Xi Jinping Virus

As speculation grows that the Chinese government may have intentionally launched Covid 19 into the world I began thinking of what could they possibly hope to gain from such dastardly action.  What could be their motive?  In search of an explanation I could not come up with anything external to China vis-à-vis the rest of the world.  But then it occurred to me that perhaps the motive could be perceived threats to their absolute dictatorial power.

Before joining the global community the Chinese people were impoverished with very few, if any, individual rights.  They lived, no “existed”, at the very bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  By opening their country to the World and providing vast amounts of cheap labor, the Chinese people began to climb up Maslow’s pyramid.  But this may have ignited the first potential challenge to the Communist Party leadership.  It’s human nature to expect more as you move up Maslow’s pyramid and what you desire, is more individual freedom.  Not something the Communist Party will ever concede.

To make matters worse, it is no longer possible for Despots, to prevent their subjects from knowing what is happening in the rest of the world.  When the Chinese people of Mainland China see the standard of living of Chinese living in Taiwan and Hong Kong they cannot help but ask why?  Is it our government?  Of course, asking that question too often in Mainland China is not advisable.

Here are the facts:

                   Per Capita GDP

Hong Kong           $66,527

Taiwan                  $57,214

China Mainland   $20,984  

With Covid 19 Xi Jinping has crushed any hopes the Chinese people may have regarding more individual freedom.  It also shows the Chinese citizens of Hong Kong that he will be ruthless, if necessary, to gain control of their government.

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“THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE MAYOR”

The “Mayor” is the personification of the Career Politician whose first thoughts each day are about how can I advance my career, not what can I do to improve the lives of my constituents.  There is no doubt the Mayor is a very bright young man with a very large ambition.  Smart enough to know that his resume as a small city mayor was not going to take him very far in his quest to become President.

​Our military has a program whereby civilians can volunteer to serve with the military for a short period of time if they have a useful skill and/or experience. (You can read the list of jobs on Wikipedia.)  When reading this list you will notice there are no options that would put these volunteers in harms way.  Why?  They have no military training.   Their training lasts 2-5 weeks during which they learn the “chain of command”, terminology (e.g. a Captain in the Marines and a Captain in the Navy are two very different ranks), and what to wear.  (It wouldn’t look right if they continued to wear their civilian attire.)  And with no weapons training no one is going to issue them a weapon.  At least I hope not.

​The Mayor’s assignment was to look for illicit bank transfers to potential terrorist groups.  Important, but no battlefield courage required.  The Mayor worked in an air-conditioned office, slept in air-conditioned officers quarters and enjoyed three meals a day at the Officers Club.  His attempts to position himself as a “war veteran” is not going work with those who have actually served or with the family and friends of those who paid the ultimate price while defending our country.  As a Vietnam veteran, I find the Mayor’s actions; exploiting the respect our Country has for those who actually serve, to be insulting, dishonest, unethical, and immoral.  It is beyond my comprehension to see the Mayor as the “Commander and Chief” of our Military.

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WHAT THE POLLS ARE TELLING US?

Actually, very little!  Four years ago most people were surprised by the failure of polls to forecast accurately the outcome of numerous elections, yet now, the media continues to report the results of current polls that claim to show us the future.  But the job of the Pollsters has become excruciatingly difficult.  

In the past, the degree of success for a polling company was primarily determined by the design of the sample.  Using a sample size of fewer than 1,000 to reflect the opinion of millions required a lot of skill.  And some were very skilled and showed consistently good results.

But oh how the world has changed.  One of the unintended consequences of the technological revolution is the advent of the ubiquitous “robo call”!  Pollsters need people in their sample to answer the phone.  I’m betting most people won’t answer the phone unless they know who’s calling.  At best they will let it go through to voicemail, and I doubt there will be many people returning the pollster’s call.

Combined with the increasing desire of many to keep their opinions private tells me the polls this year will not be a very reliable source of useful information.  However, the Media will continue to report polling results simply because it gives them something to report.  But why the Democrats have been using poll results as one of the criteria for participation in their debates is beyond me.

Fortunately, we’re entering the Primary Season and we will begin to get a measure of what actual voters are thinking, not what pollsters say voters are thinking.   

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COMPETITION??

