A New Mindset about Wealth and Money

Change Your Mind. Change Your LifeEarlier this month a CNBC article came out with a statement of the obvious which most people have already known for a long time: the economy has not really gotten better. Duh. All the while soon after the 2007-8 economic meltdown and the initiation of the QE strategy of infusing currency in to the system, over and over again, in this way and that, we have been force-fed how the economy was improving.

NOT!

The article goes on to say:

“Fully 59 percent say the economy is ‘getting worse’ against just 37 percent who say it is ‘getting better.’ That gap of 22 percentage points is the worst since August, according to Gallup, which polled 3,542 adults.”

Given tax payments recently filed, a rising cost-of-living, especially for life’s basics of food, energy and housing, for most people, incomes continue to remain flat. The notion of living within one’s means for the 99% now sounds more like a cruel joke. Credit has necessarily taken center stage as an essential component to the family budget in ways totally unimaginable just 10 years ago. Mounting debt means people try to work more and faster (if they have a job at all) in a desperate attempt not to drown under its compounding waves.

It’s a formula for disaster:  anxiety + overwhelm + sleeplessness = chronic stress, poor health and family distress. I hear it in the voices of some people when they answer my phone call. Their low-toned “hello” speaks loudly to their discouragement.

The fact is, the system is not about to change in our favor. Trust me on this. As far as I can tell, we would probably have to live through a more devastating meltdown than we’ve already been through before the powers-that-be would begin to consider any type of reform. And maybe not even then. They breathe the rarified air at the top of the monetary pyramid, and have way too much to lose by changing a system designed to mostly benefit themselves.

Unless you are someone in the top 1% to maybe 10% utilizing the conventional financial strategies and tools that leverage your debt to get ahead, such strategies are likely not to help you but rather push you deeper into the cycle of credit and debt.

The solution as I see it:  If personal initiative can come into play, there is a way out for many people. Yet, sadly, those affected by debilitating obstacles of chronic stress, poor health and family distress, have little capacity left to take-in new information that could actually help them. On the outside chance there are still readers who have enough strength of will and curiosity to think outside the proverbial box about how to shift their downward financial spiral to an upward one, here’s my answer.

It’s first a shift in your mindset, a two-step process to renew your understanding of money and wealth. Once accomplished, the concrete steps to take thereafter, that I wrote about in my February 2016 blog, Reset for Lifestyle Longevity, make a whole lot more sense because a new mindset provides the foundation for you to rebuild, endure and succeed. It will empower you to turn your financial ship around.

Here are the game changers:

1.    The complete definition of “wealth” offers the possibility of living a prosperous life based on seeking and achieving wealth according to the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition in its proper sequence: Personal and spiritual well-being (intangible wealth) are cited prior to defining wealth as material abundance.

2.    Money is not what you think. It is a private product due to interest charged for its use. Search and find information never revealed by financial advisors about how what is called, the fractional reserve banking system, works against your best efforts, and is the hidden enemy of household finance.

Without a new mindset, you’ll hardly see the point in adding more effort to your already packed day. But as you change your mind, you just might find a new resolve.

 

A Very Brief History of Taxation in America

“100% of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the Federal Debt … all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services taxpayers expect from government.” ~The Grace Commission Report, 1984

taxslave-213x300As April 15 nears…thought you would find this research on taxation in America timely if not interesting.

No one living before the Constitution of 1787 could have believed the seven ways to Sunday Americans are now taxed. Under the Declaration of Independence and the first American constitution of 1777, The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, association among the confederate states and a state’s interaction with federal authorities was 100% voluntary.

Though paying taxes was a voluntary act, the federal legislature (never referred to as government), did have legitimate operating expenses, and depended on property taxes collected from and given by the states voluntarily in varying amounts. It was this inconsistent funding that historians thereafter have considered the deal-breaker issue for what has been called the “failure” of this first American union.

A Second Constitution Provides New Powers of Taxation

The untold rest of the story? The Framers of the U.S. Constitution of 1787 seriously wanted centralized authority which was non-existent under The Articles. Far from being commoners, the Framers of the 1787 U.S Constitution were either landed gentry of prominent families, or had risen to the strata of aristocratic American society due to intelligence, education and intent, as did Benjamin Franklin, the tenth son of a soap maker. Make no mistake; these men gleaned knowledge about governance and taxation from the British Crown and the Church of England’s system of tithing. The U. S. Government came into existence with the establishment of the U.S. Constitution of 1787.

Not long thereafter, in 1791, Alexander Hamilton lobbied Congress. He wanted an excise tax to accelerate the payment of national debt incurred during the American Revolution. Also known as the Act of March 3, 1791, this tax law enforced government’s new ability to compel performance (force and the power of distraint giving authority to seize personal property for payment.) Unaccustomed to this new form of government and laws of the U.S. Constitution, some of the earliest Americans took offense. Hamilton’s excise tax incited them to rebel in the 1794 Western Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion. An excise tax laid on the manufacture of alcohol had not lawfully applied to them. Those who then lived in Pennsylvania, an original state established under The Articles, were called “free inhabitants” and lawfully remained so.

