A Federal Case?

What’s in a name?

(part one of a two-part series on The Federal Reserve Bank.)

a federal case

‘I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing.’– Thomas Jefferson, (from a  letter  sent to John Taylor on Nov. 26, 1798.)

When most Americans see the word ‘federal’ they automatically associate it with the US FEDERAL Government. By viewing the word as synonym instead of as an adjective, it has led to a confusion of meaning. Adjectives describe persons, places, or things, BUT describing something is not always the same as being something, and there are also subjective as well  as objective descriptions which can be led by emotions verses facts. In a very broad example of what I mean, let’s consider the following example: Susie calls Bobby a lazy boy at a birthday party. Her season for the statement was because she didn’t care for the way he wrapped the birthday gift. Does this mean that Bobby IS lazy? Bystanders at the partying overhearing Susie’s statement quickly take sides, some agreeing with Susie, others standing up for Bobby. None of these emotional reactions are proof of the original subjective and possibly slanderous statement made by Susie against Bobby. Yet this seems to be the modern mindset in contemporary society.  It’s like calling Trump supporters racists. If you FEEL someone is something, does that automatically make them that thing? If you hear someone else describe something, does that make it the same for you? While some things may be immutable,  others can vary widely over time or circumstance, and change from person to person.

If you asked the average person in the USA if the Federal Reserve Bank is part of the Federal Government, they would more than likely say yes, and they would be absolutely wrong.

According to Collins Dictionary of English, the number one definition of Federal is:

  1. Federal–of or formed by a compact; specif., designating or of a union of states, groups, etc. in which each member agrees to subordinate its governmental power to that of the central authority in certain specified common affairs.

The shipping company FedEx was originally called Federal Express before the company name was shortened in 2000 to its current moniker. The company was founded in 1971 by Frederick W. Smith and is currently the eight-largest private employer in the US.  Mr. Smith chose the name because  he believed the patriotic meaning associated with the word “federal” suggested an interest in nationwide economic activity. He also hoped the name would resonate with the Federal Reserve Bank, a potential customer.

The Federal Reserve Bank is NOT part of the US government.

The Federal Reserve Bank was the third attempt by representatives of the US Government to create a central banking system to oversee the nation’s financial needs. Unlike its predecessors, this current bank was NOT restricted by a twenty-year charter, and its many economic policies over the past century are directly responsible for the skyrocketing government debt which now exceeds  $25.2 trillion. That amounts to over $81,000 per citizen, or $139,000+ per tax payer (Since not all citizens pay taxes.)     

A bit of history

The First Bank Of The US

The first secretary of state, Alexander Hamilton was a great admirer of the Bank of England and was pressing President Washington to sign a bill creating the First Bank of the US. Washington had grave misgivings against signing the ‘bank bill’. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison  were strongly opposed to the measure.  Ultimately, after considering many opinions on the matter, and having decided that the bank bill was constitutional, Washington signed the bill into law on Feb 25th, 1790. The building for the newly created bank was built in Philadelphia in 1791. Twenty years later, In 1811, the U.S. Senate tied on a vote to renew the bank’s charter. Vice President George Clinton broke the tie and voted against renewal, killing the institution.

The Second Bank of the US

Modeled on Alexander Hamilton’s First Bank of the United States, the Second Bank was chartered by President James Madison in 1816 and began operations at its main branch in Philadelphia on January 7, 1817 managing twenty-five branch offices nationwide by 1832.  President Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the US, elected in 1829, was absolutely hated the bank, arguing that the  bank was a corrupt institution which failed to produce a stable national currency, was unconstitutional, and was dangerous to American liberties. He managed to convince congress NOT to renew the charter for the bank in 1836. It folded in 1841.

A political cartoon from 1833 shows Jackson destroying the bank with his “Order for the Removal,” to the approval of the Uncle Sam like figure to the right, and the annoyance of the bank’s president, shown as the Devil himself.

1832bank1

“That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.

Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good. “– Thomas A. Edison

The Federal Reserve Bank

The Federal Reserve Act was signed into law by President Wilson on December 23, 1913. It created and established the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States. It also gave the newly established system legal authority to issue Federal Reserve Notes (U.S. Dollar). The act had far reaching implications including the internationalization of the U.S. Dollar as a global currency.

Unfortunately the massive downside is that since its creation the Federal Reserve, (or sometimes  just called the Fed)  is directly responsible for the national debt, and the devaluation of the US dollar of 92%. The money the USA ‘borrows’ from the Fed is money that is ‘created’. They just order the mint to print more money. Then they charge interest on the created money. Currently the US can’t even afford to pay the interest on the money it’s loaned.

The fact of the matter is that the government NEEDS money to run, but it was no way to produce money. You can’t create prosperity by spending yourself into debt. Consider that over the next week, and come back next Sunday for part two of this long blog post on the Federal Reserve Bank. As Always, I wish you success and happiness!  

One Piece At A Time!

Good fences make good neighbors.

one piece at a time

There has been a lot said recently concerning the most recent partial shutdown of the US government.  Just before Christmas, on December 22nd, 2018 President Trump ordered the shutdown in order to secure the funding needed to complete a barrier wall that spans the southern border of the USA from Mexico. The  continental border between the two nations is extensive, spanning 1,954 miles (3,145 km). On our side, the area affects four US states: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. There are many sections of existing barrier wall, and even natural  barriers such as rivers and mountains. There are ‘virtual’ barriers policed by National Guard, SWAT teams, and video surveillance. Sections of the border have been fenced off one piece at a time over the years, and the US Border Patrol has been doing its part to stem the flow of illegal aliens.  Some sections of the existing walls are steel, some are concrete, and some are just barbed wire. The main point is that because of the piecemeal security measures   our southern border is currently vulnerable at some points to incursions by illegal aliens. A country without borders is NOT a country. President Trump understands this point and is committed to securing our border with Mexico, despite resistance from Democrats  and  constant criticism by liberal media outlets.  

One Piece At A Time

“I’d get it one piece at a time

And it wouldn’t cost me a dime

You’ll know it’s me when I come through your town

I’m going to ride around in style

I’m going to drive everybody wild

Because I’ll have the only one there is around.” – One Piece at a Time, song from 1976, lyrics sung by Johnny Cash

sign-643551_1920

The United States is a country that was founded by immigrants, and is a melting pot of cultures and ideas. Each year, we welcome new immigrants who enter our country legally, many of whom go on to become naturalized citizens. A foreign born person can become a legal US citizen, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is a process, and it does take time. Unfortunately, there are also foreigners who ILLEGALLY enter our country each year, breaking the law and sneaking across the border. The vast majority of illegal aliens are of Mexican origin. There are quotas for immigration. America is a great country which provides levels  of freedom and prosperity not found in other countries. We are the longest lasting constitutional republic in the history of the world, but we can’t fit everyone. By most accounts, there are over six billion people on this planet, and just 195 countries. One third of these people live in China and India, which have about a billion people each. The population of the USA is about 350,000,000. There are very few people who hate their homeland. If you ask Swedish citizen what the best country is, most likely they’ll say Sweden. A person from Wales will reply, Wales. A German will say Germany, and so on. It’s human nature to love your home, and I love my country very much. I firmly believe that president Trump  feels the same way and is doing everything he can to ‘Make America Great Again’.  There are various pieces of the wall that have been built, that are being built, and that still need to be built.  The government gets it’s income from taxes, I pay my fair share of taxes, and I want my tax money to be spent on the defense and security of my homeland. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t support the president, you don’t support this nation, and you are not a true American. You should immigrate to one of the other 194 countries, pick one I don’t care which as long as you aren’t living in mine.   

