America the Beautiful

The Dumbing Down of America is Not Really Happening

Since casually retiring on the beach, I get a chance to read now more than ever. I’ve always been a reader and still find great joy in learning. I am ready for the headlines to become more about how our politicians are governing vs. all the back and forth rhetoric. Hopefully congress can get something done this year, but I am not overly confident. I’ve grown tired of seeing this dominate the news cycles. Regardless of what party you favor, you have got to be weary of all of it too. 

With the Internet explosion combined with mobile devices, our news has become filled with unvetted and uncorroborated stories and images. It seems everyone is a newsperson today. In some cases the internet clearly exposes human atrocities happening in real time. The speed at which we get current events is unprecedented.  I do love the internet and how easy it makes finding new things.

Reading is Fundamental

It is unfortunate, but many people don’t read broad enough to form their own opinions. They are content to follow the herd or the sound byte of the day. There are a few sources that are still vetting a story before sending it to out to the world. To me, there is too much sensationalism journalism that skews our minds if we allow it. I don’t care what J Lo is wearing and could care less if Kanye West is preaching. 

Bill Gates is a billionaire who is giving back. I admire his philanthropy and dedication to eradicate diseases as well as furthering education opportunities for millions of people in the world. One of the books he recommended to read was by Hans Rosling titled, “Factfulness- Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World- and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.” Through statistical analysis, the numbers don’t lie. He explores how facts, as we know them, are formed and highlights different ones about life, business, and the pursuit of happiness. Please read it; it will change the way you think about the world we live in. 

Your Name Is NOT a Good Password Anymore

Early in 2019, I was moving money from one account to another with our financial advisors when I got a call from them asking if we wanted to change the destination of our transaction. What we uncovered is that our CPA’s emails were being read, and at the appropriate interval, the hacker interceded in hopes of receiving the money. For years I’ve been doubled down on password protection in our life. We live in a new world folks. I am a proponent of at least 16 character passwords and double authentication access, and you should be too. 

Does the Stock Market Reveal Our Country’s Economic Engines?

For investors like me, I like a deeply diversified portfolio with long term tax planning. With some of our holdings in the stock market, it’s imperative. There is so much hype about the market and how it dictates people’s belief system that it is the barometer of America’s business development in general. That is absurd to me. 

The number of public companies in the US has been on a steady decline since peaking in the late 1990’s. In 1996, there were 7,322, and today, there are only 3,671. The Dow Jones only tracks 30 companies. There are many reasons why the decline is occurring but that’s not where I am headed.

There are more ways to make money today than ever before in our history. There are more company’s creating new ways to do business that was unheard of just a few years ago. The US has more young millionaires than ever before in history. Medical and business innovation is at an all-time high and more. Yet all of this gets buried in political rhetoric, sound bytes, and sensationalism news. 

Entrepreneurs are Alive & Well!

There are convenience stores on nearly every corner. That doesn’t mean they are all made equal. Frankly, they are not and in most cases the level of service and attention to the customer has diminished grealty. Whatever happened to that family-owned and family-friendly, full-service local butcher and grocery store? Ashley and Dock Haney are the owners of the Carousel Supermarket. The market has been in the family since 1967 and is just another example of succession planning done well for business continuation. Click here to check out Carousel Supermarket.

That is just one example of local people who are doing an extraordinary job of living life and providing an excellent service. I can quickly look at nearly every city in our country and find example after example. 

Movies, Music & Language vs Civility, Manners & Professionalism

My whole family has always been into movies. We like a lot of the same genres, but we also go our own ways. The quality of available movies and TV shows has deteriorated over the years. The use of violence to entertain is mirrored only in the volume of music that is intended to shock and awe us. We mainly watch Internet TV and get loads of channels. The beautiful thing about TV watching or listening to music is that if you don’t like it, you can easily switch channels or turn it off. I do so frequently. 

The use of the F word is rampant. It is so commonly used now that it pops up as an incidental word in many conversations. When it’s used, it sticks out to me like a big red flag. The word knows no social class or education level; it’s just thrown around like its nothing. 

I think it’s a weak vocabulary and part of this sensationalism atmosphere we’re experiencing where we have to be shocked to get our attention. We’ve become numb vs. thinking for ourselves. I shutoff a TV show if the language gets carried away past my comfort zone. If I am talking to a human and they use it, well, I walk away. I’m certainly not a prude, but please folks, have some class and dignity. Like many words, it is an ugly one. I say, learn a new word every day, and you’ll be amazed at how many words can replace the F-bomb and still make an impact.

This Rant is Over! Aren’t You Glad

I could rant on about Wells Fargo, gentlemen like conduct, and the simple pleasures that are created from a thank you but let me move on and close with this. The whole intent of this article is to challenge you to think about your own thoughts. Quit following the herd and know there is a great life out here. It’s right in front of you. There are good and even great things happening in our world. Wake up. Look around; they are closer to you than you think, but you have to take the blinders off. Read broadly and deeply to form your own opinions vs. what the news or a sound byte offers. Shew, ok, this rant is over, until next time, have a great day.

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