Monday, November 14, 2011

The New American Scheme Dream: Sodom & GaMOREah – More & Without Risk (Payment or Loss)

The New American Scheme Dream: Sodom & GaMOREah –
More & Without Risk (Payment or Loss)

“I’m a conservative investor. All I seek is 15% after inflation with no risk”
Actual Statement by A Then Fortune 1000 Chairman of the Board in the ‘90’s

It hasn’t changed.
On one hand, more, more, more (or you are less, less, less) is the siren call of our culture while, on the other hand, while we want more, more, more to be riskless (thus giving rise to the phenomenal growth litigation industry).
Ironically, I now append the motto more, better, now becomes less, worse, later to ‘more, better, now, without risk becomes less, worse, later, and loss.’

When Ben Franklin rhetorically asked ‘what is rich?’ and answered himself with ‘he is who is content,’ followed with the question, ‘who is that?’ and answered himself, ‘nobody!’
There is never ‘enough.’

Now it’s keep the profits private and socialize the risks (offing the risks to taxpayers) for banks; walk away from home loans and student loans individually playing the victim card rather than ‘manning up’ (1) and offing the risks to taxpayers.
Defaulting and bailouts are the same: the disintegration of responsibility as a virtue justified as social justice or for fear of systemic risk – but avoidance of accountability and payment just the same.
Heads I win – tails everyone else loses and pays ‘for me.’
This MOREonic behavior – has become normative.

The ‘Cultural Imperialism’: More, Riskless sans Responsibility.
Sodom & GaMOREah

(1) ‘manning up’ has become a perjorative in this politically correct nonetheless victim vulture culture society

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More, Enough & Lack

More, Enough & Lack

Lacksurvive (seeking externals to fulfill - never ending more)
Morestrive (never ending comparative Hamster Wheel)
Enougharrive & thrive (internal development of one’s portion – scoreboard internal)

Self Worthiness, Unequal Incomes (Income Disparity & Envy (Coveting

Self Worthiness, Unequal Incomes (Income Disparity & Envy (Coveting)

First, let’s stipulate: Capitalism produces unequal distribution of income
Secondly, regardless of excesses, no other economic system to date has produced the widespread prosperity of capitalism and it’s unequal distribution of income and resulting wealth.
Third, one principle America was founded on was to create an aristocracy of merit which in the negative was against an aristocracy based on birth (hereditary privilege).
And fourth, for capitalism to work there must be equality of opportunity – not equality of outcomes -which requires not only a level playing field for competition, and the rule of law but transparency.
Fifth, there has been remarkable abuses by the parasitic banks, investment banks whereby they leveraged 30-40:1 and got bailed out keeping the profits private and the risk socialized. Yet, there is no admission of primary culpability by the host predatory borrowers and their enablers (who made NINJAs – no income, no jobs, no assets) out of them (overwhelmingly Democrats/Fannie Mae) that THERE IS NO PARASITE WITHOUT A HOST.
Sixth, when, there is no skin in the game, be it the profits are private and the risk is socialized or no money or low money down mortgages – there is no buy in only abuse. Per Genesis ‘to be counted’ (and not just in the census literally) everyone – have, have not, have a little want some more – had to pay a ½ shekel.
Finally, while one can argue the excesses and abuses, let us not defeat the better for the perfect (which doesn’t exist). There are only ‘better’ tradeoffs rather than absolute solutions.

The above said, 1% pay 40% of the taxes, 53% pay all the income taxes, and the 47% pay who pay no federal income taxes - who have ‘no skin in the game’ are bitching about ‘income disparity’

What is at the bottom of the resentment?
More Money Equals More Worthiness (SUPERIORITY); Less Money Equals Less Worthiness (INFERIORITY).

Let me elucidate on the dualistic thinking that is pervasive through our culture proving that more is good, therefore less is bad – and by extrapolation, he who has more is worthwhile and he who has less is not comparatively worthwhile or worse ‘worthless’ which leads to envy, theft (redistribution of wealth – a synonym) is rationalized by victimization and euphemized as social justice, entitlement, and or rights
If we are useful, of service, functional, we are right. Today’s currency is being right and not being wrong. If we do what is useful, we are right (we get an  and we are right even righteous (originally, right use ness). If we are right – we get ‘more’ otherwise we get less. If we get more, we are better; if not, we are worse. If we are better we are winners – otherwise losers. If we are winners we are worthy (not worthless). And we are worthy, we are good which is just one ‘o’ away from God.
It is no coincidence, therefore, that assets less liabilities is referred to as Net Worth – Net Worthiness. And the ‘more’ Net Worth – the ‘more’ Worthy (the less net worth – the more worthless comparatively!)

Therefore in order not to be wrong, less, bad, losers and worthless – theft/ larcency/redistribution – become legitimate renamed as ‘entitlement, rights, and (the be all end all of motherhood facockta rationalizations) ‘social justice.’
As a result, we should get, by hook or crook (least I be redundant – social justice, redistribution, entitlement, rights) MORE (SUPERIOR)otherwise we are LESS and WORTHLESS (INFERIOR) comparatively.
When all the ‘good reasons’ (abuse, excesses by the parasites but no culpability of the hosts) are exhausted – the real reason behind the theme of income disparity is lack of comparative SELF WORTH rationalizing theft so ‘we are not LESS.’

Ironically, the parasites and the hosts are both MONEY GRUBBERS defining their worthiness by MORE or LESS, the former by the legalized larceny spin words ‘entitlement, rights, victimhood and social justice’ the latter by keeping the profits private and the risk socialized

If anything, the Occupy Wall Street should be Occupying:
• Barney Franks, Chris Dodds’ & Andrew Cuomo’s home
• Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac
• Colleges (who raise tuition 300%+ over the consumer price index)

You can’t change parasites but you can, first drain the incentives of the host, and secondly change the cage of the parasites. In particular:

• 20% down minimum on houses – period. (Does anyone believe we would have had these crazy overleveraged financial shenanigans were it not the NINJA subprime financing enabled by “Our Bettors” Dodds, Franks, Cumos’s etc?
• End tenure and go to contracts at Universities as well as go charter and or voucher for K-12 to put merit back into the system versus whining forever bitching and moaning we need more money as we continually get more for less and more student debt
• End revolving doors in Washington such that elected officials and staffs (nor their immediate families) can go to work for those whom they regulate for 5 years.
• Stop socializing the risk and keeping private the profits by increasing banks’ capital requirements lowering leverage.
• Keep estate taxes after both spouses pass. Inheritance is affirmative action for the rich. Being a member of the lucky sperm club doesn’t create jobs and violates meritocracy
• Taxation should be changed to a flat tax or a consumption tax with a negative income tax component (getting the federal government out of being the Nanny and reducing the bureaucracy telling those in need how and what to spend their money on.)
• End double/triple taxation as given demographic changes (88 million pulling money out of passive investments) the stimulation should be capital formation to create jobs and thriving passive investments given the demographics.

In the end, however, envy is envy is envy and coveting is coveting is coveting and More doesn’t define Worthiness (SUPERIORITY) unless one believes it does.

Monday, October 17, 2011

From My Forthcoming Book: (Inner) Journeys with Goodie: Wanting What You Have & Conniving

(Inner) Journeys with Goodie: Wanting What You Have & Conniving

He who knows he has enough is rich – Tao Te Ching

Finally, I got a bedroom (maybe 10’ by 15’) that I didn’t have to share with my brother in our small row house. Still, if our neighbors Terry and David were fighting I could hear the muffled yelling through the common wall – but I didn’t care, I had my own room.

Now I live effectively in the largest doghouse (Bet Kelev – The House of Dog) in Colorado at the mercy of three standard poodles (who think they hold a first by their mere presence), frustrated that I can’t find room on my bookshelves for another unread book, I forget that 10 by 15 room.

Others have told me stories of scrimping and saving to have that Friday afternoon ice cream soda with their insignificant other when struggling and now gvetch about the wonderful house with kitchen granite tops they live in – fully paid off – forgetting the formica counter top of old.

What we came from becomes merely nostalgia rather than today remembered in gratitude.

