The Failing American Dream: There Is A Cure

abc_stossel_090910_mainIn April of this year, John Stossel wrote a thought provoking article about the ability of never quitting as being the reason America has been successful.

I quote him here:

In the USA, it’s OK to fail and fail and try again. In most of Europe and much of the world, the attitude is: You had your shot, you failed, and now you should just go work for someone else.

 

But this limits the possibilities. And some of America’s biggest successes came from people who failed often.

 

We know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, but few people know that Edison filed 1,000 patents for ideas that went nowhere. He was fired by the telegraph office. He lost money investing in a cement company and an iron business.

 

Henry Ford’s first company failed completely.

 

Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers.

 

Oprah was fired from her first job as a reporter. A TV station called her “unfit for TV.”

 

But they all kept striving — and succeeded. They were lucky to live in America, where investors and your neighbors encourage you to try and try again. We are lucky to benefit from their persistence.

 

But those happy experiments are less likely to happen today. Now there are many more rules, and regulators add hundreds of pages of new ones every week.

 

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban left school with no money and no job prospects. He managed to become a billionaire by creating several businesses from scratch. I asked him if he could do it again today, and he said, “No … now there’s so much paperwork and regulation, so many things that you have to sign up for that you have a better chance of getting in trouble than you do of being successful.”

 

That’s tragic.

 

It’s not just big corporations that get hassled by regulators, the way progressives might like to imagine.

lemonade-stand

Kids’ lemonade stands — and one I tried to open in New York City — are sometimes shut down for not having proper business licenses.

 

When Chloe Stirling was 11-years-old, health officials shut down her home cupcake-making business.

 

The more government “protects” us, the more it puts obstacles in the way of trying new things. It does that every time it taxes, regulates and standardizes the way things are done. Simultaneously, government offers “compassion” — welfare and unemployment benefits.

 

Faced with the choice of collecting unemployment or putting your own money at risk and hiring an army of lawyers to deal with business regulations, I understand why people don’t bother trying. When that attitude is pervasive, the American dream dies.

 

On my TV show this week, economist David Goldman says, “The U.S. government has done everything possible to make it hard for people to take a new idea from inception to startup to expansion.” He says that when he told a former CEO that he was going to be on my show, the ex-CEO said: “Just tell them to shut Washington down. That’s all they need to do!”

 

Washington won’t shut down. But couldn’t regulators just chill out for a while?

 

Big government doesn’t send us the message that we can make it on our own and that great things may happen if we dare to try. Government mostly hinders us, and then brags that it is waiting to take charge when we fail.

I believe that the American Dream can still become the American REALITY!

But it requires a singular mindset. We have to be willing to work hard and do things that we are not used to. It demands personal responsibility for our own outcomes and doing some double duty (working at more than one thing at a time). And we will have to spend less time watching “American Idol” and more time developing our ideas and taking educated risks.

170 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville stated that, “[Americans] are constantly excited by two conflicting passions: they want to be led, and they wish to remain free. . . “

Tocqueville was very clear, it is impossible to reach our potential without taking complete responsibility for  our actions and owning our current conditions.

I have spent the entirety of 2014 to this point, speaking anywhere people would listen regarding this very issue and then offering solutions that the average American could engage to turn the situation around.

My main message has been that there is no political liberty without financial liberty and to engage in financial liberty or FREE ENTERPRISE, there must exist a certain level of political liberty.

cleon-skousen-speakingOne of my mentors, Cleon Skousen, always taught that the magic of America was that the citizens, free from government intervention, had the right to try, buy, sell and fail. And if you tried enough times, you would most likely succeed.

Today that philosophy has been replaced with that of avoiding risk at all cost and being safe and working for the government or a big multi-national corporation.

This sounds more like a personal wealth death sentence.

To have the kind of financial health that will allow a citizen to engage in liberty of all kinds requires enough residual income to meet all day-to-day living expenses plus 30% to provide citizenship activity flexibility (donations to or promotion of liberty causes or time spent at the state or federal legislature or local political service or speaking and writing, etc)

[Residual income, is income that continues to be generated after the initial effort or cost has been expended. Royalties or rent income for example, are types of residual income.]

