MCs—Frequently Asked Questions
an article by our site
- What is the MC Plan?
- Why is there an overwhelming need for MCs right now? Why are MCs essential and indispensible?
- I'm not sure this applies to me. Can you show me a scenario that applies to MY type of person so I can identify with it?
- Surely you're not saying we all need to relocate?
- What is this flat-gradient nurturance stuff and why do we need it?
- There don't seem to be any registrations to the MC database yet. What gives?
- I see your PSB picture on the PSB page. It seems lame and featureless. We're all doing fine with our texting, Facebook, and Twitter. Why do we need this lame-looking thing? What gives?
- P.E.T. is mostly about parents relating to kids. Why do you state that it applies to all relationships?
- How can you expect that those that utilize authoritarian methods will suddenly be able to transition to P.E.T. methods in their MCs, methods which are very different from what they're used to?
- There are a lot of parenting methods claiming to be the best, so how did you settle on P.E.T.?
- MC Designs are very cool. May I use any of these drawings in classes or lectures or on websites?
- Who wrote that great novel—I was blown away!
- How do you know that MCs will work?
- Your site includes so much info. I hardly know where to begin.
- Who are the authors of The Big Answer and how did you figure out what you did?
- Do you guys have lots of degrees?
- So who has it right about the troubled American family, the conservatives or the liberals?
- Do you wish to be famous or allow interviews?
ANSWER: A corporation will be started with strong financial backing and competent executives who are connected and have experience putting together successful businesses. This corporation will create and manage a media blitz that includes: a movie, a TV series, book production/publishing. This media blitz will include recognizable and respected spokespeople (celebrities, scholars, respected media personalities, et al.) plus advertising and PR campaigns for the movie and TV series.
The first movie would be based on the existing novel: The Forest Through The Trees, and would be followed by numerous sequels and TV series to keep the concept upon which all of this is based in the public eye for many years.
The corporation would continue to make long, hard-hitting inspirational movies that let people see what their lives have been missing. The media blitz will teach people about creating happy lifestyles, optimal parenting, optimal living, optimal community, and optimal meaning in their lives. The blitz will demonstrate why microcommunities (MCs) are the missing ingredient in their lives that will create such benefits.
Definition: MCs are groups of 10 to 40 people in physically normal environments who live in enhanced contexts that generate optimal character formation in all members--especially the young. The members will be guided by the most optimal relationship and childcare wisdom known to man and will follow MC Rules, which are few and simple and designed to make their lifestyles optimal.
After early adopters get inspired by the media blitz and begin MCs, non-MC people will see the results of MC living in the MC people around them. They’ll also see the MC movies and TV series. They’ll get inspired to create their own MCs--and so on and so on. This would all lead to a grassroots movement of MCs.
This starts in the U.S., and then spreads to the rest of the world.
Why is there an overwhelming need for MCs right now? Why are MCs essential and indispensible?
ANSWER: The world will not last long in its present situation, but MCs can change this. See Summary of Why MC Movement Is a Necessity and MC Movement's Effects on Hate, Authoritarianism, and Warrior Creation and Good News and Bad News.
I'm not sure this applies to me. Can you show me a scenario that applies to MY type of person so I can identify with it?
ANSWER: Yes—see Scenarios.
Surely you're not saying we all need to relocate?
ANSWER: Most people will—not all. If someone promised to pay you ten million bucks if you moved, at least 95% of us would move. But MCs are something much more valuable than money: your happiness, your spouse's happiness, your kids' happiness, your friends' happiness, national happiness, world happiness, and world survival. See Good News and Bad News and Home Relocation to Form Microcommunities (MCs).
Don't be alarmed about the inconvenience, since obviously it is the early adopters in big cities that will be the first to move. The immediate target market for MC adoption, in social marketing terms, is the innovators, calculated to comprise 2.5% of the population of the USA. Of these 6 million people, 51% are in urban areas and 33% are in the suburbs. The 10 big U.S. cities with 1,000,000 or more population contain nearly 26 million people. Let us say that these people have the easiest pool of MC aspirants to draw from since there are so many possibilities. It's the biggest pool of MC aspirants, so it will be relatively easy for these people to move without switching jobs or cities or moving too far from friends and relatives. The innovators class in these cities will be about 26,000,000 x 2.5% or 650,000 people. Therefore that's about how many people will be open to MC ideas AND have a relatively easy time moving to an MC. If you include cities of 100,000 to 999,999 people, the pool of people shoots up dramatically, but the difficulty of finding local compatible MC aspirants goes up a bit, depending on just how picky these aspirants turn out to be.
