Saturday, May 20, 2017

All The People Who Dislike Us

All The People Who Dislike Us
by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.

Don't worry about all the people who dislike us; concentrate on God who loves us!

People are quite fickle; one day they're our friends, and the next day they're our enemies. And if we dwell on it too much, it’s quite natural to start questioning ourselves by asking, “What did I do wrong?” or “Did I say something wrong?” So we have to remind ourselves that we’re all a work-in-progress; there’s nobody who’s perfect; and anyone who starts judging others doesn’t have the humility to see their own faults. Jesus taught this, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41). You could be the best human being in the world, and there will still be those who dislike you. You're never going to "like" everyone and not everyone is going to "like" you. We live in a broken world where hate lives alongside of love.

So we should try not to worry about all the people who dislike us; rather, we should concentrate on God who loves us! God brings people in and out of our lives all the time: some for our encouragement, some to try our patience and test us, and others, quite frankly, to build our characters. It's quite rare to find a true and devoted friend who'll stick by us through thick and thin. 

We should try to completely trust God and not people in everything we do and say. It will give us great peace-of-mind when we put God first, others second, and ourselves third. We should try as much as we're able to be patient, humble of heart, and forgiving of others. We should try to trust in God completely and not in ourselves or others. Because it's simply NOT possible to please everyone, but it IS possible to please God. The only way we can get most people to like us is to do nothing, to say nothing, and to be nothing! But then we’d no longer be the unique human beings that God created us to be. We wouldn't be able to become the best version of ourselves.

It's also important to remember that it really doesn't matter whether or not others LIKE you or how they treat you, but whether or not YOU LIKE YOURSELF and how YOU treat others! You're your own worst critic, so if you're happy with who YOU are then that's all that really matters. There are many reasons for other people's unfriendly or unkind behavior. You can only try to positively influence others, but you can't control others! How others behave is ultimately their responsibility, not yours! YOU are only responsible for YOUR behavior, NOT other people's behavior. 

Think about this, Jesus was the perfect human being and what did the world do to him? Jesus even warned his disciples, "If the world hates you, remember the world hated me first. If people did wrong to me then they'll do wrong to you too.
(John 15:18, 20). St. John wrote, "Don't be surprised if the world hates you!" (1 John 3:13). And St. Paul wrote, "Indeed, all who want to live good and righteous lives...will be persecuted." (2 Tim 3:12).

For many and varied reasons people, in general, dislike people who strive to live good and decent lives. It's counterintuitive, but it's quite true. The old cliché, "no good deed goes unpunished" is quite true. It amazes me how many politicians, entertainers, famous, and wealthy people who live sinful lives are venerated as secular saints. Jesus warned of this too, "If you belonged to the world, the world would love you." 
 (John 15:19). 

People will reject you, betray you, abandon you, and mistreat you; don't treat them the same way: just forgive them and continue to love them as Jesus described in his Sermon on the Mount in in Matthew chapters 5-7 and St. Paul described in I Corinthians chapter 13. So if others are unfriendly, rude, hateful, or disrespectful to you, then return love, kindness, blessings, and prayers instead. When our lives are over, it really won't matter how many friends we had, but whether or not we were a friend to others (especially to those who are society’s outcasts).

I think Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said it best:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; forgive them anyway. 

If you are kind people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives; be kind anyway. 

If you are successful you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget about tomorrow; do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.   


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Something is Wrong - And It's Holding Us Back! by Allen Laudenslager & Bryan Neva

Something is Wrong - And It's Holding Us Back!
by Allen Laudenslager & Bryan Neva

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, in his annual letter to investors on April 4, 2017, said he has high hopes for the U.S. economy but warned, "Something is wrong - and it's holding us back!"

Dimon is absolutely right that something is fundamentally wrong with the U.S. economy. Our economy has been growing much more slowly in the last sixteen years than in the previous 50 years as shown in the chart below. From 1948 to 2000, real per capita GDP grew 2.3%; whereas from 2000 to 2016 it only grew 1%.
Household incomes in 2016 were 2.5% lower than they were in 2000, and the middle class has actually shrunk. The middle class was 61% of the population in 1971; today it's only 50%. And believe us, they didn't move into the upper class as research has shown that social mobility (those moving from the middle to the upper class) has declined by 20% since 1980.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has declined for men (ages 25 to 54, the prime working ages for men) from over 96% in 1968 to 88% today. (See chart below.) This is way below the LFPR of most developed countries today. And if you factor in the number of discouraged workers who've left the labor force entirely, our unemployment rate is actually double or triple the official 4.4%.


This lack of economic growth and opportunity in the U.S. has led to anger and frustration among the American people evidenced recently by the populist election of President Donald Trump in November 2016 and the strong polarization between liberals and conservatives. Americans are angry at politicians and government bureaucracy; they're angry at Corporate America; they're angry at our educational institutions for the exorbitant costs and not preparing them for the job market; they're angry about illegal immigration and the abuse of the H-1B visa program by high-tech companies as these are taking jobs away from U.S. citizens; they're angry about the double standard of the rule of law: one for the rich, powerful and special interest groups, and another for the rest of us; they're angry about the lack of job opportunities for their children; they're angry at the exorbitant cost of healthcare in our country; and they're angry at each other thinking all this is the fault of the left or the right.  

