Legal, Ethical, Moral
Over the past few weeks, Sandy and I have been reorganizing our living space to create a client friendly home office where clients can discuss personal finances in comfort and privacy. I did much of the work for this project on our front patio where the American flag flies 24/7/365.
As I was painting, sanding, unpacking, and doing other tasks on the patio, the ever-present Colorado sun distracted me by waving a shadow of the flag over the patio. I would stop work to see who or what—unnoticed except for the shadow—was annoyingly approaching me.
As the days went by, it dawned on me that I have lived my entire life in the protective shadow of the American flag…
- From birth, through WWII, Korea, the turmoil of the ’60s–the assassinations of John, Bobbie, and Martin–the financial and social trauma of the ’70s, Vietnam—during which I served behind a desk in Dayton, OH—the inflation ravaged Carter years, the rebirth of the American spirit during the Reagan Presidency, the extraordinary boom of the ’90s and the equally extraordinary financial failures of the 2k0s, the terror of 9/11, the historic election of a black American President in 2008, and the failure of that President to fulfill the promise his election held for America.
- During the thirty-seven years that I have been a licensed life insurance agent, The Shadow of the American Flag has also protected the thousands of insurance and financial advisory practices that ethically and honestly serve American families and small businesses. (The financial services industry has brought both credit and discredit to the American entrepreneurial spirit. It has produced some of the greatest models of American ingenuity and some of its most infamous frauds. You can fill in the names. Regardless, ethical advisors and their clients survive and thrive.)
Now, it’s time for insurance agents, financial advisors, and their clients to assure that the Shadow of the American Flag continues to protect every American’s personal finances in the decades to come. It is not enough to make a living or make a killing in our business and for our clients. Insurance and financial advisors and their clients are in a unique position to raise their voices and employ their resources to revitalize America and restore the promise of the American Flag—in whose shadow we and our clients have all lived, survived, and thrived.
We can only make this real by…
- becoming actively involved in the political process
- supporting candidates and issues that…
- empower individual Americans and diminish the power of bureaucrats and politicians
- reduce the intrusion into the lives of individuals and the workings of small business by government takeovers, over-regulation, healthcare that interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and imposes an impossible burden on small business, and special treatment for large financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their Wall Street cronies
Let’s get to work.
PS – If you are not an insurance agent or financial advisor, you are likely the client of one. Join us and pass this on. Ask your agent/advisor to join in the effort to restore America.
Inaccurate Is Not OK…
A client recently sent me a copy of an email received from an insurance agent promoting whole life insurance policies from a specific life insurance company. The primary goal of the original email seemed to be to demonstrate that one form of dividend calculation on whole life insurance policies is better than another.
The email from the agent was inaccurate and therefore misleading. I have no doubt the agent was convinced that the information in the email was correct or that s/he was operating in good faith. However, my client asked me to confirm or deny the claims in the email and I felt compelled to clarify the inaccuracies as much as possible.
The exercise of clarifying the issues raised in the email are meaningful so I am repeating my response here and expanding on it as needed.
The original email content is in standard type. My responses are indented, bold, in italics, and preceded by my initials in brackets thus [JR].
Two Types of Mutual Insurance Companies…
There are two types of Mutual Insurance companies . They are called direct recognition and non-direct recognition. I have policies in both these types of companies.
[JR] Actually there are direct recognition mutual companies and mutual holding companies and non-direct recognition mutual companies and mutual holding companies.
If a company is structured as a mutual company or a mutual holding company is as significant as whether it pays dividends on a direct recognition or non-direct recognition basis.
Direct Recognition VS Indirect Recognition
Non-Direct means the policy owner receives the same dividend rate no matter how many dollars he has borrowed from the insurance company using his death benefit as collateral.
[JR] Well, that’s not exactly correct. Actually, the policy’s cash value is the primary collateral used when a policy loan option is exercised by a policy owner. One cannot borrow more than a whole life policy’s currently unencumbered cash value.
Death benefit only comes into play in the event of death.
So you may have borrowed $10,000 whereas another policy owner borrowed $100,000 but you both earn the same dividend rate.
[JR] The statement is true as far as it goes. However, it ignores the fact that the policy owner that borrowed $100,000 would pay a lot more interest to the insurer than the policy owner that borrowed only $10,000.
In both cases, the interest paid by the policy owners–one to a greater extent than the other–would add to the surplus of the insurer; and the company pays dividends from its’ surplus is where dividends come from
Or you may not have borrowed anything but you would still earn the same dividend as someone else who has borrowed and is using that borrowed money to earn even more profit somewhere else.
[JR] The unasked question is, “Why is that a bad deal for anyone?” Some indirect recognition companies have followed this pattern for over a century.
(As an aside, what the devil difference does it make what the policy owner is doing with the money s/he borrowed from the policy that s/he owns? Sorta sounding like a Robin Hood argument.)
Direct means the company determines the dividend rate according to policy holders fair share
[JR] This statement is irresponsible. It assumes the indirect companies dividend paying practices are unfair to their policy owners.
Should indirect recognition companies like Mass Mutual be ashamed after over 100 uninterrupted years paying top dividends? How unfair!
according to how many dollars he has borrowed from the insurance company’s general fund using his death benefit as collateral.
[JR] There you go again Mr/Ms Agent…it’s cash value not death benefit that is the primary collateral used to back a policy loan.
The higher the amount of dollars on loan to you does mean you will receive a lower dividend rate.
[JR] Ah! A moment of clarity. It’s true. Direct recognition companies apply a lower dividend rate to those policies that have loans outstanding.
The obvious conclusion according to this agent is that a policy owner that plans to exercise the right to take policy loans granted by his or her policy–a binding contract–an indirect recognition company may not be the best option.
Now, why does this matter? Well, it doesn’t really matter a whole lot
[JR] Another brief moment of clarity. Often the difference between the performance of non-direct recognition policies and direct recognition policies is not significant enough to make it a deciding factor on a buying decision.
But…if it doesn’t matter, why the epistle?
but some insurance agents use the fact that a company is a non-direct company as a selling point when trying to sell someone a policy.
[JR] OK…now i know why. Mr/MS Agent in this epistle uses the direct recognition dividend practices to promote the sale of policies for their direct recognition companies.
The Banking Concept
But it is good to understand that an insurance company makes money using the velocity of cash flow,
[JR] If a policy owner-borrower is being what R. Nelson Nash, formulator of the Infinite Banking Concept™, calls “an honest banker,” the insurer has very good cash flow.
If the policy owner fails to repay the loan and the interest, the insurer uses the policy’s cash value, which was used as collateral, to repay the interest and protect the other policy owners/borrowers. If the policy cash value is all used to pay premiums and/or interest, the policy lapses.
just like a bank does.
[JR] Insurance companies, like banks, use the money that policy owners pay in premiums and interest to make loans and enter safe and conservative joint ventures. That much is accurate.
However, insurance companies do not act “just like banks.” Banks work for shareholders not depositors. Mutual insurance companies and a holding company’s mutual insurance company work exclusively for the benefit of policy owners.
If you have your money sitting in a 5 or 10 year CD at the bank, the bank knows that it has a set amount of money that it can lend over and over and over again during that set period of time. An insurance company does the same thing
[JR] Banks operate on a completely different set of principles and rules than insurance companies. Insurers do not do “exactly” the same thing.
Banks operate on money that they derive from depositors . In addition, they have access to a form of ”matching funds” from the Federal Reserve Bank. Therefore, the banks can actually lend up to ten time the amount of money they have received from depositors!
Insurance companies limit themselves to using only the money they have on hand.
The Velocity of Money – Sorta…
You pay your premium and it can lend an amount of money over and over and over again for a lifetime. However, if YOU borrow money from your life insurance company, now they can no longer velocitize that money.
[JR] An insurance company can only lend up to the limit of its cash available excluding reserves. Insurance companies cannot leverage FED funds to increase the amount they can lend. That’s not at all the same as a bank.
In fact, if the insurer lends money to Home Depot they cannot “velocitize” (not a recognized word in any dictionary) the money either, nor can they leverage through fractional banking like a commercial bank.
