Friday, December 7, 2012

Seneca, Yaakov, Esau & Cummings (Not A Law Firm)

No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first been deceived by prosperity
Seneca, 4 BC – AD 65)  Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist
No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first, last and always been deceived by MORE
Schwartz, Professional Provocateur
Eesh ha kol – I have all – Yaakov
Eesh ha rav – I have much – Esau
Much? More?

                            More, more, more - what are we all morticians? 
e.e. cummings

Dirt, Mud & Sludge: More vs Enough

Dirt, Mud & Sludge: More vs Enough

            In Hebrew adom (man) is derived from adama (from dirt -earth).
            Indeed, we are the Adams Family needing to wash our hands

            As dark is necessary for light, the dirt from which we came is fundamental to the cleansing process of creation. The process: incomplete creation, cleansing, confusion, descending (down to go up – Egypt to Israel), and re-ascension.

Sha-dai (in Hebrew) =(Sha)Who-(dai) Enough

A Dirty Personal Financial Life Planning Demonstration 
of More vs Enough

When I conducted personal financial planning life workshops, I demonstrated how more, better, now became ‘worse, less, and later’ through a simple exercise.

Necessary for the demonstration was:

· a willing volunteer (preferably a doubting ‘more-on’)
· two fistfuls of dirt
· a sprinkling can
· a towel
· a trowel

The demonstration proceeded as follows:

1. I’d ask the volunteer to put out both hands – into each I would put a good size lump of dirt with the trowel
2. I would sprinkle water onto the dirt in one hand – till it absorbed.
3. Then I would continue to sprinkle water until it became mud
4. Not satisfied, I would continue to sprinkle water until the mud itself was liquid –running through the volunteers
5. Being the kind gentle normal person I am I would then offer my assistance with towel to dry off the first hand
6. Next I would sprinkle water on the dirt in the second hand and stop as soon as it was absorbed by the dirt without it becoming mud or dripping.

I then would turn to the audience and ask (which still stunned)), “what is the moral of this demonstration?” (No one ever answered!)

And the moral of the demonstration I would finally tell them, is: more vs enough: more, better, now has a way of becoming less, worse, and later slipping through your fingers.

Thus, the ‘less-on’ of ‘more vs enough’ aka trowel and error OR ‘dropping trowel.’

"Dear God, give us another oil boom and, this time, we promise we won't piss it away’
Bumper Sticker

            Neither a Hoover Windtunnel™, nor a Eureka Smart Vac™, let alone Dyson and its claimed suction power – is enough to clean and cleanse the dirt turned sludge and mire from  more, more, more.
            Instead of ascending, more, in time, descends.

            The question isn’t more (which slips through one’s fingers) or a particular number (which gets recalibrated) but ‘enough’ of Sha-dai: enough to live for – enough to live on as a member of Adam’s Family

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Origins of the Never Enough More Imperative

The Origins of the Never Enough More Imperative

You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it
Rabbi Tarfon, Ethics of the Fathers 2:16

            Man, identified with his physical body as ‘being’ himself, fears that physical death is his extinction. Given this fear, and man’s bodily identification of his body as himself, man operates from a state of ‘LACK’ (lacktose intolerance). As a result, man seeks acquisition (Cain in Hebrew) as his principle strategy (be it money, power, prestige, religious obedience brownie points etc.) to secure immortality (continuation, permanence, certainty) now or in the afterlife (physical resurrection) or at a minimum diversionary palliation.  

More, more, more
What the hell are we all morticians
e.e. cummings.

The principle derivative tactic of the LACK Acquisition Strategy is More, More, More for Im-MORE-Tality. Ironically, More, More, More typically results in less, worse, and later). The MORE heuristic itself is sequentially encased in a mutually exclusive duality of shame versus pride. Starting with the utilitarian question of whether one is useful, functional, or service OR not, the MORE-ality© Ladder in one’s valuation ascension becomes

One is Right                                                    OR                  One is Wrong
(& if RIGHT)                                                                          (& if WRONG)

One gets MORE                                                                     One gets LESS
(& if one gets MORE)                                                                        (& if one gets LESS)

One is BETTER                                                                      One is WORSE
(& if one is BETTER)                                                             (& if one is WORSE)

One is a WINNER                                                                  One is a LOSER
(& if one is a WINNER)                                                         (& if one is a LOSER)

