A HOUSE DIVIDED?

Only you can prevent Socialism!

a house divided

“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.” -Albert Einstein

You don’t have to be a genius to realize that the United States Of America is unique among nations. As the oldest constitutional republic and longest lasting capitalist country, it has been attacked from day one by those who would see it destroyed. Unfortunately not all enemies are foreign. Since he US Civil War (Apr 12, 1861 – Apr 9, 1865) it has been evident that various leaders of the Democratic National Committee have been attacking the fundamental principals which made this great nation. None would dare call their actions treason, but they are a cancer which must not spread to the next generation. Patriots aren’t born, but patriots need to educate their children to inculcate them from the disease of Socialism. Freedom is only ONE generation away from extinction.

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It’s a Grand Old Flag!               

One of the most striking changes that I witnessed following the events of September 11th, 2001 was that in the days that followed that despicable  terrorist attack against the USA, suddenly everyone was a patriot  and nearly every house was displaying an American Flag. Unfortunately, instant patriots do not last. While slightly more than half the nation remained vigilant, the new instant patriots slowly went back to their old ways.  Since the TERRORIST ATTACK that destroyed the Twin Towers and damaged the Pentagon, an entire generation has been born and these 18 year olds and younger have been taught such lies as the US deserved the attack, it wasn’t TERRORISM, and most recently to quote the words of DEMOCRAT  Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district since 2019 Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, “Some people did something.”    

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“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.”– Thomas Sowell

God, guns, and guts made America great!

Changes in public education have slowly removed the teaching of The Bible in schools, trivialized or eliminated entirely the faith of the Founding Fathers, and streamlined American history in favor of teaching world history and world religions. Children are being taught what to think, not how to think. Civil discourse has all but disappeared and topics of religion, politics, and economics have become the big three no-nos of ‘polite’ conversation.   These are the same tactics that Mao Tse Tung and Adolph Hitler utilized when they created The Red Guard and The Hitler Youth. By co-opting and corrupting the minds of impressionable children, they were able to create brainwashed young adults whom they used to change and  destroy any opposition to ‘the party line’.  These useful idiots are exactly whom Saul Alinsky’s  protégés will use to attempt to win the 2020 election.  In the USA, the head of the DNC Nancy Pelosi wants to lower the voting age to 16 because it’s “important to capture kids when they’re in high school”. DNC Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was pushing her ‘Green New Deal’ and attempting to convince the youth of the nation that is something isn’t done,  the world will end in 12 years. Such attempts by the Democrats to sway children to ‘The Dark Side’ should strike terror into the heart of every parent in this country.   We need to ignite the spark of patriotism in our children so they can become a light against the darkness that threatens to destroy our land.

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2020 Vision

In 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected 45th President of the USA to the stunned disbelief of every Democrat. A grassroots campaign lead by conservative Christians and right-wing Republicans helped launch this great patriot into the oval office.  A constant barrage of Fake News  has been slandering this man since day one. Trump has been on record for over thirty years as saying that he would only run for president if he felt this nation was in danger of being destroyed, and that was exactly what the previous administration was in the process of. All of the freedoms that make America great were being slowly attacked, and Trump was the only man who could stand up to the career politicians and ‘Drain the Swamp’.  No American president in our lifetime has loved and defended our nation and our way of life more than Donald. J. Trump. He has been fulfilling his campaign promises since day one, and this terrifies the Liberals.  They know that when he wins re-election in 2020, the DNC will never regain power in their lifetime.  Currently there are 21 contenders from the DNC considering a run for the White House in 2020. This is the largest attempt by any party to seize power, and such attempts usually end in failure with few exceptions. In 2020, just as in 2016, there will be many new first-time voters 18 and up. We need to convince them of the importance of voting for another four years of the Trump presidency because the fate of our nation and its continued prosperity are on the line. Nearly all of the DNC hopefuls including Kamilla Harris and Joe Biden claim the 1st thing they will do is repeal the Trump Tax Cut, and instill higher taxes.  Taxation is theft, and when Walter Mondale tried this tactic with the Reagan Tax  Cuts, he lost 49 states in 1984. Donald J. Trump could become the first US president to win all 50 states in the Electoral College, another creation by the Founding Fathers which the Liberals want to abolish. Liberals want to re-write or re-interpret the Constitution and preferably ban all private gun ownership, meaning only criminals will own guns.   Also, having lost the liberal majority in the Supreme Court, they want to change than as well.   The 2020 President Election may be the most important election since Abraham Lincoln won, and if Donald J. Trump loses, America loses. Were  we go one, we go all. Our entire way of life is under attack.  As always, I wish you success and happiness!

