HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU GOT?

Got into a financial discussion today with one of my customers, once again saw that “you crazy old man” look when I brought up the fact that one day all money will disappear and the government will have its thumb on everyone and our lives, knowing everything we are doing.
Just ask many of the depositors of the Bank of Cyprus how much money they lost in 2013. Some have said, “Oh, that is Cyprus, it can’t happen here”. It has happened once it can happen again.
Slowly I see George’s book, “1984” coming true. Those of you who have never read it, maybe it is time you did. He might have gotten the year wrong, but he is getting everything else right. Stop, look, listen to what is happening all around you.
Slowly but surely money is disappearing. Direct deposit, online banking, instant payments with credit card or direct withdrawal from your account using an app on your mobile phone. All of this is “to make your life so much easier”. They (who ever they are) wanting to make things easy and instant, but in reality they are also keeping better track of what you want, how much you make, where you spend your money, how much you got. What price are we going to pay for all this “instant service” and “life made easy”? Maybe I am old school, maybe I am just that crazy, gray haired old man, but I think we do have something to be afraid of.
I am reminded of when I was deployed to Kuwait/ Iraq in 2001. I was the V Corps G3 Rear HQ Sergeants Major. After we got to Kuwait, almost everything in the section went electronic. All the functions we had plotted on a map, now done by computer. Faster, better, instant updates and less personal needed to do it. I pulled my Operations Sergeant aside and told him I wanted all units of Battalion size and large posted by hand on a map. He started in, “But SGM, we got computers now, we don’t need maps, besides there is no place for it in the TOC”. I told him the map could be in the back room but I wanted it done and updated at least once every 24hrs, no ifs ands or buts. As time went on I caught some flak from one of the Operations Officers because it was taking some extra time to up the map. I told the officer this was NCO business and I would take care of it – updates continues. So comes the end of April first of May. We are in the middle of the war and it is hotter than a popcorn fart, so hot in fact that the electronics begin to overheat and fail. The large electronic map projected on the screen for the Commanding General to see goes out because the projector gets hot. Next some of the computer screens start to fail. About that time I hear the Chief of Staff, a Colonel start to cussing up a storm because there are no graphics to see. “Sir, I got a map”. The Colonel looked at me, “What did you say SGM”? I replied, “Sir, I got a 1:100,000 map current from Battalion level and above”. With language only an Infantry officer could use I was told to get it out there. Had my Ops Sergeant with a couple soldiers get it up front and the General was as happy as a fly in a pile of horse crap.
High-tec is great, but it will fail. This past spring the mobile app used for instant payments went down for just one day, you can’t imagine the strife it caused, instantly made the news. You trust banks, maybe to a point, but not completely, just ask the people of Cyprus who had some of their saving taken away. Banks aren’t lily white, just look at Danske Bank. One of the biggest money laundering scandals in recent times. Banks and insurance companies caused the mortgage crises which led to so many home owners losing their homes. So many home owners were made loans with hardly nothing down and in the end couldn’t make the inflated payments on houses which weren’t worth the money.
Like I told my customer. “You and I can go down to the local store to buy a bag of groceries. You go to pay with your plastic, but it doesn’t work. I pay with the money I have in hand. Who do you think is going to walk out with their bag of groceries”?
When we give up the use of money, the stuff we got in our hands, we can touch, feel and trade for goods, we are giving up a piece of our freedom. This is what governments want. Once all currency is gone, the government will have one more hold on you. They will have more control over our lives. “Oh but it will be so much easier” you say. Is easy always the best way?
Stop and think about our national debt. Congress can’t even submit a balanced budget. If I ran my business the way they run the country, I would have been bankrupt long ago. Spending is about 18% higher now than two years ago. Congress continues to loan money to every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, yet they have no money to spend. Think what eventually this will do to your savings?
Yea, I may be just a crazy old man, but at least this crazy old man will have something of value to buy or trade with. As a kid, my Dad taught me the value of money, if I wanted to buy something, I must have the money first so I learned if I wanted something, first I must work to make the money to buy it. There was never an allowance, or “free” money when I was growing up. I think too many kids got “free” money growing up and now they expect it.
One thing for sure – I am so glad I am over 60yrs old and not 20 just starting out.

