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Financial Planning > College Planning

Sleeping bears, leaders and true believers

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Has the bear gone into hibernation? If so, for how long? Is it the typical November-May sleep, or will it be a few years of rest for the furry and dangerous beast?

What happened yesterday? (This blog appears on Wednesday but is written Sunday and/or Monday.) Yesterday for blog purposes was the election. One party will be happy and the other sad. For the market’s sake, we hope for a Democrat-Republican-Republican configuration, which seems to work well, but Democrat-Democrate-Republican or Democrat-Republican-Democrat (president/ senate/house) would be OK.

I’m rereading “The True Believer–Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, by Eric Hoffer. Hoffer was a deep-thinking philosopher and longshoreman, recommended originally as an important read by a seemingly unlikely person, Dwight D. Eisenhower*, and popularized (insofar as a philosopher can be made trendy; at least he had 15 minutes of fame) in a series of televised conversations with one of the era’s more intellectual newsmen, Eric Sevareid.

Why read this book again? “The True Believer” is very relevant today — it’s helpful in deciphering radical Islam; the Tea Party movement; Glenn Beck, whose followers apparently consider him to be an educator; and radical liberal chic, the latter being shallow-thinking liberals — for example, the one-step liberal desire to bring extremists from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. for trial.

That first step was a part of the election rhetoric in 2008; what about the second step? A second step would have answered the question: Where to put them? It turns out no one much wanted them in their state. What I’m saying is that the pot — here in the U.S. — is being stirred and, therefore, stability is more of an illusion than ever, which adds to the plague of uncertainty.

(As to Beck, is he an actor, gold salesman or what? He poses his own questions carefully and answers them with as much caution. It’s not like he is answering general questions; he’s answering Beck questions, ones that point in the direction he wants to take. It’s like he makes up his own tests and always gets 100%. Lifting what he needs out of the overall context, he seems to specialize in what is inflammatory.)

Uncertainty. I keep harping about this because the stock market hates uncertainty. Since we have political uncertainty; employment uncertainty; financial uncertainty; manufacturing uncertainty, despite cries to the contrary — the U.S. makes lots of stuff; and consumption uncertainty, it is possible a leader will appear. Many thought it would be President Obama, but he now seems unpopular with his own followers. The truth is it could be a Democrat, a Republican or an independent. It could be good or bad. Me? I’m hoping for good and continue to believe in our great country. As I wrote before, I see some green shoots, and I hope you see them, too.

Have a wonderful week. Be thankful you are in a profession that can help people avoid financial doom. Help do that, OK?

*Despite the popular sentiment, the 34th president had a lifelong respect and love of education, and it’s no real surprise he was a Hoffer fan. Besides, Hoffer gives great insight to the rise of the problems in Europe and Germany before World War II, and that alone would have been great interest to President Eisenhower. Following his 1955 heart attack, he became closely connected to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

Check out more blog entries from Richard Hoe.


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