If merely 10% of these 650,000 people in this open-minded innovator class (the leading edge, as it were) made the MC move, there'd be 65,000 people in 3,000 to 6,000 MCs. And as the first year of MC living drew to a close, everyone would want to find out how things were going. Their friends and relatives would be asked about the changes they'd seen in these MC noobies, including their kids. Those innovator class people who hadn't moved to MCs yet would be listening intently. When the good news was heard, many or most of these non-MC innovator class people would move to MCs. Although moving costs a bit of money, it isn't much compared to the tons of money the MCers were already saving. How? Expensive childcare and elder care they used to budget for was now free in their MCs. The biggest thing, though, for most people who hadn't moved yet, was whether these MCers were happier. The second biggest thing was whether the MC childcare spaces were functioning as well as they were in MC movies and MC TV series and creating happy kids and happy caregiving. If the answer was yes, the MC-formation rush would be on and many outside the innovator class would join in. A significant portion of the country would be joining MCs over the next few years as the world looked on in wonderment. European MCs would bloom everywhere, then Japan and elsewhere.
The main thing everyone would be wondering, since the basic knowledge behind the MC thing had been available for decades, is: why did everyone wait so long and keep suffering through unfulfilling, stressed-out lifestyles for those decades? And the answer is obvious: People simply were never going to get into the MC thing unless an expensive media blitz launched the MC movement with movies, TV series, and famous speakers. This is social marketing—it's how it works.
People reading our novel The Forest Through The Trees will not get MCs started. Even if everyone on Earth read the novel and The Big Answer website as well, no one would do anything until the movie(s) inspired millions of people to want MCs and many of them signed up.
Who will be the most popular people on Earth after the MC media blitz starts transforming this country into what it was meant to be, then Europe, and so on? As the U.S. dropped its basically win-lose violent character structure and replaced it with a peaceful win-win character structure, the world would cheer and the wealthy individual or individuals who'd coughed up a billion dollars to launch all this, and the famous MC spokespeople, would now be—without the slightest doubt—the most popular people on Earth. As they should be!
This does not assume that the wealthy individual or individuals who come up with the billion dollar MC blitz money will use out-of-pocket cash. Most rich people long ago discovered the wisdom of OPM—other people's money. So it is likely (but not certain) that they will contact known investors and investment bankers and put them in touch with the person who they determine is the best fit to launch the MC Corporation, and the project will get funded by various investors who are inspired by the novel The Forest Through The Trees and see the money potential in both the movies and the TV series. Investors invest for ROI (return on investment), but that doesn't mean the act cannot represent something greater than that—such as wanting to help the world work better and especially helping it avoid going off the cliff it is approaching. See Good News and Bad News.
What is this flat-gradient nurturance stuff and why do we need it?
ANSWER: The steep-gradient-nurturance parenting in American culture has far-reaching effects and implications—all of them bad. Historically, humans knew better than to attempt such an unnecessarily burdensome, unrealistic nurturing plan. Only recently did such a bad idea get experimented with in its worst form—the 1950s. The terrible results are found in the symptoms we see all around us. And yet—unbelievably—we keep doing it! See Flat-gradient Nurturance versus Steep-gradient Nurturance.
There don't seem to be any registrations to the MC database yet. What gives?
ANSWER: People won't register until the media blitz happens, which will put the MC movement on everyone's radar and make thousands of people (the early adopters) rush to register. And the media blitz cannot happen until very rich people invest a lot of money in movie making, TV series making, PR, speech makers, and famous spokesperson enlisting. See the Computer Selecting MC Members section in Good News and Bad News.
I see your PSB picture on the PSB page. It seems lame and featureless. We're all doing fine with our texting, Facebook, and Twitter. Why do we need this lame-looking thing? What gives?
ANSWER: PSBs, invented in 1988 by M.C. Smith, are concentrated and focused on only one task: MC communications. They are free and don't have ads—nothing is being sold. But with texting, Facebook, and Twitter you get unfocused, false-self-supporting, superficial commentary, unwanted ads, infinite distractions, and very few practical and efficient communications like PSBs have. PSBs are the first truly efficient social networking tool ever devised. Facebook posts are mostly silly wastes of time focusing on entertainment, pictures, videos, or updates about what someone had for dinner. PSBs give the actual statuses of all MC members all concentrated on one page so you can see all their statuses at a glance. Rather than entertainment and B.S., PSB statuses concentrate on real needs, real feelings, active listening, childcare, P.E.T., MC activities and plans, needs for rides, studying, tutoring, etc. They help keep interrelationships organized and easy. See the PSB Demo.
P.E.T. is mostly about parents relating to kids. Why do you state that it applies to all relationships?