Here’s why.

According to the law definition of territorial jurisdiction, only those living on land owned by said government are also subject to its laws. As of 1791 U.S. Government federal lands consisted of the Northwest Territory but excluded the original thirteen states of The Articles. Even so, President Washington sent in troops to silence the tax protestors of the Whiskey Rebellion.

In 1798, the Fries’ Rebellion led by John Fries of Pennsylvania, opposed the enforcement of a direct federal property tax. Even though the Whiskey and Fries’ Rebellions had not been waged on lands subject to U.S. Government territorial jurisdiction, the federal government captured and convicted rebel members for the supposed act of treason. John Fries was pardoned by President Adams after his conviction. Fries had been a “turn-coat” infiltrator for the government militia against those of the Fries’ Rebellion.

Theft of Private Property

“[E]very Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. The great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.” ~John Locke, English philosopher and political theorist, 1632-1704

Taxation on labor (income tax) was an unimaginable, unheard of kind of tax until the latter half of the nineteenth century. Labor was one’s personal property, the bread of life of natural and common law. To tax labor was considered direct theft, an outright assault against property rights of the individual.

The first income tax act Congress passed was the Tax Act of 1861. The Act stated the territorial jurisdiction of which and to whom the tax would apply:  “every person residing in the U.S.” Yet, this tax was never enacted.

Soon to follow, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1862 which led to the creation and opening of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to collect the new income tax. For the first time, a tax on one’s labor was imposed on the people of the United States. Its purpose was to defray the many costs incurred by a Civil War already underway.

Again, in 1864, Congress authorized an additional income tax to augment the payment of war debt. This 1864 additional tax required Americans pay five percent when earning between $600 and $5,000, seven and one-half percent if between $5,001 and $10,000 and ten percent on anything above $10,000. After the Civil War, the rate modified to a flat rate of five percent and then to two and one-half percent. With the purpose of the income tax to pay off Civil War debt, the Revenue Act of 1862 was repealed and ended in 1872.

Until 1913, for forty-one years, no substantial effort was made towards the reinstatement of the 1862 income tax law. Prosperity in America reigned supreme during that period; the only tax funding the government was a tariff tax on imported goods. However, during that same period, the Supreme Court focused on several tax cases.

Supreme Court Tax Cases

An 1883 Supreme Court decision, Butchers’ Union Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U.S. 746, cited that one’s labor was, in fact, one’s property. Then, in another case, Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co, 1895, the very same Supreme Court that had supported the passage of the Tax Act of 1864, did an about-face and decided against a proposed Income Tax Act of 1894.

The Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co.1895 Supreme Court decision against the Tax Act of 1894 determined it to be a direct-tax scheme and therefore unconstitutional. Given that taxation of real estate (personal property) was lawfully a direct tax, so also would be the taxation of any and all personal property, including money earned from one’s labor. Therefore, a tax on labor was exempt from the explicit tax powers of Congress granted in a portion of Article I, Sections 2 and 9 of the U.S. Constitution.

Article I. Sections 2 and 9:
“Direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states,” and “no capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”

Decisions of the United States Supreme Court were to be bound to the written law of the U.S. Constitution, the professed law of the land.

“This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” Article VI, U.S. Constitution

Yet in 1913, the government overturned the 1895 Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co. decision. What happened? The U.S. Government laid a claim. It said that a 1913 Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution gave them the authorization to levy an income tax on the people without the constitutional requirement of apportionment confirmed by the Supreme Court.

However, another Supreme Court case challenged government plans to renew income taxation. This was the 1916 Stanton v. Baltic Mining Co. 240 US 103 case. It decided that the U.S. Constitution clearly stated that direct taxation of the people must be apportioned to a State by a certain percentage of a State’s representation. In other words, this Supreme Court decision established that the Sixteenth Amendment had not altered, added, or removed any words from the Constitution.

“…[the 16th Amendment] conferred no new power of taxation…[and]…prohibited the…power of income taxation possessed by Congress from the beginning from being taken out of the category of indirect taxation to which it inherently belonged….” ~Stanton v. Baltic Mining Co. 240 US 103

Given Supreme Court rulings are bound to the Constitution, one would rightly assume apportionment as regarded direct taxation would be reinstated. Wrong. “Justified” by the Sixteenth Amendment, the U.S. Government reinstated its powers of income taxation. The BIR increased their staff and operating systems to capture the coming new big wave of government funding.

The Rest is History

Most Americans in 1913 paid no income tax. The average annual earnings of a middle-class family were approximately $800 and only people earning $3,000 or more annually were requested to voluntarily comply by filing a 1040 form to pay a one percent in taxes. A one percent income tax rate ninety-nine years ago has morphed to a graduated tax-rate of fifteen to thirty-five percent depending on one’s yearly earnings.

