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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

In May of 2008 this blog awakened its readers to an idea that is now being recognized after decades of being dismissed.  Fact is, if you had followed this practice through the ’80s and ’90s you would be well ahead of those that followed conventional wisdom.
Jeffrey Kosnett only implies the power, flexibility, and versatility of whole life insurance in his recent article in Kiplinger Magazine.  If you want the whole story I recommend the book Money for Life, which explains the idea in full detail and is changing the lives of Americans for the better all across America.
10 Financial Myths Busted
( Page 2 of 2 )
MYTH 6. Life insurance is not a good investment. This canard spread as 401(k)s and IRAs supplanted cash-value life insurance as Americans’ most popular ways to build savings while deferring taxes. True, the investment side of an insurance policy has higher built-in expenses than mutual funds do. But two factors point to a revival of insurance as an investment. One is guaranteed-interest credits on cash values, which means that if you pay the premiums, you cannot lose money unless the insurance company fails (see “Savings Guarantees You Can Trust,” on page 55). The other is the boom in life settlements. If you’re older than 65, you can often sell the insurance contract to a third party for several times its cash value — and pay taxes on the difference at low capital-gains rates.

Truth: A good investment is one in which you put money away now and have more later. Checked your 401(k) lately?

by Jeffrey Reeves, youBEthebank.com, ltd.

Financial Literacy

Knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are complimentary and synergistic.  However, it should be clear that only wisdom embodies the qualities of all three.  It is possible to have an abundance of knowledge, deep understanding, and a complete lack of wisdom.

NAZI Germany (and successors totalitarian governments around the world today) demonstrated this gap most shockingly when it applied knowledge of what is required to sustain human life and understanding of how to eliminate those requirements to annihilate six million Jewish and other human beings.  Wisdom was absent.

When discussing knowledge, understanding, and wisdom as they relate to personal economics, considering the role of education is essential.  21st century Americans do not understand money.  One of America’s leading commentators on money, wealth, and business in general said this:

“In most cases, when people make more money, they get deeper in debt.” – Robert Kiyosaki

These folks have knowledge and understanding but a serious deficit in wisdom.

Nonsense from VP  Joe Biden and Others

Our educators, legislators, unions, big businesses, and government bureaucracies have led Americans down a similar path to financial ruin.  Many Americans’ personal economies are already broken and the US government is following a fools path to financial ruin with its insistence that “We the people” need more debt.

“Now, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’. The answer is yes, that’s what I’m telling you.” – VP Joe Biden

Debt Equals Loss of Liberty

The foundation for a personal (or national) economy is money that you control.  Debt is money that others control.  Worse still, it is money that you actually pay those others to control.  You give up your libertyand pay others to do so as if it were a privilege.

Alternative to Debt

EUREKONOMICS™ teaches that money serves you in four – and only four – ways.

  1. It serves to eliminate debt and regain control of money that was previously ceded to others.
  2. It serves as ready cash to deal with life’s surprisingly unsurprising surprises – unexpected expenses and opportunities.
  3. It serves to deliver inflation protected income at a time of your choosing that you don’t have to work for and you can’t outlive.
  4. Finally – in every sense – your money and your wisdom about money allow you to deliver a legacy to those you care most about.

Debt is financial death and the death of liberty.  Presidents, Vice Presidents, legislators, union bosses, big business execs, and individual Americans that fail to recognize this fact lack knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Jeffrey Reeves

Dennis Prager recently commented that he has been carrying American values around in his pocket for his entire adult life.  To clarify he reminded his audience that those values appear on the coins and currency of the United States: Liberty, E Pluribus Unum, In God We Trust. He referred to these values as the American Trinity.

These observations seem most appropriate at this time in the history of America.  It’s also most interesting that Dennis Prage linked these values to the US of A’s coinage and currency.  Particularly, the idea of liberty relates directly to money.  When the government controls the money that Americans rely on for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, those inalienable rights of Americans are diminished.

In fact, throughout the recorded history of mankind, when governments control the citizenry by controlling the money that those citizens produce, those governments become facist, autocratic, repressive – even murderous.  We need only observe what’s going on in Zimbabwe, Venezuala, Iran, and North Korea today.