ANSWER: We stand by our statement that it applies to all relationships, supplying the best set of relationship rules ever, good for adults and kids, kids and kids, and adults and adults. E.g., NO-LOSE PROBLEM SOLVING, ACTIVE LISTENING, WIN-WIN IN RELATIONSHIPS, ROADBLOCKS TO COMMUNICATION TO AVOID, I-STATEMENTS AND WHY THEY'RE MUCH BETTER THAN YOU-STATEMENTS, and FAMILY MEETINGS PROTOCOLS.
How can you expect that those that utilize authoritarian methods will suddenly be able to transition to P.E.T. methods in their MCs, methods which are very different from what they're used to?
ANSWER: See Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs.
As you can see, there are many types of parenting methods. Note that the William Sears version of Attachment Parenting is mostly not Democratic. It believes in parental authority. Democratic child-raising is quite different than the belief in parental "authority," which Sears subscribes to. Sears believes that "The real payoff of attachment parenting is obedience." (Let's hope not!!!) He is misguided and has a few discredited ideas, but his attachment parenting methods are great, so his method made the chart on the Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs page, but just barely. This is the strictest parenting method that is allowed in any microcommunity that calls itself an MC. It supports both natural and logical consequences, although many authoritative methods support only the former—e.g., P.E.T.
Many MCs with members who—before joining the MC—held authoritarian beliefs about childraising will be drawn toward the Sears parenting method, although we recommend Winning Family Lifeskills by Louise Hart instead, as it supports both natural and logical consequences, and the latter will go a long way in making the transition to authoritative methods more smooth. There is more parental control of situations—which former authoritarians will appreciate—and yet it is the type of "control" that is minimal. The Winning Family Lifeskills style is a "logical consequences accepting" style that uses only the minimal amount of power needed, and there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the acts and the consequences that the child can easily understand and feels is fair. Ideally the child problem-solves with the parent and they come up with the logical consequence together or in a family meeting. Giving choices is a benefit to this process. Learning is the point, not punishment. It's logical for a kid to earn money to pay for something he broke. It's not punishment. It's connected, fair, and logical. All former authoritarians will accept it easily as a replacement for parents as rulers seeking obedience—the context they were used to. Or if you desire Attachment Parenting, try Aware Parenting, by Aletha J. Solter.
There are a lot of parenting methods claiming to be the best, so how did you settle on P.E.T.?
ANSWER: By investigating and researching it since the 1970s (which included reading all the parenting books which we are still doing in 2015), an interesting parenting method classification system surfaced. This requires a bit of background info.
There were, and are, three different Forces in psychology: Abe Maslow, in his wonderful classic Toward a Psychology of Being, defined the Third Force in psychology. The first two Forces were psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Neither proved to be a good basis to build parenting methods from, although the proponents of each would disagree, of course.
The Third Force: Maslow's humanistic BEING psychology—the Third Force—was not interested in analyzing (psychoanalysis) or manipulating (behaviorism) people but rather in empowering them by showing them what is fundamental to human nature and psychological well-being, and what is needed to promote, maintain, and restore mental and emotional well-being, autonomy, and self-actualization.
All the parenting methods this website finds acceptable are democratic, authoritative methods, and all are compatible with Maslow's humanistic BEING psychology.
One way to deal with parenting is to drug kids into submission. (It's not one of the three Forces, but it is a very questionable modern approach to controlling kids. It could be considered a kind of lazy behaviorism—why bother to parent them when you can drug them so they stop bothering you?! We find it appalling.) Biopsychiatry is seen by many who are opposed to this chemical child abuse as the "blame the body" approach, which typically offers medication for "mental distress" (acting out due to bad parenting), shifting the focus from disturbed behavior in the family to putative biochemical imbalances. Biopsychiatrists are the folks who "discovered" that when kids misbehave or act overenthusiastic, it's because of a brain defect, of all things! So let's drug them senseless! See Reclaiming Our Children.
The First Force: Psychoanalysis' focus on analyzing people was about trying to help mentally unhealthy, neurotic people become more healthy and "adjusted," while BEING psychology gave us the wisdom to see how to nurture so effectively that instead of fixing broken people, the focus is on creating and maintaining psychological well-being.
The Second Force: Behaviorism is more directly relevant to parenting, and its theories and practices are good to understand a bit about in order to see how they apply to the nurturing of the young. Behaviorism is about manipulation of organisms, whether mice or monkeys or people. This is decidedly NOT what a wise parent ever wants his or her parenting to be about! Kids need to be guided, encouraged, informed, influenced, inspired and empowered, NOT manipulated. Like with mice, behaviorists manipulate with rewards and punishments. This is NOT the right way to parent, although it is good for dog training. Punishments and rewards create extrinsic control (both inner-directedness [superego] and other-directedness [peers and media]). NEITHER of these is true, intrinsic, self-control. Neither represents autonomy. Inner-direction sounds like self-control, but it isn't. It's control by the superego which is parental sanctions, not inner self sanctions.