In 2016, those married under 65 filing jointly need to file if they make more than the filing threshold requirement for W-2 income of $20,300. This actually ends up as a much lower dollar amount(inflation –adjusted) than the $3000 original threshold requirement of 1913:  In 2016 inflation-adjusted dollars for $3000 in 1913 is $71,851, which, if using the same $3000 threshold amount, would mean only those today making $71,851, or more, would need to file income tax.

Perhaps needless to say, many questions arise from the chronology of these facts and events.

“You are among the millions of Americans who comply with the tax law voluntarily.” Form 1040 Tax Instruction Booklet, 1992

Reset for Lifestyle Longevity

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve, American Actor 1952-2004

hoccAre you drowning in stuff? “Tidying guru” Marie Kondo tells us, “Most people have three times more stuff than they need.” Not only does having too many things suck energy to manage and maintain them, but it also perpetuates the overlooked personal problems caused by debt.

Since the economic meltdown of 2007/2008 a new and different economic landscape has risen up from the ashes. With the good old days of the dot com and housing bubble but a memory, all things financial are different now. We have had to learn how to navigate in unfamiliar territory. Some call it the new normal, other the new economy. At any rate, it appears that the rules to the game of long-term financial stability have definitely changed.

While the cost-of-living has risen dramatically for basics like food, housing, and energy (which are NOT factored-in to the official rate-of-inflation), earnings have remained flat, at best. The spend, spend, spend, model has failed almost everyone, except, that is, the traditional financial services industry that happily collects their credit-card interest income.

In my opinion, the name of the “making it” game today consists of two main components:

  1. Reallocation, and
  2. Increased earnings

In the world of personal finance, the four major moving parts to coordinate are: how to earn, spend, save and invest. A less well-known, but vitally important player is reallocation. In other words, the liquidation of big-ticket items such as boats, homes, cars, saving, or money from the stock market etc., in order to reallocate funds to move your life forward in some way. It could be to pay down debt, create a down payment, provide emergency funds to hold you over until you find new work, invest in a cash-flow business, or purchase a needed something. The point being that by reallocating your existing assets, your quality of life will be improved and give you more options (and breathing room), going forward.

Here are my personal finance recommendations to help you build that all-important solid-financial foundation. Savings and investments are very important but in today’s new economy the MOST important thing is to ensure your financial foundation for long-term peace of mind. You’ll know the “foundation” has been established when you have more money coming in to your household than going out for at least four consecutive months.

1.    Write down your short-term, mid-term, and long-term financial goals and put them somewhere to easily reference.
2.    Review your goals weekly.
3.    Assess your current financial status. On a monthly basis, how much money a) comes in, and b) goes out? Dedicate a notebook or Excel spreadsheet to this four-month project of tracking your expenses. Create a line-item and category for each and all your expenses. Don’t forget things like eating out and entertainment. Save all receipts and record out-of-pocket information each day. On another page, track the source and amount of money that comes in each of the four months.
4.    Be diligent, watch and learn and try not to judge yourself.

If after your four months you find you have more money slipping through your fingers than coming in, consider the following:

5.    Use your list of current itemized expenses to create an action-plan. Decide how and by when you will lower the cost or eliminate entirely certain line-items. Be bold!
6.    Make debt-elimination a high-priority, the final goal is to be able to live within your means and pay-as-you-go.
7.    All the while as your expenses and earnings start to align, it is still very important to actively seek and find ways to increase your monthly cash flow. Otherwise you will fall back to accessing credit again in order to stay ahead of cost-of living increases that just keep coming.
8.    As you focus on ways to increase cash flow, consider an independent trade or service that people will always need. For example, car mechanics, computer techs, hair stylists, barbers, clean-water suppliers, delivery-service providers etc. Additionally, you can find legitimate ways to earn good money from online.
9.    Once you have diminished or paid off credit-card debt, destroy all but one credit card since easy-credit access becomes an addictive mindset regarding the perceived need for instant gratification. Do NOT keep this remaining credit card in your wallet. Leave it frozen in a bowel of water in your freezer to build time into your decision-making process.
10.    To ensure your financial foundation more quickly, you may want to reallocate existing assets. Since money (itself a debt instrument) is worth the most today than it will be tomorrow, it’s best to put it to work for you, today. Don’t forget to consider anything you have in savings, retirement funds or the stock market.  (Remember the stock-market 2008, and for your information, the U.S. Government is currently floating the idea of nationalizing. e.g. borrowing from, your 401(k)’s and IRA’s given the 19.3 trillion-dollar deficit. In other words, individuals would lose control over their account while the government instead would ration out annuity-type payments.)
11.    Use cash. Most people will pay more attention to what they spend when it comes straight out of their wallet.
12.    Stop using shopping as a form of entertainment. Shop purposefully using coupons, during sales, and buy bulk whenever possible. Also, consider shopping recycled, including for cars.
13.    Include and educate your children in the how and why of your decision-making process (should you accept this mission) and invite their imitation of your mindset and efforts.
14.    If you do have savings and/or investments (after possible reallocation), keep some of YOUR money entirely outside of the banking-services industry. They use your money. More and more people are moving their bank capital into hard (tangible) assets that can hold value.

