Month: October 2020
I find that many of the disagreements that I have with people on politics and current events has to do with our respective sources of information. Many of my Facebook friends rely upon memes (that I consider social media graffiti) Fox News ideologues and political blogs with dubious reporting and analysis when they attempt to muster up an opinion or viewpoint.
I’d like to offer these friends some other alternatives for information. My list includes thought leaders, people with genuine credibility and expertise in their fields. Most have written books (not memes), are articulate and have a track record of achievement. These are people whose opinions and viewpoints I follow. I may not agree with all their opinions but I respect their ideas and arguments.
Doris Kearns Goodman
Andrew Ross Sorkin
Naseem Nicholas Taleb
Years ago, I read Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life by Eugene O’Kelly. O’Kelly was the CEO at KPMG who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died within three and a half months of the announcement. The book was primarily about the art of dying though O’Kelly did offer some advice about how to live. O’Kelly described his goal of pursuing Perfect Moments and Perfect Days. For example, he described having a four hour dinner, good wine and conversation with friends as a perfect moment.
So it got me to thinking, what are my “perfect moments?”
Here are a few of my perfect moments:
Unhurried dinner or lunch with friends in a quiet setting conversing lightly and laughing about the “old days”, memories, anecdotes, people, sports, politics etc.
Sitting by the ocean just watching the waves roll in, enjoying the sun and not allowing a care in the world to ruin the moment.
Sitting on my porch engrossed in a great book or story and losing track of time.
Listening to my music of my youth and allowing experiences, feelings and people to flow back into memory.
Any time with my wife.
Common Cents (12 Observations on Money)
I believe that every state should mandate a high school course teaching students personal financial management. Normally parents are expected to pass down their knowledge on this subject but just like sex education, the message does not always get passed or understood. Students would be taught the following lessons:
- How and where to save money
- Building an emergency cash fund
- How to create a budget
- How, when and where to apply for debt
- How to maintain an excellent credit rating (FICO)
- Principles of smart shopping (car, clothes, etc.)
- Student loan programs for college (qualifications, terms, costs)
- Paying personal Income and other taxes
- Mortgages and Home Equity lending
- Purchasing Insurances (car, renters, health, home)
- Principles Of Investing (Stocks, Bonds, Gold)
- Retirement Planning
In lieu of the course, this is the type of financial guidance I would offer young people about to graduate high school or college. These observations also apply to those who are a bit older:
- For many young people, a university education may not be worth the costly tuition in terms of return of your investment, and like a new car leaving the dealership, may become a depreciating asset.
- Often the person most responsible for your financial success or failure is not your banker, your financial advisor, Jim Cramer or your accountant. It’s your spouse or life partner, so choose wisely!
- The same foolproof strategy applies to both successfully investing in the stock market and gambling in a casino: Luck
- In investing, the only “sure thing” is that there is no sure thing.
- The best skills for financial management in business or personally are the abilities to first, create a workable budget and second, keep to the budget.
- Before retirement, your focus should be on stoking your retirement funds with contributions and a smart investment strategy. After retirement, you should be focused on your burn rate (how quickly and smartly you spend your retirement dollars). A controlled burn rate can mitigate shortfalls in your retirement strategy.
- The smartest career strategy in terms of financial independence is to transition from getting a paycheck (employee) to either issuing paychecks to your employees (as a business owner) or collecting receivables (as an entrepreneur)
- The most satisfying experiences are gained from, as a businessman, turning around a failing company and from as a caring person, turning around an individual who needed help and guidance.
- Buy lifelong experiences as opposed to buying things whose pleasure is transitory.
- The greatest investment of your time and energy should be in your health not your wealth.
- Despite their advertising, banks are not your friend or your “neighbor”. They are in business to make money off of you. They collect your deposits and pay you .01% interest while charging you 100+x more for interest if you borrow for a mortgage or car loan.
- You should be as dubious about the accuracy of the numbers on a corporate balance sheet as you would the age of an actress or the net worth of President Trump.
Making America Great????
Facebook Posts 2020
I write a variety of posts on Facebook including my observations on politics, current events, sports, business and life. Shown below are some recent posts. Many of my Facebook posts are written from emotion rather than reason. My comments are in italics.