It seems there is ‘never enough.’

Yet, never enough is the hamster wheel, wanting what you have that’s the cheese (though there is never enough cheese – in particular – Monterey Colby – for Her Royal Highness).

Given Elle’s cancer and both Moses’ and Goodie’s brushes with death this year alone, each day additional day with them reminds me of ‘what’ is enough and to ‘want what I have’ putting the book mischagass (craziness) in perspective.

Wise guy Goodie hasn’t yet gotten this message of ‘enough.’
At fetch, Goodie still hasn’t given up on getting two tennis balls into her mouth even if at she loses the ball already in her mouth to an ever waiting Elle.
More, better, now becomes less, worse & later and that is the “less”on.

Regardless, this doesn’t deter my Goodness Gracious Goodie the AKC ‘Best in Class’ Conniver Schemer for ‘more.’

Goodie’s food portion (cooked or prepared tar tar served with a waiter’s cloth napkin adorning my forearm) seems to never be enough. (You’d think she was another scamp from the cast of Oliver singing ‘More’). Thus, if I’m not looking, she goes for anything left over in Elle’s or Moses’ bowl or worse and I go in the other room – she’s counter cruising.

And when caught, she just licks her lips, gives that Eddie Haskell smirk as if threatening to call social services or Jerry Springer.

Fetch, food, wrestle – it’s not enough for Goodie.

She’ll learn.
‘More’ than I can say for the human condition.

“Who is rich? He that rejoices in his portion”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Long Term Care Coverage: Reducing Cost & Increasing Coverage

Long Term Care Coverage: Reducing Cost & Increasing Coverage

The insurance industry is minor league preparation for government employment. (Instead of hoarding Oxycotin to commit suicide, just stand outside a major insurer’s headquarters at 4:20 PM in the afternoon and by 4:30 PM you’ll be stampeded to death).
The insurance industry never been accused of being a bastion of innovation. (Actuaries, some say, are accountants without personalities). Due to patent structural barriers to trade, if anything, the industry has encouraged theft of the little innovation that has occurred without recourse. The larger insurers just take the second bite of the apple knocking off the smaller insurer’s innovation and plays chicken daring the innovator to sue with the threat of deep pocketing them.
So the suggestion below relative to matching needed long term care coverage with reducing the ever escalating costs long term costs (only rivaled by higher education cost theft and health insurance inflation) will probably go on deaf stampeding ears. And the suggestion below assume continuation of the same failed long term care model of care which in itself is unsustainable.


In the late 80’s the geniuses in the life insurance business to reduce premiums engaged in a practice called lapse supported premiums. Lapse supported premiums are akin to a Tontine (an investment or insurance plan in which contributors pay equal amounts into a common fund and receive equal dividends and benefits from it, with the final surviving contributor receiving everything). Thus, in the life insurance tontine, the surviving policyholders reap all the benefits of the premiums and dividends forfeited by the lapsing policyholders.
Given that up to 70% of all ‘permanent’ life insurance is gone by the 10th year, for those who stick it out – dividends just magically increased (lowering the comparative premium costs for competitive comparison sake.
Well, the brilliant actuaries did lapse supported pricing on long term care. But insured didn’t lapse but nursing home and at home care costs skyrocketed. (And they say actuarial is a science!)
No wonder so many entered and exited long term care. Yet, the insurers, having learned their lesson from pricing disability insurance on a guaranteed price and renewal basis, issued long term care guaranteed renewal but the price was not guaranteed. (And they still are eating their lunch but at least not canabolizing themselves as they can raise premiums)
Result – long term care premiums have gone out of sight – where life time coverage for most is unaffordable.

Reframing The Problem and Reinventing The Long Term Care Policy

10,000 deaths is a statistic; 1 death is a tragedy

Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die
Comedian Timmie Rogers

National Nursing Home 1999 Survey: According to the data the average length of stay for current residents is 2.44 years and for discharged residents is 272 days.
The length of stay in nursing homes as long as 3 years was 5% of women and 3% of men or 97% of men and 95% of women were in nursing homes less than 3 years.
However, in National Nursing Home Survey, the cognitive impairment among the 65+ age population was 40%. Assuming even 100% of those in nursing homes are 65 and older (it is less) and 40% of those in more than 3 years (1.2% of males and 2% of females) are likely to have cognitive disorder.
So given these probabilities and escalating nursing home costs 300%-400% of consumer price index, would it not make more sense to offer 3, 5 or 7 year policies but with a lifetime rider for cognitive impairment? The underwriting would rate the cognitive impairment rider based on family history (Alzheimers etc.)
Accordingly, overall cost for LTC would come down as exposure to claims (other than cognitive) would be for a shorter duration matching probabilities BUT allowing for lifetime on cognitive.
Of course, the probability of being stampeded to death 4:20PM in front of an insurer’s home office is 10,000% higher than adoption of the aforementioned policy suggested.

Friday, August 12, 2011

One Nation Under The ‘MORE’ god– A Nation of MOREons.

One Nation Under The ‘MORE’ god– A Nation of MOREons.

The stock market whipsawed and slide 500 points up 400 points another day to only be down again 500+ points the next day

And I got calls – though out of practice 16 years.

One case of a retired couple selling their house and buying up another $150k for another house. This $600K plus would be dead money (to the income needs of their goal which they need now in retirement. After a discussion of reverse annuitization to create income with this otherwise dead money, what were the questions about? The goal? Nope – how to make more – and they know better than to ask me those type of questions that I haven’t answered in 36 years.

Another called about timing? Should I sell now – are we close to the bottom – is it going down further – what should I reposition to?

The More god.

Then there is the apologetic call, ‘I know I should have. I know I told you before I would, but this time I will, if you will just tell me, what should I do – are interest rates going up so I should short my bonds?

The More god.

Another who doesn’t have sufficient income nor assets convertible to income production, called about gold and silver. I told the individual it doesn’t make sense relative to his goal (as these metals are insurance/ hedges for goals and he is far away from the income he needs). Besides you can’t eat gold or silver. He persisted. I indicated what I did using these hedges as insurance – how volatile they are but if someone is going to do the wrong thing – the better way to play it was a particular silver royalty company on the big board. I reiterated, even then, this would be, at best, doing the wrong thing right. And again, I repeated gold and silver didn’t fit his goals. He did it anyway. Then, he complained at me (not to me) on the way down bringing seemingly forgetting what I told him not to do, and when it went up – he didn’t sell and when it was volatile (up and down) I reminded him of what I said during his denied complaining.

What did I get for my efforts (besides his bitching which he denies) accusation that I was ‘patronizing him.’

Managing goals instead of assets – patronizing?

The More god.

The More god extracts the sacrificing of what one needs for what one doesn’t need from its more-on followers.

The More god’s blessing: more, more, more becomes less, worse later..

Now I’m sure I’ll hear how I’m being hard hearted as people are scared. Markets go up and down – sometimes with extreme volatility – and not just in 2008 and today. People forget the Arab oil embargo or 1987 – saying ‘this is different.’
Hard hearted or realist – that The More god is what not just the US but this world be it socialist, communist or capitalist – the religious or the atheist worship as the savior.

The root cause goes back to Cain & Able & man’s fear & belief that his bodily physical demise will be his extinction in contrast to one scapegoating caller blaming business (which will be a subject of a subsequent blog entry).
This fear of extinction (and desire of imMOREtality) gives rise to the delusional primal strategy of acquisition to palliate, ‘hinder, delay’ and defraud (if it would work) necessary ‘defraud’ the inevitable physical death. (As comedian Timmie Rodgers would sing on Ed Sullivan, ‘everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.’

The derivative of acquisition (Cain in Hebrew is acquisition) is More.
Whereas Shaddai (God, God Almighty, God All Sufficient, Enough) was Enough for Able, Cain /Acquisition had to have his nut covered before he made his sacrifices to God (which while greater than Able’s were not ‘the first yearlings’)
The More god of Cain – The Citizen Cain/Kane.

The culture of the More god never ceases to amaze me.

