That’s the advice my father gave to me, when I first found myself in debt up to my eyeballs. I thought he simply didn’t understand. I explained, as patiently as I could, that things like cable TV and renting videos were necessities – not luxuries. I explained how I simply needed more money, and since I worked for him, it was his responsibility to pay me more so I could maintain my standard of living.
He patiently explained that “when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is to stop digging.” There’s no way to spend yourself out of debt. I learned the truth of that, unfortunately, the hard way. “Making do” became a part of my vocabulary, just as “discretionary income” and “charge it” became a thing of the past.
Here’s the problem…when it’s just you – or you, your wife, and your kids – it’s not that difficult to get everybody on board the “let’s watch every penny” train. When you’re a nation, not so much, if only because a lot of the people that are the beneficiaries of “tax and spend” policies vote. Continue reading The first thing you do, is to stop digging.→
Warren Buffet and Rupert Murdoch have a lot more money than I ever will. They are both billionaires, wealthy industrialists, captains of industry. They obviously know more than I do about money. And recently, both have said “the worst is behind us…the economy is getting better.”
So why don’t I feel comforted?
I’ll tell you why. Because I don’t believe a word of it. These are smart men. Knowledgeable men. Talented men. So are both of these guys wrong? Let’s pause for a nanosecond and examine the possibilities: Continue reading What…Me Worry?→
I’ve been one of the ones that back before the election was warning about the consequences of a swing to the political left. Now those warnings and predictions are coming true with a speed that nobody (including me) could have anticipated. I’m no seer, nor am I some sort of political expert. But I do know people. And human nature. And when you get past the veneer of telegenic polish that is The Teleprompter President, I see what’s really going on. If anything, I’m convinced that we’re no longer heading towards Socialism (hint: We’re already there). No, what I’m worried about now is the idea that we are careening towards a totalitarian, fascist state.
If you’re not plugged in to the political process, there’s no time like the present. Start listening. Try to get past what the commentators say. Ignore the talking heads for a bit. Instead, listen to what the pols are saying – preferably the unedited version that you hear on C-SPAN. If that doesn’t scare you – nothing will. Continue reading Obama’s March Towards Socialism.→
One of my favorite stories involves a blind street vendor of hot dogs. One day, one his customers suggested that if business was good, he should consider expanding. The customer offered to help the blind vendor with introductions to a banker, and so the vendor ended up buying a second cart, and hiring someone to work for him. That worked out so well, that he was able to buy more carts, and hire more people. This gave him enough discretionary income that he was able to send his son to college. The son majored in business administration. When the kid graduated, he returned home to see that his dad had purchased a corner lot and an old diner trailer that he rennovated and opened as a freestanding restaurant. The son was horrified. “Dad…don’t you know the economy is lousy! You shouldn’t be expanding right now…you need to pull in your horns and hunker down for a long recessionary period. This has got “Depression” written all over it! You’d better be careful, or you’ll lose everything!”
The father thought, “Well…my son did go to college, which I’ve never done, and he did major in business, and he did get a degree. Maybe he’s right.” So he sold the restaurant, sold off the other carts, and went back to working a single street corner, selling hot dogs. He thought, “Boy, my son was right. The economy is lousy.” Continue reading Economics and Perception.→
Are you tired of hearing the same old, tired promises from candidates, along with proposals you know just will NOT work, no matter what they say? Tired of politicians pandering to special interest groups, telling us what they think we want to hear? Tired of choosing between the lesser of two weasels come November. Me too. I’m not a candidate, but if I were, I think I’d throw caution to the wind and try honesty for a change. Instead of making a bunch of empty promises I couldn’t keep if I wanted to, I’d tell people the truth, as painful as that might be. This is not a short post, in fact, printed out, it runs to ten pages. I hope you’ll agree it’s worth the time it takes to read it.
My address would go something like this…
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My fellow Americans:
We face some huge challenges in America. We are the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, but that does not mean we are without problems, nor are we always right in the way that we deal with them. We’ve made some mistakes – not because (as some say) that America is “evil” or “misguided,” but because everybody makes mistakes now and then. One of the great things about America, however, is that we have a history of admitting where we’ve gone wrong, and then fixing it. Your next President needs to deal with our problems in an intelligent, forthright manner. In that light, here’s what I plan to do if you elect me as your next President… Continue reading What I WISH they’d tell us.→
Today, the market is (finally) reacting to reality, that no amount of government funny money is gonna be able to cheat the hangman on this one. The idea that the government (who by relaxing regulations and subsequently forcing lenders to grant home loans to credit-unworthy borrowers) could fix this by pumping a few billion dollars (which the government didn’t have to begin with) into the system is patently absurd. So the market does what markets do (when allowed to work as they should) – they react to reality and adjust accordingly. For those that think that the descent from 10,000 is a tragedy unheard of in modern times – get a grip. This ain’t over yet. This is simply the end of the beginning. And the more the Feds monkey with things, the worse it’s gonna get, and the longer it will take for the market to recover. In point of fact, you can argue that a DOW of over 10,000 was an illusion, and the current number is much more reflective of reality. When everyone pretends that everyone else has money, it’s no big deal. The minute somebody has the gall to call in a chit, the whole house ‘o cards comes a-tumblin’ down. Continue reading Welcome to the Mother of all Mondays.→
Okay – full disclosure time, here kiddies: if you’re looking for a blog post that’s going to be uplifting, funny, or one of those “triumph of the human spirit” things, click off, and come back tomorrow. Consider yourself warned.
Did you see the movie The Perfect Storm? If you’re not familiar with it, or perhaps, took a pass on it due to your natural aversion to George Clooney, what happened was several climatological phenomena came together simultaneously to create a killer storm. Change one factor, and it’s a survivable storm. With all the factors in place, nobody gets out alive. It’s sort of like what happens with airline accidents. It’s never just one thing – it’s ice on the wings plus a de-icer failure plus a pilot pushing on through bad weather to make up time for his airline. Or maybe a pilot who didn’t get enough sleep, combined with cracks in the airframe plus wind shear. Take away one of these, and the passengers live. All three, and the NTSB makes another house call.
I’m afraid that we are looking at a perfect storm for the good ol’ U. S. of A., and I’m not sure that anything short of divine intervention is gonna save us. Let’s take a little inventory of what storms are on the horizon: Continue reading A Perfect Storm.→