For example, if your living expenses are $4,000 per month, you will need a minimum of $6,300 of monthly residual income or $76,000 per year (approximately 20% for taxation and $1,200 for liberty flexibility) to be economically independent and able to engage in liberty.

There is no longer any question, America faces a multiple front crisis; a serious retirement crisis along with a potentially disastrous national and personal debt crisis.

Most Americans recall the devastation caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. We sat in utter horror and even screamed at our computer screens as we helplessly watched people being swept away by the unrelenting waters.

The financial crisis we face today is no less menacing. The current financial tsunami is acting very much like the event of 2004. As the economic tide recedes, we watch not in horror but in curiosity or even total oblivion. The entire nation appears to be suffering from Normalcy Bias,* denying or ignoring that a crisis exists at all. All the while, the water has reversed and is now up around our ankles.

What needs to happen is that real men and women need to face their fears, be responsible and be willing to determinedly taking control of their own destinies.

If we yearn for our children and grandchildren to enjoy the freedoms that we do today, developing this level of Financial Freedom Health is a moral and familial imperative.

Take the Financial Freedom Health/Education Assessment and see how prepared you are to perpetuate financial and political freedom.

Financial Freedom Health/Education Assessment

  1. Do you have an adequate retirement plan? (Based on the $76,000 residual annual income discussed above, this means a $1,750,000 nest egg with a 4% annual dividend. Using the accumulation method at 7.9% earned interest annually, this will require retirement plan installment payments of $1,215 each month for 30 years. A business or a properly acquired real estate portfolio can accomplish the same residual income in a much shorter time and in a safer manner).
  1. If your current retirement plan is not adequate, do you have the skills and resources to correct it?
  1. Have you done sufficient research to really know if your retirement plan is crisis proof? 
  1. Do you review your retirement plan semi-annually? Are staying up-to-date on all law and policy changes that could impact your retirement plan and investments?
  1. Do you have enough knowledge to trust your retirement providers or are you “blindly”trusting them?
  1. Do you have a will or living will or a revocable trust in place? Why? Have you explored all options?
  1. Do you have your investments protected as much as law will allow? Are you sure?

If any of these questions are troubling to you, click here to begin a free course on financial freedom.

Col Sanders

In the USA, it used to be OK to fail and fail and try again.

Before Harland Sanders became world-famous Colonel Sanders, he was a sixth-grade dropout, a farmhand, an army mule-tender, a locomotive fireman, a railroad worker, an aspiring lawyer, an insurance salesman, a ferryboat entrepreneur, a tire salesman, an amateur obstetrician, an (unsuccessful) political candidate, a gas station operator, a motel operator and finally, a restaurateur.

At the age of 65, a new interstate highway snatched the traffic away from his Corbin, Ky., restaurant and Sanders was left with nothing but a Social Security check and a secret recipe for fried chicken.

As it turned out, that was all he needed.

If you, like Colonel Sanders, refuse to give up on the American Dream, click here to start your American Dream education.

 

* Normalcy bias refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This may result in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations.

A Whole New Take on “Selfies”

This post is a reprint from the Inspirational Weekly dated October 6th. 

narcissusAlthough the Oxford Dictionary officially made “selfie” a real word in 2013, the truth is that selfies are nothing new.

Tina Issa wrote in the Huffington Post that “this selfie revolution is annoying. It has made people selfish and narcissistic.”

Not so, Tina; selfies merely reveal something about human nature that is as old as time.

As you know, the Greeks gave us the first formally recorded instance of a selfie in the story of Narcissus. The beautiful young hunter died of starvation because he could not tear himself away from his reflection in a pool of water.

The myth gave us the term “narcissism,” meaning an obsession on oneself.

There is a deep irony with narcissism: for all their obsession on themselves, narcissists never gain any real insight into themselves.

