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In the course of conversation, you may hear the words, “it must be nice.”
Often, they are spoken by someone who doesn’t have what you have, but would like to have it.
Your response should be, “Oh, it is!”
If you are living what you see as a good life, it’s probably because you made some good choices.
We are confronted with choices and circumstances. The choices, usually, we can do something about. The circumstances, often, we cannot.
When someone says, “it must be nice,” that person very likely has had bad circumstances. Perhaps he has made less desirable choices that he is now living with, but it is clear that you have good circumstances, enhanced by good choices.
The choices can be small: like what I’ll eat today. They can be a bit bigger, like what I will do today. They can be bigger still, like what will I buy – or not buy – today.
Choices can also be huge, like will I have children. In this modern age, having children is a choice. It can be a great choice for some. It can be a disastrous choice for others. It is a life-changing choice for all. But, it should be a choice, and it is OK to choose NOT to have children. It’s OK to choose how many children to have, and when to have them. But the choice should always be there, even though some want to take that choice out of your hands.
Some of the other big choices include how and where one works, for how long one works, or whether one works at all. With jobs becoming scarcer, these choices are getting fewer. If your boss treats you badly, but you need the job, you may feel you have no choice. Keep looking. There are numerous choices out there you may not see. Try the one at If you’d like to fire your boss, you might see something in this choice that will enable you to do that, eventually.
Let’s go back to the smaller choices, like what to eat, what to do and what to buy. These choices are not rendered moot after that day. If you choose all of them correctly, each day, over time, you will likely be healthier, wealthier and wiser over time. This process is what Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine, calls in his book, “The Compound Effect.”
Good food choices undoubtedly will make you healthier. They may not allow you to live forever, but they will allow you to be healthier for as long as you live. Bad food choices pave the way to unhealthy living. You may not die sooner, but bad food choices most likely will make your life more difficult. You’ll probably suffer more over time.
You can choose what you do each day, in most cases. Sure, there are things we feel we MUST do, like go to work etc., but we are doing them either as a means to an end, or because we actually enjoy going to work. If you are not among the latter, try to look for something in your work other than the money and benefits that give you a reason to be there. If you can’t find that perk, check out a new job or those numerous income choices. The choice to exercise, rather than sit, will likely make you healthier. Combining that choice with good food choices day in and day out, and you are empowering yourself for a healthy life.
Choosing what to buy affects your wealth. If you are racking up debt on stuff you use, then lose, you probably won’t have much wealth over time. Knowing when to treat yourself may be a key here.
That knowledge will empower you, when someone tells you “it must be nice,” to say, “Oh, it is,” with nary a hint of apology.


A Florida lifeguard, and several of his colleagues were either fired or left their jobs with a private lifeguard company because that lifeguard opted to leave his post to save a life.
The problem here is that the drowning swimmer ventured into unprotected waters, and the lifeguard company only had liability to guard the protected areas. Therefore, the lifeguard who saved the swimmer was violating the company’s liability policy and put the company at great financial and legal risk. The city of Hallandale, Fla., is rethinking how it is providing lifeguard services.
Jay Bookman, a columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, discussed this story in a July 2012 column. He said the lifeguard made a choice: would he worry more about the company’s bottom line, or the life of a drowning swimmer? And Bookman asked: could he live with himself if he had stayed at his post and let the drowning swimmer die?
It’s not just a case of public services, vs. private profit. It’s also a case of who we are as people. The lifeguard’s colleagues who lost or left their jobs were asked point blank by the lifeguard company what they would have done in that situation. When they said they would save the swimmer, they were, essentially, dismissed.
As more public services are outsourced to the private sector – and there will be more such outsourcing in the future as government spending is reduced – we have to look at the INTENT of those who serve these companies. For most dedicated lifeguards, their intent, and their instinct, is to save lives first. That’s how they are trained. They should NEVER be penalized for doing that!
But in the liability morass, and as public institutions make beneficial, money-saving adjustments in how they perform public services, it’s difficult to fault Hallandale for finding a private company to handle its lifeguard services. South Florida has year-round activity on the water, so there is likely a very high price to protect those who use the water year-round.
The public sector has established many zero-tolerance policies that take decision-making out of a human’s hands. These policies go like this: if this happens, that’s the consequence. Period. No mitigating circumstances. No gray areas. A human checks his judgment at the door. No creative solutions allowed!
When the profit motive becomes part of “public” service, services are provided differently. Usually, private companies provide more efficient service. But sometimes, efficiency is not what’s called for. Doing something efficiently may not always equate to doing it RIGHT.