Instead, you are now in control to velocitize your own money.
[JR] The insurance company is in fact “velocitizing” the money by charging the policy owner a competitive interest rate and—again—by contract, the policy owner is always in control of the cash value in a whole life insurance policy.
Moreover, because a whole life policy is a contract with borrowing provisions decided by the insurer, the burden is contractually on the insurer to make sure it makes money for all of its policy owners and not one more than others—and that’s true for both direct and indirect recognition companies.
The Attempted Deception Falls apart
However, one must consider this fact. How long will an insurance company be able to stay in business if a large portion of their policy owners are receiving an unfair share of the profits?
[JR] Hmmm – how is it possible for a policy owner to receive an “unfair share of the profits” by being charged a fair interest rate under contract terms determined by the insurer. Robin Hood again?
Again, does that put Mass Mutual—100+ years old—and never missing a dividend at more risk than a direct recognition company like Northwestern Mutual—also over a century old with a great dividend record?
Who actually owns the insurance company again? The policy owners. That would be YOU.
[JR] This is accurate when description of mutual companies. Although mutual holding companies “operate” as mutuals, the holding company–not just policy owners–holds significant interests in the mutual insurance company.
That is not an indictment of the mutual holding companies. It’s merely an attempt to bring clarity where none exists.
Some of the non-direct recognition companies restrict the number of loans, or the amount one can take as a loan or the number of policies one can own etc.
[JR] I’ve not experienced that in 40 years of dealing with a wide variety of insurance companies of both types except when the insurance company was in receivership–and that happened only twice that I know of.
(Tell me who you are talking about so I can avoid them.)
Do you want to have a policy that restricts your capital availability?
[JR] This is a cheap shot and poor salesmanship. I know of no direct or non-direct company that issues a contract that says the owner of a whole life policy cannot access to all of their cash value on demand.
Some non-direct recognition companies fire the agents that tell their clients about banking
[JR] This too is uncalled for. If an insurance company were to take this action, it would be grounds for a significant law suit by both the agents and the insureds. The insurer cannot deny rights granted by the insurer in a recognized contract.
and also some have been bought by stock companies and are in the process of converting from mutual to stock because too many of their customers were borrowing from their policies.
[JR] I’d like to know the names of those companies so I can confirm the claim, avoid doing business with them, and make sure the agents and advisors I deal with all across the US know about it.
The company I recommend is a direct recognition company.
[JR] Well – who woulda guessed! This agent is surely operating in good faith, but is in dire need of information, knowledge, and wisdom.
It’s a sad day when insurance and financial advisors stoop to deception in order to sell their wares.
An agent I am mentoring in EUREKONOMICS™ principles and practices placed a well-structured participating whole life policy on the life of a small business owner. Another agent slithered through a crack somewhere and misled the client to believe the policy in hand was of lesser value than the one the other agent is proposing to sell the client.
Here is my response to my mentee with bracketed descriptions replacing [names].
I’ve reviewed the “Supplemental Illustration” from [the large foreign-owned stock insurance company] you emailed to me that [another agent] recommended to [your client] as a replacement for [your client's] whole life policy.
I suggest you point out to [your client] that [the other agent]…
- failed to show the entire illustration, which includes the guaranteed values, which is required by law in all fifty states
- wants [your client] to contribute a total of $172,600 to a life insurance policy over 16 years
- claims [your client’s] premium payments over those 16 years would grow to $233,697
- says [your client] could then expect that $233,697…
- to repay the entire amount of [your client's] contributions—$172k—in less than 7 years at the rate of $25,820 per year
- then produce $25,820 in income each year thereafter from policy loans for as long as he lives (that assumes somewhere in the neighborhood of a 12% return forever based on a calculator on BankRate.com)
Common sense tells us that these numbers are unrealistic, but a financial calculator could tell you the precise impossible-to-achieve rate of return that the other agent is using to create these post age 72 income amounts from policy loans.
You may want to create a spread sheet showing the current actual value of the [mutual company] guaranteed cash values and death benefit and non-guaranteed illustrated dividends of the current policy compared to the hypothetical values being illustrated for [the large foreign-owned stock insurance company] product.
You could either leave the guaranteed column empty on [the large foreign-owned stock insurance company] portion or—better yet—call a brokerage house and have them run [the large foreign-owned stock insurance company] illustration showing the same results and fully disclosing the guarantees—or lack thereof—and the return assumptions. You could then use their hypothetical numbers on your spreadsheet—with emphasis on hypothetical.
I hope this helps you demonstrate to [your client] that selling from an incomplete illustration that only shows untested hypothetical results is unethical at best and unworthy of consideration. It’s also worth noting that it could be a reportable violation of NAIC rules and state laws.
Every EUREKONOMICS™ Agent is fully committed to adhere to the legal, moral, and ethical standards of the insurance and financial advisory vocation without, however, being restricted by the constraints of conventional wisdom and artificially imposed regulation from quasi-professional governmental and certification granting organizations that serve more to constrain creativity than to protect the public.
There is much talk in Washington suggesting that the Federal Government should take over businesses and social programs based on the assumption that…
- equality of results is essential to the success of everyday Americans
- equality of opportunity – “the pursuit of happiness” – is inappropriate for the 21st century
An economics professor once faced a group of students that insisted that equality of results, not equality of opportunity, would create a better society and economy. They insisted that an economic model of big government, big union, and big bureaucracy for redistributing wealth, like the one the Obama administration seems to be promoting, would work better than and that promoted by the Founders. They believed that such a model would create a society where no one would be poor and no one would be rich – a great equalizer.
The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class based on a plan by which big government redistributes the wealth of the country to create equality among its citizens. In this class – our country for this experiment – grades are the wealth. We will average all of your individual grades and everyone will receive the same average grade. You will all be equal. No single student will fail.”
The class agreed to the experiment. After the first test, the professor averaged the grades of all the students and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were somewhat upset while the students who studied little were happy. However, all of the students accepted the outcome and felt the experiment proved the case for redistribution.
As the second test rolled around, many of the students who studied little studied even less and the students who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied less. The second test average was a C-!
No one was happy. Doubts about the efficacy of the program crept in.
When the third test rolled around, the class average was F. The scores never increased after that. Bickering, blaming, and name-calling created hard feelings. The professor was demonized. The students, disincentivized to achieve at a high level, would not study for the benefit of everyone else. Every single student failed.
The professor demonstrated to the students that redistributing wealth – grades in this case…
- failed to create benefits for any individual student
- penalized every student
The experiment demonstrated that a socialist society would also ultimately fail. We have seen the results of these kinds of governments many times over during the past one hundred years in failed socialist countries around the world. When the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great.
“When government tries to make everyone equal instead of assuring that everyone has equal opportunity, government imprisons individual liberties, shackles incentive, and no one can succeed.”
- Dr Agon Fly
As the late Adrian Rogers said, “you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”
EUREKONOMICSTM rests on the solid principles laid down in the Founding Documents and the two hundred fifty years of the demonstrated success of free enterprise that transformed America and other free societies into economic, social, and moral leaders.
These principles have endured, successfully overcome abuses along the way, and currently recognize the failures in the system that need attention…
- Some businesses grew and prospered on the backs of slave labor but failed for the same reason.
- Some businesses abused capital and took advantage of workers, and free enterprise America corrected for these errors by creating competing businesses that honored the work of their employees.
- Unions began as advocates for employees and morphed into empires that exploit their members.
- Groups like Acorn and AARP masquerade as advocates for members but act in their own interest or as the pawns of political groups.
- Elected officials seem to lose their moral and ethical compasses as well as the memory of who elected them once they achieve office.
Over the past decade or so, the fallacy that home equity should be “harvested” by means of mortgage refinancing or home equity loans and converted into equity in some other investment has been foisted upon Americans as a legitimate financial strategy.
The most common presentation of these schemes suggests that home equity should be redirected into what some advisors call ”investment grade life insurance.” Other schemes suggest turning equity you control into annuities, real estate, gold, mutual funds, or some other investment – aka speculation – that you do not control.
The consistent mantra of the promoters of this idea is, “That’s what the wealthy do.” They want you to believe that following their advice is the path to wealth that those who were already wealthy followed.