Responding to my friend Mike’s claim about the qualifications of Amy Comey Barrett for the Supreme Court…
Oh she is qualified, if you want to get rid of Obamacare. Oh she is qualified, if you want to get rid of Roe v. Wade. Oh she is qualified, If you want a judge who will protect corporations against the interest of consumers and smaller businesses. Mike, I’m not sure what papers you read or what your sources of information are. Trump about a week ago wanted to table any aid for consumers or businesses related to coronavirus until after the election. What changed his mind? The stock market!! By the way, Mike, can you tell me what Trump’s plan is to replace Obamacare? If you can, you are the only person in the United States who can. (10-13-20)
My comments about Mrs. Barrett’s nomination in general…
I guess the kindest thing that I can say about this hearing is to agree with Senator Klobuchar that it is a “sham.” We are conducting this hearing in the middle of an election that Trump will probably lose and in the middle of an epidemic where over 200,000 people have died and maybe another hundred thousand more will die before the end of 2020. When our priorities should be about helping businesses and individuals cope with the effects of this pandemic, we are witnessing the jamming of an unqualified nominee for purely political and ideological purposes. I laugh when I hear that this is an effort for pro life. Republicans don’t give a damn about the incredible mess that they have made of this country. Just watched Senator McConnell yesterday laughing in derision when his opponent in a debate cited all the deaths involved in the coronavirus. I am deeply ashamed of this country….(10-13-20)
My observations about Harris-Pence VP Debate
I think Kamala did a great job but regrettably it will not change any votes. Four years ago, I saw another woman basically clean the floor with her male opponent at three debates. (10-7-20
My observations about the over the top Trump-Biden debate:
I can’t watch this debate anymore! This is a joke. Biden should walk off the stage and let Trump talk to himself. (9-29-20)
An observation about the utility of meetings from my corporate life.
I’ve been retired for a few years from corporate life but I do not miss meetings. 95% of them were a waste of my time and unproductive. (8-21-20)
Ruminations as I walked during the first few weeks of the pandemic.
In lieu of pickleball, I now take long walks from my home into Merchantville. It is a very quiet journey. I pass very few cars and very few people. Playgrounds are empty. No kids playing in the streets. Sporadically, I will pass another walker or a jogger. Except for the pharmacies, there is no commerce in Merchantville. Streets in the business district are empty. Parking meters stand lonely. I wonder and worry how many of the small businesses like those in Merchantville will survive if they are unable to open within the next few months. (3-24-20)
Entertainment advice at the beginning of quarantine…
For all of us who may soon be quarantined, I recommend watching the original and reprise versions of The Thomas Crown Affair. Both movie versions are excellent. I prefer the Steve McQueen – Faye Dunaway version based on this one scene. (Steve and Faye’s characters playing “seductive” chess) Never realized that playing chess could be so seductive… (3-8-20)
ACB < RBG
Amy Coney Barrett has an impressive academic and career resume. She also appears to be a great mom and wife. She has also adopted two Haitian children and has a child with Down syndrome comprising her children of seven. She is articulate, young and smart.
But I do not believe she should be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice…
There are four reasons why I would not want to see Mrs. Barrett confirmed.
First, she was nominated by Donald Trump. A President obviously has the right and obligation to nominate a qualified person for the Supreme Court. But Mr. Trump has the performance record of the ‘NFC East” in making Cabinet and other political appointments. Many have been a disaster because they were unqualified or misused their offices. So based on who is recommending her and on those who are supporting her, I have reservations about her being the best person for the job.
Second, Merrick Garland. In 2016, Republicans chose not to act on his nomination to the Supreme Court even when it was announced in March 2016. Republican senators pushed back that the next President should have the opportunity to nominate the next Supreme Court justice. Most Americans, according to recent polls, agree that the selection of the next Supreme Court justice should be left to the winner of the November election. Given that the election is a month away, I would agree there should be no rush for this decision to be made given my third point below.
Third, Congress should be focused on one thing and that is helping Americans and small businesses to survive through the pandemic. I realize that many Republicans are fighting for their political lives but many Americans are literally fighting for their lives. Given the rise in pandemic rates and with winter approaching, Congress must focus on addressing national priorities not fighting ideological battles. This is a lifetime appointment and requires appropriate due diligence and deliberation.
Fourth, I was very young when John F. Kennedy addressed voters’ concerns about his Catholicism in 1960 and how it could affect his political decisions. JFK successfully convinced the electorate that his religious beliefs would not determine his policy directions. I’m not totally comfortable that Mrs. Barrett feels that way. I’m also not comfortable that Mrs. Barrett is part of a religion that promotes a pro-life agenda while having allowed tens of thousands of children to be abused by its clergy and then to maliciously lie and cover up the claims of abuse. There are already five Catholics on the current Supreme Court. I’d like to see some additional diversity in temperament, background, experience and perspective when it comes to a life time appointment. I would not mind seeing an atheist or agnostic judge (if a qualified one admits to it) than a religious one.
Is Trump really sick or is this just a big hoax to gin up sympathy for his declining campaign?
How could he have walked out of the hospital without a doctor’s release or permission to drive around the block?
More importantly, how could anyone in the administration including his Chief of Staff, Secret Service Director, Vice President etc. think that this was remotely an appropriate or good idea? They thought this was a good idea to reassure Americans of his health?
Does Trump and his family (wife, daughters, sons etc) have any consideration for the health and lives of people who surround him (Secret Service, medical, aides, staff members, donors, supporters etc) and their families?
Why can’t the press and the country get straight answers about his health, his treatment, his prognosis etc.?
Why haven’t the Republican leadership insisted that Trump sign over temporary Presidential powers to Pence?
Are there really 40% of the voters in this country who think he should be re-elected?