Government’s overriding concern is process and procedure, and making sure everyone is treated fairly – at least that’s the theory. Private companies’ overriding concern is maximizing profit, and minimizing expenses. Both concerns can mix well in some endeavors, but certainly not in every endeavor. That swimmer, perhaps, should not have been swimming where he was swimming. Do we let him die for a bad decision? People, particularly young people, make ill-advised decisions all the time, utilizing real resources to bail them out. Do we stop doing that, and make personal responsibility paramount?
These are fair questions as we watch the inevitable trend of outsourcing public services. Adjudication should consider who did the right thing. Adjudication should require human reasoning, instinct, intuition and, most of all, INTENT! Those who deliberately intend to do wrong without mitigating circumstances should be punished. But mitigating factors play a big part in defining right and wrong. And, people can do bad things unintentionally. In those cases, different consequences may be in order, depending on the extent of the damage, and whether or not the person should have been paying attention. The lifeguard’s attention was correctly focused on the troubled swimmer.
Think of your own life, your decisions and the consequences of those decisions. Do you feel good about what you did, regardless of what may have happened to you because of it? Did you make a small mistake, and are paying too dearly for it? The lifeguard may have lost his job, but, as Bookman points out, he probably would have been haunted for life had he not saved that swimmer.
For the sensible person, the gut reaction is usually the right one. When it’s not, the sensible person takes heed, and sees why it isn’t. The sensible person, most of the time, will do the right thing.
P.S. You can make a good decision by checking out You can save on what you already buy, and earn by sharing.


Imagine living with such fear that a recession, an illness or bad weather could bankrupt you.
Some Americans live that way now, as do many around the world. But a few decades ago, nearly every American felt that insecurity.
New York Times columnist David Brooks, in a June 2012 column, says although the nation needs to reduce its deficit, Americans don’t really want to. Despite the political bluster, Brooks says, solving the real problem of reducing debt is fraught with political peril.
The current generation of Americans has been led to believe that debt is not a problem. They live on borrowed money, via credit cards, all the time, and think nothing of it. There is always insurance to take care of the big expenditures. Buy now, pay later. Or, pay a small premium and live without fear.
Before the plethora of insurance products, before credit cards became actual currency, Americans always lived in fear of that big event that would either kill them, or leave them penniless. The only way to postpone the inevitable was to save their money. That meant giving up a lot of things one might want, and even some things they need. People would die because they could not afford the treatment that would save them. Secure families were wiped out by drought, tornado or hurricane. There was no insurance, only self-insurance.
Even the staunchest deficit hawks don’t want to see EVERYONE, except for the very rich, living on the edge through no fault of their own. They even want room to save the irresponsible from themselves. But to do that costs money. Hence, we have a debate about government spending vs. over-taxation.
Let’s frame the debate in reality. First, as economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman preaches, government spending IS decreasing, mostly at the local and state levels. Those budgets are getting balanced off the backs of teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government workers who are losing jobs at a rapid rate nationwide.
As we try to get more people back to work, every teacher, firefighter, police officer and other public worker who gets laid off ADDS to the unemployment problem. Think of what bigger cuts in government spending will do to unemployment. Would such cuts enhance the private sector to the degree that it could absorb all those government workers – plus a good number of those public and private employees already out of work? Common sense would say, probably not. That’s not even considering the PRIVATE businesses that might close as GOVERNMENT cuts more spending.
We do need to get government spending under control. We do need to get our national debt down. We need NOT to be indebted to foreign creditors, even though many of those creditors NEED a vibrant and free-spending U.S. to prosper themselves.
We see what Brooks was talking about when he referred to debt solutions as politically unpalatable. Many Americans love the idea of debt reduction, until it hits their own lives. Generations past were willing to risk everything – or at least they were FORCED to risk everything.
Today, there are things in place to cushion such risks. No one wants those cushions to be taken away, but we still have to reduce our national debt.
As individuals, we need to get our own houses in order FIRST. Eliminate, or reduce, unnecessary debt. The first rule: if you are buying something that will last years, it’s OK to borrow and pay back over time. If you are buying something to consume quickly, or in a short time, pay cash or don’t buy it at all.
The second rule: if you are a government worker, or have a private-sector job you feel will not last you as long as you want it, make sure you save as much of what you earn as possible. Then, establish a Plan B for income, so when your job disappears, you can walk out with a smile. For a great Plan B, visit
As for national debt, it didn’t happen overnight, and it will take time to eliminate. We have to do it in a way that hurts the fewest people. Everyone won’t escape unscathed. We will all pay for it in some way. But some ways are less painful, overall, than others. Let’s find those ways. Let’s not go back to the days when we were one uncontrollable disaster away from bankruptcy.