What’s going on in Washington DC is also disturbing.  America is on the brink of the greatest loss of liberty in its 233 year history; a loss that would be mourned equally by Democratic icons Jefferson and Jackson and equally by Lincoln, the soul of the Republicane party.  The more of our money that the US Congress and the Executive Branch controls, the less liberty we have.

It makes me proud to see and hear American citizens shouting down the puppets of the political parties and demanding the transparency and honesty we were promised during the 2008 campaign.  It will make me ecstatic when the US Congress backs away from the failed strategy that is on the table now, August, 2009.

That will only happen if Americans continue to challenge the Washington oligarchy that continues to deny we the people our voice.

“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.”

http://www.lifeandhealthinsurancenews.com/News/2009/5/Pages/NAFA-Pans-FINRA-Draft.aspx

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.

“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.”

http://www.lifeandhealthinsurancenews.com/News/2009/5/Pages/NAFA-Pans-FINRA-Draft.aspx

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 do the job without risk and without worry.

American citizens and their 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 SEC and in DC to grab control. We should instead be looking for a “soulution” that lets the state insurance departments maintain authority and allows individual Americans to maintain control of their saving and insurance programs.

If individual Americans don’t watch these regulators “like a hawk,” pretty soon we will allow the Feds take every authority away from individuals and the individual 50 states and our freedom will go with them.

Perhaps, therefore, the answer to the ongoing challenge of FINRA and the power-grabbers in DC is for every citizen to encourage their advisors to withdraw from the arena FINRA and the SEC control. The fewer professional insurance and financial advisors (yes, you can be a true financial advisor without any securities registrations) these power hungry bureaucracies control, the less power they wield.

By Jeffrey Reeves

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.

Gary D. Halbert’s Forecasts & Trends…

Ideas are strengthened when they are endorsed by informed experts.  Gary Halbert has been proving for a very long time that the buy and hold strategy is flawed.  Below is an excerpt from another of his brilliant articles on this topic.

Unspoken by Mr. Halbert but obvious from the article is the corollary that most Americans should not be investing in the first place.

Recognize that investing for the long term is an oxymoron.  If you had used the buy and hold strategy starting in 1998 and planned to rely on your investments for income in 2009, you would have less money today than you invested over the past ten years.  You would have lost money.  Your $200,000.00 investment could be worth less than $90,000.00.

On the flip side, if you had prudently placed you money in a quality whole life insurance policy you could have almost $250,000.00 in cash values growing tax free and readily accessible for income, opportunities, emegencies, or a legacy for those you care most about.

America has been bamboozled by the shennanigans of the chalatans and scallyways of Wall Street for too long.  It’s time to return to America’s fundamental financial model – save, build equity in your home, finance only when it’s absolutley essential, invest only form assets and never from earnings or ready reserves.

Gary D. HalbertForecasts & Trends E-Letter

More Buy-And-Hold Myths Debunked

by Gary D. Halbert

March 24, 2009

“…Unfortunately, this has not slowed the flood of misinformation being distributed by the usual suspects in an effort to support buy-and-hold investment strategies. It seems that the more I write about skewed articles, studies, etc., the more examples I see of them being generated by Wall Street and the brokerage community to sway unsuspecting investors. [emphasis added]

I recently received an e-mail from a major mutual fund family promoting the buy-and-hold concept. While I am not at all surprised that a mutual fund company would be trying to keep investors in their funds, I was disappointed to see that the argument used was a very old, and thoroughly discredited line of reasoning known as don’t miss the best days in the market.”

I’m not going to disclose the company that published the e-mail I received, but it really doesn’t matter. You can look in the archives of virtually any major brokerage firm or mutual fund family and likely see similar titles. As I pointed out in the March 3 E-letter, it’s in their best interests for you to stay invested, even though doing so may not be in your best interest. Thus, you need to look out for your own best interest when you deal with them.”

Buy and Hold?  Long term?  Whom do you want to make wealthy?

I encourage you to follow this link to the full article.