Each of these demonstrably unsuccessful and failed schemes relies on the flawed principle that you should convert and asset – over which you have control – into cash. Having done that, you should then give the cash to the financial advisor/planner that recommended the transaction who will then invest your money into whatever financial product or service s/he is promoting and earning commissions from selling or fees for managing.
The results from this so-called strategy are apparent in the home foreclosures many Americans face today. They also appear in the non-performing, under-performing, and money-losing investmentsinto which the advisors often directed the American consumer’s home equity dollars.
Average Rate of Return…
The promotional basis for most of these schemes is the mythical Average Rate of Return. The average rate of return shell game uses illustrations that show a consistent seven to eight percent return over multiple intervals – usually annual. A typical $1,000 investment example used by this scheme with an average rate of return of 8% might look like this:
- Year 1 – $1,000 x 8% = 1,080
- Year 2 – $1,080 x 8% = 1,166
- Year 3 – $1,166 x 8% = 1,260
- Year 4 – $1,260 x 8% = 1,361
- average rate of return = 8%
- actual compounded annual return = 8%
However, even though this illustration shows an average rate of return of 8% over a four year period, it is unlikely, if not impossible, to earn an actual8% year upon year compounded return. (Just ask one of Bernie Madoff’s clients if you don’t believe that.) A more honest illustration of an average 8% return might look like this:
- Year 1 – $1,000 x + 40% = 1,400
- Year 2 – $1,400 x + 22% = 1,708
- Year 3 – $1,708 x - 15% = 1,450
- Year 4 – $1,450 x - 15% = 1,233
- Average rate of return = 8%
- Actual compounded annual return = 5.38%
Even though the returns in the gaining years far outweigh the negative returns in the losing years, the average rate of return is still 8% while the actual compounded return is about 5.38% It’s possible to show a much lower actual compounded return with a little bit of creative arithmetic, but this is enough to make the point: average rate of return is always deceptive, is always hypothetical, and is never guaranteed.
The fact that the returns on the investments recommended by the harvesting proponents are not guaranteed or even predictable compounds the primary deception in these schemes, which is that real estate values always move upward.
Granted, over the few years before the real estate bubble burst, the values assigned to real estate moved predictably higher. However, the assigned values were often determined by the amount of money an advisor suggested the owner harvest and invest in the financial product s/he had for sale. Add to that the painfully unethical behavior of the mortgage industry granting loans to enhance the compensation of executives and brokers in that industry and the outcome was predictable.
The wholesale failure of financial Behemoths like Freddie, Fannie, Lehman, and so on is proof positive that the actual values of real property were artificially inflated to accomodate harvesting equity and other schemes designed to move money from the pocketbooks of American families into the coffers of corrupt Behemoths.
EUREKONOMICS! – The Return of Common Sense
Let’s turn the equity harvesting scheme on its head.
First, I have known many wealthy people. I have known some who harvested equity from their homes and business properties. I have known not even one that becamewealthy by harveting equity. However, I have known some that became paupers by doing so.
The wealthy people that have commented on or reported about this concept have harvested equity only when they could guaranteethat the use to which they put the money converted from equity would return more than the cost of converting the equity. In their decisionmaking, it was always more important to avoid or minimize risk than to hope for returns. They used harvested equity to get richer without risk, not to get rich in the first place.
Conversely, even considering minimal risk investments, few of the wealthiest people I have encountered over the past four decades of my career would ever consider placing a mortgage on their paid-for personal property, least of all their residences. They worked diligently for decades to pay off their mortgages and protect their personal assets from business failures and legal actions. Why, in God’s name, would they ever want to put those assets at risk?
What common sense program would ever warrant taking the chance that the family home would be lost to some investmentthat promises only that it promises nothing. What about a greater return? Think about it. Is there a rate of return that is worth more than peace of mind, carols around the family Christmas Tree, or candle lighting at Hannukah?
If you would have a strategy regarding equity harvesting, why not consider harvesting equity from a source that you control and using it to pay off your mortgage and eliminate interest payments to the Behemoths? Why not first build and then harvest the equity from your cash value life insurance policies, use it to reduce and eliminate debt to others, and repay the low or no cost policy loans so you can do it agian and again? Why not learn how to BE the bank?
This is the inverse approach to risking everything you own to get an impossible maybe. It is a way-certain to reduce and eventually eliminate debt-to-others and guarantee that the equity you build in your home, your other personal property, and the cash values in your life insurance policies remain under your control.
Finally, the most powerful argument for this approach is that it has been tried, tested, and proven over many lifetimes and generations. It works in good times and bad. It allows you to grow rich without risk and secure wealth without worry.
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards stated mission is “to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for personal financial planning.” The CFP Board’s web site discusses and defines financial planning as “the process of meeting your life goals through the proper management of your finances.”
Here’s the contradiction. Planning is one thing. Management is another thing altogether. Planning may be a prerequisite to managing personal finances but it is not the process itself.
Planning is a map-making process. Map-making is done from an aloof and uninvolved position using esoteric engineering tools to describe real terrain in abstract terms. Managing is what you have to do when you come to the river on the map and discover that there is no way to cross the turbulent waters at that particular point because last week’s flood washed away the bridge on last month’s map.
Financial planning, as described and defined by the CFP® training program, is akin to map-making. The planner is not actively involved in the “the process of meeting [a clients] life goals through the proper management of [their] finances.” The planner’s role is to recommend and sell financial products and advisory services that may or may not actually support the goals of the client during the management phase.
There are, of course, ethical standards to which each CFP® must adhere. There are also practice standards that the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. and other regulatory powers impose and enforce. Add to that the burden of the standards and rules of conduct imposed by bureaucratic regulatory agencies such as FINRA and these collectively impose a set of “established norms of practice” on the planner that often restrict the options the planner may present to the client.
The restrictions may not overtly deny a client the best option, but often direct the options along the “established norms of practice” and thereby deny the possibility of any other better-suited alternatives.
None of what I wrote above intends to demean either the designation or practices of those who legitimately profess themselves to be financial planners. It does intend to clarify that the entire process of planning and managing personal finances is shrouded by an imposing oversight structure and that this structure does not always provide Americans with the most appropriate personal financial advice or products.
Case on Point…
Over the past decade, I have met with and trained hundreds of insurance and financial advisors in life insurance and Series 6 pre-licensing, and a wide variety of continuing education topics including ethics.
- Almost every one of these professionals assumed that investing is an appropriate – perhaps essential – part of every American’s personal financial program – an idea that Behemoths in government and on Wall Street slowly injected into the American psyche over the past 30 years.
- One-hundred percent of them assumed that contributing to a 401(k) or its equivalent was the starting point for every personal financial management program – another idea that slithered into our collective psyche in just the past 20 odd years.
- Fewer than one in ten of these – ahem – professionals (not referring specifically to CFPs®) understood the most basic concepts relating to participating whole life insurance, mutual insurance companies, or even the life insurance products they sold most – universal life insurance.
- Only a handful understood the most elemental economic principles that clearly indicate that participating whole life insurance is the best and safest foundation for virtually every personal financial management plan.
One can more easily grasp the reasons for this strange set of facts when one reviews the history of personal financial management in America since 1974, a history that illustrates the slow erosion of control of personal wealth from the pond of individuals to the oceans of government and Wall Street.
I am often accused of being “down on” financial planners. Not true. I am down on lemming-like robotic adherence to “established norms of practice” that have misled Americans into a financial swamp that consumes both their money and their liberty while denying the validity of more conservative and viable financial management strategies.
Financial planning is an oxymoron when it denies the use of planning tools and strategies at the expense of individual wealth and liberty.
by Jeffrey Reeves youBEthebank.com
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Cool Hand Luke, 1967
The US Congress and the Executive Branch of the US government are not listening to America. America wants “soulutions” to problems not government take-overs.
Put this simple diagram of a Universal Health Care Program, which is being ignored in DC, in the hands of every American you know. Maybe, just maybe, someone will pay attention.
