Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This 3.5 hr documentary details the history of how money is being controlled in the last 100+ years in the world. While it can be considered conspiratorial, its depth and detail is worth study and understanding.
From the producer:
"The powers of financial capitalism had a far-reaching plan, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole...Their secret is that they have annexed from governments, monarchies, and republics the power to create the world's money..." THE MONEY MASTERS is a 3 1/2 hour non-fiction, historical documentary that traces the origins of the political power structure that rules our nation and the world today. The modern political power structure has its roots in the hidden manipulation and accumulation of gold and other forms of money. The development of fractional reserve banking practices in the 17th century brought to a cunning sophistication the secret techniques initially used by goldsmiths fraudulently to accumulate wealth. With the formation of the privately-owned Bank of England in 1694, the yoke of economic slavery to a privately-owned "central" bank was first forced upon the backs of an entire nation, not removed but only made heavier with the passing of the three centuries to our day. Nation after nation, including America, has fallen prey to this cabal of international central bankers."
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Interview by Radio TV Personality Alex Jones (click on name for Wikipedia entry) with movie maker Peter Joseph
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
1. "You may think I'm rich, but I don't."
A million dollars may sound like a fortune to most people, and folks with that much cash can't complain — they're richer than 90 percent of U.S. households and earn $366,000 a year, on average, putting them in the top 1 percent of taxpayers. But the club isn't so exclusive anymore. Some 10 million households have a net worth above $1 million, excluding home equity, almost double the number in 2002. Moreover, a recent survey by Fidelity found just 8 percent of millionaires think they're "very" or "extremely" wealthy, while 19 percent don't feel rich at all. "They're worried about health care, retirement and how they'll sustain their lifestyle," says Gail Graham, a wealth-management executive at Fidelity.
Indeed, many millionaires still don't have enough for exclusive luxuries, like membership at an elite golf club, which can top $300,000 a year. While $1 million was a tidy sum three decades ago, you'd need $3.6 million for the same purchasing power today. And half of all millionaires have a net worth of $2.5 million or less, according to research firm TNS. So what does it take to feel truly rich? The magic number is $23 million, according to Fidelity.
2. "I shop at Wal-Mart..."
They may not buy the 99-cent paper towels, but millionaires know what it is to be frugal. About 80 percent say they spend with a middle-class mind-set, according to a 2007 survey of high-net-worth individuals, published by American Express and the Harrison Group. That means buying luxury items on sale, hunting for bargains — even clipping coupons.
Don Crane, a small-business owner in Santa Rosa, Calif., certainly sees the value of everyday saving. "We can afford just about anything," he says, adding that his net worth is over $1 million. But he and his wife both grew up on farms in the Midwest — where nothing was wasted — and his wife clips coupons to this day. In fact, most millionaires come from middle-class households, and roughly 70 percent have been wealthy for less than 15 years, according to the AmEx/Harrison survey. That said, there are plenty of millionaires who never check a price tag. "I've always wanted to live above my means because it inspired me to work harder," says Robert Kiyosaki, author of the 1997 best seller Rich Dad, Poor Dad. An entrepreneur worth millions, Kiyosaki says he doesn't even know what his house would go for today.
3. "...but I didn't get rich by skimping on lattes."
So how do you join the millionaires' club? You could buy stocks or real estate, play the slots in Vegas — or take the most common path: running your own business. That's how half of all millionaires made their money, according to the AmEx/Harrison survey. About a third had a professional practice or worked in the corporate world; only 3 percent inherited their wealth.
Regardless of how they built their nest egg, virtually all millionaires "make judicious use of debt," says Russ Alan Prince, coauthor of "The Middle-Class Millionaire." They'll take out loans to build their business, avoid high-interest credit card debt and leverage their home equity to finance purchases if their cash flow doesn't cut it. Nor is their wealth tied up in their homes. Home equity represents just 11 percent of millionaires' total assets, according to TNS. "People who are serious about building wealth always want to have a mortgage," says Jim Bell, president of Bell Investment Advisors. His home is probably worth $1.5 million, he adds, but he owes $900,000 on it. "I'm in no hurry to pay it off," he says. "It's one of the few tax deductions I get."
4. "I have a concierge for everything."
That hot restaurant may be booked for months — at least when Joe Nobody calls to make reservations. But many top eateries set aside tables for celebrities and A-list clientele, and that's where the personal concierge comes in. Working for retainers that range anywhere from $25 an hour to six figures a year, these modern-day butlers have the inside track on chic restaurants, spa reservations, even an early tee time at the golf club. And good concierges will scour the planet for whatever their clients want — whether it's holy water blessed personally by the Pope, rare Mexican tequila or artisanal sausages found only in northern Spain. "For some people, the cost doesn't matter," says Yamileth Delgado, who runs Marquise Concierge and who once found those sausages for a client — 40 pounds of chorizo that went for $1,000.