One is GOOD                                                                         One is BAD
(& if one is GOOD)                                                                (& if one is BAD)

One is WORTHY(2)                                                               One is WORTHless
(& if one is WORTHY)                                                          (& if one is WORTHless)

One is GODLY                                                                      One is EVIL

            Thus, MOREality for Immortality is the aim (consciously or unconsciously) of MOREons to satisfy or palliate their fear (mortality) of their LACK (immortality).
            An ongoing problem with the MORE from LACK heuristic is: The ‘IF ONLYs.’ The IF ONLY illusory rap (by haves, have nots, and have a little wants some more) goes like this: if only I have this, if only I do that, if only – then I’ll be happy.
Happy, typically cut with impure HOPEium©, is a gateway drug of acquisition’s MORE to satisfy the IF ONLY LACK. The problem with the desired state of Happy being achieved IF ONLY is when IF ONLY #1 is satisfied, IF ONLY #2 is promoted in a never ending cycle.  The MORE – IF ONLY - Happy – sequence to attain permanence, continuation, certainty just recycles for the LACKawannas of the LACKawanna Be Tribe. And ‘more, more, more,’ becomes as Edward Abbey stated, ‘the ideology of the (deadly) cancer cell.’

            Given the LACK, Acquisition, More, IF ONLY, Happily Ever’after model, there is ‘never enough’ and attainment of certainty, continuity, and permanence becomes Sisyphusian -  always just beyond one’s HOPEium© fueled grasp.

Monday, August 6, 2012

AUM Part III AUM Inherently MORE, MORE, MORE MOREon Personal Financial Planning

Assets under Management (AUM) ‘Fee Only Planning Compensation’ Conflicts: Part III
AUM Inherently MORE, MORE, MORE MOREon Personal Financial Planning

More, better, now has a habit of becoming less worse later
Alas quoting myself

            Sacrificing what we need for what we don’t need isn’t personal financial planning but the pursuit of ‘more for more’s sake’ which is ‘the ideology of the cancer cell’ according to writer Edward Abbey. The usual motivation for more (at the expense of enough) is comparative valuation of worthiness by ‘net worth.’ The result all too often: more, better, now  becomes less worse later.
            Assets under Management (AUM) reinforces this self destructive behavioral pattern of relative comparison to others, to indexes (Dow Jones, S&P) rather than measuring progress or lack thereof relative to each individual personal financial goal.
            In the D. H Lawrence’s story, ‘The Rocking Horse Winner,’ the family of little boy Paul is living way beyond its means. Paul mysteriously discovers by rocking faster and faster – the names of winning races horses come to him. Of course, the spendthrift family parlays these tips into its bankroll. (Rock ‘n Bankroll?) However, to get more, and more, and more winning names – Paul has to rock the Rocking Horse faster and faster – until Paul dies of exhaustion.
            ‘More, more, more –what are we all more-ticians’ – e.e. cummings.
            More, more, more - Assets under Management.
            AUM pays off on the ‘more’ assets under management not ‘enough’ assets to meet the goals with the least risk. The more assets under management – the more AUM pays. Inherent in this compensation is often taking ‘more’ risk than necessary for the goal. And more risk – more leverage (i.e. keeping a larger mortgage so as to have more available assets in the market) cuts both ways – especially on the downside.
            AUM is inherently The Rocking Horse Winner approach which too often causes a lot of whinnying, the Dow Jones becomes the Downer Jones, and Mr. & Ms. Planner lose clients especially in down markets.

            A test of AUM’s focus: In down markets do clients ask:
·         How did I do relative to the Dow, S&P etc OR
·         Do I still have ENOUGH?
Odds are the former not the latter.

Therefore, is AUM the most or least consistent compensation method relative to  the mission of personal financial planning: aligning clients personal resources (financial or otherwise) to support their life goals and values or really primarily a Trojan Horse for Assets under Management gathering?

