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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seniors Don't Need Help With or Protection From Fraud & Abuse

It seems necessary to again remind you that these blog titles are myths, they are not true.  This one is especially not true.  Which is why I just love this new website:

If you plug in your zip code, up pops a table of local resources for getting help and turning in crooks and abusers.  Elder abuse ranks way up there in the top sickest of crimes.  I don't understand it.  With the same amount of effort one could earn an honest living . . . and get to keep the income and stay out of jail as well.  I welcome any and all available tools to foil these awful people.  Please help by propagating this website.

Your Constructive Comments are Welcome!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Christian Financial Planning

The title of this post asserts nothing so it is more of a contradiction than a myth.

I know. I'm tugging on the tail of a hungry & rather grouchy lion. But this blog is intended to be controversial and challenging.  What could be more controversial and challenging than religion and money?  Case in point is "Christian" financial planning.

What is  "Christian" financial planning?  Oddly, none of the "Christian" financial planning websites I visited even mentioned Jesus.  Perhaps it was because Jesus' financial plan was quite clear:  Sell everything and give it to the poor (Matthew 19:21).  And then there's Jesus' metaphor of a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle having better odds than a rich man attempting to enter Heaven (Matt. 19:24). Not being a Biblical literalist- since I can't read Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek -from everything else I've read about him, I think Jesus was referring to attachment to or obsession with or love of money (or any other ego attachments for that matter) not just the mere possession of wealth. 

Here is the key point:  without emotional attachment to material wealth, you would indeed gain more happiness by relieving suffering, by giving, than from amassing and clinging to wealth.  (How contrary to the sadistic, stingy behavior so common in some supposedly religious circles today, no?)  Hence the camel metaphor. [Some scholars suspect a mistranslation- remember, this was an oral history -that instead of "camel" (kamilos) the Greek word was "kamelos" or rope. The metaphor still gets the idea across as neither rope nor camel will fit through the eye of a needle.  BTW, there is no scholarly basis for interpreting "needle" to mean "doorway", as the tour guides may tell you.] So is it unreasonable to ask this?:  Why would a "Christian" financial planner do his clients the massive disservice of encouraging attachment to wealth, thereby preventing their entry into Heaven?  (To be fair, several of the websites did emphasize the tax advantages of charitable giving.)

Here is where the grand contradiction occurs:  Self-labeling as "Christian financial planner" is meant to imply "Hey, you can trust me without knowing anything else about me!". But then, every Christian financial planning website I've reviewed reverts to mostly Old Testament "Biblical financial principles". That way they don't have to deal with Christ's rather simple wealth redistribution plan for which their services would be unnecessary.

Anyway, even if you use a "Biblical" financial adviser, insist on these basics:

  1. A holistic approach.  A good planner will ask lots of questions and deal with you as a whole person, not just as an investor or product consumer.  
  2. Unbiased advice, meaning driven by evidence and reason rather than production quotas.  Please base your trust on evidence and understanding, not warm & fuzzy buzzwords.
  3. A legal fiduciary who must put your best interests first, ahead of his own and his firm's.  Ask a lot of questions too, and assume nothing.

Your Constructive Comments are Welcome!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Corporate Sovereignty is Under Attack!

It is Good Friday indeed.  I am glad to say that the title of this post is true.  And none too soon.  When corporate sovereignty exceeds human integrity, then it is grossly out of balance.  Since when should paper fabrications have more influence than living things?  Shall we hazard a guess and say , "Never"?

This week the Securities and Exchange Commission fined KBR Inc. $130,000 for violation of an important provision of Dodd-Frank, Rule 21F-17:

"According to the SEC, KBR required witnesses in certain internal investigations and interviews to sign confidentiality statements with language warning that they could face discipline and even be fired if they discussed the matters with outside parties without the prior approval of KBR’s legal department."

Such a ridiculously piddling fine no doubt got a yawn from KBR, which was the number one recipient of mostly no-bid contracts in the illegal "war" in Iraq, to the tune of $39.5 billion.   However, the more important effect will be less suppression by all companies of whistleblowers nationwide.  These out-of-control behemoths would not survive without pillaging the Treasury, trampling competitors (through illegal restraint of trade & collusion, to name two of hundreds of ways).  So they should at the very least be forced to comply with federal & local regulations.

Is your employer breaking the law?  Or trying to make you do so?  Then turn 'em in to the appropriate regulatory and/or law enforcement agencies.  Help level the playing field for the rest of us who manage to make a living honestly.  The SEC just opened their doors a little wider for you.

Your Constructive Comments are Welcome!