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WHO’S MINDING YOU!

Escaping the ‘nanny-state’!

whos minding you

This is the forth article in the ‘Who’s Minding’ series. For the first three parts read Who’s Minding the Bank?, Who’s Minding the Market?,  and  Who’s Minding the Food?

I’ve got no strings

To hold me down

To make me fret

Or make me frown

I had strings

But now I’m free

There are no strings on me–  song I’ve Got No Strings by Dickie Jones, 1940

Everyone has an agenda. Some are obvious, are some subtle, and some are hidden and secretive.  Except in the most rare of cases, the person pulling the strings wants what’s best for themselves above all else. Sometimes what’s good for them is also good for everyone else,  and sometimes it’s unashamedly mercenary.  Without question, the two thousand plus billionaires of the world wield great power over the average person.  They are the modern kings of today’s world, and they are playing a Game of Kings to stake out their own little section of the world to rule.  They are the tops of the pyramid, the kings of the hill.  Next in line are the millionaires and multi-millionaires. They too have great power over the lives of the average person.  Independent, hard working people come next. At the very bottom of the pyramid are the wretched dregs of society. People who have either giving up on trying to better themselves, and are dependent upon social welfare programs and the kindness of strangers to survive.

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If you are fortunate enough to live in the United States of America,  then you are blessed indeed. The USA is a land of limitless opportunities, and built upon the tenants of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Since the nation was founded 243 years ago, it has been the target of powerful people who want to subvert and destroy our great nation. For parts of the nineteenth and all of the twentieth centuries,  the Democratic National Committee has been trying to remake the USA and destroy the Christian country created by the Founding Fathers.  Democrat is indeed the new communist as the liberal left slinks further  and further towards radical socialist agendas and establishing a permanent power over the average citizen. In their new vision of America, we the people will be dependent on the government from cradle to grave.  They will slander and attempt to destroy anyone who dares to oppose them.

Our nation and its government is BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE.  There is nothing wrong with wealth. There is nothing wrong with success. We live in a capitalist society and our economy grows through consumerism.   If people are buying, selling, and trading, there are jobs being created.  What is wrong is when a government tries to enslave all its citizens and destroy the means of creating wealth while raising taxes and killing jobs. This is what Barack Hussein Obama II was in the process of doing, and what Hillary Rodham Clinton would have continued had she been elected.  Fortunately,  there was a very powerful patriot, billionaire Donald J. Trump who was willing to fight to save our nation from those who were willing to save it.  Trump’s love for our nation exceeds that of any president in our lifetime, even greater than Ronald Reagan. Fortunately, WE THE PEOPLE banded together in such force to elect this great man to the highest office. Donald J. Trump has been insulted, slandered, belittled, and bashed by all those who oppose him. The liberals are losing, and they know it!

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  • Billionaires control our world.
  • They control our banks.
  • They control our economy and industry.
  • They control our food.
  • They control our media.
  • They control our communications and social networks.

They control so many aspects of our lives, but they can only control us if we allow them.  All of the media, communications, and social networks THEY created can also benefit US if we take the time to navigate the sea of lies and misinformation that powerful LEFTIST billionaires are imposing upon us.  Every wealth group from the ultra-poor to the mega-rich can be divided into two main camps, the left (liberal) and the right (conservative). There are also two other smaller subgroups that are far dangerous to our nation. The centralist, who can flip-flop on issues at the drop of a hat, and the anarchist who wants no government of any kind and doesn’t care about politics at all.  Both of these groups are products of the post-modern school of thought which claims there is no right or wrong.

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In God We Trust!

