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 The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.”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!

The Squeaky Wheel?

Choosing the ‘right’ hand over the left!

The Squeaky Wheel

There’s an old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” which means the problems that make the loudest noise are the ones which get our immediate attention. Whereas this may be the case in some situations, it does not always apply to every instance. This is where discernment is important, especially when it comes to donations and charitable giving. The world is a big place filled with countless problems which impact various people at different times in their lives. Everyone has some problem at some point, whether it is evident or not.

You may also be familiar with another saying, “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” which is a phrase of humility acknowledging that one might be in the same situation were it not for some divine intervention in our upbringing. If you were lucky to be born in the USA, you enjoy many freedoms and opportunities not afforded to those in other counties around the world. If you were born in the 20th or 21st century, your life is radically different from someone born in the first century. Times change, but people are still people and we cannot ever truly and completely know the motives of another person, only God knows.

‘ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. ‘ Jeremiah 17:9-10  

 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6

lord

I gave at the office…

I am not perfect, no one is, but I try to be good and do the right things in every situation. I donate on a regular basis to several worthy charities which I feel efficiently and effectively disseminate the largest possible percentage of my donations to the neediest of individuals. I can NEVER humanly know for certain if one person who benefited from my charity was more worthy than another, I can only HOPE and leave it in God’s hands. If a benevolent organization uses the lion’s share of contributions collected to cover salary and other overhead, they are still doing ‘some’ good, but there might be different organizations that are better stewards. This is why it’s important to research charities before blindly donating.  There is much need in the world and there are many organizations for every cause that have duplications of their target recipients.  No matter how good you might be at doing your job, there is always someone, somewhere who given the opportunity could do it better, and this also applies to charities.

Every year, the local union at my place of employment sponsors a local needy family at Christmastime. The union officials frequently encourage employees to donate to support the ‘Christmas Family’. It’s a good thing, but I do not contribute, not because I am uncaring, but because I already donate substantially to other organizations that fill a similar role . One year, a union official came to my desk asking for donations, and when I declined, he asked ‘Don’t you have a heart?’ This upset me greatly, and the next day I called him on the carpet in front of the boss brandishing a stack of receipts of donations I had made to various other organizations. I made him look bad, and he did apologize, but  I could have just ‘let it go’ and ignored the slight. Like I said, I’m not perfect. A successful person  admits his mistakes and learns from them.   Next time I will handle things better.

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley co-founder of Methodism

Tightfisted vs. ‘Tithe-fisted’

Tightfisted means being cheap, the idea of clenching your money tightly in your hand so that it can’t be pried away.

“Tithe” means a tenth or 10 percent. The tithing system described in the Bible was designed specifically to meet the needs of the religious, economic and political system of ancient Israel. Each of the twelve tribes of Israel, except the tribe of Levi, initially received an allotment of land in the promised land of Canaan. The Levites were assistants to Israel’s priests and were supported by a tithe offering from other eleven tribes. All families of those eleven tribes were to give a tenth of all produce, flocks, and cattle to the Levites. In turn, the Levites were to give a tenth of that to support the priests (Leviticus 27:30-33, Numbers 18:21-28).

Tithes were also used to meet the needs of foreigners, orphans and widows. (Deuteronomy 26:12-13)

In addition, everyone was to be generous with those in need:

If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. (NIV, Deuteronomy 15:7-8)

The Bible does urge us to be generous with our wealth and time. However, any claim that wealth, health, good fortune or other blessings will come as a result of a donation should be looked at with suspicion. Likewise never feel guilty if you must say ‘no’ due to honest circumstances. God knows your heart. Giving should be done hilariously, or with a great joy. Even if you’re in no position to make a financial contribution, but still wish to serve in some capacity, perhaps you can do volunteer work.