Jeffrey Reeves

The following comment was submitted by an advisor in response to a recent article by Dr Agon Fly that appeared on ProducersWeb, a financial industry forum.  I believe it could be useful for anyone interested in understanding life insurance policies and – more importantly -  in securing their future.  

ProducersWeb wrote:

What about U.S. Treasury decision 1743 that states that a dividend from a life insurance policy is nothing more than a return of a deliberate overcharge of premium imposed by mutual company?

I’ve been unable to track down the reference made in your comment. It is true, however, that dividends from a mutual company are considered a return of unneeded premium. Your use of inflamitory terms like “nothing more” and “deliberate overcharge,” and “imposed” are, however, off base [at best].

Let’s add some perspective. If a mutual company and a stock company both offer whole life contracts, have the same or similar mortality charges, administrative costs, reserve requirements and guaranteed cash value commitments, the cost of the policies would be about the same for both insurers.

The stock company with the non-par policy would, however, still charge more than their base costs to make sure they made a profit to propell the business. It would also have to charge some excess premium to pay taxable stock dividends to their shareholders. You, as the policy owner would, therfore be paying “nothing more than a deliberate overcharge imposed by the insurer” and receiving nothing in return for having paid the excess.

The mutual company would also charge extra premium to propell its business for the benefit of its policy owners [as opposed to outside investors] and, unlike the stock company, would return that extra premium to the policy owners as a tax-free dividend.

Which would I prefer? I’d rather the return of the “overcharge” be reinvested in my policy than paid to an outside shareholder.

I hope this adds a bit of perspective. Many advisors across America recognize participating cash value whole life insurance as the most versatile, flexible and powerful financial tool available to Americans who want to…

 

    gain control of the money that flows through their lives,
    become free from debt-to-others,
    secure an income protected from inflation and that they cannot outlive,
    assure ready cash for life’s surprisingly unsurprising surprises, and
    create a legacy of both wisdom and wealth to pay forward to those they care most about.

These advisors study and understand every form of life insurance available in the market today. They do not disparage any of them since each may have a place in an individual client’s personal economy.

These advisors believe that it is every professional advisor’s duty and responsibility to know and fully understand all of the financial products that may be available to their clients. How else could they make honest recommendations?

 

I regularly receive questions that reference The Infinite Banking ConceptTM of R. Nelson Nash.  The Money for Life Model of Financial Management guides its adherents on a path similar to the one Mr. Nash suggests.

A visitor to our web site recently submitted a series of clear and precise questions about three of the core concepts found in both programs; the Paid Up Additions Rider, guaranteed cash values and policy loan interest.  The complexity of each of these makes sense to well-informed agent/advisors, but may befuddle a consumer – or as the questioner puts it a “normal guy.”  [Hmmm!  Does that mean those of us who call ourselves advisors are "abnormal guys?"?]

The questions and comments of the visitor who wrote to me are indented and in quotes.

“The first thing I am interested in is a “normal guy’s” explanation of a Paid Up Additions [PUA] rider.  I cannot believe all the stuff that has been written about Infinite Banking that is lacking a clear explanation of just how it works.”

A reading of Money for Life…How to thrive in good times and bad would help clear up some of the ‘normal guy’s” questions you have.

“There are certain questions I have:

What is a PUA?”

A PUA has a variety of names.  Basically, a paid up additions rider is a single premium insurance policy that is purchased with separate premium contributions in excess of the premium required by the base policy to which the PUA rider is attached.  A PUA generally has minimal cost associated with it [commissions, policy issue fees, etc.], which makes it a most efficient way to increase both the death benefit and the cash value available for use as your ‘bank.’

There are wide varieties of restrictions and limitations on this rider form by different companies.  Some of these riders lapse if they are not exercised, which means that you have to contribute each year or you forfeit the option to contribute in any subsequent year.  Others allow partial contributions or include ‘catch-up’ provisions in case you miss a portion or even all of one year’s deposit.

Purchasing paid up additions using the PUA rider may put a policy in jeopardy of becoming a modified endowment contract [MEC].  This would result in the policy losing the benefits that make cash value life insurance so powerful and flexible as a cash accumulation and cash management tool.