When the economy is good and we are ‘in the pink’ (a precursor to ‘in the red?’), there is never enough. Papagallo is out Jimmy Choo is in; Dewars is out; McCallister is in. One Louis Vuitton isn’t enough – 12 is needed for accessorizing and ‘besides, it’s an investment.’

And then when the economy goes south, we bargain. In 70’s the phrase was ‘please God, one more good economy and I promise I won’t piss it away.’ The 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s had similar phrases all promising again not to urinate it away – and sacrificing it away to the More god.

Ironically, with each downturn, the concept of Enough I’ve preached now for 36 years becomes popular and even though retired from practice 16 years, I get calls about Enough. The personal financial planning calls are ‘how to get more so I can have enough which I don’t know what enough is to begin with.’ Masked in the calls are the Moreonic hail Schwartzie prayer questions: ‘so what should I sell or buy and where are interest rates going’ rather than focusing on what is their goals and resources.

Sneaky planners – regardless fee or commission- and who are really just asset gatherers in personal financial planning clothing -calls are the most disingenuous. These putzes are just trying to get the lingo of Enough to repackage themselves with an envelop of Enough still selling/ worshipping at the Golden Calf idol of the More god .

In the end, this 36 years of Enough(sm) has proven to me that we may say we really believe in despite rosary beads, going to religious services weekly, sending kids to Hebrew, Catholic school etc, New Age Blather etc is NOT God, NOR Jesus as the redeemer, or a greater force nor Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc but in:

More as our savior
The More the merrier
• Believe in MORE and MORE will set your free.

MORE is god – represented (no coincidence) by the Bull at Wall Street & Broad in New York. In biblical times, Baal (the bull) was worshipped in one ceremony where the congregants threw their defecation at Baal and then fornicated. (The derivation of Baal/Bull Sh*t: More???

It’s not In God We Trust but In More We Trust.

So please, don’t wear one’s faith on one’s sleeve when it’s in the thickness of one’s wallet.

These and other recent incidents have hermetically sealed my personal financial life planning hermitization.

Without regards,

Pinchas * Schwartz

*Pinchas shish kabobed (impaled) both Cozbi and Zimri for their idolization defecation Baal Sh*t worship with one spear..

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Going Down From The Bimah: An Enough Story

Going Down From The Bimah: An Enough Story

Judaic thinking has it that greater help should be given to the rich – wealthy who lose it than those who are poor to begin with. How come?

A Jewish fable.

One of the traditional perks for the President of the Synagogue is to sit next to the Rabbi on the bimah (the raised platform/”stage” in the synagogue from which the Torah is read and services are led). When the President’s term of office was up, so was his perk sitting next to the Rabbi on the bimah where the newly elected President now would sit.

It seems, once out of office, the former President didn’t adjust to well to not being the Synagogue President as he made life difficult for the new President at almost every juncture – causing splits in the congregation.

Finally, the Rabbi got the two together and revolved the situation after much inner squabbling and difficulty. (Rumor has it the title of President Emeritus was created as well as a prominently displayed photo of this past president and all past Synagogue presidents now adorns a wall outside the sanctuary.)

The morals of the story: it is easier to go up to the ‘bimah’ than to come down from it; it is harder to go from wealth to loss of wealth versus not having wealth to begin with.

Given our more, more, more culture accentuated by the Obama Administration spend, spend, spend (shop till you drop) multiple trillion deficits (spun as investment), the bill (less, worse, later) & coming down from the bimah has come due.

In more, more, more culture transforms spending oughtas and nicetas into must required ‘gottas.’ The prospect of less –means that those gotta nouveau nicetas and oughtas are reduced or eliminated. The oughtas and nicetas come down from the bimah for most but for others they stay on & are elevated on the bimah via theft & confiscation euphemized as ‘social justice, hope and change, socialism via regulation and redistribution of wealth).

It’s ‘enough’ to drive one to drinking Jim Beam-ah..

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Ant & The Grasshopper Why Republicans Are Losing the Deficit Debate They Should be Winning: A Story of More vs Enough: More or Less

The Ant & The Grasshopper
Why Republicans Are Losing the Deficit Debate They Should be Winning:
A Story of More vs Enough: More or Less

As is:
• Medicare & Medicaid are unsustainable
• In 10 years or less the deficit will be 100% of the GNP – New Worth of the Country
• Social Security will see major cutbacks

And all the while, unemployment is 9.2% and despite Obamacare, health insurance costs are dramatically up – and yet the Republicans are losing the debate on deficit reduction and the debt ceiling.

The Democrats sell more NOW and the Republicans are selling less rather than sufficiency/sustainability – enough later .

No one wants less – now – even with the prospect of ‘more’ in the future. To get less means one isn’t right, isn’t better, is worse. To get more – one is right, better, and good – worthy.

And America is a culturally a country of ‘more, better, now’ not wanting to face the prospect of less, worse, later even if more is unsustainable.

And the R’s haven’t been able to demonstrate there will be less – much less going forward.

And that is why the Republicans are enduring MORE-tal wounds in this debate.
Until, the prospect of LESS – benefits not being there – are not just words – but created as visceral images, fuzzy spin words ‘like framework’ and non specificity will win for the Democrats.

Herein is the challenge: how EMOTIONALLY to demonstrate both how less will become more better yet enough (the ant) yet the consequence of continued live for today spending (the grasshopper) will create less tomorrow. This message must be viscerally felt at the gut level – like a gun at the head to get this message through (which is exactly what the Grasshopper Democrats do anyway.)

The Republicans have to force the Democrats to demonstrate ‘where’s the beef’ of their non proposal proposals while showing the alternative in the future: Little Caesar’s Cat Food.

PS: The Democrats are Ant Eaters.

Monday, July 11, 2011

“Revenue Enhancements, Shared Sacrifice, Gov’t Spending To Invest’ aka LESS II

“Revenue Enhancements, Shared Sacrifice, Gov’t Spending To Invest’

The Democrats employ euphemisms. Instead of increasing taxes, it is revenue enhancements and closing loopholes. Instead, of increased spending, investment is the word used. Columnists like Fred Brown of the Denver Post to avoid admitting property tax increases, state the tax rate remains the same, though the property value has declined and the amount of tax remains the same. (This is, to ironically use Brown’s own term, definitional drift. And, Brown, one can suffocate & die in high drifts).
These are words of mass distortion by 14kt phonies who are gutless linguistically dishonest weenies who never meet a parsing they didn’t love.

And both the Republicans and Democrats employ the phrase – shared sacrifice.
What do the words and phrases revenue enhancement, shared sacrifice, and government investment have in common?

The avoidance of the reality of LESS.
more sells, LESS doesn’t.

We don’t want LESS.
To have ‘LESS’ means we are ‘LESS’ – LESS worthy.
How so?

In our society/culture, if:
• one is right (more so than others), he gets more (if not) he gets LESS
• if he gets ‘more’ he is better, if not he is ‘worse’
• if he is better, he is good, if not he isn’t good or bad

And good, is one ‘o’ away from God.

Further’more’, if one gets ‘more’ – his net (assets less liabilities) is greater resulting in a higher ‘net worth.’ Thus, he is more ‘worthy’ – more worthwhile. The LESS one has in comparison, the LESS worthy – worthwhile one is.

Per this heuristic, more validates; LESS invalidates worthiness.

We get what we deserve. And as a result, we get the Fred Browns, and spin of increased taxes into revenue enhancement, increased spending into investment, and other words of mass distortion to avoid the reality of LESS .
Worthiness or lack thereof tied to more or LESS – and that’s the LESSon of lies, damn lies, and the linguistic dishonesty of our politicians (and many too many columnists).

The real factor to consider is ‘what is ENOUGH?’ – but that’s another futile discussion.

Post Scripture: There will be LESS – the difference today is instead of the politicos promising a chicken in every pot, they will promise ‘pot’ with every chicken – as they play chicken.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fear, Less & Fear/LESS

Fear, Less & Fear/LESS

MORE is all about the fear & avoidance of LESS be it:

• compared to others,
• the prospect of diminished of the quality of life
• the extinction of sense of self which is identified as body.