Concierge services now extend to medical attention as well. At the high end: For roughly $2,000 to $4,000 a month, clients can get 24-hour access to a primary-care physician who makes house calls and can facilitate admission to a hospital "without long waits in the emergency room," as one New York City service puts it.
5. "You don't get rich by being nice."
John D. Rockefeller threatened rivals with bankruptcy if they didn't sell out to his company, Standard Oil. Bill Gates was ruthless in building Microsoft into the world's largest software firm (remember Netscape?). Indeed, many millionaires privately admit they're "bastards in business," says Prince. "They aren't nice guys." Of course, the wealthy don't exactly look in the mirror and see Gordon Gekko either. Most millionaires share the values of their moderate-income parents, says Lewis Schiff, a private wealth consultant and Prince's coauthor: "Spending time with family really matters to them." Just 12 percent say that what they want most to be remembered for is their legacy in business, according to the AmEx/Harrison study.
Millionaires are also seemingly undaunted by failure. Crane, for example, now runs a successful company that screens tenants for landlords. But his first business venture, a real estate partnership, went bankrupt, costing him $20,000 — more than his house was worth at the time. "It was the most depressing time in my life, but it was the best lesson I ever learned," he says.
6. "Taxes are for little people."
Most millionaires do pay taxes. In fact, the top 1 percent of earners paid nearly 40 percent of federal income taxes in 2005 — a whopping $368 billion — according to the Internal Revenue Service. That said, the wealthy tend to derive a higher portion of their income from dividends and capital gains, which are taxed at lower rates than wages (15 percent for long-term capital gains versus 25 percent for middle-class wages). Also, high-income earners pay Social Security tax only on their first $97,500 of income.
But the big savings come from owning a business and deducting everything related to it. Landlords can also depreciate their commercial properties and expenses like mortgage interest. And that's without doing any creative accounting. Then there are the tax shelters, trusts and other mechanisms the superrich use to shield their wealth. An estimated 2 million Americans have unreported accounts offshore, and income from foreign tax shelters costs the U.S. $20 billion to$40 billion a year, according to the IRS. Indeed, "an increasing number of people want to establish an offshore fund," says Vernon Jacobs, a certified public accountant in Kansas who specializes in legal foreign accounts.
7. "I was a B student."
Mom was right when she said good grades were the key to success — just not necessarily a big bank account. According to the book "The Millionaire Mind," the median college grade point average for millionaires is 2.9, and the average SAT score is 1190 — hardly Harvard material. In fact, 59 percent of millionaires attended a state college or university, according to AmEx/Harrison.
When asked to list the keys to their success, millionaires rank hard work first, followed by education, determination and "treating others with respect." They also say that what they absorbed in class was less important than learning how to study and stay disciplined, says Jim Taylor, vice chairman of the Harrison Group. Granted, 48 percent of millionaires hold an advanced degree, and elite colleges do open doors to careers on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley (not to mention social connections that grease the wheels). But for every Ph.D. millionaire, there are many more who squeaked through school. Kiyosaki, for one, says the only way he survived college calculus was by "sitting near" the smart kids in class — "we cheated like crazy," he says.
8. "Like my Ferrari? It's a rental."
Why spend $3,000 on a Versace bag that'll be out of style as soon as next season when you can rent it for $175 a month? For that matter, why blow $250,000 on a Ferrari when for $25,000 it can be yours for a few weekends a year? Clubs that offer "fractional ownership" of jets have been popular for some time, and now the concept has extended to other high-end luxuries like exotic cars and fine art. How hot is the trend? More than 50 percent of millionaires say they plan to rent luxury goods within the next 12 months, according to a survey by Prince & Associates. Handbags topped the list, followed by cars, jewelry, watches and art. Online companies like Bag Borrow or Steal, for example, cater to customers who always want new designer accessories and jewelry, for prices starting at $15 a week.
For Suzanne Garner, a millionaire software engineer in Santa Clara, Calif., owning a $100,000 car didn't make financial sense (she drives a Mazda Miata). Instead, Garner pays up to $30,000 in annual membership fees to Club Sportiva, a fractional-ownership car club in San Francisco that lets her take out Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other exotic vehicles on weekends. "I'm all about the car," she says. And so are other people, it seems. While stopped at a light in a Ferrari recently, Garner received a marriage proposal from a guy in a pickup truck. (She declined the offer.)
9. "Turns out money can buy happiness."
It may not be comforting to folks who aren't minting cash, but the rich really are different. "There's no group in America that's happier than the wealthy," says Taylor, of the Harrison Group. Roughly 70 percent of millionaires say that money"created" more happiness for them,he notes. Higher income also correlates with higher ratings in life satisfaction, according to a new study by economists at the Wharton School of Business. But it's not necessarily the Bentley or Manolo Blahniks that lead to bliss. "It's the freedom that money buys," says Betsey Stevenson, coauthor of the Wharton study.