A ‘Mending Wall’

The phrase ‘Good fences make good neighbors’ is a line from the 1915 poem Mending Wall by Robert Frost. The poem concerns two neighbors who meet regularly to repair a stone wall that divides their two properties. The neighbor argues for the wall, stating that ‘Good fences make good neighbors’. Frost counter-argues that there is ‘something that doesn’t love a wall’, and that he wants to know what’s being walled-out and walled-in. That kind of sums up the mindset in the USA currently. One side (which includes most conservatives and Republicans) wants the wall. Democrats and other liberals, do not, and are strongly against it for various ’emotional’ reasons.  Democrats claim there is a small number of people who will be negatively affected, and somehow feel walls are ‘immoral’. Conservatives want protection for our legal residents, barring vicious criminal elements from entering our country. It’s becoming a battle of wills, and I for one am glad our President has the back-bone to stand up to these breeding heart liberals who have been systematically compromising tradition American values. In exchange for funding the wall,  Donald Trump has offered various compromises on other issues that Democrats support concerning DOCA and illegals currently living in the US, but Democrats refuse to negotiate, and try to blame him instead for the government shutdown.  This is now the longest shutdown in our nation’s history.

There is a basic goal of the US government stated in our constitution to provide for the general welfare of American citizens. We are entitled to health, peace, morality, and safety as cited in the preamble to the constitution, and as president, Donald J. Trump has sworn an oath to uphold the constitution and to  defend  our nation from all enemies,  both foreign and domestic. Nancy Pelosi must have missed that part when she read the same Oath of Office.

constitution-1486010_1280

Brick by Brick.

“I’m building a house where I can think

And have some balance and dignity

I’m building a house where no one can hurt me

I’m building a house where the weak are strong

I’m building a house with a real song

I’m using faith that is immortal

I’m building it with simplicity

And the way that we feel, you and me

I’m building it with what I believe in. ” – Brick by Brick song from 1990, lyrics by Iggy Pop

Walls exist not out of malice, but for compassion. They keep unwanted elements out, while protecting what lies within. The locks, doors, and walls of your home are there not because you hate the people outside, but because you love the people inside.  If you believe that barriers are somehow immoral, than you’re very naive and you’ve missed the point entirely.  Piece of mind is a wonderful thing to have and knowing that  one is safe a and secure is an essential component towards that feeling of tranquility.  As always,  I wish you success and happiness!

FREE LUNCH?

Beware of wide-eyed loons!

freelunch

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.

ocasio-cortez-flier

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!

time for a do-over

“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!  

A Polar Bear Market?

Can Santa tame the beast?

A POLAR BEAR MARKET

2018 has been a financial roller-coaster. Essentially, after a fantastic start, the financial markets had two corrections in one year before entering bear territory in what has been the worst December for the markets since 2011. With one shortened trading week and a day next week left, it is unlikely that the markets will close in the black this year. For nervous investors, this has been a financial heart-attack. The Dow is still in correction but poised to potentially enter a bear market, as is the S&P 500 which has reported that over 60% of its member companies are bleeding red. On Friday, the Nasdaq Composite confirmed that it is officially in a bear market for the first time since 2008.    

A very important thing to remember is that despite the negative financial press, the market is still up compared to where it was two years ago. in fact, before the Dow hit its record in January, it had set 96 new record closing highs since the 2016 presidential election.

Date Jan 3 Jan 4 Jan 5 Jan 9 Jan 11
Close 24,922.68 25,075.13 25,295.87 25,385.80 25,574.73
           
Date Jan 12 Jan 17 Jan 22 Jan 24 Jan 25
Close 25,803.19 26,115.65 26,214.60 26,252.12 26,392.79
           
Date Jan 26 Sep 20 Sep 21  Oct 2  Oct 3
Close 26,616.71 26,656.98 26,743.50 26,773.94 26,828.39

In all, the Dow Jones set 15 record closing records in 2018, and has had over 111 new record closing highs since Donald J. Trump was elected President in 2016. As of the close of business on Friday December 21st 2018, the 52 week high-low range for the DOW was 22,396.34 – 26,951.81 .

For comparison let’s look at the closing numbers of all three US stock indexes for the same day of December from 2016 to 2018

INDEX Dec 21st 2016 Dec 21st 2017 Dec 21st 2018
DOW 19,941.96 24,782.29 22,445.37
S&P  2,265.18 2,684.57 2,416.62
Nasdaq  5,471.43 6,965.36 6,332.99

  

Consulting the data in the chart above shows that although we show financial losses over the past 52 weeks, the gap between the losses is not as great as the peaks and valleys of the highs and lows experienced in 2018, and if you go back another year to 2016, we are way ahead of where we are now vs. then.  