Dimon wrote further in his letter to investors, "We need coherent, consistent, comprehensive and coordinated policies that help fix these problems. The solutions are not binary — they are not either/or, and they are not about Democrats or Republicans. They are about facts, analysis, ideas and best practices (including what we can learn from others around the world)."

Dimon's observations are correct but we believe these disjointed, inconsistent policies of the government can be traced to the inordinate influence of corporate lobbying and donations to political parties and candidates. The founding fathers had a deep distrust of corporations and originally limited their formation and size exactly for these reasons. In the case of Jamie Dimon, his statement is akin to the pot calling the kettle black as Big Banks like JPMorgan Chase have substantially benefited from all the legal financial loopholes they've lobbied for.

Rana Foroohar, who is the Global Business Columnist and an Associate Editor at the Financial Times, in her 2016 best-selling book Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business, makes a compelling case about why Capital Markets no longer support business, and that Finance and not just poor economic theory is mostly to blame for our current economic problems. She makes a point that from Presidents Carter through Obama, most Presidents have slowly deregulated the Financial Services sector of our economy. She also argues that the Dodd-Frank law, enacted after the 2008 financial meltdown, made everyone feel a bit better, but didn't really change the way the Big Banks and Wall Street operate due to so many loop-holes written into the law (mostly by their lobbyist).  This is a prime example of crony capitalism hard at work!  She argues that only by enacting new, stricter laws and regulations can America break the stranglehold the Big Banks and Wall Street have over our economy.

In a note in the 2017 paperback edition of the book, the Author writes:
President Trump has sold the American people on any number of falsehoods—that immigration is a leading cause of our economic woes, that globalization can be curbed and that tax cuts for the rich will lead to greater prosperity for all. Despite these untruths, the President’s unprecedented rise to power from political no man’s land was fueled by a fundamental grasp of our nation’s central economic dilemma: there is no room on Wall Street for Main Street. 
The current economic “recovery” period, which has been underway since 2009, is a sham. GDP growth is anemic. Corporate debt and leverage are at record levels and stock price indices have shattered past peaks. Scarier still, the top 1 percent of Americans have captured 52% of real income growth since 2009. For the towering glass financial castles of the financial elite, yes, wealth has been restored. But for the vacant store fronts, the abandoned warehouses and condemned homes of the forgotten makers of the American economy, the nightmare of the 2008 financial crisis has never ended. 
In 2008, the United States experienced the biggest market meltdown since the Great Depression. NOW, NEARLY A DECADE later, the key lessons of that financial crisis still remain unlearned—and our financial system is more vulnerable than ever. Many of us know that our government failed to fix the banking system after the subprime mortgage crisis. But what few of us realize is that the majority of the financial regulations promised after the 2008 meltdown were either not passed, or are in danger of being repealed by the Trump White House and a Congress bought and paid for by Wall Street. 
Dr. Mark Mizruchi, and Dr. Howard Kimeldorf, Sociology Professors from the University of Michigan, in their article published in 2005 in the Journal Political Power and Social Theory titled, “The Historical Context of Shareholder Value Capitalism” offer an explanation of the rise in prominence of Institutional Investors and Securities Analysts as a function of the changing political economy throughout the late 20th century. The crux of their argument is that their rise in prominence can be credited to three significant forces: organized labor, the state, and banks. The roles of these three forces were abdicated and can no longer keep corporate abuse in check.

They write, “Without the internal discipline provided by the banks and external discipline provided by the state and labor, the corporate world has been left to the professionals who have the ability to manipulate the vital information about corporate performance on which investors depend.” In laymen's terms, the fox has been guarding the henhouse.

We believe there are two fundamental issues here. First, despite what the Supreme Court has ruled, corporations are not people! (When was the last time you saw a corporate officer go to jail for the misdeeds of their company?) Rather they're an aggregation of people with many of the drawbacks of a mob and none of the strengths of an individual. Second, the concept that shareholder value is the single measure of a company’s success. It's not! Rather, stakeholder value is the measure of a company's success. (We've written in depth about this previously.) When the Big Banks, Wall Street, or Corporate America don't share the wealth with Main Street America, our economy as a whole suffers.

There is an old military aphorism, “The troops do what the commander checks,” used to remind military leaders they need to check that key things are being done by their troops. It can also illustrate why our economy is in such disarray. Government regulations are the "commander's checks" on business. And with corporate efforts to tailor those regulations to enhance the industry's profits, either the checks are not being done or the government is checking the wrong things. Government regulations are supposed to be intrusive! They're supposed to help ensure that business doesn't harm society as a whole - sometimes at the expense of profits. 

Featured Post

Who Do You Believe?

Who Do You Believe? by Bryan J. Neva, Sr. We're all bombarded with too much information!   There's 24/7 news, information, ...