Like so many others I was surprised to hear that my friend Eduardo Repetto and Pat Keating have started a new firm to compete with DFA.  Perhaps the added competition will benefit advisors and their clients, who knows?  When reading the news I had time to reflect on my years building the Advisor business at DFA, and all the success we had making a difference for so many investors.

In my opinion, the only serious mistake I made was hiring Pat Keating who had very different ideas regarding what DFA’s relationship should be with financial advisors.  Perhaps Pat’s ideas would  have been better and now he will have a chance to prove it.  DFA owes so much to the advisors who contributed a great deal to our success and in my opinion Pat failed to appreciate that.

I did however make some great hiring decisions.  I believe everyone acknowledges the talent and ethics of people like Dave, Bryce, Brad and Mark just to name a few.  They have continued to make DFA a great firm long after my departure.

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Discrimination and Diversity In the Workplace

Discrimination:  When an individual is denied a job, a raise, a civil right, due to their race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation, that defines discrimination.  It is illegal and in my opinion immoral.  It is also counter productive to whatever an organizations goals (both private and public) happen to be.

Diversity:  When an individual is given a job, a raise, special privileges, etc. due to their race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation it is legal but will always be counter productive to an organization’s goals.  With such diversity employee performance will reach the lowest common denominator.

Too many “professional politicians” don’t seem to understand this and believe that individuals are interchangeable. The goal is to make the pool of employees reflect the same makeup as the general population.  It’s not their seemingly lack of intelligence, it’s their lack of experience working in the private sector.  In the private sector there is a need to have a positive bottom line and as a result the strategy is to hire and promote the most qualified individuals regardless of their race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation.

In the public sector there is no incentive to excel, just do your job and you will get your paycheck.  So perhaps diversity is the proper way to divide the budget provided by taxpayers, but diversity will never work in the private sector.  Politicians on the left know this and that is why they want to minimize or totally eliminate the role of the private sector in the U.S.  The goal is diversity and the methodology is called “affirmative action”.  It may work in the public sector but the “all knowing politicians” should not be allowed to determine how those in the private sector manage their employees.  Market forces are much more efficient at teaching those lessons.     

 It is rare, in both Political Parties, to find candidates with any work experience in the Private Sector.  That is until they retire or get voted out of office.  They will then accept a position in the Private Sector to collect on all the IOUs earned while in office.  But that is a discussion for another day.     

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“Progressive”?

Are you as confused as I am as to why the Media calls professional politicians on the left “progressives”?   In my 74 years we have obviously made a lot of progress in many areas:  science, the environment, human relations etc.  We still have, and will always have, a need to progress further.

That progress will come as individuals seek the truth and adapt to make the World a better place for all.  It will not come from centralized governments telling us what we are supposed to believe and do.  Centralized governments have always restricted the freedom of individuals, stifling creativity and retarding progress.

Over the past two thousand years, the failure of centralized governments is well documented, the Emperors, the Pharos, the Kings and Queens, and most recently, our lovable socialist Dictators, Mao and Stalin, who slaughtered millions of their own people, individuals who questioned their authority.  Their mentors, Marx and Lenin, would be thrilled to know that their ideas, as to how people should be governed, has taken root in the United States, the most successful Democracy in history.

It’s a free country (at least for now) so all you politicians on the left, can choose your own beliefs, but for God’s sake please stop calling yourselves “progressives”. The lack of progress during the 20th Century, for all the former countries of the USSR*, should tell you why so many Americans disagree with you.   

 *union of soviet SOCIALIST republic 

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Helpful Hints for Nancy Pelosi

What will Corporations do with the hundreds of billions of dollars they will not have to give to our Government?  The choices are relatively few but all of them create a great deal of stimulus for our economy:

  • Pay employees more.
  • Hire more people.
  • Invest in plant and equipment.
  • Spend more money on R&D.
  • Increase dividends to shareholders.
  • Buy back shares of their own stock.

Who could be against any of these actions?  And as expected, this is precisely what is happening.

The last two options, if chosen, will be criticized as only helping all those wealthy shareholders of Corporate stock.

Not so!  Those benefitting include everyone with a 401-K plan and members of Defined Benefit Plans.  Hard working Americans.

Nancy, it’s not complicated.  After reading your opinion of the cut in the corporate tax rate I’m hoping this brief analysis will perhaps help you refrain from continuing to make a fool of yourself.

