Category Archives: Life

Justice?

I am among those who are very troubled by the “not guilty” verdict leaving George Zimmerman unpunished for taking the life of Trayvon Martin. However, what troubles me is the “laws” in Florida that gave George Zimmerman the right to carry a concealed weapon which he used to murder Trayvon Martin.

Laws define what is legal or illegal in our country. But the word “legal” is not a synonym for the word “ethical” or the word “moral.”  Those who made the laws governing the outcome of this case must share some of the guilt for this murder.

Throughout history we have had laws that condone unethical and immoral behavior to the detriment of many innocent people.  In our short history we have had many laws discriminating against innocent individuals based on their gender, race, sexual orientation and economic standing. None of these laws would today be considered ethical or moral rules for society. Of course “immoral and unethical laws” are not the sole province of our country. Throughout history we see a plethora of unjust laws making it legal to carry out horrendous crimes against innocent victims.

Those with power put laws in place and they are used to exploit those with little or no power. Those committing immoral and unethical crimes always defend their actions by stating that they have done nothing illegal. Apparently they have no conscience. But I am hopeful there is a “higher court” somewhere that will hold George Zimmerman accountable.

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“MyJour”

A new “social media app” that allows you to post video, text, photos, and audio comments.  You can also post times for your next posting.  This is great for all those fans of celebrities like Lebron and Dwade.

The developer is Sharif Balogun, who works with Wade.  I am the “old guy” who gives advice when asked.  Last night we launched it on the App Store at Apple.

Check it out and let me know what you think.  I love it but I am biased because I have an equity interest in the project.

Pushing ideas and not products has been the goal of this blog so I hope you will forgive this one time.

And I will use it to expand the readership of WheelerWrites.

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Time to be Thankful?

As each year comes to a close we like to reflect on the past.  Optimists will count their blessings while pessimists express their fear of what the future may hold.  We live in a world with many problems, but how does our current situation stack up against the problems of those who have gone before?

My father passed away a little over six years ago as he approached his 91st birthday.  As with most elderly folks I have known he would frequently refer to the “good old days” and how the world was “going to hell in a hand basket.”  I would listen and acknowledge all the current problems he articulated, but then I would ask “What was the world like for most of your life, those “good old days?”

I would then do a brief review of history for each decade of his life starting with 1911-1920.  (He was born in 1913.)  I found that this review not only changed his perspective, but it was useful with clients as well.  Fear of the future can destroy a well-structured investment plan.

So let’s take a look at the past and then ask, “Are things really so bad today?”

1911-1920

World War I— 15 million deaths and 20 million wounded.

Influenza— 50–100 million people perished.

1921-1930

The Roaring Twenties were a period of strong economic growth and a higher standard of living, but nothing close to the life we enjoy today.

1931-1940

The Great Depression- Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%.  Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%, and in other countries it was as high as 33%.

“Let the good times roll!”

1941-1950

World War II- 50-70 million deaths.

The Holocaust.

The first use of weapons of mass destruction.

The Cold War began.

“Were these the “good old days” you were talking about Dad?”

1951-1960

A period of strong economic growth, but now I can speak from my own memories.  Racism was an accepted social norm.  Pollution was so bad rivers would burst into flame, and the air in some cities could choke you if you were not accustomed to the pollutants.

As children we lived in fear of a nuclear war and were taught to “duck and cover” under our desk at school, as if that was going to protect us from a nuclear blast.

1961-1970

The Vietnam War tore the country apart while claiming more than 50,000 American lives, and over a million Vietnamese lives.  President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were all assassinated. Violent political-protests were commonplace throughout the country.

1971-1980

A two-year recession and eight years of anemic economic growth sent the unemployment rate above 10%, mortgage rates to 17% and the inflation rate to 13%.

1981-2000

This 20-year period should perhaps be called The Golden Age of the U.S.  The U.S. Stock Market averaged a gain of 15.3% while inflation averaged only 3.6%.  The Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, an absolutely great time to be an American.