It’s all about LESS (masked as MORE) also because:

• too ‘much of MORE’ was promised or implied
• and if one gets LESS they are ‘less’ worthy

And that’s the LESS-ON
(ENOUGH Already!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why MORE Prevails Over ENOUGH (4)

(Back by Unpopular Demand)

Why MORE Prevails Over ENOUGH (4)

The hope (1) of prevailing over death (2) through acquisition(3)
(But you can’t purchase immortality)

Thus MORE & MOREONS prevail

(1) Hope – ‘deferred disappointment’ (Ambrose Bierce)
(2) The extinction of the physical body which ‘moreso’ than not is identified as oneself.
(3) Cain, in Hebrew, also mean ‘acquisition’
(4) And Shaddai, in Hebrew, also means God, God Almighty, God All Sufficient, Enough.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Personal Financial Planner Synonym for MORE-tician

Personal Financial Planner Synonym for MORE-tician
MORE, MOREs, MORE-ality, & IM-MORE-tality

If per Krishnamurti, ‘hope is the absence of happiness,’ more (for more sake) is the absence of meaning).

More is the palliating band aid that diverts examination and the search for meaning IN one’s life.

More, a derivative of acquisition, which is veil redirecting, distracting, filling time while crowding out questions of meaning and significance IN one’s life, bleeds into our MOREes (which are appropriately named in pun terms).

And it is consistent that personal financial planning is about more (regardless how much lipstick is put on that pig) practiced by MORE-ons (including fee only planners compensated by a percentage of assets under management).

MORE-tician should become a synonym for personal financial planner.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pass(ing) Over Enough: The Futility of ‘Enough’

Pass(ing) Over Enough: The Futility of ‘Enough’

A man’s treatment of money is the most decisive test of his character – how he makes it and how he spends it
James Moffatt, Scottish Biblical Scholar

A nurse for a renown high earning (as well as trust baby) brain surgeon called again to tell me how the brain surgeon made $100,000 in a silver stock and was rubbing it again by the nurse practitioner (no trust baby with economic challenges) should have bought the stock with him. Forget their situations were very different – and for the brain surgeon to lose $10,000, $20,000 on a speculation was a drop in the ocean but $10,000 would be a lake for the nurse. These ‘I told you so’s’ have been often and repetitive. Forget that he reiterated that I (the nurse’s friend) ‘didn’t know what I was talking about’ (I’ve cleaned up the language). Forget that it is easier to make a great CPA, lawyer, even terrific brain surgeon than to make a good person as Dennis Prager would say. The real point is that of confusing not only speculation with investment, not even different circumstances of these individuals, but the cultural backdrop reinforcing ‘more’ at the expense of ‘enough’ in our collective mind set.

I am reminded of a story by a fee only planner many years again who had a physician client who, despite the planner’s admonitions and even the planner getting a signed statement from the doc that he was investing in this 10:1 multiple write off deal against his recommendation, did the deal. As predicted the multiple write off tax shelter several years later blew up resulting not only in past taxes due but with interest and penalties! The doc stormed into the planner’s office giving the what for to the planner. The planner calmly took out the piece of paper with the doc’s signature showing the planner had advised against this tax shelter deal. The doc stated, ‘that’s my signature, but I would never sign anything like this.’ (The doc was probably related to the brain surgeon above).

Exaggerated examples – on the tail end of the distribution curve? Unfortunately, that is not the case.

More, baked into the culture, seared into the fabric of everyday life, repeated ad nauseum in the 50,000+ advertisements we view, is ‘the’ indicator of our worthiness. A man of means is preferred to a man of meaning (besides that can be bought).
More – more money – means more things, experiences, being more than another – and greater happiness that ironically it rarely yields. Well off doesn’t mean well being or being well for the have (from birth, or and work), have not or have a little wants some more – former or present. As Bertrand Russell once, ‘when success comes, a man is already a nervous wreck, so accustomed to anxiety that he cannot shake off the habit of it when the need is past.’ (The Conquest of Happiness)

If this doc’s comment was unusual (and believe me I have been called worse – in particular on occasions too numerous assh**e such that I had a the following pat answers – ‘And…no, I was conceived that way – and you?)) that would be one thing. But his comment is the exaggeration of the vein of comments like:

• (if there was a loser) ‘we should not have bought it’
• (if there was a winner) ‘we should have bought more
• (and worse – client amnesia ©) I don’t remember my being ok with this (even when though it was a non discretionary account meaning they made the trade)

And these types of responses I still get after I’ve been out of practice 15 years and from friends who were not clients but have read my books.
By the way, I’ve never heard docs or otherwise brag about their losers which again reinforces more equals worthiness, less means dumb schmuck.

Only in 1987 and 2007 when things went to crap, is ‘enough’ valued – temporarily until there is reversion to the MEAN of more rather than the meaning of enough.

The real questions are and should be (least I partaking in ‘shoulding’), ‘am I on the road to enough and or do I still have enough?’ managing the goal not managing the asset.

The Hebrew word for money damin is also the word for ‘blood.’ (And Hebrew thought also believes that the blood carries the soul and that is, why, in part, blood is drained in Kosher slaughtering – not to be confused with Postville coverup slaughtering.) Blood is the soul – blood sustains. Money sustains but can be a blood sucker. Money (the current currency) is but a store of value representing an exchange mechanism for things and experiences. If money is devalued - paper or denominated in metals (which one can’t eat) where is the sustenance? Where then does ‘more’ money – silver, gold, paper – get one?

Thus, the real currency, and here I stipulate to my own belief, is first in God (Shaddai – ‘enough’) and secondly in the adaptability and resourcefulness each of us has exhibited (think of the difficulties you have overcome and yet devalue). With faith, adaptability and resourcefulness even those using Underwood typewriters in an IPAD world survive. But to thrive, to paraphrase Frankel in Man’s Search for Meaning, man can endure the how only as long as he has a why.’

That choice: a man of means or a man of meaning – meaning IN one’s life?
More is the former; enough enables and challenges the latter.

Guirjeff said that one should thank everyone (especially those who cause us difficulties) for the opportunity to work on oneself. However, I believe in the statute of limitations. On April 1, 2011, I applied for my Social Security so thank you and I’m retiring from Enough, p*ssing in the wind, and contemplating changing my middle name to Ecclesiastes.

Post Scripture: Speaking of ‘all is wind,’ pull my finger.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happiness, Enough & Equanimity

Life After Enough: ‘Happiness, Enough & Equanimity’


Happiness corresponds to an economy, to calculations, to weighings. It needs varieties as much as contrasts (external comparisons- jds). Satisfaction (enough –jds) is as fatal to it as impediments.
Perpetual Euphoria, Pascal Bruckner, p37

This life and its purpose, prior to the French & American Revolutions and the ensuing imprimatur of ‘the pursuit of happiness,’ was never about ‘happiness.’.
The purpose of this life was salvation, character building, well being, and or earning one’s return – not happiness.
Now happiness and the pursuit thereof – is this culture’s mission. If anything we have a ‘duty to happiness’ even though we can’t define it and fall back on the analogy of pornography (I know it when I see it.)
Furthermore, rather than religion, the duty – the pursuit of happiness has become the opiate of not only the masses but the upper crust celebrity sniffing hyper class elitist asses.
This pursuit, in great part, according to Bruckner in Perpetual Euphoria, is a result of ‘progress.’
When we were hunter and gatherers – we acknowledged the food on the ground from a higher source (Hebrew National?). When we became farmers and ‘produced’ – the product became our doing – we acknowledged ourselves increasingly though we covered our bets and prayed for rain. With medicine’s advances we don’t have to rely on God’s will and grace but a Pfizer, Lilly or Merck and Obama Death Panel reprieves.
And deferred gratification – critical to character building, faith, and salvation - has been eradicated by credit and Viagra in the name of ‘happiness’ NOW.
Even religion has caste asunder ‘Gehenna (1) and Brimstone’ knowing happiness sells with the pitch of greater happiness in Heaven, the World to Come with just the purpose of ‘afterlife insurance’ premiums (church, synagogue dues etc.)

