IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS

Did you ever come across some information that you didn’t really want to know?
Did you ever wish so badly that something were true, that you actually believed that it was? When someone challenged you on its validity, did you ever say that THEY were lying to you?
Charles Simic, in an article titled “The Age of Ignorance,” in The New York Review, posted online March 20, 2014, said the political polarization in the United States has caused some parties to profess untruths as truths, to try to create an ignorant electorate.
Author Andy Andrews, in his book “How to Kill 11 Million People,” tells how Adolf Hitler killed that many Jews simply by lying to them.
It’s not uncommon for politicians, regardless of party or ideology, to lie. When the politicians start campaigning, one is hard pressed to know whether what they are saying is true. We are left to figure out the truth on our own.
We, as ordinary people, tell lies occasionally to suit our circumstances. When a lady asks you whether she looks fat in a particular dress, truth is not really what she is looking for. If you dare tell it, you do so at your peril.
No one would condemn you for “lying” in that circumstance. Other circumstances cry only for the truth. If you are selling something — and we all sell something at some time in our lives — we must tell the truth. Those who do not eventually get burned.
The saying goes that the truth will set you free. Why don’t many people in power believe that? Perhaps they don’t want people to be “free.” They perhaps want them held in the bondage of ignorance, as Simic asserts.
People of different faiths believe the “truth” of their faith. Yet, faith is defined as believing something is true, even if it is not proved. Science is defined as suspecting something to be true, then seeking to prove whether your hypothesis is correct.

So what should we, who seek the truth, do? Let’s get a few things set first.
Faith is good. We all need faith in something or someone. Our faith can often lead us to truth, even when we are not looking for it.
Science and education is good. Some of what we learn may contradict something our faith told us was true. Yet we as intelligent human beings can reconcile any differences. We can have strong faith AND still learn new things. Mostly, our faith should tell us to believe as we wish, and still interact with those who may not share our beliefs.
In short, we should always want to eeek and tell the truth. We should engage with others who seek and tell the truth. In some cases, we should humor those who kindly don’t seek the truth, and look with great skepticism on those who attempt to “create” truth from wishful thinking.
Power is not necessarily truth. We should seek truth over power, not power over truth. Facts may not lie, but if you try to make facts debatable, you may lack a solid conscience.
Simic and Andrews illustrate how lying can really hurt a society or a group of people. We as individuals must always know the truth. We must mix our core beliefs with that truth, and use that mixture to help others, and make ourselves the best people we can be. We will always encounter untruths. But we must always be strong enough to know what we know, and learn what we don’t know. That’s how good people are created and maintained.

Peter

P.S. For a dose of truth that may set you free, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau

SPENDING: YOURS, MINE, OURS

We’ve all been taught that spending less and saving more will increase our wealth over time. No one disputes that.
When we want to cut household spending, most of us prefer to do it gradually, rather than all at once. For example, we may decide to go to Starbucks three times a week, rather than five.
As we get used to three times a week, we may go down to two, then one, then none. Then, we see a Starbucks run as a real treat, and do it once in a while. After all, the coffee you bring in your Thermos may not be Starbucks, and you may long for a treat once in a while as a reward for your good behavior. It’s OK to splurge, but not as a habit.
The point is, we feel cuts in household spending directly. They are a real sacrifice, as we see them, but we do it for a better, long-term outcome.
Then, there is government spending. It can best be called a real illusion. Yes, real illusion is an oxymoron, but it applies here. First, the money is REAL, even though the government can print it at will. It’s yours, mine and ours. The illusion comes in the concept that we would not really feel cuts in government spending, since so much of it is waste, so it should be relatively easy to cut.
We can prove that by watching people who advocate government spending cuts in the aggregate, but when it cuts things close to where they live, they complain bitterly.
We can debate whether government should be so intertwined with the economy, but the fact is, it is. It is tough to reduce its importance to the overall economic well-being.
Many private industries, defense contractors, for example, have, as their largest customer, the government. Cuts in defense could affect lots of private sector jobs. And just watch the almost annual debate over cutting superfluous military bases. The communities, and states, in which those bases are located would be hurt badly, even though closing such bases makes perfect economic sense from afar. Perhaps those bases are outdated. Perhaps they are just not needed for the country’s defense. But the shopkeepers, restaurants and other businesses whose clientele lives or works at these bases often go out of business when their base closes.
UNNECESSARY GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS VS.HIGHER UNEMPLOYMENT
Many see certain government departments as unnecessary. Certainly, the usefulness of some agencies is debatable, but cutting such agencies in their entirety, all at once, would puts hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more people out of work in a job market that can’t find work for those currently idle.
Proponents of such spending cuts would simply accuse those laid-off government workers as having too easy a life for too long. The fact is, they were working before the cuts, and now they are not. What do you think would be the bigger problem as you see it?