The correct goals of nurturing are NOT to control kids, but to empower autonomy, happiness, emotional well-being, security, and self-actualization, which Maslow-compatible authoritative parenting does much better than anything else.
Controlling kids and getting "obedience" is NOT an appropriate goal of parenting! Behaviorists have both of these as goals and they have lots of studies and research showing their methods are the most effective. But when you dig into this research, you find out that their definition of "most effective" is whatever causes kids to be the most obedient, and their "evidence" is higher obedience scores than other methods. This autocratic method called behaviorism isn't even embarrassed when it brags how well one can CONTROL one's kids with its methods.
A good example of an autocratic parenting method based on behavioristic rewards and punishments is Every Parent: A positive approach to children’s behaviour: Triple P (Positive Parenting Program). Like all such methods, we find their parenting method unacceptable for using with kids (but it's at least a lot better than the authoritarian method found in Dare to Discipline, which we consider child abuse). We say if you want obedience, buy and train a dog, and do not have kids, because if this control stuff is what you want out of relationships, learn to control yourself, not others. See Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool.
Even though behaviorism's ideas are not the way to go when it gets to parenting, there are many fine applications of their theories for therapies and self-help tools. Using cognitive behavioral therapy, one can help people who are depressed—it is very effective. Or when you find yourself having bad or inappropriate moods or thoughts, this stuff can help a lot. And there are many great self-help tools like self-talk, self-parenting, rational-irrational thought worksheets, reminder calendars and ticklers, etc.
So use only democratic, authoritative methods such as P.E.T., Unconditional Parenting, and Winning Family Lifeskills as these Maslow-compatible methods are the best parenting methods around. They've proven to be better than authoritarian or permissive methods as well as better than behavioristic rewards and punishments. See Discipline That Works. And see Parenting From the Inside Out for a way to avoid making the same mistakes with your kids as your own parents made with you.
We've done these decades of searching and reading and comparing so you wouldn't have to. We are 100% positive that we have given you the names of the very best parenting methods on the planet. But be aware that there are many autocratic (where parent power controls kids, as opposed to democratic, where kid power controls kids) methods out there that try to call themselves authoritative and/or democratic.
Many authoritarian methods are based on religious ideas or holy book ideas, and they hope you are naïve enough to fall for the idea that if you don't use their holy books as childraising manuals, you'll burn in hell!
If you want an inspiring experience of what good nurturing looks like, read The Forest Through The Trees. You will be amazed!
MC Designs are very cool. May I use any of these drawings in classes or lectures or on websites?
ANSWER: Yes, if you furnish the URL and Website Name (with a DO-FOLLOW link if it's a website) to your audience or site visitors.
Who wrote that great novel The Forest Through The Trees—I was blown away!
ANSWER: James Lee is the author and MCS Investments, Inc. is the Publisher and Editor and Copyright Owner.
How do you know that MCs will work?
ANSWER: The bigger issue here is how do YOU know that average American lifestyles, relationships and parenting will work? The answer is: they don't, and as a result the people coming out of them are full of symptoms, neurosis, alienation, lack of self esteem—the list goes on and on.
Now let's look at MCs. They use the proven parenting and relationship methods that have been shown for over 40 years to be the most effective methods anywhere, as all the best parenting and relationship experts will tell you. The more you read our website, the more you'll realize that this aspect of MCs is OPTIMAL and you can comb the earth for something better and you won't find it. These scientifically proven methods of parenting and relationship (e.g., P.E.T.) contrast greatly with the catch-as-catch-can parenting of normal lifestyles, which have been proven NOT to work well, while Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs this website reviews have been demonstrated to work well. So that is how we know this aspect of MCs will work well. It's more than just that they've been proven for decades. It's also that normal parenting and relationship methods have been proven NOT to work.
One main reason normal parenting and relationship methods work so poorly is that the average parent uses obedience as a goal, and includes spanking when kids are younger, in addition to rewards and punishments. All of these are ineffective and get relatively poor results. Average parents have neither parenting training nor parenting knowledge, so they often just use the authoritarian methods they learned from their own parents, which, again, are ineffective and get relatively poor results. This cycle has been going on for generations. Sometimes parents get guilty when kids react badly to their authoritarian methods, so they use permissiveness, which confuses the kids, who then act out until the parent goes back to authoritarian methods again. The sad thing here is that all THREE methods (permissiveness, authoritarianism, combinations of these two) were found to be defective decades ago and we learned what WOULD work, yet this was not part of these parents' training or education when they were younger, so they pass on the mistakes of their parents. And NONE of the methods work well, and they're light years from optimal parenting methods used in MCs. And the same is true for relationships in general: People relate in defective ways that work poorly in spite of the fact that we've known just how to have effective relationships for decades. Relationships in MCs are optimal.