Hope is deferred disappointment
Ambrose Bierce

The sun will come out tomorrow
Tomorrow lyric from Annie

And if we presently in a state of ennui or unhappy – there the hope that happiness will be here ‘tomorrow.’
But as Krishnamurti wrote, ‘hope is (but) the absence of happiness.’ And please remember, Hope was a town in Arkansas that gave us Bill Clinton.
The pursuit of happiness and its pr flack hope are motivated by dissatisfaction resulting in the pursuit of more.

More & Happiness

Happiness is ‘getting what you want’ until what you wanted wasn’t ‘enough’ (again)
Schwartz’s Law

The Answer given by the white collar villain (in the sequel to Wall Street) when he was asked for his response to: ‘everybody has a number, what is your number?’

The hope for and the delusional pursuit of happiness typically leads to the seeking more. More is an insatiable desire that paradoxically puts sustainable pleasure out of reach leading to perpetual dissatisfaction (2). More has become the means and the ends – a sign of ‘election.’ Yet, the pursuit of more, better, now for happiness usually becomes less, worse, later Worse, the resulting disappoint eventually may yield sequentially disillusion cascading to self recrimination (I am a failure).

There is no happiness only relative positioning (my spouse makes more than your spouse – or the Gaines Gravy train commercial ‘my dog’s bigger than your dog’) and momentary sensation.
More is never enough
Getting more of what you want becomes in time ‘not enough’ as more is a comparative outside in game dependent on externals unlike enough which is an internalized inside out process.

Equanimity & Enough

They’ll be plenty of peace and tranquility in the world to come
Paraphrasing Judaic Thought (not Spielberg Follywood Judaic thought)

Mussar is a thousand-year-old Jewish system for personal growth, specifically in the realm of character improvement. In Mussar, equanimity – rising above the good AND the bad – given life’s ups and downs is a more preferable ideal to pursue than happiness in our character building to earn our return (Teshuvah).
Consistent with Mussar thought, my take on the purpose of this life is to find meaning IN one’s life, continuing to complete one’s incompletions (soul curriculum) through faithful character building spiritualizng the material, materializing the spiritual inside out to earn one’s return with the equanimity of rising above the inevitable good and bad.
Easier said than done.
And that ain’t happiness.

Enough (aligning personal resources to achieve life and after life goals while healing financial anxiety putting money in its place to assist one’s transcending to their significance) is just a means to the inside out work of finding meaning In one’s life and or character building, salvation, etc. There may be a certain contentment yielded by enough from the storms and cultural onslaughts of 50,000 commercials of dissatisfaction, more, not enoughness. But Enough isn’t happiness. If anything enough forces a confrontation with ‘what next, meaning, making a difference, and or self definition’ in the midst of one’s spouse or insignificant other famished (3) saying, ‘for better or worse but not for lunch!’
Enough with equanimity doesn’t stop the storms, make for smooth sailing – but allows easier navigation towards one’s significance.

"When it's over, what will my life have been about" - Rabbi Harold Kushner

Enough - healing financial anxiety, puttin money in its place, to transcend to significance with equanimity....

(1) Gehenna - in the traditional Jewish view of the afterlife, Geihinnom is the place of punishment and purification (unlike hell there is a statute of limitations on the time spent in Gehenna)
(2) the Latin for 'enough' is satis. Thus dissatisfaction is 'not enough'
(3) think a state of being perplexed such that the heel of one's hand concurrently smacks one's forward as it leans backwards.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strategic Planning for NAPFA Part II: The Future of Personal Financial Planning & NAPFA

Strategic Planning for NAPFA Part II:
The Future of Personal Financial Planning & NAPFA

Why Personal Financial Life Planning Exists:

• The healing of personal financial anxiety putting money in its place to transcend to one’s significance
• Client realizable comprehensive goal determination coordinated and aligned with orderly plans for the achievement of desired life (and afterlife) goals

Why NAPFA Exists:

• Professional Development: Qualified comprehensive fee only membership professional training and development in ‘managing goals under management’ for clients’ (which requires a planner to do their own business plan, personal financial plan, and personal financial life plan – and the cobbler’s kid having no shoes is no damn excuse)
PROTECTION: Legislative Advocacy: Lobbying for the alignment of personal financial life planners’ and clients’ interests to be matched rather than in conflict with timely and full transparency
CONNECTION: Assembling comprehensive fee only personal financial life planners into a critical mass of financial purchasing power for disintermediation (allowing product providers to created lower cost products for clients)

Half truth; whole lie
Talmud (what NAPFA has become)

NAPFA has become:

• A trade organization for the marketing of member’s services
• A bloated bureaucracy dependent more and more of product providers for revenues (like the old IAFP) to feed itself – even putting a wire house official on the planning committee
• Officers more concerned with photo opportunities in the media for their own practice development

NAPFA has lost:

• Its differentiation –
o in part to the good job it has done relative to fiduciary standards
o allowing AUM (assets under management) compensation to be classified as fee only planning (1) which makes the fee only planner really asset managers in fee only planner’s clothing blurring distinction and contrary to being on the client’s best interests.
• It’s gumption and leadership
o Failing to enforce professional standards of its leadership and members (sitting on conflicting financial planning boards)
o No professional public rebukes for outright membership plagiarism,
o Past indifference to the planner training in the past by the College for Financial Planning and its alleged product liability.
Hypocrisy: The ship’s captain lectures on navigation as the ship sinks

What The Personal Financial ‘Life’ Planning Market (Particulary The 90 Million Boomers Wants/Needs/Desires:

• Anxiety relief from the fear of ‘outliving their money’
• Meaning IN their life (presented as ‘making a difference, what next? meaning, ‘still cutting the mustard’

The NAPFA business (yes, business given the lack of professional integrity enforcement and the Monte Hall Let’s Make A Deal for Vendors trade organization orientation) needs to refocus on comprehensive personal financial life planning in the continuing training and development of planners to meet these needs.
As Gandhi said, ‘be your message.’ And Franklin said, ‘better done than said.’ Well, how many damn fee only planners talk, wink at life planning – but haven’t done it themselves, let alone have a business plan nor their own personal financial plan in writing. (The answer, ‘it’s in my head,’ doesn’t count for clients and it sure as hell don’t count for planners. ‘It’s in my head,” is a head case – not ‘being one’s message’ no matter how one massages it with spin)
And faux yakety yak kumbaya life touchie feeling life planning (a paid friend) with no results other than to defend one’s asset under management percentage fee with this feature that doesn’t deliver – doesn’t count either as personal financial life planning.

Without getting into the weeds too far – action is required – moving toward not just understanding. When Indiana Jones faced a chasm to get to the Holy Grail – and there was no, he took the leap of faith and made a first step and the bridge appeared. Well, the first step in life after enough comprehensive personal financial life planning is often a small one. For example, have the client take out his or her calendar and ask him or her to X out a regular afternoon date for 4 hours for the next 3 months (otherwise, their life planning transition will be the leftovers – and you know where leftovers eventually go usually in the trash). That afternoon 1 day a week, 4 hours a week, is to try all those someday things they have put off and wanted to do. But here is the kicker, they need permission to NOT be great at whatever it is.

One step: – no tom toms, self esteem, abandonment or my mother or father’s fault – one step – moving toward, climbing the mountain rather than mining the mountain.

In conjunction with monetizing the fear of outliving one’s money – the personal financial life planner needs to assist at getting to the heart of the matter: what next – finding meaning IN one’s life, making a difference and still cutting the mustard.

To recreate NAPFA, the above differentiations will require a different NAPFA, even cannibalization of itself, and more importantly disgorgement of assets to the regions, and a new revenue sharing arrangement ala states rights and federalism.

• Forget withering, structure follows mission. Zero base budget NAPFA to its above new limited role, give it two times its operating costs and disgorge the rest to the regions on a per member basis.
• Thereafter, the dues split should be 80% to the regions with NAPFA National keeping 20%. The whole emphasis of the regions is professional development and study groups.

People forget in their revisionist self serving history of NAPFA, it was SIFA that created NAPFA. Period – end of sentence. SIFA has, in Russian terms, been De-Stalinized.