They swayed about upon a rocking horse, And thought it Pegasus.
-John Keats, 'Sleep and Poetry

Assets under Management (AUM) ‘Fee Only Planning Compensation’ Conflicts: Part II

Assets under Management (AUM) ‘Fee Only Planning Compensation’ Conflicts: Part II

(Jim so) Assets under Management (AUM) compensation is like federal tax withholding – less painful than writing a check every quarter. You don’t feel it as it’s ‘taken out.’
A former client reacting AUM Part I

…but with less probability of refund

            I didn’t realize that the phrase assets under management was a synonym for fee anesthesia, & from planner having to justify the value of his services less often than a monthly check written by a client on a monthly retainer.
            I recall in the early 90’s many a commission (transaction compensated) and fee and commission  ‘financial’ planners asking me, ‘how do I transition to fee only planning with my existing client base?’
            I had two answers that I would suggest – tell the client

  1. In one year, I shall go to fee only compensation. You are more than welcome to continue the same compensation method for a year – or change now, but in a year my practice will be compensated fee only. It’s your choice.  OR
  2. I’ve been screwing you all these years, and I’ve finally decided to go legit.

No one took me up on option #2 to the best of my knowledge which would have been refreshing.

            Nearly all of these planners who made the transition choose to be compensated on a basis of assets under management. Some have tried to have it both ways (BI-Financial Planners?) – AUM for assets manage plus an charging an additional small flat fee for the planning. The fee plus AUM reinforces the point of AUM compensated personal financial planning as a Trojan horse for being asset managers camouflaged as a personal financial planners.
We do what’s inspected rather than expected and focus on what is compensated.

It is time for asset under management compensation planners to fess up and NAPFA to make a full disclosure note with biographies of its members of how they are compensated: hourly, flat fee, retainer, fee and commission, assets under management etc.

The above said, regardless of compensation method, the real question is doing an audit of the progress, you the client, is making towards or maintaining his personal financial goals (which is in both editions of my book Enough: A Handbook for Your Personal Financial Planning – out of print but probably you can get it for 99cents on the web).r entries on this blog).  The Personal Financial Planning Audit should be done upon engaging the planner (to establish a baseline), quarterly at a minimum the first year of the plan engagement, and at least annually thereafter to monitor progress.
Set up a chart: with goals down the left hand side. For example:

  1. Providing adequate income upon total disability
  2. Providing adequate income upon partial disability
  3. Minimizing capital depletion due to illness
  4. Minimizing capital depletion due to nursing home/home health care
  5. Providing for the kids education
  6. Providing for 100% of income from passive sources (retirement)
  7. Providing for 50% of income from passive sources (slow down) for some period prior to retirement)
  8. Minimizing liability: unintended creditors, personal guarantees etc
  9. Becoming independent of your independent business
  10. Providing adequate income for your spouse upon your passing
  11. Aligning your life goals with your personal resources
  12. Healing personal financial anxiety putting money in its place to transcend to significance
  13. Knowing what ENOUGH is
  14. Knowing what ENOUGH is versus MORE
  15. Etc etc.

Horizontally, have a scale from 1-10 (1 being lowest, 10 being highest) and grade where you are at now (if about to engage a planner). If you already have engaged a planner, think back and grade where you were before planning and do a first ranking (baseline and date it as of the beginning of the planning engagement). Next do the ranking again (separate sheet of paper and date it). The questions then become for comparison REGARDLESS OF COMPENSATION METHOD - has there been progress advance/ maintenance towards satisfying your goals or has there been retreat and or failure? (You might also note if retreat – has there been a concurrent increase of good lunches the planner has taken you to – to message your bottom and bottom line on goals?)

Comprehensive personal financial life planners manager goals; asset managers manage assets (and are typically compensated by YOUR ASSets under Management.
And that is a Salient fact.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Assets under Management (AUM) ‘Fee Only Planning Compensation’ Conflicts - Part I

Assets under Management (AUM) ‘Fee Only Planning Compensation’ Conflicts - Part I

(low saliency pricing ((disclosure-jds))…. can be positive for (the personal financial planner’s businesses by) making it more comfortable and less of a slap (seeing what they are paying each month/quarter?-jds) in the face for the consumers who purchase the business’ bona fide goods and services’
From A Financial Planner’s Blog

            So less reminder –frequency -of what the client pays – is a good thing for the client, less ‘salient’?