A stable present-time financial situation will increase your well-being. Increased personal well-being allows for a more well-thought-out decision-making process.

I hope by now you realize that the corporate financial-services industry will never tell you the whole truth about how money works against you. Yet official statistics of entities such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Federal Reserve provide huge clues reflecting the hidden story.

The missing (secret) piece is systemic in nature, not political. The impersonal mechanics of a man-made monetary system grind away giving obscene profits to those at the top of the money pyramid while, at the same time, serving only to make everyday families increasingly vulnerable. The only way out (short of a new global system) is to personally make it a priority to learn new strategies designed to assist wealth-building for the “little guy,” and that are relevant to the economic times we live in.

In closing, may this recent New York Times excerpt be motivation to help move you into action!

“The average 65-year-old borrower has 47% more mortgage debt and 29% more auto debt than 65-year-olds had in 2003, after adjusting for inflation, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Friday.” Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2016

Part of the Machine

“By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some….The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose.”Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1919 by John Maynard Keynes, economist

Part of the machineIn 1936 Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed and acted in the silent film, Modern Times. His film was a statement on the many social issues brought on by the Great Depression, including the then world of modern industry. At one point in the movie, he is working on a conveyor belt that starts speeding up. He struggles to keep up as he screws nuts faster and faster but eventually collapses in a total meltdown that lands him in the hospital. Afterwards, he is in and out of jail, helps others who struggle with hunger, finds new work, and ultimately faces an uncertain future.

So how is this like today, you may ask? From my perspective only the times, the people and the platform have changed; the 21st century digital world of computers, and those of us dependent on them, has replaced the analog world of most all things mechanized. Yet the struggles continues and uncertainty looms larger than ever.

A January 7, 2016 article in the prestigious magazine, The Atlantic, asks, “Why do Americans Work so Much?” I remember in the 1960’s and 70’s when the news was that the advent of the computer would totally reverse the typical work week of 40 hours; we would have much more free time due to increased productivity and the efficiency provided to workers by the computer. Oh well, so much for that idea. Now many people work 7 days a week just to avoid the Monday-morning overwhelm of emails and texts that come in over the weekend.

John Maynard Keynes, a 20th-century British economist who greatly influenced the current monetary system, believed back even before the 1960’s, that industrialized countries would be so productive by now that we would be enjoying 15-hour work weeks. He also believed that “the standard of life” would rise across the board for people of every social stratum. How can such supposedly smart people be so blind to reality? Perhaps, in his case, it’s because during an important phase in his economic career he was employed by the British government and did not want to rock the boat.

The Atlantic article goes on trying to assess what might have gone wrong as most Americans still have to work at least 40 hours a week. The answer? If you can find the nose on your face, you can solve this unfathomable mystery. But first, economist, Benjamin Friedman’s, cites his three theories in the article.

1. “Perhaps people just never feel materially satisfied, always wanting more money for the next new thing.”
2. “In an era of ever fewer settings that provide effective opportunities for personal connections and relationships, people may place more value on the socializing that happens at work.”
3. “American inequality means that the gains of increasing productivity are not widely shared.”

Not bad but certainly only scratching the surface. You probably already know what I’m going to say…it’s the system! Here’s a thumbnail overview on what happened.

Starting early in the 2nd century, the goldsmiths of a community acted as money changers; they were the banks to the public. Called Strong Room Keepers, these men figured out how to cheat the system by lending out more gold (at interest) than they had on deposit. This was the beginning of the global banking fractional-reserve system.

While in the middle ages Canon law of the Catholic Church forbade loaning at interest. It became a crime in Europe, called usury. They believed that “the purpose of money was to serve society to facilitate exchange of goods to lead a virtuous life” and that interest added on to money hindered such purpose.

Then the British Free Coinage Act of 1666 tipped the balance of power back to the money changers according to Alexander Del Mar, head of the U.S. Department of Weights and Measures in the late 19th century. It “altered the monetary systems of the world. The specific effect of this law was to destroy the royal prerogative of coinage, nullify the decision in the Mixt Moneys Case of 1604 and inaugurate a future series of commercial panics and disasters which, to that time were totally unknown.” A now familiar trend was set in motion.

In 1694 the first privately owned central bank was established and became the model for central banks worldwide: The Bank of England.

In America until the 1764 Currency Act, colonies flourished because they used something called colonial script, a debt-free paper money not backed by gold or silver. Then, no big surprise, the Currency Act outlawed the colonies from continuing to print their own money.

The first privately owned central bank in America was started in 1781 and called The Bank of North America. The privately owned U.S. Federal Reserve Bank (central bank) began in 1913 after two other failed attempts at central banks in 1791 and 1812. These four banks were and are of private origin despite the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8’s mandate for money to be controlled by the Congress. “The Congress shall have power to coin money, regulate the value thereof and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.”

Thereafter, money issued by every central bank throughout the world was loaned into existence with interest. Money itself became an I.O.U. (Federal Reserve note) Over time as a nation’s debt grows, simple interest turns into compound interest. To repay national debt would collapse the economy due to a banking-system dependent on debt.

