My late mother and her family were originally from rural Kentucky. When I was a child, my sisters and I went to visit our extended family there. Having been born in southern California (where my dad was a Marine) and having lived in Baltimore, I thought Kentucky was like visiting Mars. By the time I was a teenager I looked for things to do that would give me a break from my relatives. One such adventure is something I never told anyone, but the recent news brought it to mind for the first time in 50 years. Read more
Archive for category: A Guy’s Perspective
In January I wrote a short piece about how the world changes for us and how the future is an undiscovered country that we are allowed to explore and discover. To start the discussion, I referenced the idea that the ancients (as well as many filmmakers, book sellers, and survivalist businesses) have predicted that all will end on December 21. Helen told me this morning that she believes the last minute Christmas gift shopping will be wild starting on Saturday, December 22. Read more
Rick Santelli of CNBC is urging politicians to “rise above”, “reach across the aisle”, and do something about the imposing threat of the “fiscal cliff”.
The 236-year experiment in democracy called the United States has experienced another turn and faces a new challenge between now and the end of 2012. Most agree that if our leaders in Washington do not put the welfare of the public and the condition of the economy ahead of perceived gain for themselves, their parties, or belief systems, we face some serious problems. Read more
I know that I sometimes bore you with my reminiscences of the past, and how what is happening today may compare to (or be effected by) it. This week, one of those news events that feels like the end of an era or the punctuation of a part of history happened.
My little grandson Ari is now two and he has an unusual approach to communications. Much to his mother’s frustration (she is a writer and English teacher), Ari likes pointing at what he wants and making a grasping motion with his hand meaning, “I want that” instead of verbalizing, “I want that.” When he wants you to do something, he will go and get the items needed for the activity. He will bring a diaper to his mother when his pants are wet. On a visit to Iowa a few months ago he wanted to take a walk, so he brought me the dog’s leash and made his “I want that” sign.
Joan Jett did quite well with her song, “Bad Reputation.” She sang, “I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation.” On the other hand, Cassio in Shakespeare’s play Othello said, “O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation.” Our 16th president, and perhaps a leader with one of the best reputations (now at least, I understand that during his life he had a lot of detractors, including John Wilkes Booth) Abraham Lincoln, wrote “a man’s reputation is what other people think of him; his character is what he really is.”
In 1968 when I turned 18, the war in Vietnam was raging and there was a very active draft in the U.S. to bring youngsters into the military services so that they could be sent there to fight. I, and all of my male friends and schoolmates, (no women were drafted or expected to fight in those days) had to go to a draft board and register for the draft. Those of us going on to college were exempt unless we flunked out or took a break from school. But most of us were concerned about being drafted. Read more
In 1984 Sally Field won her second Academy Award for her performance in the movie, “Places in the Heart.” Everyone who heard her speech at the Academy Awards, remembers the statement she made—“You like me, you really, like me.” I did too, until I did a little research. It is very interesting that despite the fact that I actually saw the telecast of that Oscar night I misremember the quote, as does the rest of the world. Read more
I hope this finds everyone refreshed, energized, and with renewed pride in humankind’s first great experiment in democracy, after celebrating the birth of our nation last week. At a cookout with friends, we spent an embarrassing amount of time speculating about ways to improve the holiday, including:
- Make sure that “The 4th” is always celebrated on a Monday or Friday.
- Make the rest of the week an extended holiday, whichever day it falls on.
- Move it to winter so the fireworks can start earlier and the kids don’t miss bedtime. (My favorite)
Despite our occasional disappointment in when we celebrate this holiday, Independence Day always brings me back to feeling good about how we try to do things in this country.
I find our methods of running life and government in the United States to be quite moving, particularly considering how our ethical systems and beliefs are reflected. Compare our system to those throughout the rest of the world, where people are often forced to operate personal, political, and national lives without the freedom afforded by democracy. Even with its imperfections, our system seems impeccable.
Our Founding Fathers, while flawed and inconsistent given their treatment of other races and of their own wives, sisters, and mothers, believed that “the people” knew what was best for themselves. They believed in the “wisdom of crowds” 200 plus years before the phrase was coined, and they believed in basic fairness.
These concepts led to giving citizens “ownership” of their own welfare and full control for good and bad, of the direction and design of their own lives. It is easy for me to forget, but this is not something any country gave it’s people before 1776 and there are still many millions around the globe who must still live by the beliefs and whims of a single person or a too powerful group pursuing some idea or ideology at all costs.
I believe some version of self government and personal autonomy is the only sustainable answer for any people, and that as the full knowledge of options becomes available to all around the world, more and more will experience their own path to democracy.
Our democracy advances the belief that each citizen is the best judge of what is best for him or herself, just as those of us in the independent broker-dealer space believe that you are the best judges of how to conduct your business. I am proud to be doing my own small part to advance the values of independence, liberty, and democracy that make life so good in this country.
While I’m at it, thanks to all of our veterans for your service which has protected these ideas and this way of life for all of us.
This is the first official week of summer and the weather is HOT! We are also fully into the summer movie season, with lots and lots of prequels, sequels, and movies that are a derivative from successful movies from the past, comic books, or even board games. My buddy Alan and I are planning our summer movie-going so we can see all the science fiction and action adventure offerings our wives won’t go to with us.
Between Battleship and Prometheus, it seems that we will get to see life as we know it threatened in very exciting ways. I have confidence that these will not be such downers that humanity is destroyed (Prometheus is a prequel to the “Alien” movies so we must survive there). To be honest, I am not quite sure why I am so eager to see these movies since CNBC gives me a dose of “the end of life as we know it” every day. And, it seems as if we are doing a sequel to the summer of 2011—you can note my blog at that time, Summertime and the livin’ is easy.
The words that are striking fear into the hearts of investors and advisors everywhere are again, Euro, austerity, euro zone breakup, and economic slowdown. It seems that some are ignoring the warning cries and making money anyway. Of course, the over 2% decline in the markets on the first official day of summer, must give us all pause. The combination of fifteen of the largest banks in the world being downgraded along with other miscellaneous negative news caused the worst downturn this year.
What does it mean for the long term prospects of our clients and our businesses? If I follow the premise that this is a sequel to last year, the markets might be expected to end 2012 flat or nearly so, after a lot of gut wrenching volatility. No fun for anyone.
As I mentioned in the blog last year, our advisors are continuing to do well and their businesses are growing. I believe that because of the market roller coaster, our clients need guidance more than ever. There are no easy do-it-yourself answers for the investing public. Direct bought real estate is largely considered long term, illiquid, and quite uncertain in today’s environment, so making one’s fortune as Uncle Fred did in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s is not on most investors’ menu. And of course we all know, as do most investors, that what you have left of cash equivalent or bonds even after modest inflation, is a negative number today.
So to quote an old TV commercial, “what’s a mother to do?”
Fortunately for Alan and my viewing enjoyment, and for the investing public, there is always a hero to conquer the creepy crawly things and protect mankind. The heroes of the end of the world story CNBC is telling are the many professional, caring, and calm financial advisors in this country. Your weapons are discipline, a long term viewpoint, and the many, many high quality varied investment vehicles and programs that can smooth the volatility, improve the odds, and strive for an outcome that fits clients’ needs and expectations.
So, thanks in advance for saving mankind again this summer. I sleep comfortably knowing that even though there will always be a new threat in each sequel, the hero always wins in the end.