This is why people who panic and pull their funds out of the market every time they hear a negative financial report lose money. This is why it is important to keep records, and focus on the big picture instead of reacting to every negative tidbit that we overhear. If you would have pulled all your money out of the market on December 21st 2016, and put in it a jar under your bed, you would have LOST money. Likewise, when the markets re-bounded in October, had you moved your funds out of the market, you could have locked in gains. As I am an optimist and felt the market would rise even higher in December, I rolled the dice and got craps. Despite this, I have still NOT LOST MONEY, because I am still invested in the market, and the market will rebound again, in time. You cannot time the market. Statistics have proven that attempting to time the market’s highs and lows do not provided as high a return as staying the course and playing the long game. One of the best books I have read on this topic is Unshakeable by Tony Robbins. Market panics are often caused by fools that don’t really know what they are doing. Knowledge is power and the more you read and retain, the greater your potential for success in life. All of the information that I have read indicates that the Dow will hit 30,000 by the end of Trump’s first term, and will hit 50,000 at the end of his second term when he wins re-election in 2020. Make no bones about it, if President Trump does not get re-elected in 2020, it would be a financial disaster for the USA. In the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 10 of the 20 best single-day gains occurred so far under his administration. No other US president has done better.     

  • 03/26/18 +669
  • 11/28/18 +618
  • 02/06/18 +567
  • 10/16/18 +548
  • 11/07/18 +545
  • 03/09/18 +441
  • 10/30/18 +432
  • 04/10/18 +429
  • 02/08/18 +330
  • 04/04/18 +230

I understand that there is a sizable percentage of the population that has been misled into thinking that Donald Trump is bad for America. The majority of successful people would tend to disagree because President Trump is good for business, and business is what drives our economy and creates jobs. I did not become rich by accident, or because I won the lottery, or received an inheritance. I worked hard, studied, and invested my money. I am a life-long Republican and support president Trump 100%. You can choose to love the president like I do, or you can continue to sit in your negative echo-chamber and sulk like some Grinch.

GRINCH

We are responsible for the choices we make in life, and it is a hard thing to change our mind about long-held beliefs. No one is keeping you from succeeding in life except yourself. Not God, not your parents, not president Trump. You!   You are the architect of your own happiness or misery, and as long as you have air in your lungs, you have the potential  to change your life for the better. You can do it, I believe in you!

InstantCoffeeWisdom.com will return on Sunday, January 6th 2019. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! As Always, I wish you success and happiness!

Fruitcake! Oh, you shouldn’t have!

Making the case for giftcards.

Fruitcake

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! 

Is It Legit?

Beware ‘professional ‘ beggars.

isitlegit

He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor. Proverbs 22:9

The United States of America is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, and  more charitable donations per capita flow from the US than from other nations.  As a country we are blessed with both the largest percentages of Christians and millionaires. These two groups donate more money to charities than any other according to numerous reports. Because of this abundance of wealth, there are numerous scam artists who prey upon the charity and good will of the generous by flipping the script to take advantage.

Earlier this year, you may have heard this heartwarming story in the national news media about this poor woman who was trying to make it home,  but her car broke down when it ran out of gas on I-95 outside of Philly. A homeless vet gave her $20, enabling her to get the much needed petrol for her car. In gratitude, her and her boyfriend befriended the man and set up an online GoFundMe donation account to help this wonderful homeless veteran. As the story went viral, donations poured in and the account grew to more than $400,000. A wonderful story.