This very process of debt expansion (called wealth creation by Alan Greenspan) trickles down to individuals and families who eventually have more money going out (due to mounting debt) than they do coming in. While paying debt-service on borrowed money, a family’s working capital erodes and tips the scale towards lacking sufficient funds to cover expenses. The vicious cycle begins as present and potential future earnings are depleted: unmanageable amounts of debt require increased access to larger amounts of credit. All the while, these debt-service interest payments travel up the money pyramid as profits to banking shareholders and their colleagues.

Why do Americans work so much? They are under the tyranny of debt. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times was only the beginning of the personal and social issues brought on by the loss of purchasing power in a debt-based system where your interest payments continue to consolidate in fewer and fewer hands at the top of the wealth pyramid. Thus the gap between the haves and have-nots grows ever wider. Different times demand a different approach to personal economics; those who see the writing on the wall are called to revise and update their financial strategies if to thrive and not drown in debt.

The Holiday Season: Changing Horses in Midstream

Time to opt-out of holiday expectationsOnce again, we have arrived at that time of the year when retailers hope to make up for a slump in sales of previous months via enthusiastic shoppers, those who throw caution to the wind purchasing more than usual on credit to keep up with holiday-season expectations. Tradition demands it. While you may receive lovely gifts from your friends and family, have you ever considered that your gifts were probably paid for with a credit card that put the giver deeper in debt?

I didn’t think so. You’d likely respond by saying, “I have no idea how my friends and family pay for things. That’s their business, not mine.”

True, but if you think of your own situation, or know as I do from my work with clients, too many people nowadays need credit just to make ends meet every month. See what I mean? How is it possible for holiday gifts paid for by credit to be an expression of caring one to another when real-time hard evidence all around us reveals the ways a downward-debt spiral destroys mental, physical and emotional health, and family wellness? I just don’t get it.

I reference Christmas-shopping fever as the “poster child” for the kind of mindless consumption that leaves people hopelessly unprepared for the increased repayment amounts that will be required of them. Generations of holiday-season assumptions and expectations drive spending habits at this time of year. Back in the day when we were not so dependent on credit, it was a different story. But now, in an entirely different economic landscape, (of a debt-based monetary system near the end of its useful life), to meet such expectations is frightfully often at the expense of our own and others’ mental and emotional health.

What if, on the other hand, the headache-level social pressures of the holiday season are what finally spur you on to change horses in mid-stream? You decide that now is the time to experiment with sharing the love by throwing a holiday celebration that does not break your budget or your spirit. You resolve to take the risk and go for it!

Just imagine: Homemade gifts, homemade food, verbal expressions of love and appreciation, time together doing something wonderful and affordable, helping each in some needed way, etc. Instead of having a terrible January afraid to open what the mailman delivers, have January be the month of taking the next steps to further your determination to live and thrive within your means, unfolding the wealth-building strategies you’ve had the time to plan.

You may rightly perceive a gun to your head from those who expect you to give this or that, but ultimately, the choice is yours. If you opt for what you consider to be most life supportive all the way around, you just might end up as the catalyst that helps your loved ones to follow your example and do the same. As it has been said, “Just do it!” Season greetings to you for the wealth of love, happy relations, health, contentment, less debt, more cash flow, and achievable goals.

Gratitude in an Imperfect World

Another View of Reality“Each one of us, as long as life stirs in him, may play a part in extricating himself from the power system by asserting his primacy as a person in quiet acts of mental or physical withdrawal–in gestures of non-conformity, in abstentions, restrictions, inhibitions, which will liberate him from the domination of the pentagon of power.”~Lewis Mumford, American historian 1895-1990

I have wanted The Quality Life Plan® book, special reports and blogs to help liberate readers’ minds from the exclusive manner in which they have been led to think about wealth and money; a way that was carefully designed and implemented at a specific moment in world history by those who would profit by it. My goal, while deconstructing a typically complex topic into everyday language, has been to offer an alternative practical approach beyond the overlooked and under-reported negative personal impact of a current financial system that is mathematically rigged.

I am thankful for learning the truth about wealth, money and the financial services industry; my eyes opened back in the early 1980’s. That was when I had the privilege of meeting Buckminister Fuller during the last years of his life. His 1981 book, Critical Path, is where I got my first glimpse at “international bankers” and their far-reaching agenda of global control and domination. Having recognized their role in establishing an imperfect/unfair world, I wondered why.

In a perfect world...a corporate financial-services industry would not be the main educational source for understanding wealth, money, credit and debt.

But, it appears to be.

In a perfect world…more people would feel safe to share the reality of their financial situation so they could see that everyone is in the same boat of personal debt.

But, alas, most do not.

Due to the social taboo of speaking honestly about financial issues, behind closed doors people suffer the effects of mounting debt in silence. Yet if such conversations happened in the course of everyday life it would become obvious to more people how the dependence on credit has become epidemic. Maybe then we would ask, “Why is this happening?” Though some may appear to be doing well, usually the only difference is the scale of their indebtedness and stress.