I still await the definition of saliency from the writer.
            But the synonyms for salient are: most important, relevant, significant, leading.
            And so ‘low saliency’ (low importance) in personal financial planning compensation is:

·         Rationalization and justification for low or no transparency of compensation (fool) disclosure
·         Disguised protectionism (anti trust activity at the least – violation of trust at worst) for personal financial planners’ compensation
·         And or paternalism at its worst

The question for this entry is the inherent problems with assets under management (AUM) compensation method of fee only personal financial planners. The bigger question is: is this method of personal financial planner compensation (consciously or unconsciously) conducive and consistent with the practice of integrative comprehensive personal financial planning or really just an asset gathering marketing by asset managers in personal financial planner clothing?

Behavior is a function of its consequences – we continue to do what we are rewarded for and avoid, extinguish the behavior that have negative consequences or lack of reward.

Yes, there are inherent potential problems with all methods of fee only personal financial planning compensation. In particular:

·         Hourly: a license to be inefficient and often negative reinforcement relative to the client calling the planning (especially before the fact) as the client is concerned about the clock ticking on each and every 5 minute call.
·         Flat retainer: from the planner’s standpoint this can lead to over utilization of his services while for the client, he or she wonders if the price monthly or quarterly is worth it.
·         AUM: Asset under Management Percentage (with the emphasis on ‘under’): As Maslow said, if all you know is a hammer, everything will look like a nail.’ The other areas of personal financial planning process - asset protection (e.g. insurance against capital depletion etc)), asset conservation (e.g estate planning, ever income conservation (e.g tax planning) have a tendency to become second class citizens – orphans overlooked – as asset accumulation (AUM) compensation pays the bills. (Note: assets under management is typically the highest valuation method to maximize the value of the personal financial planning firm upon sale – not that that would have an impact on the choice of compensation method.)
·         Percentage of Income against a Percentage of Net Worth whichever is greater. (Relatively few planners use this method – which probably has some value for high income low net worth individuals – professionals – doctors –athletes).
·         Percentage of Net Worth (not including house and personal property): The positive the planner pays attention to facilitating the closed held business owner becoming financially independent  of his independent business  The negatives: most planners, have little business planning skills (and don’t even have a business plan for themselves) so the planner would be way overpaid without these type of skills.)
·         Bracket fees (both for initial plan) and an ongoing planning (monthly retainer). The positive – clients won’t hesitate to call before the fact and know what their maximum cost will be. Instead of the compensation derived from assets under management and the focus thereof, the planner is managing goals instead of an inherent focus accumulation in the assets under management compensation method. The negatives: first, the planner will have to know his planning process to not be over utilized. Secondly, with the client writing a check monthly or quarterly (rather than just being taken out of the Schwab account ‘painlessly’), the planner has to continue to establish his value – relative to goals being made or maintained (poor baby!)

Ok- it’s obvious, I prefer the bracketed fees method of compensation. And yes, it is my opinion, that assets under management compensation – is but a soft commission and inherently a Trojan horse for gathering assets rather than personal financial planning. And yes, with its inherent focus on assets under management more, more, more becomes accumulation (which may or may not be necessary, managing assets INSTEAD OF managing goals) becomes the aim..
Cases in point (and not isolated) of AUM’s focus shortchanging to the detriment of managing goals?

  • AUM planners overlooking Long Term Care risk (which if incurred would have cannibalized the retirement goal)
  • AUM planners forgetting about replacement value by ordinance on home owners insurance (cost about $30)– which resulted in one homeowner this writer was informed of having to come up with $30,000 even though he had replacement value on his Florida property).
  • Complaint ratios? (closed complaint ratio on homeowner and auto insurers)  “That’s my clients frequency of bortzing about their spouses,” one AUMer said to me. (And the AUM planner wasn’t kidding). Schwartz’s law on insurance: What good is a Mercedes (great financially strong company), that is the shop all the time (high complaint ratio), and if it has no gas (lousy policy)? All three elements are necessary: financial strength, low complaint ratio, excellent policy terms.
  • The worst: AUM planners (SUB PRIME AUMers?) telling clients to maximize their mortgage (instead of paying it down or paying it off which would lower their slow down or retirement goal need) and instead put the money into the market to get higher returns (as well as leveraged higher returns on their home). How did that turn out, Bunkie? (Over and over again from planners I heard this old saw (rationalization)– and each in  case the ‘so called’ planners were compensated on the basis of AUM! .The risky desire for PREMATURE ACCUMULATION RESULTED IN PREMATURE DECUMULATION PRIOR TO DISTRIBUTION or Personal Financial Planner Ejectile Dysfunction.
  •  Despite disability insurer UNUM being downgraded 13 times, AUM planners of my acquaintance didn’t move their client’s disability coverage (even when there was no insurability question) as ‘the insurance guy is on top of the situation.’ (Meaning don’t bother me, I have assets to manage – that’s my job.)
Yes, fee only planners compensated on the other methods could have made the same mistakes. However, especially on the mortgage situation, the other methods did not have the incentive to leverage large mortgages increasing the planner’s asset base of compensation for the planner’s compensation benefit.
Part II will focus on the Bracketed Initial Plan and Flat Fee Retainer as well as judging the planner’s success relative to goals (not assets under management).
So much for ‘saliency.’