Ron Jennings, a successful Money for Life Guide in West Chester, Ohio, emailed this Adrian Rogers quote. While you are reading it, reflect on the policies and practices of the federal government during the Great Depression.
“You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.
You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”– Adrian Rogers, 1931 – 2005
The most prosperous decades in American history for the common citizen occurred in the late 20th century when the Federal Government reversed the policies of the Great Depression and reduced its meddling in the personal economics of the American family.
Unfortunately, those also turned into the decades of the greatest financial frauds in American history. Not the least among these frauds (but the least recognized and reported) are the pork-barrel projects of the power and money hungry Dolts in DC.
The problem we Americans face today is that our personal economies are being attacked by the cons in Congress and White House Wonks. Their attack is based on the false premise that Adrian Rogers stated so clearly just a few years ago (above). The saddest aspect of the current attempt to reduce the individual liberties of every American by a small majority of committed liberals is that it failed in the 1930s and it won’t work today. Moreover, the elitists in Congress are unwilling to apply to themselves the same standards they want to apply to unsuspecting Americans – that includes you and me.
The greatest attack on your personal economy comes from the proposed National Health Insurance plan. The simple reality is that the “plan” is more complex and convoluted than even Medicare and Medicaid – both of which are riddled with fraud and neither of which has reached a level of fiscal discipline needed to become a model for all of America.
Even worse, the “plan” favors big unions, big business, big government, and big bureaucracies at the expense of everyday citizens and small and micro businesses like the Avon lady, the child care center, the local independent insurance rep, small manufacturers and distributors, the local plumber, electrician, and heating contractor, and too many others to mention.
The greatest fraud, however, is that there is not a single congressperson that has read and evaluatedthe several 1,000+ page bills that are being bandied about the halls of the Capitol; nor will they. They plan to lift our liberties right out of our pockets and they don’t care enough to know all the details.
By Jeffrey Reeves, MA
“The National Association of Fixed Annuities, Milwaukee, has voiced that concern in a member alert…
“NAFA sees the proposal as “a clear attempt to take control – read collect fees – on all product recommendations,” including recommendations involving life insurance, long term care insurance, health insurance, property-casualty insurance, savings accounts and fixed annuities, NAFA officials say.”
Maybe the answer is for independent insurance and financial advisors to relinquish S6, S7, etc. registrations and quit selling securities. Few Americans are truly qualified investors and most annuity buyers are not.
Whole life, health, and annuity products are usually more than adequate to secure the wealth of the typical American and her/his family and they grow and secure family wealth without risk and without worry.
Pretty soon we will allow the Feds take every authority away from us and our freedom will go with them. Life, health, and annuity agents should not be worried about fixing the system that’s gotten us into the mess we are in now; the same mess that allows the power-hungry in the FED and in DC to grab control. We should be looking for a “soulution” that lets the state insurance departments maintain authority and control.
Perhaps, therefore, the answer to the ongoing challenge of FINRA and the power-grabbers in DC is to withdraw from their area of control. The fewer professional insurance and financial advisors (yes, you can be a true financial advisor without any securities registrations) they control, the less power they wield.
This post is mainly a link to a powerful assessment of conventional wisdom about the future of the US and the world economy by Jim Welsh, an investment advisor/economist that has been right more often than wrong.
Jim Welsh of Welsh Money Management has been publishing his monthly investment letter, “The Financial Commentator”, since 1985. His analysis focuses on Federal Reserve monetary policy, and how policy affects the economy and the financial markets.
This newsletter is dense, loaded with statistical data, and won’t be an easy read for the casually interested. It is worth the time and energy you’ll need, however. There will be a follow-up to this post that will deal with the Ethics of Advising Investing to Middle America – or something like that.
By Jeffrey Reeves, MA, Master Money for Life Guide, youBEthebank.com, ltd.
The MoneyforLife Blog will keep you posted on the progress of the almost century old Shenandoah Life Insurance Company as it emerges from receivership. What’s important to note is that this relatively small mutual insurer seems to have invested prudently and responsibly based on the support the US Congress gave to publicly held Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Shenandoah Life has limited resources and cannot invest in large scale projects the way the Behemoths do. It must invest its capital based on generally available information from what it – and most others – would consider reliable sources. In this case the US Congress and the finance committees of the two houses were “sleeping with the enemy.” They were receiving significant campaign contributions from Freddie and Fannie and, at the same time, were aware of the great risks associated with the lending practices and portfolios of these two Behemoths of the mortgage industry. The committee power brokers intentionally withheld that information from the public – and Shenandoah Life and its policyholders are part of the public.
While dozens of financial institutions - mainly banks – are failing due to the irresponsible behavior of the entire industry and the failure of the Congress to exercise adequate oversight (not control), Shenandoah Life is the first casualty among life insurance companies. (No, AIG is not a life insurance company. It is a conglomerate Behemoth that owns life companies. Those life companies are doing OK.)
The cautionary tale here is that the 31 State Guarantee Associations will protected and preserved the personal wealth of Shenandoah Life policyholders. The federal folks, who contributed so significantly to this unfortunate failure will beat their chests, complain about executive compensation and divert attention away from their past and ongoing failures.
Here’s the Notice of Receivership…
“On February 12, 2009, pursuant to Title 38.2, Chapters 10 and 15 of the Virginia Code, the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond issued an Order that appointed the State Corporation Commission of the Commonwealth of Virginia as Receiver of Shenandoah Life.
Receivership is a protective measure established under Virginia law to protect policyholders in the event an insurer experiences financial difficulty. The Circuit Court for the City of Richmond found Shenandoah Life in a condition where any further transaction of business would be hazardous to the policyholders, creditors, members, and the public. Both Shenandoah Life and the State Corporation Commission determined that the receivership was necessary to protect the interests of policyholders and creditors.
For additional information regarding the receivership, please visit our web site www.shenlife.com, or you may contact Shenandoah Life at 1-800-848-5433.”
by Jeffrey Reeves – youBEthebank.com
An article, Turmoil Spooks 529 Holders, published in the National Underwriter on 4/20/2009 By TREVOR THOMAS indicated a flight to safety by some parents and grandparents that were putting money aside in 529 Plans for the college educations of their children and grandchildren.
This is one more indicator that America is waking up to the reality that Wall Street and the Dolts in DC have been telling us to “save” but that what they are really telling us is to gamble. Investing is clearly very risky. Investing that is disguised as saving is clearly a con of the lowest character. Putting your children’s or your grandchildren’s future at risk based on a con game that you or they cannot win is foolish.
Of course, the con-artists don’t tell you that. They project 8% gains year upon year and proclaim it the truth. They ignore actual investor performance history and substitute generic stock market statistics that support their sales proposal. (Sales proposals are OK when they are sales proposals. They are a con when they are packaged as sage personal finance advice.)
A truly sage advior told me today during an interview that he makes sure his college funding proposals incorporate cash value life insurance, which is not counted when seeking financial aid, and rely on gurantees that are –>
That kind of advice might just lead to reliable wealth creation and wealth preservation, intelligent legacy planning, and the perfect investment.
You might want to evaluate529 Plans that way, too.
by Jeffrey Reeves – youBEthebank.com
This post recounts an email exchange with a credentialed financial advisor. The content has not been modified but the name has been changed and the credentials eliminated to avoid implying that there is any relation between one advisors opinion and the position that might be taken by the credentialing body.
Thanks for your comments.
Although they do not open a discussion but rather, close the door on dialogue, I am responding in detail. [As you will likely recognize, Stephen's mind was made up before there was a chance to respond.]
Stephen The Stepford Advisor wrote:
“YouBeTheBank site recommends that individual purchase life insurance policies to accumulate funds which are then used to fund future activities.”
Specifically we recommend that clients purchase permanent cash value life insurance. We recommend further that they choose dividend paying policies from mutual companies. Please, take the time to read further in the blog and you’ll discover that we justify this approach in some detail. Better yet, order copies of Money for Life! How to Thrive in Good Times and Bad by Jeffrey Reeves [that's me] and Becoming Your Own Banker by R. Nelson Nash. You’ll discover the amazing power of this approach, as many other credentialed advisors have done.