There was a reason that Madalyn Murray O’Hair fought hard to ban studying the Bible in public schools in 1963. She was a militant feminist, communist, and atheist who founded the group American Atheists.  She  claimed that religion was “a crutch” and an “irrational reliance on superstitions and supernatural nonsense”.  In reality this was all part of a greater plan. The USA was founded as a Christian nation, and by removing the study of the Bible from public schools, O’Hair was sowing the seeds for the destruction of the US.  Without God, there is no USA. 

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. – Psalm 33:12

There is a difference between religion and spirituality, just as there is a difference between morals and ethics. Unfortunately few take the time to learn the distinction.  Spirituality is a belief in God, and the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. Religion is a system of rules and doctrines.  This is why Jesus said in James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. ”   

There is no such thing as a moral atheist because morals are based on Biblical absolutes whereas situational ethics are fluid and can change with the individual or situation. Good can be bad and bad can be good  in the mind of post modernists. God is good ALWAYS and when you eliminate the study of the Bible, you erode the moral backbone of the nation.  If something is legal, it is not unethical. If it were unethical, it would be illegal. Immoral is always immoral, whether it is legal or not. So the word of God is not a ‘controlling’ force, but a guiding factor which is for our benefit.  Warning us about destructive behaviors is not HATE, it is truly being done  for our benefit so that we may life a healthy, happy, and productive life.  The only time I’ve ever seen happy atheists are when they were insulting Christians.

The bottom line is that there are many forces in this world that are trying to control us, even up to and including the point of a gun.  The power we give these earthly forces over us is an illusion we allow them, one that we can shatter at any time. WE THE PEOPLE have the real power, and if God is with us, who can stand against us? As always, I wish you success and happiness!  

Who’s Minding the Food?

Junkfood junkies!

whos minding the food

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

The Standard American Diet is about 2,200 calories per day, with 50% of calories from carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 35% fat. It is very different from those of our forefathers.  

Since the start of the industrial revolution, the everyday lifestyle of mankind has changed in many ways.  When the United States was founded in 1776, the vast majority of its citizens lived in an agrarian society. We farmed and grew our own food, or worked for those that did. Once industry took hold, and large cities began to spring up, we shifted to a largely metropolitan society. In 1870, almost 50 percent of the U.S. population was employed in agriculture, today it is less than 2%. Farming is neither glamorous, nor easy. 

This shift has resulted in a two-fold negative lifestyle impact on the people in our nation:

One – We must buy processed and preserved food from supermarkets.

Two– We no longer endure the physical labor needed to burn off the calories in the food we eat.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”– words of Jesus Christ from  Matthew 7:9-11 NIV

We in the USA may take it for granted because our nation has never known long-term widespread famine, or food shortages, but food is perhaps the greatest way to control a country. Laws ,economics, and education  may restrict your life in a myriad of ways, but cut off your food and water long enough and you’ll die. Poison the food supply, and you slowly sicken, weaken and given enough time, kill the people who eat it.  All food is made of up to three components: Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates (carbs for short).  Carbohydrates are just the scientific word for sugar, and comes in two forms, complex and simple. Simple carbohydrates are made up of just one or two sugar molecules. As such, it doesn’t take much for your body to break them down and absorb them (as glucose) into the bloodstream. For this reason, simple carbohydrates raise blood sugar much faster and usually higher than complex carbohydrates.

According to a study printed in The BMJ (formally called The British Medical Journal) in an average American diet,  about 57.9% of the daily caloric intake of about 2200 kcals is coming from ultra-processed foods, 9.4% from processed foods, 2.9% from processed culinary ingredients. Only a mere  29.6% (less than a third) of our food intake is from unprocessed or minimally processed foods.

There are more than 38,000 processed food products on grocery shelves in the US. This includes the so-called ultra -processed foods which accounts for 90% of the added sugar in the Standard American Diet .  Additionally the majority of these items contain chemical additives, dyes, and preservatives that are unhealthy to say the least. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) often takes the place of refined sugar, but is far worse. The human body can’t process this artificial sugar made by converting starch into fructose. HFCS has been added to many products to ‘make them taste better’. Whenever you see ‘new improved’ on a box, automatically think added sugars and fat. Any calories you consume that you don’t burn off daily are stored in your body as fat.

 The Standard American Diet is SAD indeed.