The real problem with narcissism and selfies isn’t the mere obsession on self, but rather the level of obsession.

The ditzy duck-faces and preposterous provocative poses reflect an embarrassingly shallow perspective. Selfies portray less what shows in the mirror than they betray a lack of depth beneath what the eyes can see.

In truth, a deep obsession with self can be a good thing — if the purpose is self-improvement and self-honesty.

What the world needs is less selfies and more self-evaluation. Or shall we say, “selfievaluation”?

We need fewer people obsessed with flashing external appearances and more people consumed with developing internal character.

Christ taught,

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

“Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

A modern-day version could be,

“Why do you gaze at yourself in the mirror so often and so intensely without ever looking deeper?

“Will you flaunt your superficial beauty before the world, while veiling your ugly character flaws?

“Focus first on developing your inner beauty, and your light will shine from within.”

The purpose of selfies is to scream to the world, “Look at me! Look at how beautiful, glamorous, and cool I am!”

self-improvementThe purpose of selfievaluation is to look at oneself in the eyes and say, “How can I improve myself?

Am I being honest with myself?

How can I serve others better?”

Selfies grab the spotlight and point them at oneself; external light is necessary when one’s internal light has been dimmed by selfishness.

Selfievaluations kindle a light from within.

Provocative selfies objectify the person taking them. Humble selfievaluations make a person more truly human.

Selfies cheapen the subject; selfievaluations exalt.

As Narcissus died physically, today’s narcissistic selfie-takers wither away spiritually.

Longfellow’s classic poem, “A Psalm of Life,” opens with the stanza,

“Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream, For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem.”

All that glitters is not gold; the people we look up to and the goals we aspire to are not always worthy of our veneration, time, and attention; impulsive pleasures can be followed by agonizing pain; pretty faces and perfect bodies often conceal empty heads and rotten souls; slick talkers and fancy dressers often mask ill intent and an utter lack of substance.

And incessant, egotistical selfies display not physical beauty, but rather mental shallowness and spiritual poverty.

The world will change when we stop taking silly selfies, and instead take sensible selfievaluations.

Perform a Selfievaluation on Your Finances

  • Do you work because you want to, or because you have to?
  • How confident are you that you will be able to retire when you want with the income you want?
  • When you look at your finances today, are you where you hoped you would be 5 or 10 years ago? Have you made as much progress as you planned on, or do you feel stuck?
  • If you keep doing what you’re doing, will you be where you want to be within the next 5 – 10 years?

If any of these questions make you feel uncomfortable, I urge you to take this free educational course, “Financial Freedom 2.0: The Fastest & Safest Way to Escape the Rat Race.”

For more excellent content go to Inspirational Weekly

Funding Monticello College: A 21st Century Approach

Historically, most American institutions of higher education struggled to fund themselves. Non-profit institutions did not generally have mechanisms for generating revenue. Thus they relied on tuition, donations, and an endowment.

downloadHarvard, America’s first school, suffered this same fate. In 1636, without any endowment (the gift from John Harvard, the school’s name sake was quickly squandered) the college opened it doors but due to lack of finances, it wasn’t long before they closed those doors, reopening later and repeating the process several times in its early history.

increase_matherIn 1642 Harvard’s president, thirty year-old Henry Dunster, went on a fund raising tour and secured enough “in-kind” subscriptions  called “colledge corne,” from local county residents to stabilize the finances.

But those subscriptions petered out in less than a decade.

Citizen subscriptions, sparce local taxes, donations, tuition, and endowments are how higher education was funded from 1636 until the early 1900’s.

By the end of WWII, the G.I. Bill became the popular means of funding higher education.

In 1965, the Johnson administration implemented the HEA (Higher Education Act), which served to help the poor and significantly increased the college population, but it also started the trend that we all now face– sky-rocketing tuition rates. By 1972 Pell Grants and ever popular student loans were added to the funding options provided to low and middle income students.

Since federal funded tuition was swelling the ranks of higher education, the government determined that it now had to regulate that which it was funding.