At SIFA there was a structure to our meetings – study groups.
• Each member had to have a specialty to share with the group. This allowed more time for each planner to focus on process and less on content. Thus, each member’s time was ‘leveraged.’
• The meetings were a round robin – going through each area sequentially
1. Practice management ideas
2. Process ideas and techniques
3. Strategies and tactics
4. Content area discussion
5. Deals
6. Marketing ideas
7. Presentations
8. Richard Lee’s current squeeze
• We created a federation – a consortium amongst ourselves as such that if something could have happened to one another – there was someone ‘on call’ if necessary

As far as conventions are concerned (go to meeting doc com is probably preferable to belly bumping) NAPFA National is on its own. It’s a profit center that stands on its own.

Half truth; whole lies

NAPFA’s differentiation is gone – but the need – the thirst for meaning IN one’s life and reducing the fear of outliving one’s resources (notice not just money) is greater than ever. Reinventing NAPFA isn’t just necessary it’s a matter of survival and incremental change and pouring new whine (on purpose) into old sheaths (present structure) is being DOS in a a Windows 7 world.
Dithering, dawdling, more committee meetings, self congratulatory insulated back slapping won’t cut it.

Above the crowd or just faceless in the crowd – that’s the decision

(1) Assets Under Management is contrary – the antithesis of fee only comprehensive financial life planning putting the client and the planner in conflict. As Maslow said, if all we know is a hammer everything will look like a nail. Unconsciously or unconsciously, assets under management compensation gravitates the focus of the planner to ‘more’ even when a lower rate of return with less risk would make the goal. Other goals – providing for long term care, income adequacy upon disability etc – become second class citizens in the practice. Fee only comprehensive personal financial life planning is about managing goals NOT managing assets. AUM is just a Trojan horse using personal financial planning as a vehicle to be an investment manager in personal financial planner’s clothing. If NAPFA membership is to be continued for AUM compensated planners, these planners should have a different NAPFA membership designation and no vote in elections.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Future of Personal Financial Planning: Personal Financial ‘Life’ Planning

The Future of Personal Financial Planning:
Personal Financial ‘Life’ Planning

(Planning The Strategic Plan of NAPFA (The National Association of Personal Financial Advisers (1) (from Jim Schwartz, Co Founder NAPFA who resigned years ago) )– Part I

An Open Letter To NAPFA ‘Planning Committee’ (Which Should Not Have Wirehouse, Bureaucrats as members – and does)

The old shall dreams and the youth shall see visions
Book of Joel


It has come to my attention from a few of you, given that unlike most planners, my practice was almost 50% strategic planning (managing by objectives tied to compensation) and recognized by George Odiorne (one of the fathers of planning) for the application of MBO to personal financial planning, that despite my resignation from NAPFA (you still owe me an apology on the College for their Own Financial Planning’s(2), I actually have done both sides of planning - personal financial 'life' planning and corporate planning.

1) It ain't rocket science but mission statements (what can be) are often confused with vision statements (what should be) and devolve to motherhood statements and worthless bromides
2) missions and visions need to be defined not only for what it is (who, what, when, how, why) but what it is not (which is even more critical). Without the 'is not' all you get is 'snot' and a large bill from corporate planners who take off your watch tell you what time it is and send a big bill and maybe good lunch and a lot of flattery.
3) planning is done by the business not for it - or it fails.
4) (the plan) must be tied into compensation - short, long, intermediate - or it will be just another pretty plan up on the shelf that everyone can point to and forget.

5) Lastly, the bureaucracy IS NOT involved in the mission, vision, nor ground rules. They are administrators not policy makers and managers. “Sorry, if I stepped on someone's damn TURF” to paraphrase TNA Tag Team Wrestling Champs ‘Beer Money.’

NAPFA (created by the Society of Independent Financial Advisors – least there be revisionist history) originated as a professional organization with the ability for disintermediation (getting product sponsors to create products without commissions –increasing potential performance for clients). NAPFA has lost its differentiation - especially if there is victory now on the fiduciary standard for financial advisors. It has become a trade organization – marketing members’ services - masquerading as a professional organization.

Philosophy Guirjeff theorized (his Law of Seven) that that which we intend becomea the exact opposite in time. And so, has NAPFA in my opinion.

And the real real real question facing today’s boomers (all 60 million+ of them), in particular, - however presented "make a difference, what next, etc.' is Meaning. The question is enabling finding meaning IN one's life not the meaning of life or More, More, More (reinforced by assets under management compensation rather managing goals). And lanners have to do this for themselves first - or as Gandhi said 'be your message' or Franklin said, 'better done than said.'
One of my favorite questions for potential clients to ask a planner is ‘do you have a personal financial plan yourself you can share? Do you do business planning for your company? May I see a copy? (My guess is out of 100 – less than 5 – the ship’s captain lecturing on navigation as the ship sinks???)
So as one who retired at 46 (now 61) am I eating my own chili?

My missions: - 1) perPETuation(c) (no dog before his time, extending the quality of K9 life - save a life and you save the world - Talmud - 1 dog at a time -Schwartz) see my book Trust Me; I'm Not A Veterinarian (no you are not getting the whole mission or vision and the is nots –given the plagiarism I’ve experiences in the past by NAPFA members who weren’t even rebuked) and
2) reJEWvination(c) Jews of Meaning ( finding meaning IN one's
life through Judaism
3) ENOUGH(sm) - healing financial anxiety, puttin' money in its place to transcend to significance (c) can't wait to see who else rips me off without attribution (which is okay but they usually get it wrong) see my blog which updates the enough book

Of course, a certain chairperson (who forgets who gave her the push originally in NAPFA leadership) can dismiss this all - first ignore (which she has), then ridicule, and finally adopt. Someone once said there is an inverse relationship between competency and elevation to leadership posts in trade/professional organizations. I have watched over and over and over again, the ascension of so called planners who use NAPFA for practice development and self congratulatory photo ops of themselves

This planner did what he preached - how many planners can say that let alone that they aligned personal financial resources and life goals for themselves?
It is time for reinventing NAPFA from scratch. PART II next week

(1) The College for its Own Financial Planning (subsequently sold to a profit making organization) not only trained planners in incorrect math methodology for retirement (30,000 planners times on average say 50 clients – you do the math) stonewalling to prevent product liability, but also allegedly created structural barriers to trade (anti-trust activity) using tax exempt status at the time. NAPFA and its weenie leadership was silent rather than professional. I was vindicated by Forbes, Barons, Worth etc and some of the most important mathematicians in the country. And NAPFA and its leadership dwaddled, dithered – and even used their newsletter to deflect calling me a terrorist while it’s chairman sat on the then College controlled Certified Financial Planning Board.
(2) NAPFA has allowed plagiarism without recourse. I don’t mind my work being referenced. Worse some have used my work – and still get it wrong.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Liberal Greed & More vs Enough

Liberal Greed (i.e. Theft)in reference to More vs Enough

Stipulating to my bias that enough is preferable to more (1), the question of greed has become political rather than definitional.
When there is excess accumulation due to voluntary exchange creating value – this is not greed but rather usefulness – utilitarian. The excess accumulation may be the intention but it is a consequence. This ‘excess accumulation’ is not greed no matter how the liberal Obama redistribution of wealth socialist collectivists wish to recharacterize it. If anything, the characterization of accumulation via voluntary exchanges as ‘greed’ is just a smoke screen rationalizaton by this liberal Obama redistribution of wealth socialist collectivist to sanitize their intention: theft without voluntary exchange.
This theft is disguised as entitlement while stoking the flames of coveting and envy. But theft is theft is theft.
And excess accumulation, unless the result of coercion or deception, but the result voluntary exchanges that produces value is not greed.
Per the above, the invocation of greed is just the mantra of sneak thieves – who steal in the middle of night – sort of like Obamacare, the Cornhusker kickback, forcing a bill through without time to examine it. And the aforemention actions are theft and greed – using coercion and deception for the excess accumulation of stolen power.

