Category: Second Career


“Every individual counts. We are not condemned to accept the spread of this virus as an inevitable fact of life. We have the means to fight it. “ — German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s televised address to the nation, March 18, 2020

Germany is not known for televised speeches by its heads of state. And yet no one questioned the extraordinary step taken this past Wednesday by the Vaterlands first-ever Kanzlerin for the past 15 years, Angela Merkel.

Reading her 12-minute text in both English and German and watching her calm, measured and impressive performance, she assured Germany it will prevail against the Coronvavirus (COVID-19). She made it clear the absolutely necessary practice of social isolation will eventually slow the spread of the virus, buying time for the country’s prominent healthcare infrastructure to finally get ahead of the global pandemic.

Having traveled to Germany three times — up to three weeks each time — in the last five years alone, Almost DailyBrett has not seen or read sorry expressions of misogyny against Merkel or any other woman office holder. Merkel is a strong moderate-conservative leader (e.g., Christian Democrat or CDU) performing well under pressure.

And to drive home this point … Germany’s Chancellor just happens to be a woman.

Looking 400-miles-plus to the west, there is another accomplished CDU moderate-conservative woman — confidently speaking German, French and English — serving as the president of the European Commissioner (EU), former German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen.

One of the most vital tasks she has undertaken is to reduce the up-to-30-kilometer (18.6 miles) traffic jams at national borders within the EU, essentially gridlocking the delivery of medical equipment to hospitals and clinics, and likewise people returning to their homes. These well-intentioned security tie-ups have been greatly reduced under Ursula’s leadership without compromising the ability of the EU’s 27 nation states to fight the highly contagious virus.

And let there be no mistake the leader of the European Central Bank (ECB) is also another measured and confident woman, France’s Christine Lagarde. She was nominated to head the European version of America’s Federal Reserve by France’s moderate-conservative President Emmanuel Macron.

To date, the European Central Bank in Frankfurt has directed €870 billion ($936 billion) in needed liquidity to European banks and businesses. The ECB’s stance under Lagarde is, whatever it takes.

Having reviewed the leadership from these three tremendous women leaders — Angela, Ursula and Christine — Almost DailyBrett totally rejects the oft-mentioned premise that Americans will never elect a woman as President of the United States?

Not This “Particular Woman”

“I want a woman president soon, but I don’t want this particular woman (e.g., Hillary Clinton). — University of Virginia Political Science Professor Larry Sabato reflecting on a frequent refrain from many women — young and old — on the 2016 campaign trail.

Whenever American political scientists and media pundits refer to the gender gap, it’s always a one-way street … how women vote as opposed to men. Using this hallowed measurement Hillary won the gender gap over Donald Trump, 54-41 percent in 2016.

Employing a non-gender gap standard, alas Hillary did not prevail among men, losing 52-41 percent … a sure sign of misogyny. Right?

Using ethnicity demographics Hillary actually lost the white women vote 52-43 percent, and was clobbered among white men, 62-31 percent. Was it misogyny in both cases or was it … do we dare imply … the performance of a sub-par candidate in 2016?

Shifting forward to the present presidential election cycle, Almost DailyBrett carefully noted that when U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’ (D-California) campaign imploded last fall … there were zero pundit cries about misogyny.

Likewise when Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar suspended her campaign earlier this month, no one seized upon this widely anticipated action to question whether a woman could ever be elected president of the United States.

And yet when another Democratic Senator, Elizabeth Warren finally called it quits after winning zero states and coming in third in her home state of Massachusetts, yes indeed … misogyny was without doubt the culprit.

Almost DailyBrett is scratching his follicly challenged skull trying to deduce the difference between the decisions of two Democratic U.S. senators on one hand (no misogyny), and the presidential campaign suspension of an anointed Democratic U.S. Senator on the other hand (misogyny).

Are Europeans just better human beings than Americans? After all, the Finns are the happiest on the planet (World Economic Forum).

Or could it be differences in political philosophy, moderate-conservative women in Europe vs. liberal-progressive women in America? One has a track record of winning, the other does not.

Maybe, just maybe … moderate-conservative political philosophy can usurp misogyny in America just as it does in Europe.

https://www.bundeskanzlerin.de/bkin-en/news/statement-chancellor-1732302

https://www.bundeskanzlerin.de/bkin-de/aktuelles/fernsehansprache-von-bundeskanzlerin-angela-merkel-1732134

https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/health/coronavirus-response_en

https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/topnews/M-004595

https://www.ft.com/content/281d600c-69f8-11ea-a6ac-9122541af204

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/finland-is-the-world-s-happiest-country-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/08/are-europeans-better-than-us/

“Since my election, United States stock markets have soared 70 percent, adding more than $12 trillion to our Nation’s wealth, transcending anything anyone believed was possible — this, as other countries are not doing well.” — President Donald Trump, 2020 State of the Union

In our tribalized society, we are obsessed with dumping groups of people into buckets.

Even more to the point, we microanalyze targeted demographic groups (i.e.., women, men, black, white …).

We also record, register and analyze responses by psychographic groups (i.e., income, education, creed … ).