In a perfect world…those who do ask WHY would do some research. They would dig into historical facts about money and the Federal Reserve Banking System. They would learn that the current system of money works against their best efforts and that education about money and finance offered by the financial industry is vastly incomplete.

But sadly, most never get started.

In a perfect world…informed people would recognize that the monetary system originates from a blueprint design (established centuries ago) that, today, still defines their financial options. As a result, they instead choose to seek, find, and put their trust in independent sources of financial education and strategies, and care not about any perceived damage to their social image a lifestyle change might signal.

Yet these folks appear to be far and few between.

In a perfect world…the “little guy” entrepreneur who makes this information available would be highly sought after by those hungry to do whatever it took to ensure their long-term quality of life.

That said, in the corporate world of huge marketing budgets, the message of the little guy can easily get lost on an un-level playing field of corporate persons.

Since my book was published in 2007, I have received overwhelming verification from financial colleagues for the accuracy of its financial data and consensus from readers for the need of an alternative approach to wealth-building and personal finance. I invite you to consider my book as holiday gift for friends and family. Thanks to each and every one of you for your interest in my topic; one known to be complex and boring.

May your holiday season be filled with blessings!

The Wealth of Well-Being: A Cautionary Tale

Mark’s idea of freedom was being able to create meaningful work while spending as much time as possible with his family, sometimes enjoying the tropics of the Dominican Republic. Instead, at age 52, he just died.  And – no – it wasn’t a heart attack. At this writing there is no official cause of death. But those who knew Mark well know exactly what it was; it was the fallout of living each day under the extreme stress of honorably keeping up with his family’s needs and subsequent debt-load while ignoring his own mounting health issues. His is a cautionary tale. (Click on image below to enlarge.)

work harder earn lessHe struggled to keep up a level of productive activity no one person could sustain over time. First, there was his 60-70 hour a week job as manager of a water plant. Then, there was the constant running around he did to help his wife with her coffee-stand business. Finally, in his “spare time”, Mark spent hours late at night working on the project closest to his heart: a win-win business that could potentially get him and lots of folks off the hamster wheel. His goals were largely altruistic. I partnered with him for the last two years in the development and launching of this project; we were in the homestretch when he suddenly dropped dead at the end of July.

Mark had dabbled in the Foreign Exchange market (Forex) for 12 years and had had enough wins and painful losses to learn what worked and what didn’t. Combining this knowledge with his altruistic motivation, he designed his own Forex Expert Adviser (EA) software program that he then had professionally built.  Unlike other EA’s, the components of Mark’s EA ensured long-term, slow and steady wins with minimal losses. In July, he was finishing up the last phase of testing and we were finally going to roll it out “live” last month, initially, among a few friends and family. But it was not to be.  The dream died with Mark, the only one whose great mind held the detailed, specific knowledge needed to bring our project to market.

I wonder if Mark’s story is perhaps symbolic of the times we live in? Nowadays I know and hear about so many people whose days are spent “chasing their tail.” I am reminded that full-time workers today take home less for their hard work than they did 4 decades ago (inflation-adjusted). We have to earn more each year just to try to hold on to what we already have. While we are told inflation is ridiculously low, purchasing power at the register continues to evaporate. With the costs of energy, housing and food now removed from the government’s inflation formula, the “official” low rate of inflation is deceptive. The counterpoint to paying more for everything while effectively not earning more is, of course, mounting personal debt.

Though most people don’t understand why, like Mark, they do recognize that their money does not go as far as it used to, and so “step on the gas” and multi-task in an attempt to get more done and earn more money. But at what cost? Sadly, all too often, this stressful striving undermines good health and the care of significant relationships. As Mark’s sudden death reminded me, you could even pay the ultimate price.

So what helps break this vicious cycle?

Since the global monetary system is not about to change, the only control we have is over our personal circumstances. By consciously shifting the ways we earn, spend, save and invest via informed choices, we can make a huge difference in our overall quality of life. However, as in life, there are usually trade-offs that must be made; it may require some amount of downsizing and recycling/repurposing of existing assets such as homes, cars, boats, motorcycles, etc., to that which can provide authentic long-term sustainability and commensurate peace of mind. The loss of one’s personal-finance equilibrium so often is followed in a domino-type effect by the loss of the intangible wealth of health and happy personal relationships.

Those who knew Mark well have their own thoughts about his life and death. I offer mine in hopes that those who didn’t have that pleasure may learn from this, his story. Reassess priorities and make whatever changes are most helpful to support quality of life for you and your loved ones. Break the cycle.

To my friend Mark: Rest in peace.

Civility, Bullies and Winning

“Bully-worship, under various disguises, has become a universal religion, and such truisms as that a machine-gun is still a machine-gun even when a ‘good’ man is squeezing the trigger… have turned into heresies which it is actually becoming dangerous to utter.” ~Power: A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell, reviewed by George Orwell in The Adelphi (January 1939)

The Effect of a Debt-Based SystemI’d like to think that in the dog-eat-dog world, civility might be viewed as something more than a sign of weakness.