Monday, July 23, 2012

Seneca & Schwartz (Not A Detective Duo)

No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first been deceived by prosperity
Seneca, 4 BC – AD 65)  Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist

No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first, last and always been deceived by MORE
Schwartz, Professional Provocateur

Eesh ha kol – I have all – Yaakov
Eesh ha rav – I have much – Esau
Much? More?

More, more, more, what are we all morticians? – 
e.e. cummings

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Henry Ford & The 'My Planner' Fallacy

You can have any car you want as long as it is black

There is custom, custom tailored, and accustomed.

            Most planners talk custom (designed) when the plan, at best being very generous in evaluation, is  custom tailored. The reality is most personal financial plans are what the planner (consciously or unconsciously) is accustomed to – to the detriment of the client.
And yet, the initial fault for this lies with the client!
How so?
While one can outsource the planning function via substitute reliance, the client cannot and should not outsource. The client must manage the planner – or in Reagan terms ‘trust but verify.’
            There is no parasite (the accustomed ‘Moreon’ planner) without a Moreon host.)
            The planning relationship of  ‘do it for me’ and if it doesn’t work ‘you’re at fault’ (even if I didn’t follow the plan because you were not persuasive enough) sets up failure to begin compounding the foolishness of ‘how did I do relative to the Dow’ (rather than how am I doing relative to each objective.) (1)
            Accustomed ‘moreon’ planner + ‘do it for me’ outsourcing moreon client = recipe for personal financial planning acri-money.
            Do it for me results in you did it to me.
            Thus, real personal financial life planners should be planning resources rather than planning guru leaders of the flock (2)
            Trust but verify.
            Planning whether personal financial and or business planning is a process which out of cost necessities is custom tailored. (Custom is very expensive). Given the aforementioned, without managing the planner – the result, too often will be what the planner is accustomed to – rather than custom tailored or customized. The management of the planner and planning process falls on the client. Just saying to the planner, ‘here tell me what to do’ is a prescription for just avoiding responsibility and setting up the victim blame game .
            In corporate planning, here is an axiom: planning cannot be done for a client, it is done by the client or it is just another pretty book up on the shelves

I’ve grown accustomed to your face
My Fair Lady

            Planners need to stop talking customized when what they are doing is what they are accustomed (we personalize, you can have any car as long as it is black). By the same token, personal clients must manage the process (holding the planner accountable per goal as defined by criteria with a minimum of quarterly review.) How did we did relative to the S&P is an asset management; how we are doing relative to the goal(s) that is the relevant personal financial planning question(1).
In corporate planning (especially since the outside or inside planner has no power) the process must be transferred and done by the corporation itself. That means the planner facilitates and transfers the skill transference to the individuals in the corporation who have the power to make the plans happen. Planning relative to corporations should be a self liquidating engagement (not an annuity) – as corporations should not become ‘accustomed to your face.’

You can have any car you want as long as it is black – only results in black eyes in planning.

  1. As personal financial planner manages goals (per your criteria); an asset management manages assets – don’t confuse the two. PS and if assets under management is how the personal financial planner is paid – what will take precedence ‘the goals’ or making ‘more’ regardless of the risk involved?
  2. The guru planning leader of the flock – usually results in the planner being defrocked.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Personal Financial Life Planning & Ethical Wills II

Personal Financial Life Planning & Ethical Wills – Part II

            From Part I, the first pass at the WITSEC, Yom Kippur, & Mission-Vision exercises should have already been completed. The following is an outline of an ethical will (with one example: Lessons I Have Learned)