“What does it mean that the policy is ‘engineered to increase in value every year.’?”

Whole life contracts are designed to guarantee an increase in the basic cash value each year.  In the early years of most policies, the cash value increase is minimal due to the structure of the policy issue process, the long-term cash accumulation strategy, and the commission program.

The policy that I most frequently recommend is specifically designed – or engineered – to create cash value in the first year.  This policy guarantees that about 90% of the base premium is credited to the guaranteed cash value in the first year and nearly 100% or more of the base premium in every year thereafter.  The annual contribution of the PUA contributes 93% of the annual premium to guaranteed cash value every year it is paid.

When I take a policy loan, do I or do I not have to pay the insurance company interest?  If yes, then does this interest go into my cash value or go somewhere else?”

It depends on the company, but generally it works something like this; interest on policy loans is always assessed.  If you fail to pay it, the outstanding interest and the policy loan itself are liabilities against both the cash value and the death benefit.  Most policies, however, continue to pay the guaranteed internal interest rate when a loan is outstanding.

In effect this means that the interest you pay the insurer is a refund of the interest the insurer credited your account while the money in your account was on loan to you.  The rate the insurance company charges you is generally a bit higher than the internal rate.  This is to make sure each policy owner covers the cost of managing the loan and other policy owners are not subsidizing loans in which they have no interest.

Loans and interest are often described using reference to the ‘banking’ process for simplicity.  It’s important that each advisor explain how it works with individual policies and loans.  It makes a great deal more sense when the policy owner can see the actual results.

Conclusion…

Whole life insurance, used as a fundamental component of your clients’ personal economic structures, is an extraordinarily powerful and flexible tool.  It is the Swiss Army Knife of financial products.

Over the past three decades or so the financial community’s understanding of whole life insurance has diminished dramatically.  Whole life insurance has been misrepresented by those who can’t or won’t sell it.

The financial mess in America today is the direct result of the failure of the financial community to support the traditional financial values, practices, and products that made America the greatest economy and country in history.  The greed on Wall Street jeopardizes our wealth and well-being as a nation and the wealth and well-being of “we the people.”

It’s time to again reclaim those values, reinstitute those practices, and recognize those financial products as essential to every successful personal economy.

If we fail at this we will fail completely.

The Economic Value of Time…

By Benjamin Franklin, Commentary by Jeffrey Reeves

Father Abraham’s recounting of the advice delivered by Poor Richard’s Almanac during its twenty five years of publication continues with some admonitions about chasing a life of leisure. These observations may be even more appropriate today than they were 250 years ago, when they were written.

“Methinks I hear some of you say, `Must a man afford himself no leisure?’ I will tell thee, my friend, what Poor Richard says, Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure; and, since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour.”

Right off the bat Father Abraham chastises the questioners. Leisure is the result of work but not its aim. If you want to have leisure time, beware wasting time at work because the hour spent on the internet, or reading the paper, or discussing last night’s game will lengthen your day at work and reduce your time of true relaxation with family and friends.

Self employed folks recognize this relationship more readily perhaps than those employed by others. It’s easy to measure the value of time wasted when it translates directly into lost opportunity, lost sales or extended hours completing a critical project for a revenue producing client.

It’s easy to measure the lost leisure time when the ‘leisure’ time spent at work keeps you from a golf date with friends, your child’s sports event or musical recital; when the long awaited anniversary dinner has to be postponed at the last minute; when the weekend barbecue goes on without the host, who had to go into the office.

There’s more from Father Abraham…

“Leisure is time for doing something useful;

Now there’s a mind bender for the modern American. Who thinks of leisure being ‘useful?’

As a starting point, let’s define ‘work’. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it this way; ‘activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something.’ Hmmm. According to that definition, everything is work. Playing tennis, watching TV, reading, wrestling with the kids, laying in the hammock taking a nap all require you to ‘exert,’ to ‘do.’

Father Abraham got it right again. All of those activities are useful all by themselves and all of them are work. Their leisure value comes from your intention and attitude, not from the activity itself. Their ‘useful’ aspect derives from the benefit you derive from the activity – the work – and perhaps from the control you exercise over the choice of activity.