Concomitantly, rates of depression are lower among the wealthy, according to the Wharton study, and the rich tend to have better health than the rest of the population, says James Smith, senior labor economist at the Rand Corporation. (In fact, health and happiness are as closely correlated as wealth and happiness, Smith says.) The wealthy even seem to smile and laugh more often, according to the Wharton study, to say nothing of getting treated with more respect and eating better food. "People experience their day very differently when they have a lot of money," Stevenson says.
10. "You worry about the Joneses — I worry about keeping up with the Trumps."
Wealth may go a long way toward creating happiness, but the middle-class rich still can't afford the life of the billionaire next door — the guy who writes charity checks for $100,000 and retreats to his own private island. "What makes people happy isn't how much they're making," says Glenn Firebaugh, a sociologist at Pennsylvania State University. "It's how much they're making relative to their peers."
Indeed, for all their riches, some 40 percent of millionaires fear that their standard of living will decline in retirement and that their money will run out before they die, according to Fidelity. Of course, it may not help if their lifestyle is so lavish that they're barely squeaking by on $400,000 a year. "You can always be happier with more money," says Stevenson. "There's no satiation point." But that's the trouble with keeping up with the Trumps. "Millionaires are always looking up," says Schiff, "and think it's better up there."
Copyrighted, SmartMoney.com. All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
By Dawna Markova
I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
“The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.” –Richard Bach “Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.” –Mildred Barthel
“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a month — get married.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
- Albert Schweitzer
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
- Helen Keller
Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence
“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be”
- Marcel Pagnol
“Don't rely on someone else for your happiness and self worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can't love and respect yourself - no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are - completely; the good and the bad - and make changes as YOU see fit - not because you think someone else wants you to be different.”
- Stacey Charter
“Nothing can bring you happiness but yourself.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
By Walter Updegrave, Money Magazine senior editor
NEW YORK (Money Magazine) -- When Henry "Bud" Hebeler was winding down his career at Boeing nearly 20 years ago, he was appalled at the advice he got from retirement planning software.
"The assumptions about returns, inflation, longevity and expenses were highly simplistic," says the 74-year-old Hebeler. With his engineering degrees from MIT and his experience - first as Boeing's chief forecaster and planner and later as president of Boeing Aerospace - Hebeler figured he could do better.
He has. His Web site, AnalyzeNow.com, is a compendium of advice and tools (mostly free) that can help you tackle topics ranging from how to create a retirement budget to whether to buy an annuity.
What distinguishes Hebeler from the typical retirement "expert" is that he combines a strong quantitative background with real-life retirement experience - his own and that of fellow retirees.
Hebeler took time out from his hectic schedule of skiing, golf, travel and running a site to share his thoughts.
Q. What's the most popular misconception about retirement planning?
A. That your spending will drop as you age and you become less active. My father played golf until he was 95. My wife and I are in our seventies and we ski the expert slopes at Park City, Utah.
My friends who have reduced their spending didn't do so because of lack of energy or physical ability. It doesn't take much effort to get into a taxi and go to the theater. They're cutting back because they know they're going to live longer than they thought they would. They spent too much too early and now they're worried about running out.
Q. So what can you do to assure that your money will last?
A. If you have enough savings to live on, consider delaying taking Social Security until full retirement age or even later. Holding off can be especially worthwhile if you have a spouse who didn't work or had a low income, since the higher payment you get by waiting can be passed on to your spouse when you die.
I also think retirees should consider putting some, but not all, of their money in an immediate annuity. Look at inflation-adjusted immediate annuities, since they provide a lifetime income that, like Social Security, goes up with inflation.
Q. How did your work at Boeing influence the advice you give?
A. It made me more conservative. In business you see how often things don't work out as you planned. Projects cost more to complete than you estimated.
The same is true of retirement, but retirement plans seldom call for setting aside reserves for unforeseen events. There are a lot of surprises, usually more bad ones than good.
Q. What kinds of surprises?
A. For one thing, your expenses are likely to be very different in retirement than during your career. Things that were probably covered by your company insurance - dental work, vision care, a variety of medical tests - typically aren't paid for by Medicare. My hearing aids alone cost $6,000, which wasn't covered at all.
People also don't anticipate the impact of inflation. In the first 10 years of my retirement, the purchasing power of my company pension declined by 30%. And then there are obligations people rarely plan for, such as having to help parents or adult children who are struggling financially.
Q. If you could advise people to do just one thing to improve their retirement prospects, what would it be?
A. People who aren't retired need to know how much to save. My father used to tell me that you should always save at least 10% of your income.
That's more like 15% to 20% today because you're less likely to have a pension.
- Don't assume all will go as expected. Build a safety margin into your planning.
- Enjoy yourself but don't overspend early in retirement. You may especially want to scale back spending during market downturns so your nest egg has a chance to rebound.
- Consider delaying Social Security until you reach at least full retirement age. The higher payment will be a good inflation hedge later in retirement.
- Think about putting some money into an annuity, particularly if you think you'll live longer than the average person.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005
This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.