The socioeconomic term “welfare” is largely associated with President LBJ’s Great Society of the ‘60’s. However, I’ll use the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution to flesh out this 9th American ideal as it relates to JUGHEADS, LLC.
The first definition of “welfare” in Dictionary.com is: “the good fortune, health, happiness, prosperity, etc., of a person, group, or organization; well-being.” When I read “promote the general welfare” in the Preamble, I see something quite different than what our welfare state has become today. While I do believe it’s virtuous to have a societal safety net, I don’t believe our Founders ever intended that 49% of Americans would receive regular government entitlements, and certainly not in perpetuity. Corporate welfare is also extreme.
Note the word “promote” in the Preamble; it doesn’t say “provide.” (The latter applies “for the common defence.”) I believe two of the biggest deterrents to the promotion of the general (and individual) welfare in our society are excessive gov’t regulations and our trading freedom for security. Because of this trend toward a nanny state, the U.S. tax code is often crippling and punitive. In his first inaugural address on 1/20/81, President Ronald Reagan said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Taken alongside the Preamble, government should, for the most part, get out of the way of people pursuing their own welfare rather than make people dependent on the welfare state.
I’ll tie this in to how I run JH. Any student leader or adult staff will tell you that my directorial style tries to minimize micro-management (and “laws”) and maximize freedom (“ownership”) for each Jughead and representative leader. Yes, I set the vision and tone for the overall company (such as this column), but much of that tone was set during the first 10 years of our existence (1994-2004). The general welfare that I promote, along with Wendy’s innovative help and the plurality of our staff, gives the kids a setting and a structure for their own progress—guided, but not dictated, by the leaders.
Just like America was founded with the hope of achieving both national and personal independence (e.g., faith, family, finances) rather than being subject to a central government’s tyranny, JH parallels that by prioritizing freedom over edicts. Our company structure promotes the good of the kids rather than more power to the leaders. Even if our own U.S. federal government continues its alarming rate of growth we’ve seen over the past 30+ years, my aim is to continue to run JH as a “small government” that promotes good rather than necessarily guarantees success. (E.g., we don’t dole out standards and character; with intentional mentorship, we effectively “get out of the way” for the kids to achieve such goals.) That’s where true youth development occurs, and I believe that’s what our Founders intended for We the People.