a role which continues to grow. 

Giving increased in every category of giver (individual, foundation, corporate and bequest). As in previous years, the majority of that giving came from individuals. Specifically, individuals gave $264.58 billion, accounting for 71% of all giving and representing a 3.8% increase over 2014 (3.7% when adjusted for inflation).  Foundations gave $58.46 billion which represented an increase of 6.5% (or 6.3% when adjusted for inflation).   Corporations donated $18.45 billion for an increase of 3.9% (or 3.8% when adjusted for inflation). 

The Power of the Individual

Historically, as we saw in 2014, donations from individuals account for over two-thirds of all donations. If you add in gifts from bequests and family foundations, which are essentially gifts from individuals, then the category accounts for nearly 80% of all giving. In other words, the donating public, not big foundations or corporations, is responsible for the vast majority of annual donations.”  In 2015, these beneficent tidings were allocated to:  Education ($57.48 billion), Human Service charities ($45.21 billion), Health Charities ($29.81 billion), to fix the Environment and rescue animals ($10.68 billion), among others.  

Prosperity Equates to Charity in America

American Philanthropy from

In early February, 2017 a story appeared on the pages of the New York Post.  It said a lot about the “trickle-down” approach, i.e., let the rich grow rich and the riches will trickle down to every strata of society. Bill Gates did not only bless the world with a magnificent range of technological conveniences (now necessities).  He not only created millions of jobs and dozens of new industries, but, with his wife Melinda, founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  It stands in a long line of philanthropic “enterprisers” founded by the nation’s wealthiest entrepreneurs. 

Watch a PBS show and count the contributing institutions that made the show and PBS possible. The human desire to relieve suffering aside, it is money that turns good will into good works.  But the story wasn’t only about Bill and Melinda.  In 2006 the billionaire oil and rail tycoon, Warren Buffet became a “mega-donor.” Personally giving $30 billion to the Foundation, he insisted only that in ten years a full accounting of how the money was used and what it accomplished would be returned.  The NY Post story was a long “Dear Warren” letter from Bill and Melinda detailing what had been accomplished in the intervening ten years and in the prior quarter-century.  

One of Many Giving Foundations Backed by Individuals

The Gates Foundation channeled some money into U.S. education and some to create financial services for the poor.  But the letter talks far more about “our work in global health – because that was the starting point of our philanthropy, and it’s the majority of what we do.”  The letter tells an encouraging story.  Buffet’s money went to found self-help groups for 75 million Indian women (suffering from male dominance).  The foundation claimed to have played a significant role in saving the lives of 122 million children, since 1990.  With this, and the widespread distribution of contraceptive devices (however controversial), poor families could time pregnancies to their advantage, growing more financially able to feed and raise their healthy children.  

Most revealing was the story’s reporting on a survey that found but 1% of American respondents knowing “that extreme [global] poverty had been cut in half since 1990.”  It’s worth noting that Bill Gates appreciated that this survey didn’t only test knowledge, it tested “optimism” over the prospect of mankind’s improvement.  And, said Bill, “the world didn’t score so well.”  To this Melinda added, “Optimism isn’t just a belief that things will automatically get better; it’s a belief that we can make things better.  And in many ways we are making the world better.” 

“Optimism isn’t just a belief that things will automatically get better; it’s a belief that we can make things better.  And in many ways we are making the world better.”

American Philanthropic Spirit

Ayn Rand, author from

When assisting others is something one can easily afford to do, why not do it?.  The ever-present question is in knowing the point where good will crosses the boundary into real self-sacrifice.  In the case of the latter, it is “demanded” that one do or give, whatever the cost and pay an unacceptably high price for the privilege.  It is for everyone to decide when that point has been passed. 

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another nor ask another to live for my sake.”

What is never permitted is being willing to win “at all costs,” no matter who or how many others will be forced to pay it.  A character in an Ayn Rand novel expressed it best:  “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another nor ask another to live for my sake.”  Wanton acts committed in violation of this ideal find no shelter in a truly free and equal society.  Of course, that’s the ideal.  Then there’s reality and the recognition that something else is needed.



[Dr. Jerome Huyler’s “Only In America–The Goodness Greatness Begot” will continue with its Third Chapter in an upcoming article on The Founding Project’s website.  Stay tuned!  To read the Introduction to “Only In America”, click this link:   To read the first chapter of his book, click these two links: First chapter- ]

Jerome Huyler, PhD. is a former assistant professor at Seton Hall University. He earned his PhD in political science from the New School University in 1992 and his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, where he majored in philosophy. Dr. Huyler’s doctoral dissertation was edited for publication as Locke in America: The Moral Philosophy of the Founding Era (University Press of Kansas, 1995, 2001). He also authored Everything You Have: The Case Against Welfare (1980). Jerome has delivered talks at Columbia University, New York University, St. John’s University, Baruch College, and the University of Connecticut, among others.

More on Huyler

In addition to speaking before graduate seminars on the American founding era at Fordham University and delivering a six-session mini-course on the same subject, he has addressed professional conferences including those on the Liberty Fund, the annual meeting of The American, The New York State, and the Northeastern Political Science Association. His articles, interviews, and book reviews have been published in prestigious journals, such as The William & Mary Quarterly, The American Historical Review, Navigator, The Independent Review, and

Jerome is an Economic and Political Scholar. These designations have been given in recognition of both his strong foundation and understand in Economic issues, but also for his commitment to the on-going research, teaching and support of the Constitution. Dr. Hulyer has been recognized as being both constitutionally savvy and sound in Constitutional reason. Dr. Huyler’s blog site, The American Declaration, features more of his writings:

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