Accreditation morphed from a system of academic equivalence to the gate keeper of all higher academia, whether your students were receiving federal funds or not. (See the Monticello College white paper to determine if all of this money has improved the quality of higher education today.)

At Monticello College, we take a firm stand in not accepting a single dollar of federal money. We neither desire federal assistance nor do we ask for its oversight. But after 5 decades of Americans on the educational dole, the average family does not have the funds to pay for tuition out of pocket. We have lost the concept of pay-our-own-way.

As a result, Monticello College must find creative ways to fund our operations and build our endowment.

Enter Strongbrook.maxresdefault

Strongbrook is a real estate investment company with a unique 21st century approach to building client investment portfolio’s.

Probably the best explanation I have every heard comes from a 22-year-old college student video.

In an effort to funding the school, Monticello College has entered into a loose association with Strongbrook introducing the benefits offered by this exceptional company to our friends and supporters.

Not only can Strongbrook assist families in securing a strong and vibrant economic future, it helps to create the means to provide funds for student tuition.  Monticello College is also investing into a Strongbrook financial Game Plan with the intention of securing enough investment property to fully fund our endowment.

Click Here to watch a short video to learn more.

Click Here for a Free PDF book or audio book. (Passcode is….FREE)

Since launching in 2007, Strongbrook has helped more than 2,500 investors across 47 states invest profitably in real estate — during the worst recession we’ll see in our lifetimes.

In fact, their investors averaged a 19.8 percent return last year, despite the continued recession.

Meet real Strongbrook investors and hear their stories by watching this video:

P.S. I appreciate that this funding approach may seem unusual or even uncomfortable to some of you. All change is uncomfortable. And higher education is changing before our very eyes. Technology is having as much impact on higher education as it has had on everything else.

In a Fourth Turning world nothing remains the same.

Give us a fair chance to show you some things you may not know. Take the time to watch the videos or read the MC white paper or free books offered or click here to get an awesome education in financial freedom called Financial Freedom 2.0. At the very least, you will learn some things you didn’t know. In the best case scenario, this could change your entire financial future.

What The H— Is Wrong With America? – Part Three – The Demise Of The American Middle Class

CLICK HERE TO READ PART ONE
CLICK HERE TO READ PART TWO

320px-Sign_of_the_Times-ForeclosureBefore we talk about how to increase personal financial autonomy, let’s be very clear on the current state of financial autonomy for the vast majority of Americans today.

A few Google searches produce a frightening collection of articles, books, newscasts, editorials, and government statistics all pointing to a condition never before experienced by the United States of America–WE ARE BROKE. WORSE, WE ARE IN UNRECOVERABLE DEBT.

The United States government has put the nation in debt several times before over the past 200 years.

But it was always recoverable. Today not only are we swimming in a bottomless pit of national debt, the middle class has adopted the policy for their personal affairs.

Over the past year, I have interviewed every couple in my classes and in other environments (over 150 couples now) to assess their financial health. These couples range from low to high middle-class income levels, which means anywhere from $40,000 to $500,000 gross annual income.

Blog-Post-1-PictureVirtually every family I have interviewed has admitted to living at or above their income.

This translates to having no discretionary income and almost universally spending all income on consumer debt maintenance.

Few of these couples have any kind of retirement plan beyond a nominally preforming 401k and more than 75% of these couples have no will or revocable trust in place.

This phenomenon was the focus of a Forbes Magazine article in early 2013. I quote, “we are on the precipice of the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world. In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly Americans, the Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty. Too frail to work, too poor to retire will become the ‘new normal’ for many elderly Americans. ”

The author goes on to say:

Corporate America and the financial wizards behind the past three decades of so­ called retirement innovations, most notably titans of the pension benefits consulting and mutual fund 401(k) industries, are down­playing just how bad things are already and how much worse they are going to get.