The microcommunity aspects of MCs have been proven for centuries. Cross-culturally, the closer a culture comes to a Flat-gradient Nurturance-based MC, the more effective and successful it is. Isolated families got worse results than cooperating families, and families in a thriving community context do much better than families without viable community. And cooperative childcare was the norm for many centuries in most cultures and it worked well and fit into parental lifestyles well, also.
Modern sociology has changed some of its old-paradigm reductionistic approachs to new-paradigm holistic systems approaches, and the family network therapy movement in modern social work no longer identifies a problem in a family and tries to fix it with "experts" from their agencies. It sees the family as a system operating in a larger social system composed of neighborhood and community, and its approach is to locate resources present in this larger social context and apply them to the family issue. This holistic approach leads to better solutions that last longer since the "experts" cannot mitigate family difficulties indefinitely, but identified social resources in a larger social system composed of neighborhood and community CAN operate indefinitely.
Normal isolated families in modern society often find that trying to effectively go it alone is not possible, so something must give. And what usually "gives" is childcare quality and quantity. Families where both parents work end up settling for catch-as-catch-can parenting utiliizing a chaotic mix of daycare centers, babysitters, and often less than enthusiastic relatives such as grandparents and resentful siblings. So unhappy kids get pacified with bribes and the values kids learn are far from healthy, especially given all the media these kids consume.
But when families take their clues from successful cultures, from sociology, from the new approaches in social work, and from logic itself and cooperate with other families and use a flatter gradient of nurturance, the nurturing is more successful, the kids and parents are happier, the family system gains functionality, and this subcommunity empowers all involved. A simple example is a babysitting co-op. These are a step up from normal family frustrations related to the impossible challenges of locating good childcare. What makes these arrangements work is that you take good care of their kids so they'll take good care of your kids. Sort of the systems view of the Golden Rule. This is hardly an MC, but maximized social resources (the recognized gold standard in social work) help cure some of the most frustrating childcare issues in a very win-win way, so everyone benefits. And often these co-ops save families money, although not as much as MCs save.
See MC Project Summary for an overview of the whole MC concept. The Left tends to say "it takes a village" and The Right tends to say "no, it takes a family, not a village." But MC members tend to say "we have all the advantages of both the Left's compassionate village and the Right's family-centered values and none of the disadvantages of either of these worldviews!" Think of an MC as a neighborhood village with great family values, utilizing all the latest Third Wave systems knowledge from various modern successful cultures, from sociology, and from the new approaches in social work.
So, yes, MCs will work wonderfully because all the TESTED, PROVEN, Third Wave systems knowledge about parenting, relationships, sociology, modern social work, and psychology is utilized wonderfully. Think of it like this: If you took a normal neighborhood and merely added the best parenting and relationship knowledge known to science, these people's lives would improve a little, making it well worth doing. And if instead you took a normal neighborhood and merely added the best sociological and modern social work knowledge known to science, including flat-gradient nurturing, these people's lives would improve a little, making it well worth doing—there's a reason so many city dwellers pine for a more natural life full of good values and neighbors you can trust and count on, like with the best types of village living you read about in various novels written a couple of centuries ago. But what if you did both of these things—above—and experienced one of them exponentially improving the other, simply because each is actually the best context for the other, thereby magnifying its effects? Then what if you empowered and enhanced this greatly improved lifestyle even further with a communications technology (PSBs) that made all communications efficient and effective, even if there were two dozen people doing them?
Seen as symbolic numerical quantities:
5 = the unimproved neighborhood
10 = the unimproved neighborhood with everyone using P.E.T. as the parenting and relationship method
10 = the unimproved neighborhood with everyone using cooperative flat-gradient-nurturance childcare and other village-like methods and attitudes (even though many villages, cross-culturally, had such cooperation only between nearby neighbors [as opposed to all neighbors] or kin or both)
100 = the unimproved neighborhood with everyone doing both of the above
200 = the neighborhood gets improved to reflect the best MC configuration, then PSBs are added, and then MC rules are adopted
You see exponential improvement above by using all human knowledge to set up life so that it is OPTIMAL for all concerned, including babies, kids, parents, adolescents, elders, singles, and childless people. Compare 5 to 200 and ask yourself why you're coping with the 5 rather than enjoying the 200. Why indeed? Now see what life is like when you've set up a 200: The Forest Through The Trees.
Your site includes so much info. I hardly know where to begin.