2001-Today

Perhaps we all were spoiled by the prior 20 years, and we set our expectations to high, but “relatively speaking” we are at peace, our environment is cleaner, our life expectancy continues to advance and our standard of living could not have been imagined by anyone, even 40 years ago.

As I look back over the past century I realize that prior generations overcame challenges that are hard for me to comprehend, and they have given us a better world than they had.  So as we give thanks this holiday season for all the blessings we have received let’s have a little confidence in ourselves to make this world an even better place.

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A Little JoePa In All Of Us

I am guessing that most people are exhausted with the Sandusky/ Penn State story, but I cannot stop thinking about what we can all learn from this tragedy.  It is hard to conceive how reputable people could so easily turn their back when confronted with such evil. Or is it?

We humans have a long history of “selective morality.”  For example, assume that Mike McQueary, the graduate assistant who witnessed the rape, had accidentally come across a janitor raping a 10 year-old boy in the shower.  Would his actions been different?  No doubt.  He would have intervened to stop the rape, and would have called the police immediately.  But when he saw that the perpetrator was Coach Sandusky, he chose a very different course of action.

Why?  Coach Sandusky was important to the Penn State Football Program, and the Penn State Football Program was important to Penn State.  Penn State has (had?) a great reputation as an outstanding university, and the Football Program was part of that great reputation (not to mention the tens of million of dollars generated by the Football Program).  All the way to the very top, basic human morals were compromised.

When human beings are happy with the “status quo” all too often they will condone immorality, to protect the status quo.  The compromise may be by an individual, a small group of people, an entire country or a global organization.  We have all seen this behavior to one degree or another in our own lives.  Here are just a few examples that have become part of our history.

Small Group:  The My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War

An entire country:  Germany-The Holocaust

Global Organization:  The Catholic Church

Each example demonstrates the ability of moral people to set aside their morality to protect the status quo.  Most combat soldiers and Marines are appalled when an atrocity is committed.  The vast majority of the Germans were moral people.  And the good and moral work of the Catholic Church is well known.  But the human capacity for ignoring evil exists in everyone.

When the students at Penn State were rioting the other night, it was all about protecting the status quo at Penn State, morality be damned.  I would liked to have asked those students, if 10 years from now when they have children, would they be willing to send their children to a summer camp run by Coach Sandusky?

 

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Social Security

You would be hard pressed to find an individual who believes that the Social Security System as structured today’ is sustainable in the future.  Since the time when Social Security was established, the life expectancy for both men and women has increased by more than 10 years.  The average individual in the System today can expect to enjoy a longer life and healthier lifestyle than past generations and the expectations of longer longevity continues to move ahead.  The bad news is the current system does not provide the resources necessary to fund the additional years.

For example, lets assume you saved enough money to fund each of your 3 children’s college education.  Your oldest child decides to take 5 or 6 years to get a degree.  Would you take money, from the college fund of the younger siblings, to pay for one or two more years of college?  Probably not, instead you would insist that you child completes their degree in the required 4 years.  (I may not agree with Governor Perry on a lot of issues but he was pretty close to the mark when he called the current system a legal Ponzi Scheme.)

But here is where the analogy breaks down.  You cannot insist that an individual die according to the life expectancy that existed when social security was established.  But we need to recognize that things change.  I am delighted that my life expectancy is much greater than my father’s or grandfather’s, and I am certain they would have enjoyed a few additional years if possible.

The solutions are obvious but politically difficult to implement.  Either additional tax must be paid into the system or the retirement age must be extended over time to reflect current life expectancies.  Of course, no one wants to pay more taxes or to work additional years before collecting social security.   We are all basically selfish and seem to be willing to take money from the younger generations to fund those additional years we did not fund.  And virtually no politician has the courage to tell the American people the truth.

We will eventually “take the medicine” and solve the problem.  We have no choice.  But it will take far longer than it should.  True “leaders” always set a great example for those they lead.  Maybe we would all be more willing to accept the solutions if our “political leaders” (an obvious oxymoron) set a good example by reducing their own pension and medical benefits.

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