 

Americans today are aware that corporate pensions have been virtually eliminated and that the few remaining private, as well as the nation’s public pensions, are in jeopardy. Even if you are among the lucky few that have a pension, you cannot rest assured that it will be there for all the years you’ll need it. Whether you know it or not, someone is busy trying to figure how to screw you out of your pension.

 

Americans also know the great 401k experiment of the past 30 years has been a disaster. It is now apparent that 401ks will not provide the retirement security promised to workers.

 

As a former mutual fund legal counsel, when I recall some of the outrageous sales materials the industry came up with to peddle funds to workers, particularly in the 1980s, it’s almost laughable—if the results weren’t so tragic. 

The National Institute on Retirement Security published a report in June of last year entitled: The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think?  

Here are a few highlights:

1. Account ownership rates are closely correlated with income and wealth. More than 38 million working-age households (over 45%) do not own any retirement account assets, whether in a employer sponsored 401k type plan or an IRA.

2. The average working household has virtually no retirement savings external to employer sponsored programs.

3. The collective retirement savings gap among working households age 25-64 ranges from $6.8 to $14 trillion, depending on the financial measure.  Based on recommended retirement account assets (retiring by age 67), 92 percent of working households do not meet targets.

What Do We Do About It?

First we have to change our thinking. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again–expecting different results. We are going to have to take charge of our own financial futures and begin thinking for ourselves. This is much harder than it reads on this page.

It was Adler who said that, “Anyone who has done any thinking, even a little bit, knows that it is painful. It is hard work, in fact the very hardest that human beings are ever called upon to do. It is fatiguing, not refreshing. If allowed to follow the path of least resistance, no one would ever think.”

taking-charge-of-my-life1-600x400Herein lies a primal cause of much of our financial dilemma.

Too many of us have voluntarily allowed others to do our financial thinking for us.

Our first step then in taking control of our  financial thinking is to acknowledge that the retirement schemes that we have been taught in school and that permeate our culture and workplaces are misrepresentations as best — fraudulent and criminal at worst.

We find ourselves in this dilemma because we have forgotten our heritage and the principles that America was founded on.

The founders understood that financial standing impacts political standing.

To be free politically you have to be free financially.

A Solution

To change our thinking we need a different kind of financial education. This is were my friend and fellow freedom fighter Stephen Palmer enters the picture.

PalmerStephen Palmer is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Business Week, and Amazon bestselling author of several books and hundreds of articles.

An avid entrepreneur and investor, Stephen has stunning insight into the laws of wealth and how to apply them at any level.

Because of his background and passion for freedom, Stephen has created a free online financial freedom education course entitled Financial Freedom 2.0: The Fastest & Safest Way to Escape the Rat Race.

If you want to change your financial thinking and establish your own family financial legacy, CLICK HERE.

Stephen’s free educational course consists of four thought-provoking and enlightening videos:

Video 1: What is Financial Freedom?

Can we make sound decisions if we do not have all the facts or our understanding is limited? Some people define financial freedom as, “being out of debt”, or “having all the money you need.” But those are not accurate definitions of financial freedom. Learn the technical definition of financial freedom that changes EVERYTHING about how you look at money.

Video 2: The Only 4 Ways To Become Financially Free

Learn the only four ways to escape the rat race (earned income or linear income), and the magic word of wealth creation. This concept alone will transform your thinking.

Video 3: The Traditional Plan That Stifles Financial Freedom

Learn why you can NEVER become financially free following the traditional “Nest Egg” accumulation plan. Learn the latest government statistics regarding retirement and why America is in retirement crisis.

Video 4: The Best Vehicle to Achieve Financial Freedom

Learn the fastest and safest ways to achieve financial freedom within 15 years. Even if you think this can’t help you, what about your children and grand children.

For every retiree who is doing well and is financially secure—three are not—that’s a 75% failure rate. This has direct to you and your children. But there are solutions.

This course will change the way you look at money, personal finances, and retirement forever. I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes and watch a couple of these free videos.