Civility: 1.  courtesy; politeness.2.  a polite action or expression: an exchange of civilities. 3.  Archaic. civilization; culture; good breeding

Benjamin Franklin once said: “Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.” At the end of the day, civility is, at very least, about being polite and courteous. Given life’s spectrum of relationships – spousal, family, close friends, social friends, work colleagues, online friends, and the public at large –  the hope is that civility would be woven somewhere in among them all.

Yet in 2015, bullies are everywhere. Contrary to “civility to all,” the words F-U better epitomize popular discourse, with road rage as a perfect example. Verbal/emotional abuse has been “normalized” in every kind of relationship thanks to reality TV, rap music, professional sports and other media. Even the Disney channel gets in the act with “tweener” shows casting boys and girls as competitive and envious, doing deliberately mean things to each other.

What’s up with all this?  Bullies are the winners: Today’s standard for success requires a company, industry or individual to be able to assert power over others. We find the media praising a company, an industry, or an individual as “dominating” or “owning” someone or something…as a supposedly good thing. All the while, the negative personal and societal psychological impact of domination as a hallmark of success remains overlooked and under-reported.

Dominate: 1.  to rule over; govern; control. 2.  to tower above; overlook; overshadow 3.  to predominate, permeate, or characterize

In America, to dominate is to win. Values of personal integrity, reciprocity, adding value, mutual respect and civility, matter only if and when they lead to “winning.” Otherwise, values fly out the window, and the end, (winning), justifies the means (no matter who gets hurt).

Why? Context generates content.

Centuries ago a global, debt-based, central-banking-monetary system was established by, and for, the pinnacle of society’s moneyed-class. While, at the same time, rewarding the “haves” and extracting wealth from the “have nots,” a business model evolved that we have come to consider normal; one that requires the skills of domination for success. Those who do it well, we call, “leaders.”

Since a debt-based system thrives only as debt grows, those with the greatest ability to generate and collect compound-interest are the ones that monopolize the financial, political and business scenes. Obscene monetary rewards fall to these big winners; many of whom peddle the grossest, most addictive, violent and, unconscionable products and services. Weapon manufacturers, government and private contractors, as well as much of the banking, pharmacy, food, music, gaming (gambling), TV, video and film industries (think porno), consistently pocket the mega-bucks.

The worship of domination churns out generations of people who can’t wait to gain power over others since, culturally, this is how they will find “success” and be lauded for doing so. Seldom will anyone speak above hushed tones to link the many mounting personal and societal problems of our times with the “winner” paradigm of domination. As I have said before, there is no money in the truth.

If “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” bullying is simply the natural outcome of extolling the cultural virtues of winning through domination. Sadly, workplace-abuse-of-power, domestic violence, playground bullies, senseless murders, and perpetual wars here and abroad are just some of what it looks like. Legislate civility? Good luck with that. Attempts to legislate civility are but empty Band-aid, measures in a post-modern world impacted by a currency burdened with more debt than equity. Today’s economic “Musical Chairs” exposes the ruthless side of humans when faced with the fear of lack. This is the content generated by the context of an inequitable monetary system.

In my opinion, even should a more equitable monetary system replace the current one, civility can never truly be legislated. It is a personal choice. At different times in my own life, I unwittingly opted to dominate, to have power over someone for one reason or another. Just imagine the possibilities if we individually reclaimed the useless finger of blame in the litigious world of domination and control, and to both friend and foe alike, instead chose to practice civility, personal responsibility, and who knows, maybe even kindness!

 

The Failure of Success: Market-Structured Consciousness

Don't try to think.Sorry to say, I just read this article that confirms what I’ve believed all along, “Is Credit Card Debt the New Way to Survive in America?” It proves my point about how commerce has virtually co-opted life. Natural-human consciousness seems to have morphed into market-structured consciousness. (Coined by author Jay M. Handelman.)

The article reports the findings of a study done by Allianz Life, a Life Insurance Company:

“Over the last three decades, there has been a collective shift in how people view debt – it’s now perceived as a normal part of one’s financial experience and that has fundamentally altered the way people spend and save.”

And perhaps even more telling when the article concludes that, “Americans are relying on credit cards like food, water, fire, or shelter.”

Wow!

A mind overtaken by the financial goals of commercial interests speaks to the concerted efforts and subsequent success of the marketing and public-relations industries. We have Edward Bernays, the father of public relations, to thank for fully igniting the mind of commerce.

Who was he?

Edward Bernays, 1891-1995, was the nephew to the well-known psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud. Like his uncle before him, Bernays believed in the predictability of the human unconscious as regarded the psychological and human motivations of self-preservation, security, aggression and sex. He transferred what he learned from his uncle to help launch his career in public relations. As a result, he succeeded in making bacon a mainstay of the traditional breakfast for the pork industry in 1915, smoking fashionable for women (by calling cigarettes “torches of freedom”) for the tobacco industry in the 1920’s, and fluoride indispensable to dentistry (a waste product of aluminum) for Alcoa Aluminum in the 1930’s.