(1) More better now has a way of becoming less, worse, later. See my blog:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Walking-Away Money: What’s Your Number? & Schwartzie's Law

Walking-Away Money: What’s Your Number? & Schwartzie's Law

The #1 ranked personal finance article on February 15, 2011 in the The Wall Street Journal Online’s Personal Finance section was titled, “Walking-Away Money: What’s Your Number?” polling the answers from Asian countries as well as India.
The South Korea the ‘walking away number” was the high of $5.1 million while Indonesia was the low of $3 million to walk away from one’s job (or in American colloquial slang ‘to take this job and shove it.’)However given ‘their number attained,’ such that one is no longer ‘financially beholden’ to the job, the article stops short failing to ask the pertinent follow up questions to what is your walk away number:

· What would you walk away to?
· Will this number bring me the implicit unquestioned desire of ‘happiness’ and or allow the pursuit of happiness?

Be careful what you ask the gods for they may grant it
Oscar Wilde

Ironically, The Walk Away Money – take this job and shove it – once attained typically causes other problems. (Solve problem #1 and problem #2 is invariably promoted!)
Typically the first manifestation is the avoidance (which conceals the problem of ‘what next’) as observed and revealed in the following behaviors including:
· Seeking a cushion to the walk away number ‘just in case’ Increasing the walk away number
· Doing all those ‘someday things’ – which in short time lose their luster as their spouse complains: ‘for better or worse but not for lunch’

We foolishly pair ‘the walk away number’ with ‘happiness.’ We chase ‘the walk away number’ like a dog chasing his tail or Charlie Sheen. And worse, we engage in the chase typically without calibrating the amount specific to our financial goals – other than motherhood statements masking the underlying amorphous unattainable ‘more’. The unquestioned assumption that the walk away number will yield happiness is the grand self delusional safari.
Happiness per Gilbert in Stumbling to Happiness is merely a relative measure comparing to others (externally) for our worthiness. This relative happiness is ‘my husband makes a $100 more a week than my sister’s spouse’ per the H L Mencken analogy. Pascal Bruckner in Perpetual Euphorial happiness is a ‘pitiless idol’ promising self fulfillment which ironically is delusional felicity marked by folly creating its own miseries not the least of which is derived from the expectation of happiness (‘hoax and chump change’).
And the circle _______ (you fill in the blank) remains unbroken.

In reality this folly of happiness is ‘getting what you want’ until what you wanted wasn’t ‘enough’ (again). (Schwartzie’s Law)

Therefore, ‘the walk away number,’ does not- cannot yield happiness. However it may yield greater choice if one knows where they are walking toward…

We have to have free will. We have no other choice
Isaac Singer

Yogi Berra said, ‘if you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there.’ The walk away number is half baked unless one knows where he is walking toward. Invariably, this is a question of meaning IN one’s life.
Unanswered, the walk away number attained will just anesthetize for a while until a new and improved walk away number is rationalized, justified, and substituted and so that the pursuit of more can divert attention from ‘the hole in the soul.’

In Torah, Abraham walked ahead of God while Noah walked side by side.
Walking toward, walking with, and walking ahead are the questions of Enough – and not just financially.
In the ‘mean’time, determine ‘enough’ specifically, what you are walking toward with equanimity (rising above the good and the bad as Mussar masters would define) – in ‘your walks of life.’

Otherwise, as Fonzi in ‘HAPPY Days’ would say while grabbing one handed his privates, “You want your number? I got your number from Select Comfort.”

Jim Schwartz
A Man of Dog ©, K9 Concierge ©, Pawduciary©
Protection & Connection
(and sometimes, Personal Financial Life Philosopher)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Real Story of the Black Sheep: More vs Enough

The Real Story of the Black Sheep: More vs Enough

Fair is ‘fowl’
And ‘fowl’ is fair
MacBeth Max (My graduated Standard Poodle – who got 5 birds on the fly)

The typical story and definition of ‘black sheep’ (or Schwartz sheep for those of Yiddish or German speaking persuasion) is that of the outcast. The black sheep is the one who causes shame or embarrassment because of his or her DEVIATION from the accepted standards/norms/premises/assumptions (questioned or unquestioned) of the prevailing group or culture.

This Black/Schwartz Sheep metaphor originated with the fact that ‘black sheep’ were less valuable than white ones because it was more difficult to dye their wool different colors. In addition, the color black in the 16th century was considered a mark of the devil.
Between the colloquial connotation of ‘odd/outcast’ and the former ‘devil’ suggestion – the phrase black sheep has taken on the implication and association of unwanted outcast.

Now, the prevailing premise of our culture is MORE.
Proof: just for one day watch and count the advertisements on TV, radio, the web, and newspapers that are about MORE and LACK. The ads are about dissatisfaction (not enough) and therefore you either lack or need more. Then count the amount of ads that are about enough. (There aren’t any – enough doesn’t sell.)

Enough is a ‘black sheep’ in our culture. The Latin for enough is satis which forms the basis of the word satisfactory is ‘just’ a C on a report card – merely adequate. Enough and adequate are settling like you did with your second spouse fearing dying alone. Enough is mediocre – blah – no gusto – resigned to bronze rather than going for the gold.
Enough is temporarily elevated when the market bombardiers in 1987 and 2008 only to fade as a distant regrettable memory (I should have bought at the bottom). Spontaneous regression to the ‘mean’ (More) returns with its external comparisons (how did I do relative to the Dow, S&P etc.?) instead of comparisons to definitive personal financial life goals irrespective of the Dow, S&P etc. And the ‘Hog’ of more, better, now recycles into less, worse, later without the Harley.

Returning to the metaphor of the black/Schwartz sheep story, let’s reframe it (changing the filter not revisionism).

The farmer took excellent care of his sheep – they thought - because ‘he loves us.’ Rather, with the sheep’s wool gathering days coming to conclusion, and lamb chops providing more net per pound to the farmer, he was fattening them up – giving the ‘devoted sheep’ More. The black, Schwartz sheep figured out the farmer’s game on In Your Facebook’s Shear Knowledge Group Bulletin Board. And despite the taunts (nah, nah, nah, nah, nah hey hey, goodbye), the black sheep, the odd- the eccentric – the embarrassment, escaped.
More, more, more of the farmer’s feed – would only become more, more, more lamb chops at the expense of the black sheep’s life. And the black sheep didn’t want to sacrifice what he needed for what he didn’t need as more, better, now – would become less, later, worse (him being a ‘Lamb Chop’ without Shari Lewis’ hand up (well that’s another story). (1) At worse, he would get a ‘Charlie Horse’ on the run.

While the sheep got lamb chopped, the black sheep, escaped (on the lamb) exhibiting ‘his chops.’ (2)
Thus things are not always what they seem, the black sheep (the eccentric, the odd, the embarrassment) who had ‘enough’ flourishes while the mutton head MOREons get sheared, seared and smoked to imperfection.

(1). – Gives new meaning to being be(hind)holden. Shari Lewis, hottie hand puppeteer – at least to a then 8 year old, of Lamb Chop & Charlie Horse.
(2). – Talent

Monday, January 31, 2011

What Next Part II: The What Next Inventory


The purpose of this 'What Next Inventory' is to assess the feasibility of whatever 'what nexts' you may be considering having completed the previous exercises. However, unlike balance sheets called 'Net Worth' - this inventory reflects 'net worth' regardless of monetary accounting.
Hopefully, this tool will assist and minimize spontaneous regression to more-onic hardwired acculturated behavior.

(you possess or not)


















1) P = probability of the cause, S = seriousness of the problem; typically one contingency plans for those problems with a probability and seriousness of medium or above. Thus a low probability and high seriousness, for example - a hurricane - would be 'insured' (transferring the risk). Thus, the ranking is low, medium or high

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Life After 'ENOUGH' - What Next?