CLICK HERE TO GET IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM 2.0

What The H— Is Wrong With America? – Part Two

CLICK HERE TO READ PART ONE

I mentioned in Part One that there can be no political autonomy without financial autonomy. I think the collapsing of American political autonomy is clear to the most casual observer, but what exactly is financial autonomy?

If I have a job and can pay my rent and have enough money for food until my next pay check – isn’t that being responsible? Aren’t I free to do as I please?

What Is Financial Autonomy?  1828_b

Let’s take a minute and really drill down on this definition.

Financial refers to the monetary resources of a government, a company, an organization, or an individual; revenue.

Autonomy is of Greek origin and literally means “having one’s own laws;” self -governing or not being subject to outside control. It refers to a kind of independence or freedom known to few in America today.

The word “free” has Saxon and Hebraic roots.

In Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language, free is defined as, “being at liberty; not being under necessity or restraint; not enslaved; not in a state of vassalage or dependence.”

Since our language has the capacity to describe a certain state of being – that of financial Autonomy, I ask the question – Why are so few Americans financially free?

Why are so many of us, a pay check or two away financial disaster? America is the freest nation on earth…or is it?

We certainly have the freest system of government, the freest system of protection of rights, and a culture more free of a class system than any in the world –but if we voluntarily place ourselves under the control of another power, the freedom guaranteed by our system of government is meaningless.

If we structure our lives in such a way as to be constantly dependent or at the biding of institutions, what does it matter that our politically rights are intact–if we never use them.

One of the first indications of a dependent people is that they stop asking questions and challenging norms. To question and challenge (which was a virtue 100 years ago) established money and government systems was at the very heart of the American Revolution–just read the Declaration of Independence–it is right there in print. But today it is almost unpatriotic to not have your money in the bank or to insist on paying-off debt or being debt free.

Misery really does love company.

downloadWhen debt is a normal part of daily life, when governments have debts that are impossible to pay-off, when businesses cannot survive without debt, when it is normal to carry an on-going (usually maxed out) credit card balance even for things such as clothes and food, that society is dependent on and indeed in vassalage to whomever is providing the money.

Speaking of government or other powers, Alexis de Tocqueville said:

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild.

 

It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing.

 

For their happiness such a government [or bank] willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Financial Autonomy then can be defined as the ability to fund your life by-way of private business or investment, without dependence on governmental subsidy or corporate salary.  This does not mean being rich, but it does mean living within one’s means, or having achieved enough monthly residual income from private sources to meet monthly expenses independent of any outside influence.

Financial Autonomy means avoiding the trap of Clason’s Law – always living right at or above your income. By the way, if you have little or no savings (60% of Americans have less that $25,000 saved for retirement) or lack a solid  retirement plan (minimum of $1.5 M) or if you have a long-standing credit card balance–you are living Clason’s Law.

HOLDING A LOAN FOR 3 DECADES IS NOT THE SAME AS HOME OWNERSHIP

HOLDING A LOAN FOR 3 DECADES IS NOT THE SAME AS HOME OWNERSHIP

Technically, if you hold a balance on a mortgage or are making payments on a car or a boat, you are in the clutches of Clason’s Law.

Being independent means just that—being dependent on no one or institution.

So if I have a job, am I independent or not?

I have heard this question a hundred times, “Well if I don’t have a job, how will I get money?” Therein lies the problem.

Remember, we fought a war over this very issue 239 years ago, renewed the concept during the American Civil War, and again we revitalized the idea during WWII and the subsequent Cold War. (By, the 1990’s our wars were not being fought for independence but rather, they were wars fought to maintain the very institutions predicted by Tocqueville above).

In fact, the pre-American and American civilization and culture of the 1700’s and the 1800’s and into the first quarter of the 20th century were in complete abhorrence to Clason’s Law. The first credit card was not available until 1952 and consumer credit was seen as a very bad idea until the 1980’s. Americans lived a comparatively lower standard of living during this time, but American 18th, 19th, and early 20th century quality of life and psyche of liberty were much higher than today and very much in tune with our definition of Financial Autonomy.

Part three coming soon….