Contributed by Lewis J. Walker, CFP®
Sometimes you read an editorial and ponder, "Yup, that's how I feel, but she said it better." That was my reaction to Peggy Noonan's introspection in the weekend The Wall Street Journal, April 23-24, 2016, ''Declarations: That Moment When 2016 Hits You," Ms. Noonan touched on the wave of grass roots discontent rocking both political parties for better or worse, with tradition being turned on its head.
Unfortunately, political dissent and disagreement, and sadly, even turmoil, crudeness, and rudeness, are not new, but part of the noisy weave of democracy. Those who recall the 1960s, remember a young president, "Mr. Hope and Change" in his day, gunned down by a loser and malcontent. Another president was shot and wounded by another deranged individual. We sacrificed 58,000 men and women in Vietnam, and lost the war. We have had a series of wars since, opposed by many, with problems that still persist. On the home front, LBJ fought a “war on poverty." It seems that poverty won based on current statistics regarding hunger in the U.S.
Financial advisors, those truly adept at the art of comprehensive financial planning, have a position of trust as they have intimate details about the lives of and the challenges facing individuals and families. Big financial firms runs ads that are sweetness and light, happy and healthy people leading smiling lives. Ms. Noonan touched on another reality in describing the reaction of a friend of her campaigning in an old New England neighborhood and seeing "multi-generational families...in houses with missing roof shingles or shutters askew or paint peeling. Cars needing repair.”
The question arose, what was the story inside of those houses? "Unemployment, elder care, divorce, custody battles...a collective loss of hope in a once-thriving town, years of neglect and sadness." something is brewing," Ms. Noonan quoted her friend as saying.
Deep down, I know he and she are right. There is real stress and discontent out there. Given the way Election 2016 is shaping up, a large percentage of the country will be unhappy no matter who is elected. But what have I learned over the years as a citizen, military officer, spouse, parent, grandparent, business owner, and taxpayer? I learned that our country goes through all matter of global, domestic, political, economic and social challenges, and yet, we persist, and we grow. I learned that it is determined individuals that frame success, not government handouts and bureaucratic beaver dams that get in the mainstream and clog things up.
I learned that friends can die young and that in reality God is in charge and we muddle along until we figure that out.
I learned that children, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents are a beautiful blessing but family obligations also can be a test. We may pine for the idyllic life vision thrown at us by advertisers but we know better. There will be sickness, accidents, financial challenges, people we love but at the same time disappoint, life getting in the way while we are making other plans.
We make choices every day about education and training, careers, earning power, consumption, saving, physical and fiscal fitness, religion and spirituality, decisions that will have real impact on our life and the lives of others going forward, through ups and downs. We learn that "procrastination" is a choice, but not productive. I recently told someone facing a difficult medical situation, "Live like you will live forever, and plan like you will die tomorrow."
We should not be "surprised" at life's challenges. The key is not to be surprised. When we are fit, when much of life is still before us, when things are going well that is exactly when we should plan for some kind of downside. That many do not is human nature. My fear is that too many are waiting for the government to bail them out. Ms. Noonan is worried, "Because my country is in trouble," she said.
Maybe so. Your job is to plan so you and those you love will not be in trouble. Individual responsibility still matters. Perhaps, too many have forgotten that basic truth. Semper fidelis! You don’t have to be a Marine to appreciate that.
Lewis Walker is President of Walker Capital Management, LLC. Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Walker Capital Management, LLC.