SUMMER TIME THINKING

Spring has sprung, fall has fell, summer is here, and it’s hotter than – not really just nice.
This year, like last I am enjoying my summer playing golf. This year is a little different, I have cut back on my work a bit, so gots lots of extra time to play. Today is the first time the wife really said something about my playing. I just let her complain, no replay. I remember what my Dad said years ago after Mom got on him about something. He just finished supper then went outside. I finished and followed, going out sitting on his pickup’s tailgate. He then invoked some words of wisdom: It is no use arguing with your mother because she is always right and your always wrong. Just let it go in one ear and out the other. So I remembered this and found life is so much better when you just let it go.
Getting my knee replaced this past winter has been great. Yea, I still got some small issues, like it aches a lot, but it is so much better than the pain I had last year. I remember sometimes coming back from work or a game of golf my knee hurt so much I couldn’t sleep without some painkillers. Now I haven’t had my knee brace on for a long time. In fact a while back my whole knee itched so bad for almost a day. Always had people tell me this was part of the healing process. Have had a couple people I know tell me it will take a year or so for it to completely settle in and I won’t notice it. That’s ok, at least it doesn’t hurt like it did before.
I almost never listen to the news anymore. I get so tired of all the B.S. and crap going on. Many times I have thought to myself, Sure am glad I am over 60yrs old and not 20 and just starting out. It seems like you can’t say anything or do anything without offending someone. I guess people have forgotten or never be taught to respect others for what they think or how they want to live. I bet it really makes for some very interesting family conversations around the Thanksgiving or Christmas table if you got a big family.
One thing I am glad for, so many years ago I had the insight to plan for my twilight years. No matter what the plan is, you got to have one. I am so glad I joined the Army Reserve and stuck it out to get a pension. With the Reserve I had two goals – 1. Stay long enough to get a pension, 2. Make the highest rank I could get so I would get a good pension. I was lucky enough to achieve both goals. I made the rank of Sergeants Major, which for pay is an E9. I have had some ask why I never got to Command Sergeant Major, well I suppose I could have, but the retirement pay for a CSM is still E9, just a lot more responsibility for the same pay, plus I would have had to stay in longer. When I got out it was time. My civilian job couldn’t stand another deployment, plus I ended up with some physical problems which would have required me to get what the army calls a “Profile”, meaning I physically couldn’t do some things. I always told myself I would never stay in with a profile. Being in a leadership position I felt I needed to lead from the front, which I tried to do all the time. The other part of my retirement plan started when I was working as a professional guide. During that time I lived where I worked so my living expenses were very small, thus I was able to save money, so I invested in land. I looked at the stock market, but I was in a position I couldn’t keep track of it, so land seemed a better deal. It would be a long term investment which has turned out great. If I could pass on one piece of advice is: it is never too early to plan for the future because no one else will plan for you.
When I got out of high school I knew I didn’t want to go for a college degree. At that time there were a lot of degree holders flipping burgers and went into debt to do that. So I went to a Vo-Tec school, learned to be a mechanic, got out and immediately went to work. I also worked with my Dad who was a carpenter. Another piece of advice my Dad gave me: “No matter how hard times get there is always a job if you want to work. You may be doing a job you don’t like, but sooner or later the good one will come. In the mean time you can eat”. I just shake my head in amazement sometimes reading about how a college degree is needed to succeed. Now don’t get me wrong, education is good and we do need people who have degrees, but it is not needed to be successful. I read so many times about all the “trades” needing apprentices to train for a job. Many of these jobs pay good money, but the problem is you got to work, get your hands dirty. If it isn’t the job many people don’t like, they won’t take it. My Dad also said, “You have to learn to work”. As a kid I thought to myself, sure one had to learn the job, but that wasn’t what he was talking about. Learning to work is: getting yourself up and ready to get to work on time, having the desire to do a good job, learning to work with others, developing a good work ethic, doing a good job even when it is the worst job you can think of.
Anyway, life is good. My cup is always half full, never half empty. Life is too short to argue and worry too much about things, just let it go. Work is good. Good for the soul and good for your health (especially if you want to eat and pay bills). Enjoy your summer!!