If you’re uncertain about the effectiveness of a charitable organization, and want to check them out to see how they rank against other similar organizations, a handy website is Charity Navigator. https://www.charitynavigator.org/

Remember the world is a big place with much poverty, you will never be able to help everyone, and there will always be needy. You should take care of your family, friends, and other people who live close to you before helping people who are living further away or in another country. Do what you can, when you can, and do it with a glad heart. As always, I wish you success and happiness.

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

A handout or a hand up?

brother can you spare a dime

A popular song  from 1930 was ‘Brother, can you spare a dime?’ sung by Bing Crosby.  During the Great Depression, many Americans were down on their luck and struggling to make ends meet. (The ‘Fellow American down  on his luck’ was later personified by Humphrey Bogart in the film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948, later spoofed in the 1950 Bugs Bunny cartoon short  8-Ball Bunny.)  A dime doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but when you get enough of them they do add up. It was probably  a combination of this song on the radio, and the movie newsreel serial THE MARCH OF TIME that inspired Eddie Cantor to coin the phrase ‘The March Of Dimes’ to help raise donations for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, for his National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, to combat polio. The catch phrase eventually replaced the clunky name of the foundation, which has been know as The March Of Dimes ever since.  The poorly run charity still exists today despite the near extinction of polio, having changed its mission to fighting birth defects.   More than 80% of funds collected go towards overhead,  and the CEO of the charity  is paid over $500,000 annually. What started out as a good intention morphed into a bureaucratic nightmare that doesn’t seem to help anyone except the staff.

The American Dream vs. the Welfare State.

Americans are guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nowhere in the US Constitution is it listed as being the job of the government to provide any form of  social welfare assistance, cradle to grave healthcare, cheap housing, free phones, or free food.  

Following the stock market crash of 1929 and the resulting Great Depression, certain well-intentioned government officials began creating the modern welfare state that exists in our country today. The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt on August 14, 1935. The WPA, Works Progress Administration, put unemployed and unskilled Americans to work in return for temporary financial assistance from 1939 to 1943. For four years during the Depression, the first Food Stamp Program fed 20 million people at one time or another in nearly half of the total counties in the nation.  Food stamps were eliminated in 1943, but in 1961 they were revived when President Kennedy signed his first executive order bringing back the program. Food stamps would also eventually be re-branded as SNAP, a Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, with benefits being distributed electronically on a EBT card to reduce ‘social stigma’.     

Government entitlement programs account for more than half of the national budget.  Whenever we reduce taxes, we also have to make  corresponding cuts to the budget, and associated entitlement programs.  The problem is there is a large portion of the population that has become entirely dependent upon the existence of those same entitlement programs which must be eliminated.  Ever since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt offered Americans his New Deal, the cornerstone of the Democrat political party platform has been to eliminate poverty through widespread, government social welfare programs. As a result of the created dependency generated from these same welfare programs, poverty has actually increased while the Federal budget deficit has skyrocketed. We have also created generational welfare dependency with children living in the same housing projects on public assistance as their parents and grandparents.  It is impossible to eliminate poverty, and believing that poverty can be eliminated amounts to calling Jesus Christ a liar.

“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me.”– Jesus Christ,  The Bible written in John 12:8,  Mark 14:7, and also Matthew 26:11

Charity begins at home.

​“With great power there must also come — great responsibility!” —Stan Lee

Besides being God, Jesus Christ was a rabbi, or teacher. By speaking that the poor will always be among us, He brings to mind other scripture verse.      

“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be…For the poor you will always have with you in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’” (Deut 15:7-11)

Before the government social welfare reforms of the twentieth century were instituted, taking care of the poor was largely a function of the Christian Church. Churches had ‘poor boxes’ with the donations collected destined directly for the poor.  Even today, churches provide free meals, food pantries, and other donations for the poor. As Christians living in the most prosperous country in history of the world, it is OUR responsibility to pass on our blessings as we have been blessed. With all the opportunity and freedom abundant in the United States, there really is no reason to be poor unless we choose to be. According to motivational expert Brian Tracy, “The sad fact is that people are poor because they have not yet decided to be rich. People are overweight and unfit because they have not yet decided to be thin and fit. People are inefficient time wasters because they haven’t yet decided to be highly productive in everything they do.”