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Feed The World?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, it should come as no surprise to you that billionaires (and to a lesser extent multi-millionaires) control the world. They are the modern day equivalents of kings, and world domination is a game of kings. As such, these contemporary would-be rulers reign over almost every aspect of our lives. They may not officially own the country, but they do control either the food supply, or the distribution chains for it. (I’m not even going to get into restaurant chains. Americans may be eating-out more than ever, but restaurants are still just a luxury, not a necessity.)

Of the 38,000 processed foods on the shelves in food stores, more often than not we go for a trusted name-brand. All of the major supermarket chains have an in-house brand that’s comparable or sometimes superior to the national brand. They may even have similar packaging and be placed side-by-side on the shelf.  Many of these knock-offs or, no-frills alternatives are manufactured by the same exact factories as the recognized brand.  All of the official brands in the world are owned by just ten corporations as shown in this infographic from Oxfam.   

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Additionally most supermarkets stock all major brands. There are few exceptions such as the Trader Joe chain which stocks nearly 95% of their store brand instead. Trader Joe is an American company which specializes in organic health foods.  Their groceries are top-notch, and cost a few pennies more. You get what you pay for. The top-selling supermarket company in the world is Kroger.

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Top 10 Supermarket Companies in 2018

(Sales in billions)

  • The Kroger Co., $105.10
  • Albertsons, $57.39
  • Royal Ahold Delhaize USA, $43.20
  • Publix Super Markets, $34.56
  • Aldi, $25.86
  • H-E-B Grocery, $21.94
  • Neighborhood Market/Marketside (Walmart), $17.04
  • Wakefen/ShopRite, $16.30
  • Whole Foods Market (Amazon), $15.40
  • Southeastern Grocers, $10.63

We are what we eat!

There are countless diet cooks, cook books, and health books in print and on line, yet two out of three Americans are overweight.  This is senseless!  Food is necessary for life, but not everything we are able to eat is good for us. Sometimes it’s a matter of the ingredients, other times it is portion size. The times of day and the frequency of which we eat can also play a part. Some people eat to live while others live to eat. Of all the addictions in the world, food addiction is the worst because you need to eat to live. Junkfood may taste wonderful, but all things in moderation. The quality of life of a morbidly obese person is far diminished from that of a person leading a healthy, active lifestyle. The bottom line is that health is far more important than wealth if you want to live a successful and happy life.   No one can force you the eat healthier, that decision rest sole with you. As always I wish you success and happiness!

FREE LUNCH?

Beware of wide-eyed loons!

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Exposing the dangers of wealth redistribution.

There is an old adage about  ‘being too young to know any better.’   The average millennial was born after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and there are really only four true socialist nations following Marxist-Leninist principles  remaining in the world today. They are:

  • the Laos People’s Democratic Republic
  •  the People’s Republic of China
  • the Republic of Cuba
  •  the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

I am not including countries that have multi-party systems where a socialist faction has taken control of the government like in like Venezuela or Greece.   

There has been a dangerous trend among young people in the USA to idolize socialism as being morally and economically superior to capitalism.  The vast sea of young idiots on campuses across the county have been duped by the unsubstantiated claims of ‘true equality’ which can be achieved by embracing socialism being spouted by the likes of newly elected NY state rep Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, or Bernie Sanders, the failed presidential hopeful. For me, the truly amazing thing is that in the USA, more people than not possess powerful hand-held computers, AKA ‘smart-phones’, which could be used to research the truth  behind these fictitious claims. Instead, these young empty-headed numbskulls use their ‘toys’ only to text, watch videos, or play game apps. When I was a young boy, we didn’t have smart-phones.  You either learned the information to succeed in life, or you didn’t, and chose instead to blame others for your shortfalls.  

The only place you’ll find success before work is in the English dictionary.

“In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.” – Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky was a Russian revolutionary, Marxist theorist, and Soviet politician. Despite helping create the Soviet Union during the October Revolution of 1917, he was exiled after the death of Vladimir Lenin 1924, and ultimately assonated under orders from Joseph Stalin in 1940.