Our personal spending, multiplied out over time and people, affects the economy. The local Starbucks wouldn’t likely go out of business if we cut back our spending there, but if EVERYONE did, it might be a different story. The point is that spending cuts are most palatable if done gradually, over time. If Starbucks anticipates that people would be cutting back their coffee runs over time, they could plan for it – perhaps by lowering prices and providing better benefits to keep people from doing it. If you are a Starbucks fan, and the prices were lowered, you’d be less likely to cut back because Starbucks is reducing the spending for you.
If you want to spend less, save more and make money at the same time, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau.
As with personal spending, government spending cuts should be incremental and gradual over time to make them more palatable. It’s been said that anyone can cut taxes. Anyone can raise taxes. Cutting spending, in a way that won’t have too many people screaming, is the real challenge. More people get re-elected because of spending, and securing aid for the home district, than by cutting taxes – or spending. Despite the criticism of earmark spending – look at how much of it was in the fiscal cliff deal – politicians rely on it.
The lesson here is to worry about spending in your own household. Saving more and spending less, as consumer adviser Clark Howard preaches on radio, television and in newspapers, is the key to building wealth. We should watch how our tax dollars are spent, certainly. But we should be aware that cutting spending in large amounts quickly is perilous. It’s no surprise that politicians fear taking on that chore.
Peter

CLIFFHANGER, BUT ALL SHOW

It was a real cliffhanger.
But the politicians recently avoided a fiscal cliff that they had created. Yep, they even set up another one to come in a few weeks.
Besides disgust at those who supposedly serve us, there are other ways to feel about all this.
Getting down to brass tacks, or, should we say, brass tax, generally taxes only trend up no matter who we are, and how much we earn.
That said, we should not let taxes alone decide how we conduct our economic life.
We heard stories on talk radio and other places during the election campaign about people who were willing to expand their businesses, or open new franchises, but declined out of fear and uncertainty over the tax and regulatory atmosphere.
To those who will pass up expansion opportunities for these reasons, remember one thing: if the expansion opportunity is economically viable – in other words, if you would increase sales by expanding – if you don’t do it, someone else will.
Sure, you have to be conscious of costs. If the opportunities are marginal, or very high risk, caution is warranted. But if the need is there, and the market is there for what you do, you can figure out how to expand and still turn a good profit despite the tax and regulatory milieu. Or, someone else will.
IT’S WHO YOU ARE, NOT THE GOVERNMENT MILIEU
Such decisions have more to do with the type of person you are, than the so-called government interference. If you are the type who start businesses and employ people and try to get as much out of them for as little as you can get away with paying them, then it would make sense that you would be cautious about expanding. After all, you don’t want to be FORCED to take care of your people.
But if you are the type of person who succeeds by helping others succeed, and who realizes that your success is dependent on others, you would be less concerned with the tax and regulatory milieu and more concerned with whether your business will do better by expanding.
If you are not a business owner, but an employee of one, think about how you are treated at work. Does your boss help YOU succeed? Does he realize that YOU are helping make him rich, and reward you accordingly? Sure, every business is different, and rewards can come in various forms. No one will ever get rich by flipping burgers or making pizzas.
But if you are in those kinds of jobs, does your boss do the little things that help make your time there a little bit better? Does he realize that you are working hard, and do not plan to do this the rest of your life? Would he be proud the day you moved on to better things?
Or, is your boss the type to work you to death, and believe that he’s given you a job and you should be grateful? He knows you won’t do this the rest of your life, but, the day you leave, he curses you out for leaving him short of help.
The lesson here is that business people and entrepreneurs get more from their staffs by recognizing that they can’t do it alone. They appreciate everything their employees do for them. They treat them like family. Most of all, they work to make THEM successful, either in the line of work in which they are employed, or other, more advanced lines of work. They heed the words of the late Zig Ziglar, who said that if you help others get what they want, you’ll get what you want.
If you are an entrepreneur looking for a good business opportunity, or an employee looking to break away from what you are doing, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You may care about what goes on in Washington, D.C., because you want to be a good citizen. But you won’t worry about the tax or regulatory situation because it won’t matter to you. Imagine having a goal to have a six-figure TAX BILL! And, you’ll succeed only by helping others succeed with you.
You may watch manufactured cliffhangers on TV, but you will always be on solid, even wealthy, ground with all the friends you helped.
Peter