ANSWER: Start on the MC Articles section of the Articles page, work your way down the list, reading. Note that the novel, The Forest Through The Trees, is the fourth link. If you don't get inspired by reading that, there's little anyone can do—you've probably given up on life. However, we're hoping you do get inspired and keep reading through the rest of the MC material. Even without an MC, the childcare advice should prove invaluable. See Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs and select a parenting method to help you revamp your family relationships.
Who are the authors of The Big Answer and how did you figure out what you did?
ANSWER: James Lee is the author and MCS Investments, Inc. is the Publisher and Editor and Copyright Owner. When James and his girlfriend—who he married years later—were teenagers, they noticed relationships not working well in their families, their neighbors' families, their friends' families—i.e., for people in general.
James and his girlfriend were fed Leave It To Beaver drivel that they knew wasn't true, and later when most people realized how dysfunctional most people's relationships and lifestyles were, TV evolved from The Brady Bunch to Married With Children. The latter made fun of how out of whack families were, and later still, The Simpsons did the same, eventually becoming the longest running comedy ever as well as an icon and an American institution. It had struck a cord so deep that it became THE way we weekly poked fun at the out of whack way families were operating, establishing a loyal following in the late 20th century, and still going strong in 2015. The Simpsons, like American family dysfunctionality, seemed to be here to stay, so since no one seems to know what to do about it, let's just all laugh at it.
(It's good to keep a sense of humor about life's biggest stressors. Seemingly, it's cast in stone as an unavoidable eternal verity: American family life is out of whack, and often not just stressful but sad, frustrating—sometimes even miserable and abusive, according to verified statistics. Perhaps it's time to stop laughing and do something about this mess!)
In the meantime, James and his girlfriend lived through the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and half of the 10s. Family life deteriorated or at least stagnated throughout these decades, and they observed it in many ways, with many people, in many situations, and during all this time—rather than tearing their hair out or getting complacent or apathetic or alienated—they kept searching for alternatives. Why must everyone simply ACCEPT relationships and lifestyles not working decently??!! They refused to.
Happily, even though their lifestyle experiences of the 70s hadn't shown James and his girlfriend what WOULD work, they had shown them what WOULDN'T. Even more happily, they ran into some wonderful books that actually had some of the answers. P.E.T. Parent Effectiveness Training had most of the answers about parenting, specifically, and relationships in general. Toward a Psychology of Being contained even more such answers. Most psychologists and parenting experts came to realize that these books had the core truths needed for relationship success, self actualization, and happiness.
And yet this was NOT the complete answer. It answered the relationship and parenting issues, but did not address how the late 20th century and early 21st century American family was going to truly find the time and personnel to use this relationship wisdom to create happiness and self-esteem in children. The reality during this period had been catch-as-catch-can parenting utiliizing a chaotic mix of daycare centers, babysitters, and often less than enthusiastic relatives such as grandparents and resentful siblings, and when the kids were sullen or acting out from lack of reliable need fulfillment, they were bribed with things, candy, technology, and empty promises.
The time and personnel problems were less easily addressed than the relationship and parenting issues. No author knew, so they were on their own. The closest they got to insights on the issue was in such books as The Web of Life: Weaving the Values That Sustain Us, Building a Community of Citizens: Civil Society in the 21st Century, The Revolution Of Hope and The Responsive Communitarian Platform.
Truth be told, the wonderful community insights in these books translated better to the village realities of the America that was than they did to the suburban/urban realities of the America that is. Trying to shoe-horn them into current realities felt like trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
James and his girlfriend had been researching through human potential trips for years but the answers they needed were not there—although they helped people get their individual acts together. So from the 60s to the present (2015), most of their research was through books, and then Internet came along and aided their quest enormously in the 90s. They'd seen what the general answer was in the late 80s, and in the next 20 years of researching, they read and evaluated all the parenting books, which continually reconfirmed that P.E.T. and the dozen or so parenting methods most like it were the best parenting and relationship answers in existence.
The lifestyle question was both trickier and easier, since good parenting and relationships in an inadequate context creates better parenting and relationships than most Americans experience, and yet still far-from-optimum parenting and relationships, for all that. So what was an adequate context and what did it look like? They were sure from the late 80s onward that the Microcommunity (MC) concept was the optimal context—in fact, the best context possible, as you quickly realize when reading The Forest Through The Trees. (On this website MC has a very specific definition, not to be confused with any definitions found anywhere else on any other website on Earth.) So from the 80s through today they looked for anyone who'd done it successfully and they found nothing. In the same period they went over all books discussing how we all need a better community/neighborhood/cooperative context in relationships and parenting since the isolated nuclear family context had proven itself to be a serious sociological blunder with far-reaching ramifications—none good.