I grew up poor, both my father and step-father died when I was a young boy. My mother never worked to better herself and always relied upon social welfare programs.  As a result, I grew up in a roach-infested apartment in NYC, eating Government cheese, getting food with food stamps, and eating free meals at school. My mother died in the same poverty she chose to embrace, but I made a vow long ago to never be poor when I was an adult.  Success is always present, but never given, you have to work for it if you really want it. Doing so places you in a position to help the less fortunate, offering a hand up instead of a handout.  There are many worthy charities for every sketchy one that claims to help the poor, and if you do your research, by separating the wheat from the chaff your donations will do the most good.  A good rule of thumb is to focus locally and give what you are able to give freely and gladly. You should take care of your family, friends, and other people who live close to you before helping people who are living further away or in another country.  If every Christian in the USA did their fair share, there would be no need for government welfare programs. 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.  

The Trump Effect!

Why Donald Trump is important for our prosperity.

The Trump Effect

There is a failure in the public education system of the USA which has blossomed into a widespread lack of knowledge of economics and civics, and how they are interrelated. This information is necessary to  understand how our economy operates, and is vital to elect effective representatives to legislate on our behalf. Decisions that harm our economy directly impact our prosperity as a nation.    

We have control only over  our actions and what we do or say. We are who and what we think we are, and knowledge is power. If we allow false information to corrupt and sway our thinking, we will be prone to act according to that false data. You may not be a failure in reality, yet if you THINK you are a failure, you will act as though you are a failure and you will have no inclination to improve your lot in life.   Your perception of reality is colored by your beliefs, so it is vital to have your facts straight. Young people are typically “plagued” by political apathy, yet can be swayed into voting by perceptions or feelings of inequality and injustice. Feelings are not the same as facts. Making decisions based on emotional reasons instead of logical ones is a recipe for disaster.  

The United States is the oldest Constitutional Republic in the history of the world. We elect representatives who act on our behalf in the running of our country.  In our constitution, we are granted our inalienable God-given rights of  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  It is the job of government only to protect those rights. The rest is up to us.  

According to data gathered and tabulated by the United States Elections Project http://www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/voter-turnout-data :

In 2016 there were an estimated 250,056,000 eligible citizens who could vote,  and 138,847,000 voted or about 55.5%.  This was the highest by population number voter turnout for a presidential election ever (it was 3rd by percentage). There were slightly higher by percentage turnouts in only two other  elections over the past half-century (2004 and 2008) but it is important to note that these were also reflecting a voting base millions of voters smaller. The highest BY PERCENTAGE in the past hundred years was the 1960 presidential election of John F. Kennedy when there were 109,672,000 eligible voters, and 68,836,000 voted, or about  62.8% .Other than during that election, percentage of voting by eligible voters has been under 60% since 1968. The highest by percentage EVER was the 1876 election which had an estimated 81.8% turnout, and the ONLY U.S. president to be elected unanimously was George Washington.

 A Washington outsider.

On Nov 08, 2016, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at 18,251.38, the S&P 500 was at 2,129.92 and the Nasdaq was at 5,154.99. After Donald J. Trump won the election against Hillary Clinton, the major indices began to rise dramatically and have continued to rise since, despite two minor corrections along the way. As of this past Friday November 8th  2018, the indices closed at : Dow 25,989.30, S&P 2,781.01, Nasdaq  7,406.90.

Donald Trump was a Washington outsider, and was elected by a majority of disenfranchised voters who were disgusted by the actions of career politicians.  The mantra and platform that catapulted him to the highest office in the land was Make America Great Again.  Trump promised to bring back jobs, reduce government waste, cut taxes, strengthen our military, and like the slogan, make America great again.  Trump is a billionaire businessman as well as a patriot. He knows what drives our economy and creates jobs. Most politicians by contrast tend to be lawyers with little or no understanding of business. As such, some of these career politicians went on to draft and enact job killing taxes and legislation which lead to the highest rate of unemployment and poverty since the Great Depression. It is interesting to note that Make America Great Again was also used as a motto by another Washington outsider and patriot, Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the USA whose policies resulted in the prosperity of the 1980’s.