Almost DailyBrett must stop here and ask: Are we spending enough time considering America’s growing Investor Class?

“All of those millions of people with 401(k)s and pensions are doing far better than they have ever done before with increases of 60, 70, 80, 90, and even 100 percent.” And IRAs too, Mr. President.

Who are these people? Are they just the “filthy rich?” Are they just the 1 percent?

Or are they mommies and daddies, brides and grooms, anybody and everybody investing in their retirements, college tuition for their children, dream vacations or to start a new business?

In 1960, only four percent of all shares traded were directly tied to retirements. Today that retirement figure is 50 percent of all the stocks traded daily on the NYSE and NASDAQ.

Almost DailyBrett will once again pose the question: Who are these people? And are we as a society giving them the love they deserve?

According to a 2019 Gallup quantitative survey of more than 1,000 Americans, 55 percent own individual stocks or stock-based mutual funds for their investment portfolios including retirement oriented IRAs and 401ks … and even the few who still have pensions.

Yes stock ownership took a hit during the 2007-2010 financial meltdown, but the trend has stabilized with the tailwinds of a record bull market.

No Fees Today, Tomorrow, Forever

“Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news.” — Paul Krugman of the New York Times upon Trump’s 2016 election

Guess America’s Armageddon was postponed.

Since November 2016, the NYSE has advanced from 18,332 to 29,290, up 59 percent, the NASDAQ has increased from 5,193 to 9,508, up 83 percent, and the S&P 500 from 2,139 to 3,334, up 52 percent.

And how are markets behaving now with a dovish Federal Reserve, Impeachment done, Brexit over, corporate earnings better than expected, robust consumer confidence, full employment and the American economy demonstrating its best performance in five decades?

Even though there always the risk of the Dow Jones Effect (e.g., what goes up at some point will come down), we are talking about a calculated risk … less so by the members of America’s Investor Class, who pay daily attention to the markets and more precisely their portfolios.

The major retail investment firms (i.e., Charles Schwab, Edward Jones, E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, Robinhood … ) have all waived their trading fees, making it even easier for investors of all income levels to participate.

And for investors concerned about the environment, society and corporate governance, there are specific ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) funds.

Publicly traded companies have learned they must not only be concerned about fiduciary responsibility, but corporate social responsibility (CSR) as well. It is more than driving the top-and-bottom lines and projecting a reasonable future expectations (Doing Well), but it’s also being genuinely mindful of a company’s caring for its employees, participating in communities and safeguarding the environment (Doing Good).

To top it off, America’s Investor Class is served by reasonable regulation of publicly traded companies by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), which mandates fair disclosure. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), guarding against false advertising. And there is the Department of Justice, which prosecutes corporate crime (e.g., Enron bankruptcy).

And finally don’t these publicly traded companies make our products and services, employ millions and make our society more efficient? Apple puts a computer in our hands with its clever smart phones. Google is an instant encyclopedia of knowledge. Amazon is global shopping platform. Facebook allows us to keep track of friends and families.

If Something Isn’t Broken, Why Fix It?

Are global markets, perfect? What is?

Are the NYSE and/or NASDAQ playing fields 100 percent level? What are?

Is America’s Investor Class thriving and directly driving our consumer-based service economy? You bet ya.

Then why are there those who want to punitively impose federal taxes on each and every stock and mutual fund trade (i.e., Bernie and Elizabeth)? Who are they trying to punish? The real answer are the mommies and daddies of America’s Investor Class.

Yes, many of these investors are part of the upper class, and even the lower upper. The honorable senators need to appreciate the composition of America’s investor class also includes the upper middle, the lower middle … and each and every person who engages in dollar-cost averaging or continuous investing in both bull and bear markets.

America’s Investor Class puts its discretionary income into the nation’s best-of-breed publicly traded companies to pursue their dreams of happy retirements, highly educated children and/or bucket list vacations.

They matter. They vote. And they deserve our support … not dissing from always angry members of America’s political class.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/266807/percentage-americans-owns-stock.aspx

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/02/04/state-union-read-text-president-donald-trumps-speech/4655363002/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/opinion/election-night-2016/paul-krugman-the-economic-fallout

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

Almost DailyBrett’s super-smart tax accountant moved from California to … Nevada.

Wonder why?

How many other wise people did the math, followed in her footsteps, and made a move in their best lifestyle and financial interests?

Let’s see, the state income tax in California is the nation’s highest, maxing at 13.3 percent … for now. Yikes.

The state income tax in Nevada is … nada.

Hmmm … given a choice … what action will a clever tax accountant with disposable income make? Ditto for anyone else with a brain and a pulse.

Growing up, your author read countless accounts about people pulling up stakes in the rust belt and setting sights for the sun belt.

That trend continues unabated today except when it comes to one sun belt state in particular, California.

After the upcoming 2020 decennial Census, the Golden State is projected to lose a seat in Congress (and a corresponding electoral vote) for the first time in its 171-year history.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and his Sacramento disciples are desperately trying to ensure an accurate count to avoid the indignity under their watch associated with losing an electoral vote.