The Big Answer reviews many hundreds of the best or most relevant books out of the thousands they read. If one reads all these reviews, one is drawn irresistibly toward one major conclusion: these books all point, directly or indirectly, toward the big answer found on The Big Answer website: Microcommunities using P.E.T. or another authoritative parenting method for parenting and relationships. The best books around, written by the best experts around, all pointed toward the answer in the novel and in the MC articles section of this site.
A great example of how a book would point toward MCs directly is The Revolution of Hope by Erich Fromm. About a dozen other books reviewed on this site point directly as well. But hundreds of the other books reviewed point indirectly, and almost always in the same way:
First, they'd bemoan and bewail the current status of American parenting and childcare. Second, they'd cite statistics, examples, horror stories and so on and do a great job of convincing the readers that something must be done immediately about this dire situation. Next, they'd look at the paltry steps that have been taken to help the problem—which turned out to be token gestures from politicians out to look busy and productive so they'd get re-elected. And most of these leftwing gestures when passed by Congress never really got funded more than a token amount due to rightwing obstructionism since the Right has no appetite for subsidizing families since they consider that socialism. Finally, the books played the most infamous of all the Liberal cards: social engineering, in the form of throwing tons of cash at the problems as if these social problems were about economics or poverty or the need for costly experts to disperse amongst our communities telling everyone how to live their lives.
Liberals and conservatives alike knew full well that there was no money for such things and even if there were, it would NEVER get used in social spending ways. The USA (or more precisely the oligarchs who run the USA), as everyone in the world could/can see, is much more interested in starting and prolonging wars and selling weapons (the USA is the biggest arms dealer in history) than addressing social needs.
In all these books was the Liberal wet dream of a government lavishing money on social spending which absolutely NOBODY believed would ever occur. And yet with the myriad social symptomatology in the USA, these books couldn't just throw up their hands and holler "it's hopeless!" They really did hope someone would help. But academia was connected to politics via not-very-objective think tanks beholden to special interests and PACs. So the built-in prejudice was that money and politics were the only possible source of aid. Hence, an unending stream of books that begged for more governmental programs and social spending. If you were going to get published, this begging was obligatory. Otherwise, the books would simply be hopeless, useless pissing and moaning. At least one has to point to a theoretically feasible solution or ameliorant.
So why does all this point indirectly to MCs? Embarrassingly simple: All the books pointed out a lack of sufficient social resources as the problem. Families haven't enough people to take care of kids properly, and often both parents work or the family has only one parent. Communities have few resources that can turn neighborhoods into viable environments for raising kids, not to mention no solid knowledge to back their attempts. Nor do they have the money (of course). Parents drive kids everywhere and are afraid to let them walk like kids used to do many decades ago, and this means communities are considered unsafe, and with the great number of pushers, strip clubs, crack houses, meth labs, and bars around, also unsavory. Parents in communities rely on cars to ferry kids everywhere (adding to serious pollution problems), since neighborhoods rarely have decent childcare facilities or centers and kids aren't near enough to playdates and soccer fields to let kids walk—which is unsafe anyway. Mostly-unregulated family child care homes are too low quality to be considered viable social resources—see The Hell of American Day Care. They're just desperation measures. SO ALL THE BOOKS POINT TO THE NEED FOR MAXIMIZING SOCIAL RESOURCES AS THE ANSWER, BUT SINCE THIS IS UNREALISTIC (?) WITHOUT GOVERNMENT SPENDING, THEY POINT TO SOCIAL ENGINEERING FROM THE GOVERNMENT AS THE ONLY POSSIBLE WAY TO HELP.
But on this website you've seen that MCs are not just the definition of maximized social resources, they're also the epitome of OPTIMIZED social resources! It turns out that resource maximization is only unrealistic if one uses an unrealistic approach, such as social engineering, taxes, politics, government programs, and social agency experts that are temporary and too expensive to afford.
Does the author of The Big Answer and the novel have lots of degrees?
ANSWER: No, just a BS-level college one. The amount of reading and researching he has done since college is more than most people with advanced degrees, but he was not looking for the so-called answers to be found in academia. He was looking for the answers the colleges DID NOT have, so the last thing he wanted to do with his time and money is to invest it in taking courses. He already knew from experience what the sociology and psychology courses knew or suspected or pontificated about regarding the issues he was concerned with related to parenting and relationships. He was trying to fill the glaring hole in their knowledge, which he has done—read the novel and see for yourself. It sparkles with parenting and relationship wisdom.
So who has it right about the troubled American family, the conservatives or the liberals?