He additionally used his talents to shape American public opinion when hired by the U.S. Government. In 1916, Bernays helped Woodrow Wilson win his second term as president using the slogan, ‘He kept us out of the war.” During World War I he continued to work under Woodrow Wilson’s administration as a member of the Committee on Public Information, the group credited with making popular the notion that World War I was entirely about the United States championing democracy for the countries of Europe.

His list of celebrity clients included President Calvin Coolidge, Procter & Gamble, CBS, NBC, the United Fruit Company, the American Tobacco Company, General Electric, Dodge Motors, the Hotel Association of New York City; the Waldorf-Astoria, the Celanese Corporation, Continental Baking Company, Philco, Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Time Inc., Clare Boothe Luce, and Samuel Goldwyn.

Bernays’ messaging mastery during wartime set the standard thereafter during times of peace. According to his daughter, her father was a believer in “enlightened despotism,” because he thought people were basically stupid, acting on a herd mentality. Fast forward, his impact lives on.

The human mind appears to respond willingly and instinctively to suggestions of how to think about something. When it relates to commerce and becomes popular, it is reflected as increased consumption even when to our own demise. Perhaps the biggest winner, in this regard, is the banking industry due to its superficial education about money and personal finance. Via mega-bucks-marketing campaigns aggressively employing emotional hooks to convince people their credit cards are indeed essential, banks win over both hearts and minds.

Those with the biggest marketing budgets win! Yet all the while the same financial industry that promotes credit cards operates within a global monetary system: the root cause of needing credit in the first place! If more people wanted to understand how money actually works (and works against them), there would be a huge outcry and demand for an honest system of money.

But I digress.

With just about every aspect of life captured, branded, and marketed (including religion and personal relationships), the top-of-mind question has become, “What’s in it for me?” However, this carefully developed and now pervasive market-structured consciousness is, in fact, a complete failure. Commerce will never replace the non-commercial truth of what it means to be human: to care, to love, to be cared for, and to be loved.

Long gone are the days when personal values would instead lead us to consider how to do unto another as we would be done by. But it is never too late to make this U-turn, starting first within ourselves and then as a collective.

 

Personal Finance: The Betrayal of Form over Substance

The Emperor Has NO ClothesI know I am a lone voice crying in the wilderness when it comes to debunking conventional thinking about how best to earn, spend, save and invest. My information is based on hard facts (public domain information) regarding how the system of money actually works, and the negative impact it has on the human condition, and, of course, wealth building. Though it seems that not many people care about the distinctions I make, perhaps it is useful that someone addresses reality.

While I’ve tried to help people see the forest for the trees regarding the truth about money,I believe that most ignore it due to societal demands of peer pressure. Unlike big corporate businesses, I lack the marketing budget that might encourage people to consider that what I am saying may, in fact, be for their benefit. So those with the biggest marketing budgets win the day.

The problem as I see it is that most people have no idea of the degree to which they are manipulated emotionally by the marketing schemes of big corporations, the banking industry, in particular. Millions of people being marketed to unwittingly “buy-in” to thinking about their life and money in a prescribed way per calculated and very expensive marketing campaigns; ones launched by a bank to convince you of their version of financial reality, how you should think about money, and what you should do.

The commercial hooks cast to catch you are almost always emotionally-laced and subliminal.  They prey on the normal and natural human needs to be loved, appreciated and respected – personally, socially and at work. If you buy-in to their marketing suggestions of what will give you the emotional rewards you seek, you just might end up as a customer for life! Think:  Chase Bank’s “Chase Freedom” campaign.

Like the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, we’re somehow supposed to just go along and never admit that the emperor is butt naked. However, this sort of tacit agreement is exactly what will get you in deep trouble with your finances and eventually betray you like a cheating spouse. In this case, you are led down the primrose path of carefree consumerism and easy credit to an eventual life of debt-enslavement. All along, you thought you had done everything the way you were supposed to. But, alas, you learned the hard way.

Commerce and freedom are like apples and oranges.

Commerce has the corporate mandate of a profitable bottom line if to stay in existence. You are their potential revenue unit. Yet humans are non-commercial flesh and blood entities and have the innate ability to discern the Emperor’s New Clothes if they so choose. With such discernment, the dust on your spectacles falls away and you are able to see manipulation for what it is. Your awareness provides an even greater range of choices than those prescribed by those who would benefit at your expense. Additionally, such discernment might interest you to advance your financial IQ, and also to learn the “people’s” (not the banking industry’s) approach to wealth building and management.

Please note: I am NOT saying that spending money and all that it can buy is bad. The nature of business is that it will always seek new and repeat customers. But it is virtually impossible for commerce to deliver on any of its subliminal messages of emotional and personal fulfillment in the long-term. What I AM saying is that it seems to me that most people, when it comes to responding to what is important in life, have given over the critical-thinking ability of their mind to the world of commerce with often disastrous results.