Let’s see, California with 12 percent of the nation’s population is the “home” to 22 percent of the nation’s homeless. Can California count those who don’t have a home — even newly arrived homeless — as residents? What about those who came across a Southern border … ? Count the names on the tombstones?

Oh heck, let’s just slap on a few more social engineering regulations (e.g., rent control, solar panel installation requirements) and raise taxes again and again … and pretend what’s happening is not happening.

Which State Gains From California’s Diaspora?

We know from CNBC’s Robert Frank that population outflows are costing New York $10 billion in revenues (largest hit in the nation), and Florida is gaining $16 billion in increased revenues as a result of in-migration.

The same report indicated that California is losing $8 billion in state revenues. Those lost souls are no longer in the gravitational pull of the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and Golden State regulatory social engineers.

California and Alabama (two peas in a pod?) appear to be the only sun belt states slated to lose congressional seats after the next Census.

Conversely, there are nine states in the union with zero state income taxes, and none of them will lose a congressional seat. In fact, Texas is set to gain three congressional seats from 36 to 39, and Florida is expected to add two more from 27 to 29. These two red states are getting politically stronger.

Should we assume that no state income tax Texas or Florida will benefit from California’s lost congressional seat?

Considering that California lost 700,000 residents in 2018 alone, and 86,000 of this number moved to Tejas … the red Lone Star State could be the beneficiary of the blue Golden State’s electoral college loss.

Late last year, retail investment pioneer Charles Schwab announced it will move its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Dallas. Can you blame them?

Let’s see, the corporate tax in San Francisco is 8.84 percent, Dallas, 0.75 percent. San Francisco also imposes a 0.38 percent payroll tax, and a 0.6 percent gross receipts tax. Typical monthly rents in The City are $3,870 and only $1,200 in Big D.

Looking North, Looking East …

Keep in mind that no sales tax Oregon is expected to gain one congressional seat, raising its number of electoral votes from seven to eight for the 2024 general election. The Grand Canyon State anticipates adding another seat to its congressional delegation, increasing Arizona’s electoral votes from 11 to 12.

To be fair, this Almost DailyBrett analysis needs to acknowledge that California with its gorgeous weather and picturesque coastline, not to mention Silicon Valley, will still have the largest electoral count just with 54 votes, instead of 55.

As a press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian (two terms, 1983-1991), your author noted the Golden State’s Electoral College count was 45 in 1980, 47 in 1984 and 1988, and 54 in 1992. California’s electoral college number jumped nine congressional seats in those heady days, when the state was not raising taxes and not burdening it’s citizens and businesses with onerous regulations and social engineering schemes.

Taxes and rising expenses/burdens are not the only reasons for the flight of California’s Growing Diaspora. Congestion is becoming unbearable with 2 million more joining the commuting ranks since … 2010.

Housing costs are prohibitive, not to mention the property taxes that go along with these rising market values. The sweet two-bed, one-bath 960-square foot Oakland fixer-upper (see photo above) is on the market right now for … $988,000.

Nice curb appeal.

Some may want to sweep the lost congressional seat under the proverbial rug and recite tired stats about California being one of the largest economies in the world. Almost DailyBrett sees the loss of an electoral vote as the canary in the mine.

People are voting with their feet, and California is the loser … Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon are the winners.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-31/la-me-ln-california-apportionment-2020-census

California likely to lose congressional seat for first time in history after 2020 Census

https://www.dallasnews.com/business/real-estate/2019/12/10/almost-700000-californians-moved-out-of-state-last-year/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/schwab-leaves-san-francisco-for-texas-11574900348

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/06/20/californias-growing-diaspora/

California’s inept central planners

“Bigger, tougher, stronger, faster and meaner than Barney.” — Vladimir Putin bragging about his female black lab, “Koni,” compared to George W. Bush’s Scottish terrier

“You’re lucky he (Putin) only showed you his dog.” — Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Barney at the White House.

What happens when you cross unrestrained pulsating testosterone with canine comparison, when it comes to global superpower leaders?

Are those fighting words? Can a thermonuclear exchange be far behind?

According to the old adage: ‘You can take Vladimir Putin out of the KGB, but you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.’

The same seems to be true when it comes to employing big powerful dogs as a metaphor for a present day Russia, once again flexing its muscles.

When it was time for a summit between Putin and German Kanzerlin Angela Merkel, Koni made an unscripted cameo appearance. It’s well known that she suffers from cynophobia or a serious fear of dogs. Putin pretended not to know and offered his “dearest” apologies, but Merkel wasn’t accepting his contrition or buying his explanation.

“I understand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man. He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.” — Merkel responding to Koni’s entrance at their 2007 summit in Sochi, Russia.

Both Barney (2001-2013) and Koni (Кони) (1999-2014) achieved doggie immortality, serving as first pets to the heads of states of the United States of America and Russia respectively.

Almost DailyBrett must pause here and rhetorically ask: ‘Does size really matter?

One Nation Under Dogs

“If you need a friend in Washington, D.C.,  get a dog.” — Former President Harry S. Truman.