To explain socialism in very simple terms, the Government owns EVERYTHING, and distributes it equally i.e, a re-distribution of wealth to insure fairness. Under such an assumption, if a man worked hard his entire life to save a million dollars, and he had 999,999 penniless neighbors, it would be just for the Government to seize his million dollars, and give everyone one dollar so they could all ‘share the wealth’ and all be poor together. Does that make sense? Where is the incentive to work if all my assets will be seized, and given freely to people who don’t work. Under such a ridiculous system, it would behoove me to not be productive and receive my ‘free’ dollar instead of working hard to earn a million dollars and being punished for being successful.

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Socialism pretends that it can solve all of humanity’s problems by ensuring ‘equality’. Socialism only works by stealing from successful people, and giving it to lazy, stupid people because ‘they’ are ‘entitled’ to it. Only a wide-eyed loon would believe such non-sense. Recently the aforementioned NY State Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez proposed a 70% tax on the rich to fund her ‘free’ programs. This is the same woman who after winning her $174,000 a year job whined that she couldn’t afford an apartment in Washington D.C.  How is she going to afford anything once she pays the $121,800 in taxes under her 70% rate? A better question to ask would be how much of MY money does the government feel actually belongs to me? Taxation is theft!   

Free does sound good, but there is another old adage, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is a lie.’ There is no such thing as a free lunch. Socialism promises omelets for all, but only delivers broken eggs, and dead chickens.

Knowledge is power.

Capitalism by comparison, rewards the intelligent and hard-working with  success and financial gain. Individuals own everything, not the Government. You get to own private property, such as housing complexes which you can rent out, business which create both goods and jobs. Quality and value are rewarded by the accumulation of capitol. Competition drives the successful to new heights while punishing those who can’t or won’t compete. If you’re stupid and lazy, you won’t go far in life.  Free market capitalism is the number one system for building wealth. Socialism only creates poverty. Last year, President Trump was lambasted by both the liberal media and celebrities for referring to Haiti as a ‘Shit-hole country’. Haiti is one of the poorest nations on Earth, and is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Eighty percent of its citizens live in poverty, and live on under $1000 per year. Certainly doesn’t sound like a place where I would hang my hat. Beginning in December 1972, a stream of Haitian “boat people” fled the brutal Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti for the United States. Desperate Haitian refugees braved a  dangerous  830 mile ocean trip to seek refuge in the USA, albeit illegally. Needless to say  Cuba, a Socialist nation was only 250 miles from Haiti, and they passed right by it. If a socialist nation is such a great idea, why risk life and limb to travel over three times the distance to escape to the USA? Answer number one: Because The USA is better than Cuba. Answer number two, because Capitalism is better than Socialism. Answer number three, because we wouldn’t shoot them like the Cubans probably would.

Bottom line, if you want to be rich, work for it, and don’t take candy from strangers. The USA is a wonderful land of freedom and opportunity. If you feel the need to back political candidates who offer you ‘free stuff’, it’s because you lack the backbone to work for what you want in life. Don’t be the type of person who believes they are only entitled to the scraps someone else offers them. There is opportunity everywhere   in this country as long as you are willing to work for it, because fortune favors the bold.  Like Napoleon Hill once wrote, “THINK AND GROW RICH”. As Always I wish you success and happiness.  

Time for a do-over?

Reset the clock!

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“Clocks are made by men, God creates time. No man can prolong his allotted hours, he can only live them to the fullest – in this world or in the Twilight Zone.” — Rod Serling

Welcome to the first week of the New Year, 2019. There was no blog post last week for the first time since the inception of http://www.InstantCoffeeWisdom.com back in September of 2017. I felt it was appropriate to schedule a break over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period.  Today is Sunday, January 6th.  Some Christians still refer to this day as Epiphany, or the Twelfth-Day, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi. In a few countries around the world, it is almost as big a celebration as Christmas Day itself. Here in the USA, not so much. Epiphany spelled with a lowercase ‘e’ is also a word to describe a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. There is nothing more commonplace then the annual changing of the calendar, and the start of the new year.   It is a do-over, a time for new beginning and a fresh start as we lay the past to rest.

