First RYOL Lecture a Huge Success

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The following is a post that went out to the Foundation’s ListServ:

Hello all –

Just a quick Alerts Message to let you know that the first lecture in the FHL Foundation’s Roll Your Own Lecture (RYOL) Series was a huge success. The lecture featured author Daniel Brook who spoke on his book entitled The Trap—Selling Out to Stay Afloat in a Winner-Take-All America. The lecture was held at the meeting facilities within the downtown Flying Star Restaurant here in Albuquerque on September 10th, 2010. Attendees (about 25 strong) were treated to a complimentary lunch. The local chapter of the National Center for Social Entrepreneurs was the event’s beneficiary organization and received a $1,500 grant. Here are a few bullet points from Daniel’s lecture. Quotes may not be exact because I’m pulling them from my notes:

  • Daniel started out by telling the group that the New Inequality (as he calls it) is everyone’s problem. Apparently an increasing income divide is what is driving this New Inequality.
  • Educational debt is now keeping many people away from choosing careers in such areas as public service and public interest. Daniel says there’s a New Math that now surrounds all public sector jobs. Quoting from his book, Daniel states: ”Only those who stifle their altruistic urges can claim [things like good education, decent housing, and adequate healthcare].”
  • Because of this New Math, our nation is experiencing worker and leader shortages in such areas as teaching, social work, nursing, and even general medical practice.
  • Daniel gave the group this “take home” statement: “The increasing income divide is sucking the air out of the middle class.” He continued, “The sticker price on the American Dream is increasing dramatically.”
  • Daniel told the group that this crisis is in large part “manufactured” through myriad policy decisions that have as their goal “pulling out the supports that shore up a thriving middle class” (quoting Daniel).
  • Daniel suggested that you cannot have women enter the work force en masse without first putting into place a quality national child care system. Daniel quoted former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when he suggested that policy decisions designed to undermine the integrity of the middle class are about “changing the soul,” and changing the soul in very destructive ways.
  • Daniel simply stated: “Being well off is more important than it ever used to be.”
  • Daniel told the group that from the 1860s up until the 1960s—about one hundred years—the University of California higher educational system charged no in-state tuition. Daniel reveals, “The idea of free public colleges has deep roots in this country.” He continues, “Thomas Jefferson started the University of Virginia as a way of saying very clearly that higher education should be free.” It was then Governor Reagan who brought in-state tuition to the UC system. Daniel asked the group, “How have we gone from Jefferson’s America to Reagan’s America?”
  • By way of wrapping up, Daniel spent a few moments wondering if there was indeed any way of restoring the public service sector. He simply stated: “Frankly, I see little hope.” Drawing a comparison to 12-step programs, Daniel said that the first step was to acknowledge that the problem exists. He also said that it is critical to link up isolated symptoms, say, educational debt, nursing shortages, problems attracting workers and leaders to the non-profit sector, etc., “under the rubric of the New Inequality” (quoting Daniel). Treating symptoms will not be nearly as effective as treating the core problem: the rising income divide.
  • I chimed in and told the group that back in 2007 the Chronicle of Philanthropy featured an article by Holly Hall that connected the increasing income divide with an increasing charitable divide, a charitable divide that continues to capture the headlines (see Judith Warner’s article The Charitable-Giving, August 20th, 2010).
  • Daniel ended his lecture by simply stating: “The larger structural issue is easy to see: we are no longer a society that includes a thriving and robust middle class.”

If you have any questions concerning Daniel’s lecture (or the RYOL Lecture Series), feel free to contact the Foundation using the CONTACT US button above. If need be, we will try to pass along your question to Daniel but we can’t make any promises. Attendees have been asked to provide feedback concerning Daniel’s lecture using the online survey service Zoomerang. We invite you to track the survey results by clicking on this link: Track Survey Results.

You can find several posts that talk about the Foundation’s RYOL Lecture Series by selecting the “RYOL Lecture Info” category in the blog search area. Visit our blog site for information on upcoming RYOL lecture Series events. Contact us if you have an idea for a RYOL Lecture.