(A Brief Interlude Before Proceeding To The Strategy Session)

What Next? (Especially If You Have Enough…)
(and don’t wish to continue rationalizing more for more’s sake potentially sacrificing what you need for what you don’t need cause you’re bored)

When love and skill come to together expect a masterpiece


One reason (other than spontaneous regression, cultural reinforcement and habituation) that people who have ‘enough’ relative to their goals revert to ‘more-onic’ behavior sacrificing what they need for what they don’t need is the inability to deal with what next.
The theme of ‘what next’ is enunciated with different phrases:
· The search for meaning
· What now?
· I want to make a difference
Since there is typically little or no preparation for ‘what next’ and usually the unrealistic and impatient expectation that ‘what next’ should take 20 minutes to achieve at a high level of proficiency level it took 10-15-20 years previously for the client in previous endeavors (typically work).


1.- Use a sketch pad to put your answers. And then post them on a room wall so you can see them in toto (not Dorothy’s dog) to come to some conclusion towards: what next or, at least, what maybe….
2.- Create an end to end horizontal line across the middle of the sketch pad page
3.- Get the book Enough by yours truly (probably 99c on Amazon)and fill out the personal prospectus prior to this session).
4.- If you haven’t filled out the Personal Prospectus from the Enough book (which didn’t translate well into a blog – skip this session. That said, most of my former clients said the Personal Prospectus session was the most valuable part of the Personal Financial Life Planning Process which allowed the alignment of personal financial resources and life goals and values:

Review & Warm Up

1. -Who would play you in the movie about your life?

What is the last line of the movie? (PS Rosebud is taken)

Why this actor or actress?

2. Again, review from personal prospectus in particular:
a. quantitative values
b. the life line

Update Lifeline

I always wanted and never got – insert as appropo on lifeline
- The ‘Thank God, I Never Got’, as Brooks sings, for unanswered prayers on below the lifeline (what was avoided)

2.- Things, events, people that had a big impact (which was?) and when

3.- Lessons: from Mom, Dad, Enemies, etc and when

Eulogy,Vision, Mission – to be inserted on life line chronologically

1.- Things I stood up for, things I will stand up for, things I should have stood up for
(why did or didn’t - when and put below the lifeline as a choice)

2.- If only’s and when
(what if had – put below the lifeline line at appropriate chronological time)

3.- Kodak Defining Moments (why, and when)

4.- Haunting Events (i.e. bully you didn’t stand up to, teacher saying ‘John, is a nice boy but he’ll become at most X, the hottie saying ‘you’re really a nice guy, but…

5.- Moments of Truth (and their consequences)

6.- Things I Wish To Correct and Didn’t
if I could, I woulds – when

regrets (didn’t do, I did)

things I wish to be forgiven for

7.- I will miss – people, things, things I didn’t complete as of when

8.- Incompletion in my life – Unfinished Business (put into the future on life line)

9.-What Today’s Eulogy Would Look Like (who gives Eulogy)

10.- Eulogy/Mission Today Revisited

____________________, age died yesterday from ________________. He is survived by --__________________________________, He was a member of -__________________. He will be remembered for _________________________________________________ He will be mourned by ______________________ because______________________________. The world will suffer the loss of his contributions in _________________________________________________________. He always wanted but never got___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________. The body will be __________________________flowers or contributions can be sent to _________________________.

10b.- The Hoped for Eulogy – prompts for revision

He/she (was) ____________________________________________________________
He/she wasn’t ________________________________________________________________________
He/she achieved ________________________________________________________________________
He didn’t achieve (thank G-d) ____________________________________________________________ ____________

Richard Feyhmann, other than Einstein considered by many the world’s smartest person, when dying was asked if he regretted now having kids. To paraphrase, he responded that he had taught, written, and counseled such that there was a little of Feyhmann running around in many individuals.

I (name)___________________________ influenced (who) _______________________ ________________________________________________________________________(how)___________________________________________________________________
I (name) influenced (businesses, organizations, clubs, etc) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I will be remembered for:

And I wish people would forget or forgive:

And was loved by ______________________________________________________________________

_______________ will miss him because _____________________________________________________________________
_______________ will miss her because _____________________________________________________________________
_______________ will miss him because_______________________________________________________________

He or she has left behind for the his family _____________________________________________________________________

11.-Vision (Should Be) Eulogy– 10 Years + Hence

____________________, age died yesterday from ________________. He is survived by --__________________________________, He was a member of -__________________. He will be remembered for _________________________________________________ He will be mourned by ______________________ because______________________________. The world will suffer the loss of his contributions in _________________________________________________________. He always wanted but never got:____________________________________________ The body will be __________________________flowers or contributions can be sent to _________________________.

Given the Above – Now Has The Following Changed:

-Who would play you in the movie about your life?

Why this actor or actress?

What is the last line of the movie?

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Prioritizing Basket Cases

Happiness is ‘getting what you want’ until what you wanted wasn’t ‘enough’ (again)
A Schwartzism
(Which Is Why Equanimity- Rising Above The Good & The Bad - Is Preferable)

Typically, you can’t have it all in life nor in personal financial life planning. Even, when all the personal financial life goals are funded, there is another uncertainty whispering in your ear causing a reversion to seeking ‘more’ just in case (even if it means sacrificing what you have – even enough – for what you don’t need.) The ‘just in case’ becomes a cushion (just in case), moving the goal posts (just in case), and “maybe we should think ofs this eventuality (just in case). Just in Case is an Rx for Basket Case.
So instead of just funding the personal financial life goals (and assuming you are clear on what your mission is and is not – and it isn’t ‘snot’ platitudes), whether your goals are funded or not – let’s delve into the payoffs (what is really gained and what is avoided) behind each financial goal (i.e. remember FU-ability??) Let’s see the real weave behind the Basket Case.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”
Sir Walter Scott


Spin #1 Prioritizing Your Objectives As Named (Hypothetical Do Your Own)

Hypothetically, below is the result of a three phase forced choice analysis. (Force choice analysis is done by listing the choices and giving each a sequential numerical value. Assuming there were 6 goals, you would choose between goal #1 and goal #2, goal #1 and goal #3, goal #1 and goal #4 and continue this process until you have chosen between goal #5 and goal #6. Count the choices for each goal and there is your ranking. Here is the first spin:

Value/Goal Chosen

3.- Slow Down Income
4.-Income Adequacy Disability
5- Income Adequacy Spouse Upon Your Death
6.-Asset Disposition according to Desires

(Your Rankings?)

Spin #2 Re Prioritizing #1 by Payoff (What Is Gained By Achievement of Each Goal)

When the payoff (what was to be gained by each goal) was ranked instead of the name of the goal the priority changed - the results:

Independent of Work (Retirement) 5
More time for self (Slow Down Income) 4
Kids on own –independent (Education) 3
Spouse independent of work 2
(Income Adequacy Spouse Upon Passing)
Legacy (Asset Disposition by Desire) 1
Don’t Depend on Kids 0
(Income Replacement Upon Disability)

(Your rankings of positive payoffs?)

Spin #3 Re Prioritizing #2 by Payoff (What Is Lost If Each Goal Is Not Achieved)

FU ability not Beholden, Dependent
(Income Replacement Disability) 5
(Retirement Income) 4
(Income Adequacy Spouse) 3
Not Take as Much S**t 2
(Slow Down Income Prior to Retirement
Relief – End The Dole 1
(Education Kids)
Remembrance (they’ll waste it anyway) 0
(Asset Disposition According to Desires

(Your rankings of negative payoffs?)

Rabbi Hillel when asked to tell all of Judaism while standing on one foot said to paraphrase, “don’t do unto others what is unpleasant to you.” Real prioritizing of those unspoken values underneath the goals name (sort of like saying steak instead of Elsie The Cow) is unpleasant but real.
Now go rank (literally and figuratively) and prioritize.

Personal Financial Life Planner’s Cut

Talmudic story.
Two boys go to the movies.
Spotting an open door that would allow them to get in free to their show, one of the boys snuck in.
The other boy paid his way.
After the movie, the two got together. The sneak made fun of the his friend who paid for his ticket saying, “I looked left and right – east, west, north and south – and there was nobody to catch us. So why didn’t you sneak in with me.”
“You forgot to look up,” replied the boy who ‘paid.’

We all pay – it’s just a question of when. So platitude and motherhood goal statements are typically laziness, delusion or lies to others (worse to oneself), and failing to look up.