“The place is here…the time is now…and the journey into the shadows that we’re about to watch could be our journey…” —Rod Serling’s opening narration to The Twilight Zone’s pilot episode, “Where is Everybody?,” October 2, 1959

For the past twenty years in the USA, the cable TV SYFY channel (originally called Sci-Fi) has celebrated New Year’s Eve by broadcasting a Twilight Zone marathon.  This classic television program from October 2, 1959 through June 19, 1964 depicted weekly tales of bizarre, supernatural occurrences and the effects of such on an ever-changing cast of characters. The show has been revived several times and a new version is in the works. The title of the show is so recognizable that it has become a colloquial term to describe any bizarre or ludicrous situation or behavior that rears its ugly head to cause chaos or havoc.

Sometimes things really do happen which are beyond our control. But only sometimes. Often we bring these unfortunate things upon our on heads due to poor planning, stupidity, and/or laziness. No one ever promised that life would be easy, or fair, but it is worth it, and there are countless opportunities to reset the clock, and begin anew. The key is both to learn from our mistakes and to not quit. Quitters never win, and winners never quit.     

Perception is the lens which defines our reality.

Are things really as bad as we ‘think’ they are? Or do we make our situations far worse by convincing ourselves as we bemoan our circumstances? One surefire way to determine progress is to diligently keep track of the pertinent data, and recording your findings  on a regular schedule, then track the records by journals or charts. As negative trends emerge, you will become aware of them early on and be able to correct the course before you sail into dangerous waters. As this is still just the first week of the new year, there is still time to run out and buy a calendar/planner book for you to chart your progress throughout the new year. I do this religiously every year, and have been doing so for most of my adult life. Keeping records and tracking progress has been instrumental in keeping a positive outlook, and propelled me further on the path of success, keeping miles ahead of The Marching Morons.

There are many people in media who keep informing us about how terrible the US financial markets were in 2018, and how 2018 was the worst year for the market in eleven years, and that is was the worst December since The Great Depression of 1931. Yes, I too reported a SLIGHT loss in my net-worth for 2018. (4.7%) If I offset my loss by my gains of the last decade, it is nearly non-existent, a mere pittance. So tell me Great Kreskin, what does 2018 predict for 2019?  Only a fool would bet against the mighty economy of this country.

How do you eat an elephant?

The elephant is the largest animal on land. There’s an old saying. ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ The answer is ‘One bite at a time’ . Sometime we have grand ambitions and lofty goals. The key to accomplishing these lay in proper planning and by breaking down the larger parts of the goal into smaller, more manageable sub-goals. The original task in its entirety may seem overwhelming, but by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable jobs, you can slowly accomplish the big picture, while bolstered by noticeable progress as you tick-off boxes on your to-do list. Again, as this is THE FIRST WEEK OF 2019, There is still time to plan out your goals and sub-goals by week, month, and quarter. You have an entire new year to improve various aspects of your life. Some goals can be worked on simultaneously, as they may complement one another if done in tandem. One example of tandem goals is the two-fold goal of eating healthier, and exercising. Both work best when done together. When you complete your goals, mark then down. Successful people work from lists and write things down! Don’t be afraid to start small, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The most important part is to START. Just keep your goals clear and measurable, and write them down. Set reminders on your phone or calendar planner book. Enlist the help of friends as ‘accountability buddies’ if you need to. Begin at the beginning, and repeat to completion! You got this in the bag!

Which way to the front?

We were all newbies once, so we’ve all experienced the uncertainty of where to begin. Here’s a few self-improvement suggestions for helping to jog your journey to a ‘new and improved’ you.

  • Drink a liter of water every day, and eliminate soda. (water good, soda bad!)
  • Exercise.
  • Cut out meat for one meal a week. (Better yet, become a vegetarian like me)
  • Eat a cup of veggies at lunch and dinner.
  • Go to bed before 10 P.M. (Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.)
  • Start a budget
  • STOP USING YOUR CREDIT CARDS! (Go cash only, if possible.)
  • Save 20% of every paycheck.
  • Take ‘The 52-week Challenge’!
  • Get 30 minutes of ‘ME-TIME’ every day.
  • KILL YOUR TELEVISION
  • Limit internet/social media usage.
  • Discover a podcast
  • Read one chapter of a book 3 times a week.
  • Read the Bible. (God is good, always!)

Start today, and before you know it, you’ll have developed good habits that will eventually add up to a fresh new you! As always I wish you success and happiness!  

Fruitcake! Oh, you shouldn’t have!