  1. Philosophy of Life
  2. Values I Hold Dear
  3. Defining Moments
  4. Lessons I Have Learned (example from my Ethical Will)
  5. Legacy – 1st Attempt
  6. Those I Don’t Wish To Thank (herein you’ll find values you distain – by answering why?)
  7. Those I Wish To Thank (herein you’ll find values you admire – by answering why?)
  8. Values I Hold Dear (second attempt)
  9. Legacy (pass #2) – what you have will have left behind for loves ones and others
  10. WITSEC exercise – second pass & refine
  11. Yom Kippur Exercise – second pass & refine
  12. Mission/ Vision Exercise – second pass & refine

Once finished, here is the final exercise: Action Plan.
Given the above, what steps will you now take living? Per each action step delineate in sequence in writing:

·         The Action Step
·         Start
·         Finish
·         Who is needed
·         Cost
·         How to prevent or minimize the action step going wrong?
·         Contingency if the action step goes wrong

By doing the Ethical Will – you will have a living mission - blue print to exercise your will now – so get started!

And of yes, here is my example of Lessons I Have Learned:

Lessons I Have Learned Part 1
Here’s a few of the things I’ve learned with the help of my dogs:

  • We are here to continue to complete the incompletions of our character and soul (‘the soul curriculum’ – Alan Morinis’ phrase). This life is a ‘character pit stop.’ We are NOT YET – that’s why we are here but if lucky, we are NOT YET in the company of dogs during classes.

  • We each have a chalek (portion) to develop – which is an inside out job/an inner scoreboard – not a comparison race with others

A story about the great Rabbi Zusha relative to chalek: "When I pass from this world and appear before the Heavenly Tribunal, they won't ask me, 'Zusha, why weren't you as wise as Moses or as kind as Abraham,' rather, they will ask me, 'Zusha, why weren't you Zusha?' Why didn't I fulfill my potential, why didn't I follow the path that could have been mine."

  • When the game is over, both the pawn and the king go in the same box. It’s all about character.

  • Forget certainty, continuity and permanence – except for the love of one’s dogs.

  • The meaning OF life is a flawed pursuit better to find the meaning IN one’s life.

  • Be your message,’ as Gandhi said and ‘better done than said,’ as Franklin wrote (besides your dogs can smell a 14kt phony)

  • No good deed goes unpunished – but do it anyway for inside out reasons (chalek) and you won’t be disappointed. Remember God and your dog(s) know!

  • Be fruitful and add/multiple is about procreation – not just of progeny but what you leave behind, influenced and developed ‘inside out’ of yourself (Tikkun Atzmi). I would not be who I have become and aspire to be (‘a man of dog’) without Moolah, Buddy, Ricki, Nicki, Max, Elle, Moses and yes, even Rolling Thunder Goodie.

  • The longer the stain sits, the harder it is to get out (even with Resolve ® or Simple Solution®). Re-member the 4 Rs: early recognition, regret, resolve, and even more critically -restitution – making it right – works. Merely saying I’m sorry is a 5 letter word that falls between sniffles and suffering succot(h)ash in the Daffy Duck Dictionary.

  • Clothes don’t get clean without an agitator in the washing machine. “Where there is no man, be a man” (Talmud) and “don’t stand idly as your neighbor bleeds” (Torah) or your dog(s) are over vaccinated. PS “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God,” Franklin and ‘the wicked flee (escape) when none pursue’ (Proverbs).

  • The only people that like change, per Don Robinson, is wet babies – so expect  being called ‘difficult’ and the following sequence, ‘being ignored, then rebuked, and finally, having not only the idea accepted but claimed with ownership by those who ignored and rebuked you.’ It don’t matter, God and your dog(s) know.

  • Forget impact on 100’s, 1000’s or millions saving the world, if you save a life, you save the world (Talmud) – one dog at a time (Schwartz)

  • More, better, now becomes less, worse, later (except for dogs – subject to noise restrictions, laws, and ability to love and provide proper care).

  • Money is a means – ‘enough to live on, enough to live for’ and to buy premium raw dog food, toys, and the best of care for your dogs

  • Even though both great Rabbis Hillel and Shammai agreed that man should not have been created (though Hillel said, ‘well, he’s here let’s work with him’) gam zu la’tovah (this is for the best). Besides God created dog as an apology -So--- ‘make your lives new again, as they use to be’ Lamentations 5:21 (get a dog!)