Stephen The Stepford Advisor wrote:
“It fails to mention that the costs of owning the policies will be substantail,(sic)”
There are – of course – costs. Substantial? You might want to define that for yourself first and for your practice second. Many advisors find the approach not only helpful but essential to their practice and do not see the costs as either substantial or burdensome.
There is another aspect of this that you may want to consider. There are many different forms of permanent cash value life insurance available in the marketplace. Some carry a heavy cost burden while others do not. If you don’t know which policy is being used you do not know whether or not the cost is “substantial”. Whole life policies from mutual companies tend to be less costly. Universal lifepolicies tend to be more costly – especially when they are improperly funded. Term insurance policies tend to be the most expensive.
Stephen The Stepford Advisor wrote:
“as will the restrictions on the availablity(sic) of cash.”
Again, Stephen, you may not have all of the information you need. My clients can access all of the cash in their policies whenever they want it. There is a bit of a lag – a day or two for processing and mail time – since the request must be made through the insurer. Immediate needs are satisfied with overnight delivery. This is not uncommon for mutual companies that are responsible only to their policy owners and not to shareholders or other outsiders.
Stephen The Stepford Advisor wrote:
“The accumulation of funds should never be done with life insurance as the primary choice.”
My Grandpa told me to “never say never and always avoid always.” Your statement is a shibboleth – an oft repeated mantra that contains no truth but that has been repeated so many times that people assume it must be true. In 1492 the world was thought to be flat.
To a thinking person who truly explores this approach to creating and managing a personal economy, the opposite is true. Whole ife insurance belongs in the foundation of every personal economy. That was the opinion of most financial planners prior to the advent of EF Hutton creating UL, A. L. Williams brainwashing amateurs, and Wall Street’s merchants of misinformation misleading America into the mutual fund swamp beginning in the 1980’s.
For over 150 years, and still today, dividend paying whole life insurance has been and is the single best place to put the money you use as a foundation for your personal economy and wealth building system.
Stephen The Stepford Advisor wrote:
“Individuals who truly fear banks should buy treasury securities instead. There are no costs as a practical matter.”
Nowhere in our blog or our book do we state or imply that you should fear banks. In fact, the practices of Money for Life are based on the banking model. Treasuries, like all investments, are for the limited few who have already established a foundation. In addition, there are always (sorry Grandpa) costs. Most commonly ignored by Stepford Advisors is lost opportunity cost.
Stephen The Stepford Advisor wrote:
“Yet the fact is, if the bank is insured via FDIC, then for all practical purposes, the initial $100,00 is not at risk.”
True. FDIC insures up to $100,000.00 per account. But, again, we never suggested that money in banks is at risk. Also, are you aware that the 50 state insurance guarantee funds typically insure about $250,000.00 per policy? Are you aware that no whole life policy holder in the history of the insurance industry in the US has ever lost even one dollar of their guaranteed values? Banks can make no such claim. Mutual funds fail this test. Stepford Advisors run and hide.
Stephen The Stepford Advisor wrote:
“Almost no one needs that amount of money to fund future plans.”
Of all your comments, Stephen, this is the one that challenges me the least. I’ve been serving clients for over 35 years. During that time every one of those clients encountered a financial need so great that they had to invade their retirement accounts…every one of them. Here are a few situations that demand even larger amounts of secure money.
Fidelity Funds reports annually on the unfunded medical expense needs of a couple that will retire in that year. In 2007 that was $207,000.00. That’s the out-of-pocket after insurance payments have been made.
Another fund company (Vanguard, I believe) projects the long term care needs of retiring couples – for 2007 it was $350,000.00.
One of my best friends has two Down Syndrome children. I expect they’ll continue to need that $100,000.00 almost every year.
Kyle was injured in a skiing accident and after months in a body cast, two years of physical therapy, and $125,000.00 in debt he is back to work. Seems each of these adds up to more than the $100,000.00 that “no one needs”.
Stephen The Stepford Advisor wrote:
“You should reconsider your recommendation as it fails every reasonable test of jusgement.(sic)
Stephen, the recommendation and my judgment are just fine.
Moreover, the processes and practices that we talk about on YouBeTheBank.com and TheMoneyforLifeBook and blog are tried, tested and proven to produce results that are guaranteed – a word that Stepford Advisors are not allowed utter. ”Guaranteed” is entirely legitimate in the context of dividend paying whole life insurance from mutual companies. I can assure you that “every reasonable test” of judgment supports what we teach and practice.
I can further assure you that the advisors who apply these practices in their planning help more people than those who don’t. One of our understudies (a former Sr. VP with a major, well known international brokerage with a large ad budget) proposed his first case last week to a very sophisticated investment client and it passed “every reasonable test” of judgment for all parties – advisor, client, attorney, accountant and family. Imagine that.
Stephen, I want to end with a word of thanks, again. My mission is to educate and inform. Your comments give me that opportunity. I urge you to learn more than you know, earn more than you imagine possible, and begin to question the shibboleths.
Financial Literacy in Disguise
Television is a great teacher. So is the internet. That’s only true, however, if you pay close attention to the advertising and not the shows that are supported by advertising.
Advertising costs money. Lots of money. Businesses that can afford extensive TV and internet advertising need to be making lots of money. Advertising also tells you what’s at the front of the minds of Americans.
Here’s a few of the general business catagories that are currently spending millions – probably billions collectively - on TV and internet ads:
- Credit repair
- Credit negotiation
- Credit watch
- Tax mitigation
- Class action law suits
- Auto insurance
- Life insurance
- Sham WOW! [just threw that in for the fun of it]
It’s All About Selling Products
Of these, life insurance and investment ads bear special meaning for me. For almost 40 years, I’ve been helping people understand their alternatives when considering insurance and investment decisions.
During those almost 40 years I have studied economics, insurance, investments, and all of the topics that insurance and investment advisors must study to earn and keep their licenses, registrations, and appointments. I have also studied the various selling strategies that insurance companies and investment houses use to entice you to buy their products.
It’s important to remember that these companies are selling products. The products are packaged as “peace of mind,” “wealth creation,” “future security,” “best savings account,” or “concern for your family.” They are still products.
What is a Product
Products aren’t bad things. However, when you follow a link or respond to an ad that points you to a web-site or a toll free number for advice and guidance, be aware that the company sponsoring the ad wants to sell you their products: life insurance, mutual funds, investment advice [yes, advice is a product whether you pay for it by means of fees or by means of commissions].
Beware of Good Intentions
Often the web sites contain “calculators” that are supposed to help you arrive at a decision, while the advisor on the other end of the toll free number claims to aim at the same thing. Putting aside good intentions – paving material for a very unsavory place – the result of these calculations and advice will always be the same: “Buy my product.”
The product that the site or the advisor recommends may or may not be your best choice.
- My expectation, based on experience, is that it is not even close to your best choice.
- My advice, based on experience, is that you find an experienced advisor that is not affiliated with just one company and that does not ascribe to conventional wisdom – doing what the rest of the industry does because that’s what the rest of the industry does.
Changing Your Mind About Money
Very often your best choice is not goin to be a product at all. Rather, it is going to be a change in your approach to creating and managing your personal economy and your personal wealth; changing your mind about money.
By Jeffrey Reeves MA, EUREKONOMIST
Bad advice like that which appears below in the excerpt from the article 15 Insurance Policies You Don’t Need by Lisa Smith on Investopedia is painful for those who truly understand the value, power, flexibility and versatility of cash value life insurance. The article claims that life insurance on children is not desirable.
Read R. Nelson Nash’s article Jeanette’s Banking System or The Education of Emily Elizabeth and you will understand that cash value life insurance purchased on children and grandchildren can be more powerful and a lot safer than the typical 529 Plan or Coverdale IRA, which are foolish gambles at best.
8. Life Insurance for Children
Life insurance is designed to provide a safety net for your heirs/dependents. Because children don’t have heirs to worry about and, statistically speaking, most kids will grow up safe and healthy, most parents should not purchase life insurance for their kids. Instead, use the money that you would have spent on life insurance to fund an education plan or an individual retirement account (IRA). (To read more on saving money for your kids, see Investing In Your Child’s Education, Teaching Your Child To Be Financially Savvy and Don’t Forget The Kids: Save For Their Education And Retirement.)