Every president gets pilloried every nanosecond by political enemies, questioned by the punditocracy, psycho-analyzed by the media, and made the butt of jokes by late-night TV comedians. Regardless of the thickness of skin there has to come a time for any chief executive, when too much is too much. That’s where Truman’s friend comes into play.

There was a particular time when former President Bill Clinton really needed a “Buddy,”an unquestioning through thick-and-thin chocolate lab. The thin came with an intern named … Monica … in 1998.

Sadly, Buddy was only a short-part of presidential or canine history, born in 1997 and buying the kennel in 2002.

Many are fixated on the prospect of Yuletide impeachment. Your author is more concerned with the fact that Donald Trump is the first president in more than a century without the companionship of … man’s best friend.

“How does the president not have a dog? He’s the first president in 120 years that does not have a dog in the White House.” — Presidential scholar Barbra Streisand

“I wouldn’t mind having one honestly, but I don’t have any time. How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?” — President Donald Trump

Your author contends that Putin would not give a shekel about Trump walking a dog on the White House lawn. Instead, he would zero-in with a laser-like focus on what canine breed was parading beside the leader of the free world. If the First Canine didn’t measure up, there would be predictable Putin judgment and scorn.

Presidential Poop Scooping?

For the record Putin has four dogs — Pasha, Verni, Yume, Buffy — presumably each a large canine strutting and projecting power and strength. Seems that a Scottie dog would not make the cut with the leader of the Rodina.

Maybe Trump does not want to engage in a doggy-dog fight with Putin?

And for all superpower leaders, there comes a time when the vestiges of power inevitably expire. What comes next?

Just ask former President George W. Bush.

“Shortly after we moved to Dallas, I took Barney for an early-morning walk around the neighborhood. I hadn’t done anything like that in more than a decade. … Barney spotted our neighbor’s lawn, where he promptly took care of his business. There I was, the former president of the United States, with a plastic bag on my hand, picking up that which I had been dodging for the past eight years.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201302/the-passing-barney-bush-first-dog

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/23/americas-extreme-obsession-with-dogs-and-what-it-means

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/02/12/trump-first-president-century-with-no-dog-explains-why-i-dont-have-any-time/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pets_of_Vladimir_Putin

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

 

 

 

 

 

“You control the debt; you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.” – Actor Luca Giorgio Barbareschi as arms producer, Umberto Calvini, The International.

In the days of ole, one could buy a treadmill or an exercise bike and work out or employ it as a glorified laundry rack.

Now we have the recent Peloton IPO — (NASDAQ: PTON) — selling its bikes for $1,995 and treadmills for $4,000.

The key differentiator is streaming content (bike or aerobic instructor videos) for a recurring monthly charge of $39 or more. Peloton didn’t just sell a pricey bike and/or treadmill, they more importantly marketed a monthly obligation to a growing subscriber base … and that very well could include you.

The consumer bought high, and is paying even higher.

The stately The Economist reported the news and entertainment industry (i.e., Disney, Fox, ESPN, HBO …) along with major tech players (i.e., Apple, Amazon, Netflix) collectively spent $650 billion in the last five years on acquisitions and content, a sum greater than America’s oil industry.

For example the Mickey Mouse gang just unveiled Disney+ for only $6.99 per month (how long will that price last?), allowing binge watching of the Star Wars catalog to one heart’s content. The downside is another sliver of your financial independence given away for yet another monthly fee.

Sooner or later, the price of each kernel of streaming popcorn is going to add up.

They Have The Gravy, And You’re On The Train

During his Silicon Valley days, Almost DailyBrett was consumed by a litany of recurring payments (i.e., mortgage, utilities, taxes, insurance, car payments, credit card usage, mobile phones, cable, house cleaner, gym membership, pool maintenance, gardener …). In toto, all of these outstretched hands each month represented a seemingly out-of-control first-world dilemma on steroids.

Money was coming in, and going out just as quick each month. Similar to the IRS, each of the growing list of providers never forgot to remind your author of his annual/monthly obligations.

Even more than ever, our consumer-oriented economy (70 percent of the total) is predicated on enticing even more Americans to shell out an escalating amount of capital on a monthly basis, ensuring a consistent flow of money in one direction.

Hint: Someone is getting rich and it’s not the average Jane or Joe.

Some can avoid being “slaves to debt” to the bank (e.g., pay off your credit cards each month), but it’s way more difficult to avoid recurring annual (e.g., Amazon Prime or Costco memberships) and worse, monthly payments.

Let’s face it, some monthly outlays are unavoidable (e.g., utility payments). Most have mortgages or rent to pay every 30 days. Many have car payments. Even if you pay your total credit card bill religiously (which you should), it’s still a monthly obligation.

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t want to sound like a parent, but still must pose this question: How many of these recurring payments are absolutely necessary?

Shelter, food, power and water are essential to life. Most likely all or at least some of the above are financed/amortized through monthly payments.

Your author must ask, do we need a Netflix subscription on top of the cable bundle? We are already paying up the Wazzoo for up to and beyond 300 channels, the vast of majority we do not watch … and then we add on Disney+, ESPN+, Netflix and God knows what else.

And we are wondering what is happening to our money?

No Longer Driving The Top Line, How About The Bottom Line?