Making the case for giftcards.

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Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year according to numerous cards, songs, and movies. For some people the holidays are filled with stress as they obsess over various topics some of which are related to the practice of gift giving. ‘Tis the season to go broke for many people who go way over-budget on holiday spending. Unfortunately, many times we  end up giving some people on our lists ‘the perfect gift’ which ends up being something they wouldn’t have purchased for themselves ever, even if it was on sale 95% off, and they had just received a huge Christmas bonus in their paycheck.  Everyone has different tastes, and some people are just impossible to buy presents for.

To top it all off, It’s probably also impossible to get gifts for our entire family, as well as every friend you know.  So we agonize over who gets a gift and who doesn’t.

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid!”

In the 1983 film ‘A Christmas Story’, a young boy named Ralphie obsesses over the only gift he wants for Christmas, a Red Rider BB gun. Everyone he tells this to, including the mall Santa, admonishes him that he’ll shoot his eye out.  It’s a silly movie, and a little fun. I’ve watched it and at least one cable channel TNT shows the movie on a continuous loop each Christmas, but it’s no ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. Now life seen through the eyes of a child are very different from the view of an adult. When we were kids, our parents were probably the only ones who knew what we wanted for Christmas, and as children our lives were over if ‘Santa’ failed to deliverer the coveted item. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a spoiled brat as a child and cried when I got sensible presents like socks and a warm coat. Now as a grown up, I want what ‘I want’, and sometimes I get an undesirable gift. It’s disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world.

The gift that keeps getting given.

One ‘option’ that we as adults have adopted to deal with the unwelcome gift is the practice of ‘re-gifting’. Re-gifting in and of itself is not a  bad thing, but it can backfire. Whenever you re-gift, make sure it’s not in the same circle of friends, and NEVER EVER EVER re-gift  within your family. You don’t want to give the fruitcake ‘Aunt Francis’ gave you, to ‘Uncle Billy’.  Also make absolutely certain that there is no tag or personal note anywhere in the gift that identifies it as a ‘re-gift’. Think of these ‘twice-given’ gifts as recycling, and as a way of being thrifty. Just because you don’t want it doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t appreciate it.  If it’s something that you absolutely ‘hate’ keep in mind that re-gifting a despised item may elicit the same reaction in the receiver as it did you. If they in turn re-gift the gift, it might end up coming back to haunt you, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, or that infamous  fruitcake that seems to be the same fruitcake that has been around, and around, and around.  

Paper or plastic?

Cash is king, but some people still think of cash as an impersonal gift. Sticking bills in a envelope is probably the easiest gift you can wrap. The other option is the gift card. Like cash, a gift card enables you to give a gift that the recipient ACTUALLY wants, as opposed to what you think would be perfect for them. Gift cards have come a long way from the days of the paper gift certificate.  Some of today’s gift cards (BUT NOT ALL) can even be purchased by credit card. Some gift cards are VISA/Mastercard ‘money cards’ and are good at any merchant. Store cards are good only at that store. You can’t use a Burger King gift card at McDonald’s.  As a result gift cards are now the most popular Christmas gifts among adults, and are also the most easily ‘re-giftable’ gift, second only to cash.  

Children don’t understand the economics of Christmas. For them, it’s all about the toys. For adults, it not about what’s under the tree, it’s who is around it that really matters. Money is a renewable resource, but people are  finite and when we’re gone, we are gone.   So as we head into the final days of the Christmas season, keep it simple and remember that it’s the thought that counts. As always, I wish you success and happiness! 

YOU SAVED HOW MUCH?

Are ‘Black Friday’ deals really worth all the hassle?

you saved how much

In the USA, the day after Thanksgiving has been referred to as ‘Black Friday’ for over fifty years.  It marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas Shopping season.  The shopping extravaganza grew out of a series of slightly connected events that fed off one another resulting in the shopping nightmare we deal with today. I don’t know about you, but I avoid the stores that entire weekend.

canada

Blame Canada!

In 1869, Timothy Eaton opened his first department store in Toronto Canada.  The T. Eaton & Company Importers  quickly prospered, ultimately billing itself as Canada’s Greatest Store and at one time was even considered the most successful department store in the world. What does this have to do with the USA and Black Friday?

