Jesus Christ, Karl Marx, Henry Ford, Margaret Thatcher and The Tucson Institute

Once upon a time, there was an unknown preacher from Nazareth who moved among the poor and taught salvation through love. He dared to confront the rich, the high priests, Herod, the cruel Pontius Pilate, and even crucifixion. The establishment opposed his outrageous ideas, resented his teachings, and looked upon him with suspicion. But he had a handful of devotees who spread his message, many of them paying for this by being crucified, beheaded, or eaten alive by lions. Ideas, however, cannot be crucified: the preacher from Nazareth today has more than a billion followers.

Many centuries later an unknown journalist developed the outrageous idea of class struggle as the moving force of history leading to a happy and egalitarian society. He spent most of his life alone in libraries writing voluminous books that few people cared to read while he was alive. Revolutionaries, however, believed that his ideas would lead to the salvation of mankind. Tens of millions of people died in this experiment but the journalist still has millions of followers (mostly here in the United States where, fortunately, the experiment has not yet been conducted).

An unknown industrialist, however, has come very close to the establishment of a classless society. He had the outrageous idea that the newly invented automobile should be manufactured and sold so cheaply that everyone be able to buy it. His idea has been working for almost a century now. Highways crisscross the whole Earth, millions die in car accidents, automobiles pollute the atmosphere, and the egalitarian society is in the process of swallowing up the world.

Egalitarianism had almost destroyed a formerly great country when an unknown daughter of a grocer had the outrageous idea of ending government control and supervision of industry. This idea has saved her country and still serves as a model for the newly emerging free countries of Eastern Europe.

The common thread in these four, sharply different ideas is that somehow they were transmitted from the intellectual domain to the public arena. Was it divinity, human genius, or pure luck? Who knows?

What we know is that our society is in trouble. Policy makers refuse to confront reality, and the people do not wish to get involved in public affairs. We at The Tucson Institute have the outrageous idea that the problems choking our society must be attacked not at the surface but at the core. How can we convince you that this approach deserves to be made public policy?

-- Miklos Szilagyi

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