Follicly challenged Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and others of the species are retiring … and Gen Xers (hatched 1965-1979) are not far behind.

Let’s face it, for most Boomers their peak earnings days are behind them.

If you can’t grow the top line, then reducing the bottom line is a great idea. Can one seriously reduce costs and still live a comfortable happy life?

Do you still require a mortgage? Can you downsize? Can you rent instead? Can you move to a lower-cost state or community?

Is good weather (e.g., California) worth the mounting hassles, congestion, rising costs and always higher taxes?

Can you avoid car payments? How about fixing up your ride?

And most of all, can you build a stone wall preventing new monthly payments from wrecking your budget?

If you must binge watch, is there a free way to enjoy the same content without the monthly ball and chain?

Retirement experts preach avoiding second (or more) homes, subsidizing adult children and overspending.

At some point, that one more monthly expense may prove to be A Bridge Too Far.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/14/who-will-win-the-media-wars

“Official statistics no longer countered this (Ossies) group — who were disproportionately young, clever, female and ambitious — as East Germans.” — The Economist’s “Thirty years after the Wall fell, ” November 2, 2019

“From adversity comes opportunity.” — Former Notre Dame Head Coach Lou Holtz

When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, more than 1 million Ossies took advantage of their newfound freedom from Communism, immediately heading to West Germany and for the most part … thriving. More than one-quarter of East Germans aged 18-30 moved to the west, two-thirds of them … women.

They recognized there were two paths to go by, but in the long run, there was still time to change the road they were on … especially young, clever, ambitious females.

For those 16 million-plus souls adversely trapped for 28 years behind the borders of stultifying-oppressive-surveillance state East Germany, there finally was an opportunity to leave, begin a new life and build a lucrative career. Many took this new road to affluent Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hamburg … and never looked back.

Is moving to a more promising venue, the catalyst for success and building wealth?

Only one way to find out.

“I’m in Favor of Progress; It’s Change I Don’t Like” — Mark Twain

Ever meet Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer or Gloomy Gus?

Their cups are always half empty. They impress upon you what they can’t do rather then what they can do. Their little rain clouds follow them wherever they go … and in the most cases … they don’t go anywhere.

They settle for status quo mediocrity or worse. And soon it will be late … too late in their lives to make a change for the better.

They will choose neither path, and the road will soon be closed for good.

Almost DailyBrett was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The former steel town is a great place to be … from.

Fortunately your author’s family was afforded the opportunity to move to Southern California. For Almost DailyBrett, Sacramento, CA, Portland, OR, Pleasanton, CA Ellensburg, WA and now Eugene, OR followed.

With each move came a change of scenery, variables, superiors, colleagues, subordinates, issues to confront and problems to solve. There were always vexing adversities and intriguing opportunities, and most of all challenges to overcome.

In their coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall earlier this month, most of the newsies focused on the disparity of those who reside and succeed in former West Germany, and those who remain mired in chronic poverty in former East Germany. For many, they could have moved to seek a better life, but for one reason or another … they didn’t.

Yes, there is income disparity even in a model European nation.

The story also needs to reflect the shift away from an agrarian economy, which is largely cosigned to the Stone Age. The following industrial revolution of Johnstown, PA is kaput. The world is now consumer dominated (e.g., 70 percent of the United States economy), digitized and service oriented.

Advantage women … particularly young, clever and ambitious women.

The service oriented consumer economy is right in their sweet spot. Public relations, marketing, advertising, event planning, local government, law, real estate, health care, hospitality … heck, even hardware stores … are dominated by the fairer gender or at a minimum … heading in that direction.

Can men, who once dominated the agrarian and industrial economies with their brute strength, ignorance and testosterone, succeed in this new service economy? Yes for some, but will they en masse? The evidence is not promising.

Not only have women passed men in terms of labor force participation, the same X-curve apply to women vs. men college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above. And in the vast majority of cases, one must or want to move away from home to go to college. Universities and colleges should be a one-way ticket to independence, not back to mom and/or dad.

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

If professional women were a publicly traded stock compared to an equity for professional men, Almost DailyBrett would not hesitate to invest in the growth potential of the fairer gender. As your author has always noted, stocks are a forward rather than a lagging indicator … women are leading, men are behind and the gap is growing.

The wind is clearly in the sails of professional women, particularly those who are brave and smart enough to recognize there’s still time to change the road they are on.

And when their ship comes in they will be ready to board and set sail.

Alas way too many men will be killing time, playing video games at the airport.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/the-night-the-wall-came-tumbling-down/

Welcome to America’s cul-de-sac: The Pacific Northwest.

There is no state in the nation’s contiguous states, which is located further away from a steady supply of stud football players, let alone media markets, than Oregon.

For the Oregon Ducks, geography could be an easy excuse. Instead, it is a challenge that must and is being surmounted.

Oregon has chosen to compete in terms of marketing, facilities, swagger and success.

Autzen Stadium is rocking on Saturdays, and yet there are some who cannot pronounce the name of the state correctly particularly those east of the Hudson and in bucolic Bristol, Connecticut. … It’s Or-ee-gun.