  • Dog is God’s echo – and I’ve been blessed with 8 so far - and if you are lucky enough to have been in their company now (and hopefully again) you have been touched by the divine – now go give them a cookie.

  • If all else fails, you’ll understand when you are older – but in the end ‘In God & Dog I Trust.’ (‘plus tendons’ barked Goodie with paws on my shoulders licking my face.).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jewish Tails (With A BITE): The MORE response©

Jewish Tails (With A BITE): The MORE response©

There are many so called ‘responses’ not the least of which are the following:

• The Relaxation Response (made famous by Dr. Herbert Benson): a group of physiologic changes that cause decreased activity of the sympathetic nervous system and consequent relaxation after stimulation of certain regions of the hypothalamus. (In others, this response de-stresses one).

• The Fetch Response: the repetitive happy presentation of object (in particular, tennis balls by Her Majesty Goodie) to retrieve after toss or soulful eyes presentation of ball engendering Jewish guilt so as to continue More throwing the retrieving process ad infinitum if she had her way – as this never Enough fetch.

• The Kfetech Kevetch Response: bortzing, complaining, whining but particular by this Jewish companion animal guardian (reality – serf) for Her Royal Highness’ incessant unending (if allowed) desire for fetch and yet he continues to give in. (She loves fetch, he must love kevetching better than the relaxation response.)

Goodie, Elle and I would play fetch in the backyard twice a day – the first time, in the morning and secondly late afternoon.
(Moses, my faithful chevrutah, still prefers being first on the chair with me when I study to ball).

I would throw three to four balls. And invariably Goodie, still without success, tries to put two rubber balls in her mouth. And even when she has a rubber ball in her mouth, the one Elle is fetching looks better – MORE .

I can only wonder through osmosis if the proclivity and preference towards MORE has been transferred in domesticating our dogs, as Goodie, with tennis ball already in her mouth, would go after Elle’s ball in a ‘burning bush’ because it might better.

Announcing (drum roll please), now for the first time - alluded to but unnamed here to date is for your personal financial taxonomy classification: The MORE response©

The MORE response©: Stimulated/motivated by the delusional quest to overcome inevitable extinction of the physical (which one identifies as ‘himself’), the The MORE response©, is a derivative of acquisition (Cain), which seeks to gain THE permanent, THE certain, and THE continuous thus, overcoming the inevitable physical extinction (a delusion) or at least palliating oneself in the interim.
Practitioners (whether consciously or unconsciously, lay or professional) of The MORE response© are affectionately referred to as MOREONs.
The MORE response© masquerades and is exemplified as follows:

• If only, if only, if only, if only, if only
• But what if, but what if, but what if
• Yes but, yes but, yes but
• I’m too busy getting more so I’ll have enough (which I don’t have time to calculate)

The MOREON response©:

1. Sacrificing what one needs for what one doesn’t need
2. MORE, Better, Now…

The MOREON response© ReBUTTal:

1. MORE, Better, Now… which typically becomes LE$$, worse, later.
2. “The More fat, the More disease. The More possessions, the More worry. The More wives, the More rivalry. The More maids, the More frivolity. The More butlers, the More theft.”
Rabbi Hillel, Pirke Avot 2:8

The ENOUGH Response ©:
Enough to live on; Enough to live for

The ENOUGH Irony©

WITSEC, Ethical Wills & Personal Financial Life Planning

Healing Personal Financial Anxiety:
WITSEC, Personal Financial Life Planning & Ethical Wills – Part I

The origin of the ethical will  is said to be verbal from a  dying Jacob gathering his sons to give them  blessings with the request they bury him in Canaan (to be Israel – Jacob/Yaakov’s other name sake!) not in Egypt (Mitzrareim – restriction, limitation.) “”Genesis 49:1-33. Another ethical will example is when Moses instructs the Israelites to be a holy people and teach their children (Deuteronomy 32:46-47)

            Annually on my birthday, I revisit my Ethical Will.
            Today, the writing of an Ethical Will (Zevaoth in Hebrew) once a Judaic tradition is an anachronism except for a few revival attempts just like the practice of writing one’s mission/purpose statement on Yom Kippur (the Judaic day of atonement/at-one-ment. Ironically while the ethical will is to be read upon one’s proceeding underlining one’s legacy, and the Yom Kippur mission statement is to remind one’s his purpose today, both practices refocus on the question of ‘why am I?