There’s more…

“this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; for A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.

The option of having a choice about how to spend your time and energy results from being diligent. You’ve seen it a hundred times; the slacker remains a slacker all his or her life; the hard worker grows in stature at work and in the community. The slacker ends up with few choices and the diligent person with many.

Leisure is the reward of work and laziness is trying to gain the reward without doing the work, which – by way of observation – is just as much work as that done by the diligent person.

There’s more from Father Abraham on this topic…

“Many, without labor, would live by their wits only, but they break for want of stock; whereas industry gives comfort, and plenty, and respect.

Following Father Abraham’s thoughts from the last entry, it only makes sense that those who ‘live by their wits only’ and avoid labor eventually come to a bad end. Consider where the petty thieves, drug dealers, con artists, even organized crime bosses end up. ‘They break for want of stock.’ There’s nothing of value in their choices or their ‘work.’

Those who work diligently, on the other hand, and take control of their money, their time and their lives arrive at a different place.

Sometimes my workload writing, helping clients and mentoring other advisors is so heavy that I have to hire out some chores around the house. My favorite chore to hire out is mowing the lawn and trimming around the sidewalks, trees, planters and bushes.

The 72 year old man that does this work for me is a fine example of a person who has diligently made his way through life for the past four decades on his own terms. He is respected and admired by everyone who employs him, works only when he chooses based on his age and energy level, but lacks for neither money nor leisure.

Father Abraham makes one more point…

“Fly pleasures, and they will follow you. The diligent spinner has a large shift; and now I have a sheep and a cow, everybody bids me good morrow.”

I recently attended the 50th reunion of my high school graduating class. I was amazed and surprised that so many of my classmates remembered me for who and what I was 50 years ago. Some of those memories were accurate and others were not. The party girls from ’58 were still seen as party girls. The jocks were still the jocks. The elite still elite.

If you start out as a pleasure seeker you may never recover to be anything better in the eyes of the world. The ‘diligent spinner’ started, I’m thinking, with just one sheep. He worked hard, made wool enough to also buy a cow and now ‘everybody bids [him] good morrow.’

Here’s wishing you Health, Abundance, Love and Light as you work diligently toward fulfilling your mission in this life.

Jeffrey Reeves

Life’s that way. Surprisingly unsurprising surprises happen to all of us throughout our lives. They keep us from completing our work on time, being prepared for our kids education and our own retirement. Read the rest of this entry »

By Benjamin Franklin and Dr Agon Fly

I. Industriousness

It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service;

Benjamin Franklin and the other Founding Fathers didn’t have to deal with the IRS, state, county, township, city and district income taxes, taxes on gas, electricity, telephone service, internet access, cable and satellite service, water, sewer, gasoline, heating fuel, beer, wine, whiskey, tobacco, and sales tax on almost everything else thrown in just for good measure. Add to that the taxes on corporations, which are rolled into the price of their goods. Those taxes then get taxed again when you buy those goods.

Today’s governments in America take a lot more than ten percent of your time. They don’t require actual time. They take so much of the typical American’s work product – money for short – in the form of taxes that you really work for the government up to 50% of the time.

It can get even worse when you add in estate and inheritance taxes and probate fees and costs if you are financially successful and don’t have well informed and qualified advisors.

but idleness taxes many of us much more; sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears; while the used key is always bright, as Poor Richard says.

One thing hasn’t changed. No matter how much of your money the government takes, you are still responsible for your health and your own financial success or failure. That means you have to rely on your own work to produce enough income to care for yourself and your family if you have one.

Benjamin Franklin obviously refers to manual labor when he talks about ‘sloth brining on disease’, rust consuming faster than wear and tear, and saying the ‘used key is always bright.’ Many Americans don’t do manual labor. Finding a way to keep your key always bright is intrinsically your job, too.

A corollary to what Father Abraham teaches is that relying on government for health care or financial support is not a good idea. The more a government gives you personally the more it can take away.

 

 

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.

Cleaner

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.

Cheaper

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.

Domestic

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.

The Mechanics



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.

RED MARBLES

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.

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Wishing you Health, Abundance, Love and Light…

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