Did you see that? Look out! Duck! An asteroid almost crashed into the earth and wiped out the northeastern shores of the U.S.? The funny thing is is that asteroids have been ‘just’ missing the Earth for many, many years and yet, contrary to all the reports of our impending demise, we’re still living our lives to the best of our abilities. But wait. Are we? And for how long? Suffice it to say, the worst ever economic Depression is only moments away (tick, tick, tick) as we absorb this pending doom on our PDAs, iPods and technology centers. And, our new President somehow was able to do his best “I Dream of Jeannie” impersonation, crossed his arms, blinked his eyes, and Whamo, America is now a socialist state. Bankers, traders, and Ponsi-scheme and derivative makers alike are up in arms decrying our tax dollars being spent on American “losers” without health insurance, monthly mortgage or rental payments, and proper education for our nation’s children. Darn socialists, don’t you know Wall Street needs a few trillion dollars more to sock away for a rainy day?
By now you know the answer to my headline is FEAR! I know that most of you are now reciting in your mind a passage from John F. Kennedy’s first inaugural to the nation when he said, “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.” (I know it is Franklin Delano Roosevelt, just checking to see if you’re paying attention).
The question we must ask as a society, and finally answer, is “why is this country so infatuated with fear? Do we benefit from fear? If we are in a constant state of fear, how do we react? Rationally or irrationally? Does fear keep you on the fence? From self-directing your dwindling IRA dollars into real estate? From conducting a 1031 exchange?
In his book, “The Culture of Fear, Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things,” (Perseus Books, 1999) Barry Glassner writes, “the short answer to why Americans harbor so many misbegotten fears is the immense power and money await those who tap into our moral insecurities and supply us with symbolic substitutes.” Hmmm… immense power and money. Symbolic substitutes. Sound familiar?
Wait, there’s more. Glassner writes further, “statements of alarm by newscasters and glorification of wannabe experts are two telltale tricks of the fear mongers’ trade.” And you wonder why Rush Limbaugh is plastered all over the mainstream media as an expert who we should take seriously? But wait, how could that be when the media is liberal (wait, that’s a whole other story for another day — perhaps).
As a boy who looked forward to picking up government-issued blocks of cheese and baloney, and is currently having to wonder every day whether he will have work tomorrow, be able to pay the mortgage and provide his children with a college education, I would never downplay the tough times we’re faced with today. I would only ask that we temper “fear mongering” with sensibility. When we compare today to the days of The Great Depression it appears to be an over-exaggeration, bordering on, you guessed it, FEAR. Today’s unemployment is nowhere close to the 25% rate during the 1930s, and thankfully 99+ percent of Americans today are not in a bread line hoping to feed their families like a significant percentage of their ancestors.
If fear is keeping you on the investment fence, preventing you from self-directing IRA funds, or lulling you into thinking you should pay capital gains taxes, my advice is to drop the fear and buy/invest in real estate. As you know from reading this blog, real estate, if purchased well, continues to be the single best investment one can make.
Let’s eliminate “fear” so we can focus on the four-letter word that causes our society the most harm – HATE.
FDA-approved ‘food for thought.’