Exercise #1 WITSEC
            A valuable exercise to start one’s mission/ethical will is hypothetically considering one had to enter the WITSEC program (Witness Protection administered by the Department of Justice featured in TV Show In Plain Sight).
Per the witness protection program protocol, tomorrow you will lose your present identity, be relocated, and not allowed to contact anyone past or present who knows you. The challenge given this clean slate – how will you reinvent yourself – in particular in vocation, and mission in life now – and 20 years from now looking back?
Clean slate – no baggage – what will you be when you grow up this time, what is your ‘why am I?’

It’s only your life – In Plain INsight     

Exercise 2: Mission/ Vision

            Recycle this exercise twice: first, relative to mission – what can be; secondly, relative to vision should be and then see if you can reconcile mission and vision.
            Note: You must define ‘the is not’ as well as ‘the is’ otherwise all you get is ‘snot’ (vague motherhood Obamaesque slogans – all hat no cattle - like ‘hope and change’ type statements that result in ‘self hoax and chump change.’)

What (and what not – you can’t do the same vocation)
Why (and the whys you won’t pursue)
How (and how’s that are not acceptable)
Where (and where not).

It’s only your life – In Plain INsight.

Exercise 3: Yom Kippur Assignment
(You Die / Proceed Today)

(name), age ,died yesterday from.
He  is survived by  
He was a member of 
He will be remembered for:
He will be mourned by
The world will suffer the loss of his contributions in
He always wanted but got:
The body will be .

In The Future (10 or 20 or 30 years hence)

(name), age ,died yesterday from
He  is survived by
He was a member of 
He will be remembered for:
He will be mourned by
The world will suffer the loss of his contributions in
He always wanted but got:
The body will be .

            The above become the foundation for an ethical an outline of which will be illustrated in the next blog…

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Never Enough: The Korach Within

 Never Enough: The Korach Within 

Isn’t it enough that the God of Israel has distinguished you from the congregation of Israel, drawing you near to Him, to perform the service  of God’s Tabernacle and to stand before the congregation, to be their ministers?
Moses to Korah: Pashas Korah 16:9

            (Note: (Note: The above is not to be confused with pulpit Rabbi admonishing the former envious SINagague congregational president who still wanted to be on the Bimah next to the Rabbi at Saturday services a position given only to the current congregational President .)
            Never enough.
            Goodie still in futility daily during ball to get both her and Moses’ (oh, the irony) ball concurrently in her mouth – as one tennis ball isn’t enough.

Never Enough!
            Let me cut off my brother’s head so I can be taller
            Never Enough!
            To paraphrase Mencken, ‘(I happy) as long as my sister’s husband makes $100 less a week than my husband.’
            Never Enough.
            All the personal financial goals funded – ‘I need a cushion just in case’
            Never Enough.
            Okay, I have the cushion – but ‘I finally got the means to the ends and now I want to move the ends (again)’
            Never Enough: Is MORE - The Korach Within.

My dog’s faster than you dog
My dog’s bigger than your dog
My dog’s better cause he gets Ken-L Ration
My dog’s bigger than yours
Ken-L-Ration commercial 1963

Never Enough goes back to the snake tempting Eve as well as the story of Cain (acquisition in Hebrew) and Abel. Whereas Abel offered ‘the first yearlings’ to God because God was Shaddai (God, God Almighty, God All Sufficient, Enough), Cain, whose idea the sacrifice was, didn’t offer ‘the first/best yearlings’ keeping the best ‘More’ for himself as Shaddai wasn’t enough.

            Even though at Passover we sing the song Dayenu (Enough) where each lyric line begins (prior to the melody) with ‘it would have been enough (dayenu).’
            The day after, the 42” plasma TV isn’t enough – we need a 50” screen chamatz TV.
            Never Enough: MORE - The Korach Within

            It is said that in the punishment is in the sin: Never Enough (The Korach Within) – aka more, better, now has a habit of becoming worse, less, later. Still – even experiencing the aforementioned, we repeat sacrificing what we need for what we don’t need (MORE). 
The relative external comparison ranking amongst men is the idolized god. And the name of this faux deity ‘If Only.’
Never Enough: The Korach Within – If Only.

CHEWish (if only) On This©