Other items in this article make some sense. Discussions of cash value life insurance by pundits and feature article writers, however, generally lack in both accuracy and depth of understanding. Read the entire article here…
Our thinking about America’s failed health care system is devoid of innovation.
The system that delivers health care in America is broken – everyone recognizes that. What the current proposals ignore is that the current system is shattered beyond repair. America’s health care delivery system won’t fix itself by making the federal government the captain of this Titanic or rearranging the deck chairs. The ship will still sink.
I know Sen. Obama, Sen. McCain, and the candidates for other federal and state offices act in good faith when they tour the country and listen to the stories of our fellow citizens. It’s important to recognize, however, that solving the individual problems embedded in those stories doesn’t solve the real problem. It puts a few extra folks in the lifeboats but the Titanic American Health Care System will still sink.
I have been in the insurance business for almost 40 years and spent at least half that time dealing with the health insurance issues of small businesses and individuals; problems that were often caused by the failed system.
The Kennedy plan, Hillary Care, Obama Care, the McCain plan – each of these has relied on the premise that the current system is fixable. It isn’t. Every one of these ‘solutions’ fails to address the core problems of structure and responsibility.
There is at least one solution to the health care delivery system failure that serves the people first, as well as providers, insurers and government. I’ve studied this problem for thirty years as a consumer, a salesman, an advocate, a public servant and an advisor to insurance companies. The politicians, insurers, lawyers, and providers will never act to create real change without a paradigm shift. They will never act until Americans demand it.
· First, they have to admit that the structure that forces employers to manage the health care needs of employees is outmoded and decaying rapidly. It is putting the future of American businesses and their employees at extreme risk.
· Second, Federal and State governments need to recognize that solving the problem doesn’t mean taking over the system. Perpetuating a failed program with a new boss – especially one that demonstrates ineptitude through prior failure – is dumber than dumb.
· Third, insurance companies can’t expect to manage risk – the primary function of insurance – when they spend so much of the premium they collect on administration and paying for pre-paid services that are mandated by government or market demands These pre-paids do not represent true risk.
· Fourth, the providers of health care charge more than they need to because the system puts them at risk of loss due to trivial law suits for errors that ignore our human limitations and imposes administrative overhead caused by the cumbersome structure of the insurance, legal, and regulatory systems.
· Fifth, the American consumer of health care fails to realize that the system is the problem. They blame the problems they face on government, insurance companies, or providers. They demand service and take little personal responsibility because they believe that the system should care for them.
A completely new model that addresses these five key issues and costituencies by restructuring the way we provide health care is entirely within our reach. Such a system would have these elements:
· First, employers would not be required to provide health insurance to their employees but would receive tax incentives – deductions and/or credits – to provide basic services such as annual physical exams, routine childcare, innoculations, preventative care counseling, etc. The federal agency that acts as overseer of this program would decide their exact makeup based on a wellness model. Local health care professionals could provide these services economically on a contract basis.
· Second, federal, and state governments could provide individual Americans with guaranteed coverage in the event of catastrophic illness that incurred expenses above a certain limit. This also allows the insurance carriers to provide coverage to everyone regardless of their medical conditions.
· Third, federal, and state governments in partnership with insurance companies could fund this program by creating a pool of money to that end.
o The federal government could provide funding through taxation.
o The state could supplement the federal contribution and provide oversight and administration.
o The insurance carriers could select a limit for the coverage that they would provide for all of their insured clients [not based on individual considerations] and pay a per-capita premium into the fund accordingly.
· Fourth, the system would protect health care providers from frivolous lawsuits and extraordinary malpractice insurance claims, lowering their cost of doing business and therefore the cost to the consumer and to the system.
· Fifth, every American could receive a small – perhaps $1,000.00 – subsidized medical savings account at birth that the federal and state governments and the insurance carriers would fund from the pool of money discussed earlier.
o The money in these accounts would escape all federal and state taxation during the life of the individual account holder.
o The money in these accounts would pay for medical expenses that insurance or employer wellness plans didn’t cover or for expenses incurred during periods of unemployment.
o Each individual could make additional contributions of after tax dollars at will. Others could make contributions of after tax dollars as gifts. At death, the individual could pass the money that remained in the account tax free to another person’s or several other person’s medical savings accounts.
Yes, there are holes in this system. Most challenging is what to do about those who refuse to join the program, non-citizens that are in America illegally, and people who just don’t have any money to pay the insurance premium. It will take the work of dedicated actuaries, analysts, and rate-makers to flesh it out and make it more than a sketch on a napkin. But, this is America. We solve our problems. Perhaps a Steven Jobs, Walton Family, Bill Gates, Oprah, or Warren Buffet will come forth, as T. Boone Pickens has with the energy problem, and champion a paradigm change that will once again make American medical care the envy of and model for the rest of the world.
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” Wall Street, 1987
The SEC is a Behemoth that works for other Behemoths, in particular the major Wall Street firms and their minions. The SEC, along with its junior partner FINRA, wear the mantel of a Robin Hood while concurrently robbing everyone in the neighborhood by supporting the self serving aims of the Behemoths. Now they want to get control of another bag of money.
‘Sheryl Moore, chief executive of AnnuitySpecs.com, estimates there were $25.1 billion in indexed annuities sold in 2007, down about $2 billion from their peak in 2005. While sales decreased, last year total indexed annuity assets reached $123 billion according to the SEC.”
Furor builds on SEC indexed annuity oversight plan
By EILEEN AJ CONNELLY, Associated Press http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2008/09/08/ap5400800.html
The SEC claims that its aim is to protect consumers by further regulating an insurance product on the rather flimsy claim that Indexed Annuities are funded by investments.
All insurance products are funded by investments. The simple fact is that the Wall Street wizards, who brought you the current credit and housing crises, now want to ‘fix’ the indexed annuity market.
The Wall Street Behemoths, who will be no more open and clear in their explanation of this product than current state regulations require, want to capture all that annuity money for themselves.
Consumers will actually lose since the Wall Street wonks will dishonestly demonstrate that these products don’t perform as well as the failed mutual fund industry, ETF’s and fee based advisors, thereby recovering the $123 billion that Wall Street’s Behemoths have been unable to get their greedy hands on.
American’s have been duped into believing that the SEC/FINRA are the watchdogs they were originally intended to be. They are not. They have morphed into watchdogs for the Wall Street Behemoths and their aim has become protecting the Behemoths from lawsuits by consumers as opposed to protecting consumers from the subterranean subterfuges of the Wall Street Behemoths.
Having said all that, it is clear also that the Indexed Annuity business is plagued with charlatans and snake oil sales reps that create a problem for the majority. The states have been too slow to effectively regulate these products and the people who sell them. The answer, however, is not to add a layer of bureaucracy that answers to the Behemoths.
Here’s a story that should make you madder than h… and wake you up to the reality that is the credit card business.
A businessperson applied for and received an Advanta credit card with a low permanent rate of 7.99% – not an introductory rate, a low permanent rate.
- The card was used to pay all of the businesses expenses and was paid in full periodically as cash flow allowed; ususally each month or so.
- All payments were made on time and the credit limit was never exceeded.
- There were no cash advances taken and the “courtesy checks” that came with almost every bill, and which carry usurious rates, were summarily shredded as they were received.
- The businesspersons’s credit score was in the high 700′s and the business itself had never had any kind of negative report from any credit reporting agency or vendor.
So, what did Advanta do? They raised the rate to over 20% with a two week notice and with no justification other than “We adjust rates based on a variety of factors.”
Here’s the reality.
- You have NO CONTROL of the money that is tied up by credit card companies or of the rates they can charge you for the use of that money.
- Credit card issuers can raise your rate for NO REASON AT ALL and with minimal notice.
- Unlike the fixed or variable rate mortgage on your home, the terms of the mortgage on your paycheck that credit card companies hold can be changed by them without cause or limit – that’s right, they can charge you 100% if they wish.