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“The Home Of The Brave”

I will be among those boycotting the NFL tomorrow.  For me, I am not protesting anyone’s right to speak or protest against the ills of our society.

I am a Vietnam veteran who volunteered to fight for my country and while I was one of the lucky Marines, many of my friends were not.  Kneeling during the National Anthem shows a total lack of respect for our Country and every other veteran who has fought for our Country.

More importantly, I want to ask these players if they considered how it must feel to the spouses, the parents, the children, the brothers and sisters and friends of all those who lost their lives serving our country.  All they have is the pride of knowing that someone they loved dearly gave his or her life for their country.

It raises the question of why fight for a Country where many of the most gifted and privileged in our midst show such little respect for this country.  Perhaps that was not their intent but that is what they’ve done.  It’s shameful!

I understand, we have problems, but for one who has been in 64 countries, both rich and poor, I feel so lucky to have been born in the U.S.

By boycotting the NFL perhaps it will get everyone to focus on solving our problems rather than taking away the pride we feel for those who sacrificed so much for this Country!

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National Health Care??

After writing my last Post, I started wondering if there were any major problems that could be solved as a result of this current stand off between Trump and the Political Establishment. And then I got it!

I spent the last 30 years of my life striving to make “Financial Services” a “profession” rather than a “business”, and a lot of progress has been made.  Unfortunately, “Health Care” has evolved in the opposite direction.  What used to be a highly respected profession has become a profit driven “business”.  What’s ironic is, it’s not the Doctors, Nurses and others who work with patients making the big bucks!  It’s the Hospitals, Pharmaceutical and Insurance Companies who are driving the costs of health care (and their profits) higher every year.

Medical Groups train Doctors how to speed up patient exams so that they can see more patients every day.  Hospitals are encouraged to buy very expensive diagnostic equipment and earn a profit by scheduling unnecessary procedures, etc. etc.  And the Media, they make a fortune from T.V. ads pushing drugs to treat diseases we have never heard of.

So why is the U.S., the richest country in the world, the only developed country in the World that does not have a “National Health Care” system? The blame goes to our career politicians who are not going to bite the hands that feed them.  I have worked and lived in Countries that have National Health Care systems and I’ve never heard one person say they would prefer the “profit driven system” that has evolved in the U.S.

Now if you check, you will find that President Trump spoke about the need for a National Health Care system before he ever ran for office.  And after he was elected President, he told the Prime Minister of Australia how much he admired their Health Care system.  Trump the “independent” just might have the opportunity to make it happen.  As a Republican he has no chance, but as an “independent” who has already shown his willingness to work with members of both Parties, he might just might find the required votes.

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The “Political Establishment” has been Trumped

In the past when one of our two Political Parties have controlled both the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch, the Party’s agenda is quickly put in place.  With Donald Trump in the White House and the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress why have we not seen the Republican agenda moving forward?

Think about it!  Should we really be surprised?  Let’s face it, Trump may have won the Republican nomination but has everybody forgotten how the career politicians in the Republican Party opposed Trump.  Trump is an “Independent”.  The Republican nomination was not supposed to go to an “outsider”.    I’m guessing that many Republican politicians in Washington are just as determined, as the Democrats, to see Trump fail.

To those who are part of the Political Establishment, Trump is a virus infecting their hold on power.  The strategy for both the Republican and Democratic Parties, is to “freeze” Trump out ensuring that his Presidency is a “failed Presidency”.  Hoping that such a failure will discourage others.  They fear a lot more than a Trump Presidency, they fear it foreshadows the end of the two party system.  According to a Gallup Poll taken in 2014, 43% of U.S. voters are registered as “Independent”, 30% are registered as Democrats and 26% as Republican.  In 1988 31% were registered as Independent.

Trump showed that you can win an election:

  • Without the support of one of the two major Parties.
  • Using Social Media and the Internet to connect with voters.
  • And without selling your vote (and soul) to Wall Street, the Unions, Big Pharma, and others willing to fund your campaign in exchange for your vote.

I’m guessing that if the Republicans continue to undermine Trumps ability to deliver the agenda that got him elected, Trump may withdraw from the Republican Party, and declare that he is in fact an “Independent”.  I would love to see that!  This would no doubt encourage other smart, successful, men and women to run for office without being “labeled” or held accountable to those dictating the agenda of the two major Parties.  Citizens who truly desire to give something back to this great Country.

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