A friend of ours is a naturalized citizen from Canada. As such, he had to learn the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, US History, and especially the separation of powers and the built-in checks and balances. And all before he was allowed to become a US citizen and vote! Native citizens (those born in the US) have no such requirements. It was assumed that somehow their basic education would be sufficient. At least, that is our theory.

Educational Deterioration

When we asked our friend what he thought was going on with our country today, he said, “We are witnessing the effects of the continuing deterioration of the educational system.” In other words, we are now seeing what happens when enough citizens don’t understand the reasons for the separation of powers. It’s becoming OK to elect a leader who undermines institutions and violates the separations of powers. It’s becoming OK to allow the very fundamental election system to be challenged if your candidate loses. It’s becoming OK to challenge science even if it results in death to yourself and/or your fellow citizens. And it’s becoming OK to not fact check your news sources.


But it not OK! In fact, it is counter-productive to our health, welfare, economy and our environment. There is a fundamental relationship between education and our very survival. The institutions and science that we benefit from provide the solid foundation for business to thrive, creating jobs and progressively higher standards of living. They enable our very health and welfare.

Business Suffers

We are business writers. That’s why this trend toward educational deterioration is so frightening. The basic relationships between democracy and stability, stability and prosperity, and science and health, need to be taught in school and regularly impressed upon the general public. If health suffers, business suffers. If democracy suffers, business suffers. If stability suffers, you got it, business suffers! When business suffers, we all suffer!

Rules of the Road

When the players know what the rules are and respect their limitations, health and prosperity follow. But when the rules are broken and the facts are not respected, it’s like everybody trying to drive with their own set of rules. When there’s no respect of the rules, chaos follows.  In this case, national health and business suffer.

We have to learn the rules of the road, traffic signs, signals, and much of the motor vehicle code just to drive legally. Naturalized citizens have to learn the Constitution, history, separation of powers, and the checks and a balances just to vote. We can no longer assume that all citizens understand the implications of their votes or the institutions they want to tear down.

Bring Back the Books!  

If this sounds like an ad for better education, it is! Education is free in many of the world’s greatest economies. They obviously don’t want there to be a reason for their people to vote against science or the very institutions that give them that right.

Without education, one might yell “fire” in a crowded theatre claiming a right to free speech. Without education and enforcement one might choose to not wear a seat belt and unnecessarily kill someone. Without education, one might cite personal freedom to go maskless in public and spray Covid-laden droplets on one’s fellow citizens. Without education, you might put yourself out of a job, your house, or even your life.

If we have learned anything from the past year of chaos, let it be a recommitment to education, increased pay for teachers, and free access to schools for all. We have seen what happens when we neglect this basic institution. We really can’t afford not to support education. It’s in our own self-interest!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.