As a 30-year season ticket holder, Almost DailyBrett was rooting for the Ducks before it was cool.

Your author earned his bachelor’s degree in broadcasting journalism from USC and his master’s degree in communication from the University of Oregon. There is no game that tugs at the heart strings more than when the Ducks and Trojans come together as will be the case this Saturday at the LA Mausoleum.

The illustration of the GPS disparity (e.g., 858 miles) between Los Angeles, California and Eugene, Oregon cannot be minimized. Oregon is the home to 4.19 million souls. The Los Angeles area has 18.79 commuters.

Geography matters.

USC easily has greater access to more stud athletes within a 40-mile radius of its urban campus than Oregon has in a 400-mile radius of its college town setting. Historically, USC recruits and signs more decorated big men on high school campuses than Oregon.

What? Oregon is a 4.5 point favorite over USC in Los Angeles.

How can that be even remotely possible?

Oregon Chose To Compete

Can’t tell you how many times Oregon was confused in the 1990s with … the Beavers.

You can’t tell the difference between “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones”?

The working pejorative by the lazy sports media was to simply lump the Ducks and Beavers together as … “The Oregon schools.”

Attempting to stay in the game with USC, UCLA, Stanford and Washington for a quarter or two was an accomplishment. If that was indeed the case, the next obvious question was … why bother?

Athletes in Oregon could not practice their game 24,7, 365 because of the state’s wet climate. The team would never prevail. Oregon would never win the conference crown. The Ducks would never go to the Rose Bowl. They would never play for the “Natty.” A Duck would never win the Heisman Trophy.

Whatever happened to all these modern-day Nostradamus,’ who uttered these ex-cathedra proclamations?

Since Almost DailyBrett first purchased his Oregon season tickets and made his initial donation to The Duck Athletic Fund in 1990, the Ducks have won six conference titles. They have played in Pasadena on New Year’s Day four times, winning two. They have competed in the “Natty” twice. And Oregon deity, Marcus Mariota, won the Heisman.

With each accomplishment, Oregon blew away each recruiting disincentive: Can’t work on your game, never will win, never play in a major bowl, never compete for the national championship, will never be in the conversation for the Heisman … let alone win the trophy.

Oregon Reign

It reigns in Oregon. It reigns big time.

Oregon is the ultimate overachiever, not just in football but men’s and women’s basketball and track and field as well.

What are the components of Oregon’s accomplishments?

Marketing: Oregon is forward-looking. Buy the stock. The school doesn’t concentrate on past tradition, but pivots off immediate success to project forward.  Oregon has identified its target audience (high school sophomore and junior studs) with fun football, cool uniforms, playing in ultra-loud Autzen Stadium on national television. The Ducks are cool, and everyone knows it (including those in Seattle and Corvallis). Maybe their images and likenesses of future Ducks will draw the attention of … Nike?

Facilities:  If you build it, will they come? Almost DailyBrett remembers the alumni tent in the gravel parking lot. That mental image was light years ago. Conservatively, Oregon has invested $15 million for the Moshofsky Center (indoor practice facility), $41 million for the John Jacqua (athletic academic support center), $68 million for the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex (football operations center) and $68 million for the expansion of Autzen Stadium.

Kudos for a huge assist from Oregon’s resident alum swoosh billionaire, Phil Knight.

Swagger: The Golden Era of Oregon football has returned. Former lineman Mario Cristobal has brought Alabama smash-mouth football with speed to the perceived soft Pac-12 conference. Cristobal’s energy is infectious. Every potential recruit coming to Eugene, leaves with photos of himself in Oregon football pads with the Nike logo prominently featured. Once again, Oregon is the hunted, not the hunter.

Success: As John Madden once said: “When you win, nobody can hurt you. When you lose, nobody can help you.” After the school’s best-ever results (46-7) during Chip Kelly’s tenure from 2009 – 2012, and recorded three straight conference titles, four BCS bowl games, Oregon fell back into the Pac. Coaching matters.

Oregon comes to the LA Coliseum this Saturday with the wind in its collective sails (5-0 in the Pac-12). The Ducks respect USC, but don’t fear the Trojans. As evidenced by the Washington and Wazzu games, the contest is expected to be close, real close.

One way or the other, Oregon will be competing for conference title on December 6.

Will our fine-feathered friends have a Rosey future? Expect the Ducks to compete like hell for Pasadena, because they can.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/the-conference-of-champions/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/rooting-for-oregon-before-it-was-cool/

 

“When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work. We are workers. And by selling this idea, ‘Hey man, I’ll teach you how to be rich.’ How is that different than an infomerical?” — Jon Stewart to CNBC’s Mad Money host and former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager, Jim Cramer

No truer words were ever spoken.

During the course of his 2009  infamous viral dressing down of CNBC’s “Mad Money” Jim Cramer, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart took direct aim at the notion of get-rich-quick, particularly in times of an economic meltdown.

Some acquaintances of Almost DailyBrett have inquired and even critiqued your author’s daily devotion to CNBC, the repeated clicks on Charles Schwab’s retirement IRA platform, and the checking of the value of the Eugene, Oregon residence on far-less-than-perfect, Zillow.