ANSWER: NEITHER! Remember that election in '96? Hillary Rodham Clinton had been saying 'it takes a village to raise a child'. But Bob Dole said in the 1996 presidential campaign that it “doesn’t take a village—it takes a family,” and this became a right-wing mantra ridiculing all tendencies towards socialism, and left-wing, liberal, government-spending-loving collectivism, and it was intended to bring to the surface all Americans’ belief in family, individualism, heroic self-sufficiency as well as their nostalgia for 1950s paternalistic families. It didn't work—so they ended up remembering Mr. Dole for his erectile dysfunction ads instead, not his snappy quips.
He'd painted poor Hillary with the brush of do-gooder liberal and tax-and-spend Democrat without once addressing her "village" comment thoughtfully. Her book It Takes a Village merely said that it would be best if families were extended and neighbors formed viable communities but—failing that—if families were in trouble and producing massive symptoms, either the government steps in or kids keep getting screwed out of decent childcare. Where was Dole's answer to that? He reached out for the old conservative cliché of families as a complete answer to kids' needs, which has rarely been true of any culture in history—certainly not 1996 America. There weren't enough personnel in 1996 families (2.62 people) to take care of childcare, and both parents worked so there wasn't enough time either. In 2010, we were down to 2.53.
In other words, Dole's conservative cliché about families that can do it all was disingenuous and he knew it. But that's what we all did and do expect of politicians. Bill Clinton talking about it "taking a village" was right and he was merely facing facts: If the government doesn't step in where childcare was bad or nonexistent, the kids would someday be unhappy tenants of reformatories, prisons, and morgues. The statistics bear this out.
But there's a third way. The Left tends to say "it takes a village" (partially correct, but implying lots of social programs to pay for, although they'd prefer that communities could muster effective village-like contexts without government help—see Hillary's book). The Right tends to say "no, it takes a family, not a village" (partially correct, and implying dislike of paying for social programs for things that families ought to be dealing with). MC members tend to say "we have all the advantages of both the Left's compassionate village and the Right's family-centered values and none of the disadvantages of either of these worldviews!"
So the next time a politician offers you either the standard Left or Right answers to family issues, you now know the vastly superior third alternative: MCs with statistically proven relationship and parenting methods like P.E.T. Need convincing? Read the novel.
Does the author wish to be famous or allow interviews?
ANSWER: Absolutely not! He categorically rejects both of these. James has no speaking abilities, whether interviews or speeches, and he is closer to To Kill a Mockingbird's Boo Radley than he is to an effective public speaker. Introverts who happen to be good researchers and writers are not necessarily talk-show material. In his case, he is the opposite of talk-show material. But your question misses the point—he is not the story. The media blitz detailed in Good News and Bad News requires, for its success, both famous people making speeches and talk-show interviews and an MC Corporation with extremely competent business people who can supervise the creation of great movies and TV series. Anyone who would represent the MC movement badly with badly-executed speeches and interviews would do the MC movement great harm, and therefore he will never do such things—period! He might be good at writing the speeches the famous people would give, but he would be a crappy speaker.
Think about political speech writers—they're simply good writers, and the politicians are simply good speakers. When a politician gives a good speech, he or she is the one that gets the attention. He or she is responsible for the content even though the speech writer wrote it. Once the speech has been given, no one cares a bit who the writer is. What difference does it make? The politician as well as the political party of the politician are simply glad that the writer is good at his job. If the press tried to make an issue out of the writer's private life or views, the writer is likely to tell them to get lost and start respecting his privacy. Additionally, when a speaker uses a statistic obtained by the researchers of a think tank, no one cares who the researchers or think tank are.
Is a great musician a great leader, or is a programmer a good comedy writer or is a corporation intern a great juggler? Very unlikely! It is a logical fallacy (generalization) to assume that talents in one area carry over to another area. Happily, James knows himself well enough to avoid demonstrating his shortcomings for others to see. He's a good researcher and writer, as this site and the novel demonstrate clearly to open-minded people with brains. But beyond that he is nothing special, and absolutely not a speaker or an interview participant.
His resume is simple—this website and novel. But the fact that he has no formal track record or decent degrees or anything else is utterly irrelevant. The MC Corporation people's resumes and track records are vital. The resumes and track records of the famous project spokespeople are vital. These people must have the ability to speak, to convince, to inform, to do interviews, and to be very successful at these things.
As you can see from the rest of this web page, his formal training was mostly done by himself, training himself to be able to find the best books and articles and analyze how they relate to fixing our families, our country, our society, and our world, then write articles about them and have the website editor edit it and plug this knowledge into The Big Answer website. Probably any good researchers and writers could have done what he did—maybe even better. But who cares? What's critical here is that the project spokespeople and top MC Corporation people do a great media blitz and effective MC movement launch.
Here's an idea: consider this FAQ web page James' one and only interview ever. Okay?