Credit is a trap. You cannot win the credit game and you cannot escape unless you learn to be your own credit grantor; to be your own bank. It’s not as hard as it sounds or appears. You have to change your mind about money and adopt The Money for Life Plan thatl lets You Be The Bank. I know this is a commercial of sorts, but I also know that those who follow this approach are rocking comfortably on the front porch while others are sneaking out the back door to avoid the bill collectors.
By the way, the businessperson cancelled the credit card, paid off the balance and now relies entirely on her own bank.
The Money for Life Plan
America is addicted to investments they can’t control and debt they may never repay.
As you will see shortly, T. Boone Pickens has committed $58,000,000.00 to promote a plan to wean America from foreign oil in ten years.
The Money for Life Plan weans individual Americans from the Debt Paradigm almost immediately. [It's not as expensive.]
In both cases the process begins when a person – or in the case of the Pickens’ Plan – when a country changes its mind.
The Money for Life Plan lets YouBeTheBank and gain control of the money that flows through your life. It relies on the individual family re-thinking what works and what doesn’t regardless of the “conventional wisdom” that the Behemoths – large government, unions and business – want you to believe.
The Pickens Plan flies in the face of the “conventional wisdom” of Washington DC. The Pickens Plan aims to keep American money in America by converting electric power generation from natural gas to power generated by wind and solar, then converting petroleum driven vehicles to natural gas.
Both plans rely on the same principle.
The Pickens Plan believes that it’s essential for our nation to regain control of its energy and stop sending $700,000,000,000.00 of our wealth oversees every year.
The Money for Life Plan believes that it’s essential for individual American families to stop putting their money into investments they don’t control and debt they may never repay.
Below is a detailed description of the Pickens Plan. I encourage you to read it, recognize the wisdom it contains, and sign on to support it. It is worth your time and attention.
I also encourage you to visit www.YouBeTheBank.com and learn about The Money for Life Model. I don’t have $58,000,000.00 to promote this idea and the book that describes it Money Now, Money Later, Money for Life! How to thrive in good times and bad so I’m hoping you’ll discover some value there and tell a friend.
The Pickens Plan
America is addicted to foreign oil.
It’s an addiction that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security. It touches every part of our daily lives and ties our hands as a nation and a people.
The addiction has worsened for decades and now it’s reached a point of crisis.
In 1970, we imported 24% of our oil.
Today it’s nearly 70% and growing.
As imports grow and world prices rise, the amount of money we send to foreign nations every year is soaring. At current oil prices, we will send $700 billion dollars out of the country this year alone — that’s four times the annual cost of the Iraq war.
Projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion — it will be the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.
America uses a lot of oil. Every day 85 million barrels of oil are produced around the world. And 21 million of those are used here in the United States.
That’s 25% of the world’s oil demand. Used by just 4% of the world’s population.
Can’t we just produce more oil?
World oil production peaked in 2005. Despite growing demand and an unprecedented increase in prices, oil production has fallen over the last three years. Oil is getting more expensive to produce, harder to find and there just isn’t enough of it to keep up with demand.
The simple truth is that cheap and easy oil is gone.
What’s the good news?
The United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power.
Studies from around the world show that the Great Plains States are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world — by far.
The Department of Energy reports that 20% of America’s electricity can come from wind. North Dakota alone has the potential to provide power for more than a quarter of the country.
Today’s wind turbines stand up to 410 feet tall, with blades that stretch 148 feet in length. The blades collect the wind’s kinetic energy. In one year, a 3-megawatt wind turbine produces as much energy as 12,000 barrels of imported oil.
Wind power currently accounts for 48 billion kWh of electricity a year in the United States — enough to serve more than 4.5 million households. That is still only about 1% of current demand, but the potential of wind is much greater.
A 2005 Stanford University study found that there is enough wind power worldwide to satisfy global demand 7 times over — even if only 20% of wind power could be captured.
Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20% of the electricity for the United States at a cost of $1 trillion. It would take another $200 billion to build the capacity to transmit that energy to cities and towns.
That’s a lot of money, but it’s a one-time cost. And compared to the $700 billion we spend on foreign oil every year, it’s a bargain.
An economic revival for rural America.
Developing wind power is an investment in rural America.
To witness the economic promise of wind energy, look no further than Sweetwater, Texas.
Sweetwater was typical of many small towns in middle-America. With a shortage of good jobs, the youth of Sweetwater were leaving in search of greater opportunities. And the town’s population dropped from 12,000 to under 10,000.
When a large wind power facility was built outside of town, Sweetwater experienced a revival. New economic opportunity brought the town back to life and the population has grown back up to 12,000.
In the Texas panhandle, just north of Sweetwater, is the town of Pampa, where T. Boone Pickens’ Mesa Power is currently building the largest wind farm in the world.
In addition to creating new construction and maintenance jobs, thousands of Americans will be employed to manufacture the turbines and blades. These are high skill jobs that pay on a scale comparable to aerospace jobs.
Plus, wind turbines don’t interfere with farming and grazing, so they don’t threaten food production or existing local economies.
A cheap new replacement for foreign oil.
The Honda Civic GX Natural Gas Vehicle is the cleanest internal-combustion vehicle in the world according to the EPA.
Natural gas and bio-fuels are the only domestic energy sources used for transportation.
Natural gas is the cleanest transportation fuel available today.
According to the California Energy Commission, critical greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas are 23% lower than diesel and 30% lower than gasoline.
Natural gas vehicles (NGV) are already available and combine top performance with low emissions. The natural gas Honda Civic GX is rated as the cleanest production vehicle in the world.
According to NGVAmerica, there are more than 7 million NGVs in use worldwide, but only 150,000 of those are in the United States.
The EPA estimates that vehicles on the road account for 60% of carbon monoxide pollution and around one-third of hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions in the United States. As federal and state emissions laws become more stringent, many requirements will be unattainable with conventionally fueled vehicles.
Since natural gas is significantly cleaner than petroleum, NGVs are increasing in popularity. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach recently announced that 16,800 old diesel trucks will be replaced, and half of the new vehicles will run on alternatives such as natural gas.
Natural gas is significantly less expensive than gasoline or diesel. In places like Utah and Oklahoma, prices are less than $1 a gallon. To see fueling stations and costs in your area, check out cngprices.com.
Natural gas is our country’s second largest energy resource and a vital component of our energy supply. 98% of the natural gas used in the United States is from North America. But 70% of our oil is purchased from foreign nations.
Natural gas is one of the cleanest, safest and most useful forms of energy — residentially, commercially and industrially. The natural gas industry has existed in the United States for over 100 years and continues to grow.
Domestic natural gas reserves are twice that of petroleum. And new discoveries of natural gas and ongoing development of renewable biogas are continually adding to existing reserves.
While it is a cheap, effective and versatile fuel, less than 1% of natural gas is currently used for transportation.
We currently use natural gas to produce 22% of our electricity. Harnessing the power of wind to generate electricity will give us the flexibility to shift natural gas away from electricity generation and put it to use as a transportation fuel — reducing our dependence on foreign oil by more than one-third.
How do we get it done?
The Pickens Plan is a bridge to the future — a blueprint to reduce foreign oil dependence by harnessing domestic energy alternatives, and buy us time to develop even greater new technologies.
Building new wind generation facilities and better utilizing our natural gas resources can replace more than one-third of our foreign oil imports in 10 years. But it will take leadership.
On January 20th, 2009, a new President will take office.
We’re organizing behind the Pickens Plan now to ensure our voices will be heard by the next administration.
Together we can raise a call for change and set a new course for America’s energy future in the first hundred days of the new presidency — breaking the hammerlock of foreign oil and building a new domestic energy future for America with a focus on sustainability.
You can start changing America’s future today by supporting the Pickens Plan. Join now.
Generally this blog deals with issues relating to money, saving, investing and the general economy and how that relates to your personal economy. Today’s blog digresses a bit from the norm but not really too far. It recounts a story I’ve heard several times about how one man used some of the money in his personal economy with great results. It inspires me and perhaps it will inspire you too.
I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprizing a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes, but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.
‘Hello Barry, how are you today?’
‘H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas. They sure look good.’
‘They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?’
‘Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.’
‘Good. Anything I can help you with?’