Yours truly is a dedicated capitalist, devoted to maintaining and growing wealth under the banner of Buy Low Sell High.

Buying low and selling high generates … profits. Yes, profits. Sorry Bernie and Elizabeth.

Some vehemently argue that nothing-is-guaranteed Wall Street is more or less, gambling.

Almost DailyBrett disagrees with this conclusion, but clearly recognizes that gamblers are energized and engaged. No one plays poker and puts their chips on the roulette table and cavalierly accepts the verdict. They play to win the game.

As Herm Edwards said: “You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game.”

And more times than naught, gamblers lose. The staggering accumulated wealth and gaudy palaces along the Las Vegas Strip are monuments to the … losers.

Don’t investors want to win too? There are no guarantees on Wall Street. Invested money is placed at risk. Doesn’t that make Wall Street the greatest casino of them all?

Achieving the spread between buying at a lower price and eventually selling at a higher price is more … much more … than simply investing in a 401k or IRA and forgetting about it. ‘Ahh … just let the pension fund chiefs or the mutual fund managers worry about it.’ Don’t worry.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about your nest egg. Growing, caring and nurturing your tomorrow is a business. In effect, it is the ultimate business.

You want to ensure that you live a long and happy life, and that you expire before your money runs out.

The Wall Street crash of 2007-2010 is still fresh for most of us. Ten years later, we are enjoying the fruits of the longest bull market in American history with a record low, full-employment Department of Labor unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

Time to put up our feet? Hell, no.

Manage Rather Than Be Managed

“Stewart had no special Wall Street knowledge, as he was the first to admit. What he had was a nose for a scam, and an uncanny ability to articulate what the rest of us were feeling.” — New York Times columnist, Joe Nocera

Recognizing that Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a stock market analyst or technician, he is nonetheless still right: “Our wealth is work.”

Part of the task before us is to understand completely a very simple question: How does a company makes money?

Please allow Almost DailyBrett to speak ex-cathedra: If you do not understand how a publicly traded company makes mula (e.g., McDonald’s makes hamburgers and feeds 1 percent of the planet each day), then you are gambling on a stock, not investing.

Remember posing this question to my classes about Bitcoin.

Some students volunteered that Bitcoin is a crypto-currency … whatever that means. “It’s been going up” (and down). Currencies are associated with countries (i.e., greenback, USA; Euro, EU; Pound Sterling, UK). What country backs Bitcoin?

Nada.

Therefore in your author’s portfolio, there is no place for Bitcoin or any other Ponzi Scheme.

Stewart publicly undressed Cramer because the former believed the latter’s network (e.g., CNBC) was not doing enough to protect retail investors, particularly those who were experiencing the daily assault on their portfolios between 2007-2010.

Most of us wish to forget that time, and yet we took the steps to manage our accounts and protect our nest eggs. We chose to manage instead of being managed.

Maintaining and building wealth requires us all to work, to stay alert, and have a healthy batting average when it comes to making our financial decisions.

Stay alert. Stay engaged. Stay the course.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/iinzrx/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–2

http://money.com/money/3982267/jon-stewart-5-best-money-moments/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/how-blue-cross-saved-my-bacon/

“I’ve actually never met anybody who likes their health insurance company.” — Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts)
“And while Bernie (Sanders) wrote the bill, I read the bill. And on page eight — on page eight of the bill, it says that we will no longer have private insurance as we know it. And that means that 149 million Americans will no longer be able to have their current insurance.” — Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota)

If your author didn’t have bad luck 15 years ago, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.

In chronological order: there was the diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2004, my first wife died of stomach cancer nine months later, and to top it off … the brutal arrival of incurable (but today manageable) Valley Fever (e.g., fungus) came in 2006.

Fortunately, Almost DailyBrett was always covered by some flavor of Blue Cross … and that is true today.

At the expense of shedding any semblance of modesty your author earned his health insurance, waking before dawn for mind-numbing commutes and waiting hours for evening flights and confronting countless challenges in between.

The rapid fire series of bad medical luck with a new installment every year, each diagnosis had the potential to devastate your author financially … and yet there was thankfully health insurance, private-sector health insurance.

Any public discussion about eliminating my hard-earned Regence Blue Cross, particularly in the onset of my retirement years, is an absolute non-starter for yours truly. Your author will categorically state that he will not entertain even for a nanosecond, voting for any candidate who advocates taking away my Blue Cross.

Aren’t Democrats labeled by detractors as the “give-away” party, never as the “take-away” party?

Aren’t Democrats the “pro-choice” party, rather than the “no-choice” party?

Sorry Bernie and Elizabeth, Almost DailyBrett is one of the estimated 150-to-180 million Americans who would lose his or her private insurance with the onset of the “Medicare For All” elimination of private insurance scheme.

Think of it in terms of Monte Hall’s Let’s Make A Deal: On one stage is tried-and-true Blue Cross health insurance — the one that has served your author and his family since the 1980s — and on the other stage is … the door. What’s behind this scary door?