gofundme-controversy

Except that’s all it was, a story. The entire account was a fiction, and all three parties were involved in the scam. The vet was indeed homeless, but the couple Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure, conspired with homeless man Johnny Bobbitt  and solicited his help as the face of their campaign. The plan backfired when the amounts received from good-hearted donors spiraled out of control. Greed over the size of the split of the ill-gotten gains is what ultimately undid the trio. Bobbit felt all the money belonged to him, as he was really homeless. Mastermind Mark D’Amico believed Bobbit was only entitled to a portion of the money, so Johnny Bobbitt got a lawyer and sued.  As a result of the legal action and the resulting media attention on the high-profile case, the elaborate plot unraveled and all three were jailed and charged with theft by deception. GoFundMe has agreed to refund the donations collected.  

jail

“There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”

The Naked City was a TV crime drama broadcast  from 1959-1963 and based on a 1948 film of the same name. Each episode ended with the iconic line about the eight million stories, a reference to the location, set in New York City, and implying that everyone has a story to tell. As I stated before, the USA is the land of plenty, and we do have homeless and poor, but no one staves in this country except by choice, or by malice. There has never been a famine our country, but there are many stupid people who make bad decisions and then want to blame others for their misfortune, or at least make them feel bad.  It reminds me of a biblical account of a famine in ancient Samaria found in the second book of Kings.  

2 Kings 6:26-30

26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!”

27 The king replied, “If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”

She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”

30 When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and they saw that, under his robes, he had sackcloth on his body.

That’s a pretty terrible tale, but it points out poor decision skills, taking advantage of both stupidity and of wealth, and while you feel sympathetic for the victims there are some people that just can’t be helped. It’s not totally clear exactly what type of help the woman is soliciting, but it is implied that she is seeking justice against the woman who scammed her.

Jesus said we will always have the poor among us. I’m not into the so-called ‘Prosperity Gospel’ which preaches that God wants us to be rich and successful, because by becoming wealthy we are in a much better position to help others.  There is some truth in this logic, but remember that even the Devil can quote scripture and twist it’s meaning to suit his purposes. There’s a scam out there for every legitimate cause, and they prey upon your sympathy.  A ‘church by mail’ called Saint Mathews Churches of Tulsa OK is one such scam that sends out mailings splattered with scriptures and religious iconography promising great blessings in return for ‘seed offerings’.  Some televangelists also fall into this category.

stmatt

Sometimes it’s hard to separate ‘the wheat from the chaff’. Sometimes it’s impossible, so don’t feel bad if you gave in error to a fake one. Live and learn, and move on.  Good people want to help others, and every organization needs SOME funding for its own overhead.  Some organizations are just ‘squeaky wheels’ that exist to cry for donations while little of the funds reach their intended targets.  I’m a firm believer in supporting LOCAL organizations. The best nation-wide charities like The Salvation Army  https://www.salvationarmyusa.org   or Toys For Tots   https://www.toysfortots.org  can get by on a minimal razor-thin operating budget and have LOCAL offices that cater to the LOCAL community. 

If you have any concerns about a charity, you can see how they rank up to similar charities by using the https://www.charitynavigator.org/  website. Charity Navigator is the largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities in the United States providing data on 1.8 million nonprofits.  

This doesn’t mean that every need has an accredited 501-c charity that exists to back it. Sometimes, legitimate needs do ‘pop-up’ unexpectedly, due to tragedy or stupidity, or both. Many of these hard luck cases turn to GoFundMe.com  There are many true needs out there that need to be met, but like the couple and the vet who scammed over  $400,000 some of these ‘needs’ might be fake. Whenever you donate money, never donate more than you can afford to, never feel bad if you have to say ‘no’, and never, ever, EVER donate money if you feel like you are being FORCED to give. Extortion is just as illegal as theft by deception. I have heard of people who used GoFundMe to raise funds for funerals, medical expenses, and because they lost their home in a fire. I once even donated money to a homeless Superman impersonator who had been mugged, had his teeth knocked out, and was robbed of his cape and super-suit. I have also heard of  people who used   GoFundME because they felt they were entitled to lots of money for their upcoming birthday, or who needed rent money because ‘they just didn’t have it’.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes people are just stupid and make bad decisions.  All things come from God and you are the steward  of the riches He has bestowed upon you. How you choose to distribute from your bounty is a matter of your heart, and only God can judge you because He knows the truth behind ever human heart. As always, I wish you success and happiness.