‘No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.’
‘Would you like take some home?’ asked Mr. Miller.
‘No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ‘em with.’
‘Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?’
‘All I got’s my prize marble here.’
‘Is that right? Let me see it’ said Miller.
‘Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.’
‘I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?’ the store owner asked.
‘Not zackley but almost.’
‘Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble’, Mr. Miller told the boy.
‘Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.’
Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile said, ‘There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store.’
I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles. Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one.
Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the Funeral Home we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.
Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts…all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband’s casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the Funeral Home awkwardly, wiping his eyes.
Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband’s bartering for marbles.
With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.
‘Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size….they came to pay their debt.’
‘We’ve never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,’ she confided, ‘but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho’.
With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.
The Moral : We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds.
Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Wishing you Health, Abundance, Love and Light…
“There’s no crying in Baseball!” A League of Their Own, 1992
The baseball season is long and strenuous. Players, coaches and teams have to pace themselves. They recognize that one game in a long season – win or lose – is less important than consistently winning more than they lose. More importantly, a team has to win more than the other teams in their division if they want to get to the playoffs, compete for the league championship and make it to the World Series. We’ll get back to that in a paragraph or two.
The baseball season is like your financial season from the time you wake up to the reality that your financial future is in your own hands, till the time you pass on to the next world and pay forward the wisdom and wealth you accumulated during your earthly existence. So, like baseball, you don’t expect to win every time you make a decision about money and investing. What you aim for is consistently winning more than you lose – right?
Wrong. In many baseball seasons a team that lost its opening game and chanted the mantra, “It’s a long season; you can’t win ‘em all,” ended the season one half game out of first place, missed the playoffs, the league championship and the World Series. Every game counts and every financial decision counts.
Moreover, when a team prospers through the season and gets into the division playoffs, they are subject to defeat in the short term. And so it goes through division play and into the Series; victory or defeat is just the swing of the bat away. There are thirty teams in Major League Baseball but only one winner in the end.
So, also, when you get to the point where you want to live off your money and investments instead of your labor, you can have a great season right up to the end and lose in the short term. So, conclude for yourself that the short term is both more important and more manageable than the long term. Having money that you control in the short term is more important than having “long-term” investments that you don’t control, and that someone else – perhaps with motives that don’t serve you - does.
Every baseball team knows that winning or losing a single game could well leave them in front of their TV instead of in the dugout during the playoffs. Americans need to recognize that managing their money so that they don’t lose it is more important than hoping that some investment over which they have no control will miraculously get them into the playoffs and make them winners in the World Series of wealth building.
America has been duped into believing that is OK to lose money, that waiting out ‘the market’ is a strategy that serves them; that the future is assured if only they ‘stay the course.’
Americans need to wrest control of their money from the Behemoths that have seduced them into believing that bigger is smarter or better than they are, and that the Behemoths should be the custodians of Americans’ money instead of the individual Americans themselves.
“Go ahead, make my day.” Sudden Impact, 1983
It’s the 4th of July weekend and I’m getting pretty darn mad at the 535 Cowards in Congress. We Americans are willing to follow leaders who look out for us and the country but are tired to the bone of the Dolts in DC who spend most of their time and much of our money trying to damage the opposition and get themselves re-elected.
Gas prices are going through the roof. Food from afar – and every other item that arrives in a truck, plane, train, or automobile – is going up because gas prices are going up. Iran is threatening to squeeze the supply routes and put severe economic pressure on the world. Saudi Arabia refuses to increase production. Hugo Chavez is a fruitcake in a bowling shirt and wants nothing more than to prove that socialism is somehow better than democracy, state run everything is better than liberty and watching America suffer is better than TV.
The world – not just America – runs on oil. America currently consumes more oil per-capita – than any other country, but that is rapidly changing. China and India are increasingly demanding more oil and putting serious pressure on the supply and demand equation. Europe wants to become the dominant economic power in the world and needs an ever-increasing supply of oil to do that. Developing countries want and need more oil to build their economies.
So, here are the oil producing countries staring down America and Americans – and the rest of the world too – and threatening us with subtle and not so subtle “Make my day” threats while Congress debates and discusses what the rest of the world has proven;
nuclear energy works safely,
deep water drilling is economical and safe (Katrina proved that),
shale oil is extractable economically and ecologically,
ANWAR can be explored and could produce enough oil to take care of America for the decades it needs to develop alternatives that are less invasive – and fund the salvation of the polar bears in the process if that’s truly needed
and, finally, if we have leaders with the will, America will rise to the occasion and become the world’s leader in those alternative forms of energy
What does all that mean for us? American’s are going to suffer economic hardship in the short term because of the inaction and ineffectiveness of the Cowards in Congress. This problem’s been with us since the 1970′s and the Dolts in DC could have solved it ten times over if they had the courage to do so.
There’s darn little that individuals can do about it in their personal economies other than adopt a conservative financial strategy that cuts back on
consumer goods spending for cars, furniture, and luxuries
- saving money
- buying a house
- paying off the mortgage
at the top of the list, while other costly practices like
· investing in maybe-it’ll-grow mutual funds,
· the latest “Whatever 101″ miracle money making scheme,
· can’t-lose annuities that tie up your money for years, if not decades,
move to the dustbin.
Remember, when times get rough you need ready cash money and not the maybe-money from investments that guarantee only that they guarantee nothing.
The Role of Government
“Badges? We ain’t got no badges! We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin badges!” The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948
The people in the Capital of the United States of America and in the capitals of the states and territories are elected to conserve the American capital that supports the government that serves the people.
Civil servants manage that capital based on the guidance provided by the executive and legislative branches of government, but they can only conserve what the law allows. Many of our elected officials in Washington and in the 50 states are not even trying to conserve America’s capital.
Civil servants occasionally fall to their own greed and ego. Elected officials and their appointees do it on a regular basis. They feel that they don’t have to justify their greed and their egos. They hide bribery dollars in their freezers and complain when the FBI finds them. They carry on affairs with their lovers and appoint them to sensitive posts and feel fully justified. They support prostitutes in criminal enterprises that they are sworn to destroy. They coerce legislation for bridges to nowhere.
The list goes on. They “don’t need no badges!”
The Role of “We the People…”
Meanwhile the American people are struggling to pay their mortgages, buy groceries and gasoline, and create enough capital of their own so they don’t have to rely on the government.
Kevin and Cindy
Take Kevin and Cindy. At he young age of 60, Kevin fell to a disabling disease. Cindy, who was semi-retired, had to return to full time work to maintain a health insurance plan to cover Kevin’s substantial medical and medication costs.
Fortunately Kevin was granted Social Security disability benefits after 18 months and became eligible for Medicare. That saved Cindy the almost $300.00 she had to pay each month to have Kevin on her health plan. But their future isn’t all that rosey. Cindy will have to work for at least another five years before she can claim her retirement benefits at a level that will support the couple. If Kevin’s condition worsens, as it likely will, then the family may have to liquidate most of their meager assets and move him to a Medicaid long term care facility.
America is the richest country in the world and Americans, even those at the lower income levels, live better than folks in other parts of the world. Our elected officials, however, willingly waste the capital of the country on
- foolish projects,
- their own re-election campaigns,
- their personal aggrandizement and securing their own futures,
- kowtowing to business lobbies (like the oil interests) and rabid America haters in fringe groups (like those funded by George Soros) and, perhaps worst of all,
- they use all of thier left over energy - and our financial resources - trying to defeat and embarrass those they do not agree with in other branches of government.
“We the People…” Deserve Better
Kevin, Cindy and the rest of us deserve better. If America’s legislators were honest in their dealings, they could allocate America’s capital to assure that every American is able to care for themselves and their loved ones when life delivers a surprise at their front door. They could allow us to control of the money that flows through our lives and care for ourselves without government intervention.
The Safe and Easy Path to Prosperity
You can do this for yourself today by following the principles and practices of EUREKONOMICS™ found in Money for Life…how to Thrive in Good Times and Bad
by Jeffrey Reeves MA, EUREKONOMIST
Now accepting orders for Money for Life…(Thrive) in good times and bad –> www.TheMoneyForLifeBook.com