What we know for sure is that Blue Cross Blue Shield will be out of business. Private insurance will be nationalized. There will be zero “public option.” There will be only one option, the government, the same government that provides us with DMV, the US Postal Service (USPS) and Amtrak.

Sorry, you author does not want federally mandated Amtrak train wreck health care.

Insurance: A Necessary Evil

Even though insurance by its very nature is a negative product (you pay for it, but you really don’t want to use it), Almost DailyBrett actually likes his private sector insurance company, and wants to keep it. Sorry Elizabeth, this author does not concur with your sweeping ex cathedra pronouncement.

Bernie loves to point out that drug and insurance companies generated a cumulative evil profit of $100 billion (e.g., denominator). Question: What is the numerator? How many companies are we talking about?

Keep in mind that each of these publicly traded health companies has a federally mandated fiduciary responsibility to drive the top, and yes … bottom lines. Are we including bio-tech companies, researching cures for cancer, heart disease and other ailments? Are all of these companies actually making money?

The $100 billion number sounds just a little too perfect … to be real.

Bernie and Elizabeth want to give everyone federal health insurance, and only federal health insurance. No issue divides the Democratic Party more than the question of taking away private health insurance from the one-half of the nation, the 150 million-plus who earned and rely upon their private health insurance.

Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a new “Third Rail of Politics,” and Bernie and Elizabeth are shocking the nation with their draconian plan.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/13/transcript-third-democratic-debate/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/prostate-cancer-a-piece-of-cake-compared-to-valley-fever/

 

Time is money.” — Founding Father Benjamin Franklin

“Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble.” — Shirley Temple

Very few things in life irritate Almost DailyBrett more than walking into a supermarket with 12 or more check-out lines, and only two are open.

Albertsons is a particularly notorious offender. The supermarket chain is essentially asking consumers to subsidize its cheapness by forcing customers to waste time in long lines.

Your author does not shop at Albertsons or any any other serial personal-time thief.

Some upscale supermarkets (e.g., Market of Choice) have checkers available at every checkout, but the prices are much higher.

Which brings us to the question du jour: What is more important: Your money or your time?

The cop-out initial answer: It all depends.

If one barely has two shekels to rub together, the answer is obvious … you stand in long lines, hopefully getting a better deal for your precious time.

If one has no financial worries with a steady salaried position, packed schedule or even is a billionaire entrepreneur, then time is obviously the choice.

What would happen if you have $100,000 in assets and $100,000 in liabilities (besides losing sleep)?

You are essentially running a precarious personal/family business. Naturally, one would want to grow the assets and decrease the liabilities. Does that mean opting for money over time is the priority? Or does that mean putting time effectively to work over money is the answer?

Everybody loves a deal. Right?

Think of it this way, no one goes on Amazon or eBay looking to pay full freight. Heck no, we want a bargain. We want the best bang for our cherished buck

Does that mean we wait in way-too-long lines to just secure a better deal? How about the pool souls who waited up-to-10 hours outside an Apple store, just to pay more than $1,000 for the Apple iPhone X?

Sometimes the questions comes down to return on investment (ROI). Is the “deal” worth the time? Is the time worth the “deal?” Is the time worth, paying full retail?

Infinite vs. Finite

“Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” — Jim Rohn, author and entrepreneur

Well-run enterprises are constantly figuring out novel ways of saving customer time, reducing internal costs and delivering competitively priced merchandise.

ATMs have been a fixture for banks, conceivably since the Earth cooled.

Some supermarkets have self-checkout lines, allowing consumers with a minimum or no assistance to scan products, bag and pay, thus minimizing time.

Did you check out McDonald’s reaching an all-time high stock price of $221.93 last Friday? The fast-food leader accomplished this feat even as global markets were rattled with US/China trade uncertainty, Hong Kong tensions, and confusing public relations message by the Federal Reserve?

Investors detest FUD … Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.

McDonald’s daily feeding of 68 million or 1 percent of the earth’s population (e.g., 75 burgers per second) has long been accepted by Wall Street.

What is new is McDonald’s commitment to customer IT, particularly self-ordering kiosks providing greater speed with the same expected Big Mac quality. Sorry Veggies, Almost DailyBrett is an admitted McDonald’s investor and consumer (NYSE:MCD) and has to call em as I see em.

When push comes to shove, what is more vital money or time?

Time cannot buy groceries or love. The legal tender whether it be greenbacks, Euros, Pounds Sterling, Yen, Yuan etc. is a necessity of life. One must possess currency.

If one manages his or her personal and economic affairs correctly, there should always be the ability to make more money during the course of a lifetime. The key as you author is fond of pontificating and bloviating is … Buy Low Sell High. Discretionary revenues should be intelligently put to work.

Money can purchase groceries and many times love, but can it buy time?

That’s the rub. Money conceivably can always grow (Keith Richards makes money when he sleeps … royalties).

Time is finite. There is no arguing the point; one has only so much time. That’s why Almost DailyBrett always hopes that “Time Is On My Side.”

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-03-02-0130

https://www.businessinsider.com/19-facts-about-mcdonalds-that-will-blow-your-mind-2012-4#mcdonalds-sells-more-than-75-hamburgers-every-second-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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