On  December 2, 1905 Eaton’s held the first of its annual Christmas Parades. These holiday events grew increasingly both in scale and popularity. A couple of decades later, the parade captured the attention of the CEOs of BOTH Macy’s Department Store and Gimbles.   The first Thanksgiving Day parade in the USA  held in 1920 was sponsored by Gimbels department store in Philadelphia PA.  In NYC a few  years later on Thanksgiving Day 1924, the First Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade had an  audience of over 250,000 people.  The Parade ended with Santa Clause being welcomed to Herald Square and escorted to this throne at Macy’s.  The parade was such a success that Macy’s declared it would become an annual event.  Philly may have been the flagship location for Gimbles, but they ALSO had a location at Herald Square across from Macy’s and were not amused by the imitation. The competition for Christmas shopping between Macy’s and Gimbles Department stores  was legendary and became the back story of the 1947 Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street. (By the 1950’s the Eaton’s Christmas Parade was still the largest in North America, but now that honor rests solely with Macy’s.)

Other US cites also hold local parades, but none can match the scale of the NYC Macy’s Day Parade. The resulting foot traffic from these crowds meant extra business for any retailers lucky enough to be in the vicinity. In the 1950’s in Philadelphia PA, the police started referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving as A Black Friday, black meaning very bad. Between the crowds for the Thanksgiving Parade, and the Saturday Army vs. Navy football game, the crowds in the city were a nightmare, and police were working 12 hour shifts for crowd control. The holiday foot traffic kept growing and soon retailers began running special sales to entice shoppers to make impulse purchases.

By 1961, retailers regarded Black Friday as a good thing because the increased sales revenue meant their accounts were ‘in the black’. In traditional accounting, positive income is entered into a ledger with black ink, while negative debits are recorded in red. When you balance the books, you want the bottom total line to be black, showing a positive balance.  If it’s red, you’re in debt, and possibly in deep trouble.

It is estimated that Black Friday sales account for 50% of the Christmas sales, and that Christmas sales in general account for half of the total annual sales of retailers. This is now the reason for all the special Christmas  prices we tend to see at this time of year as merchants try to relieve us of our hard-earned cash.  This is why you also see seasonal ‘pop-up’ kiosk stores in malls selling all manner of gimmicky impulse items. Christmas and Black Friday are BIG BUSINESS!

cyber

Cyberman, Cyberman, does whatever a cyber can.

The term “Cyber Monday” was created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online. The term was coined by Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman, and made its debut on November 28, 2005. The idea behind Cyber Monday was to convince people that better deals could be found online IF you were willing to wait a couple of days.  In the 21st century, the traditional retail model has been evolving. There has been a shift towards online purchases which has resulted in the death of many brick and mortar stores. 

Gimbles  went out of business in 1986. Stewardship of the Philly Parade transferred to ABC 6 and Boscov’s. Boscov’s Department Stores of Reading PA also briefly faced bankruptcy in 2011, and had to give up its share in the parade , which is now The Dunkin’ Donuts ABC6 Thanksgiving Day Parade. Eaton’s of Canada closed in 1999, was sold to SEARS of Canada,  which also folded. Local Canadian merchants banded together to save their parade.  SEARS USA is on the brink of going out of business, and Mary’s is starting to close low earning locations.  Long time king of toy stores TOY R US closed its doors forever this summer.   Jeff Bezos  started AMAZON.com in 1999. He is now the richest man in the world with a net worth estimated to be $87 Billion dollars. He’s only 54 but even he admits that no business last forever . “Amazon is not too big to fail … In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail,” Bezos reportedly said when addressing a question about Sears recently going bankrupt. “Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years.”

The question remains though, was it the computer or was it the crowds that killed brick and morter stores? The computer is a wonderful tool that can make our lives better when used properly. The internet allows us to reach stores and people in places we could never get to easily or cost effectively in the  past. By delaying instant gratification, and waiting for sales online, diligently searching for the best prices, we can save ourselves the hassle of fighting crowds for promised low prices on items which sell out in minutes at the store. It’s not worth your time or trouble when you factor in travel costs and your personal time. Time is the one commodity you can never replace. As always I wish you success and happiness.