The 2018 Midterm Elections

Crying Hillary

After the crushing defeat of Clinton in 2016, and the appointment of two Supreme court justices, critics of Trump swore revenge and promised a Blue Wave was coming that would sweep the House and Senate making the way for impeachment.  Liberals see Trump as the enemy of America, which is about as far from the truth as one can get. Again, beliefs are NOT the same as facts. Many things that people believe have little basis in fact. There are people who believe in Global Warming despite the lack of evidence to support those beliefs.  There are people who believe in gender inequality wage gaps despite evidence to the contrary. There are people who believe in space aliens and UFOs, yet no one has even encountered little green men from Uranus.

Disgruntled voters often use midterm elections to punish the party in power. The president’s party has lost an average of 32 seats in the House and two in the Senate in almost every midterm since the American Civil War. It’s a time tested fact, and was a given that this would happen. Trump campaigned hard to save the senate and had truly inspiring rallies in battleground states. Due to ‘The Trump Effect’ his support led to the victory of 9 out of the 11 candidates he endorsed. In comparison, not one of the candidates endorsed by Obama for the DNC won. Not one.

I work at my polling place. I can tell you for a fact that I personally witnessed record turnout for a midterm election. It was almost as busy as the 2016 presidential election. We had long lines at 7am waiting at the door. We had the highest numbers of absentee and provisional voters I have ever seen. The DNC had a poll watcher on site almost the entire day, scrutinizing our list of voters and phoning every Democrat in the district. We had an incredible 58.8% voter turnout. The vast majority voted Republican.     

ivoted

“It was a big day yesterday. An incredible day. And last night, the Republican Party defied history to expand our Senate Majority while significantly beating expectations in the House for the midtown and midterm year. We did this in spite of a very dramatic fundraising disadvantage driven by Democrats’ wealthy donors and special interests, and very hostile media coverage, to put it mildly. The media coverage set a new record and a new standard”. – Donald J. Trump

In the House, seats that were lost tended to be held by ‘Never Trumpers’ and RINO Republicans. The derogatory term RINO is an acronym for Republican  In Name Only, and refers to politicians who vote contrary to the GOP platform.  The GOP and President Trump are much stronger without these lukewarm associates. Many of the DNC candidates like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of NY who defeated her GOP opponent are brand new to politics and have no record to stand on. The 29 year-old former bartender turned State Representative is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and since winning has complained that she won’t be able to afford her rent in Washington D.C. Her new salary as a representative will be $174,000 a year. That’s four times what I earned when I was her age, and I had money to spare despite eighteen months of personal tragedies that racked-up $50,000 of debt. If she can’t even handle her own finances at 29, what qualifies her to handle fiscal policies for the entire state of New York?      

After the Midterm election results were announced, again the major stock indices rose. The only ‘Blue Wave’ which appeared on Election Day was the one which swished around the bowl when the toilet was flushed.  By contrast, a Red Wave appears to be looming for the next Presidential Election in 2020 which promises to be a landslide more epic than the 1984 re-election of Ronald Reagan. If you are one of the unhappy anti-Trump people, I assure you that the world is not ending, that whatever dystopian horror you think you are living in is NOT real, and that your information is wrong. Reexamine your information, actually listen to what the man says when he speaks, instead of questioning everything he says without hearing a word. Trump is good for America, and America is a great country to live in. Trust me on this. I want everyone to be happy and successful, and that’s why I sacrifice my Sunday leisure time each week to bring you these articles.   Socrates claimed that “the unexamined life is not worth living” because only in striving  to know and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value. Your life and your personal happiness belong to you and you alone. As Always, I wish you success and happiness.