Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Nobody Saw It Coming? Really?

There were in fact many who did try to warn investors of the risks of staying invested in the markets in 2008 (including yours truly).

A Dozen Reasons To Worry - Gary Shilling - Forbes - January 2007

Sell! Global financial problems will get worse. - September 2007

Are we headed for an epic bear market? - Satyajit Das - September 2007

Danger: Steep drop ahead - Jeremy Grantham - Fortune - September 2007

A Market Correction is Coming, this Time for Real - Financial Times - March 2007

HSBC says super-rich clients moving into cash - Reuters - September 2, 2008

The Perfect Storm - Financial Design - 2008

Understanding Secular Bear Markets - Journal of Financial Planning - March 2006

The Market Timing Question - Timing the market to lower risk - Don Wilson - 2007

Greenspan: Fed is not a ‘magical piggy bank’ - Associated Press - September 4, 2008


So, why did so many financial advisors not see it coming?

The first question to ask yourself might be: Who actually pays my advisor's salary/commissions/trailer fees and provides them with their research?

The second question to ask your advisor should be: What type of independent research do they do on an ongoing basis to actually earn their fees? If the only advice an advisor ever gives is to buy-and-hold, is that advice really worth the high fees investors pay?

You don't pay these fees directly (they are paid by the mutual fund companies), but these fees can still have a significant negative effect, not only on your returns, but also on the type of advice you receive.

Buy-and-hold works in a secular bull market. It fails terribly in a secular bear market. Good advisors are paid to know how to recognize these long-term trends, and position their clients accordingly. Each of these 10 to 15 year trends requires a different strategy if an advisor is to help his clients successfully grow and preserve their wealth.

Just as you are unlikely to find a realtor that will tell you that it is not a good time to buy a house, there are few financial advisors that will tell you that it is not a good time to buy mutual funds.

Giving investors the right advice in a secular bear market is less lucrative for any advisor whose income is commission/sales based.

It's not good for business to tell clients that their two options in a secular bear market are to either, 1) just buy GICs for the next 5, 10, or 15 years, and wait until the bubble pops (secular bear market runs it course), or 2) with the help of their advisor, try to time the market by actually buying low and SELLING high (this requires active trading; a risk-tolerance level many investors are not comfortable with).

For an advisor, it may be a lot easier to just guide/drag clients through a secular bear market on the hope that the markets will quickly come back and move ever higher (or the fear that if they sell, they might miss out).

If investors are not comfortable with trying to time the market, then what this should be telling them about themselves is that their risk tolerance is really much more suited towards GIC's during a secular bear market.

Remember, history has shown, a secular bear market usually lasts at least 10 to 15 years, during which the overall trend in the market is downwards, or flat at best.

In a secular bear market, buy-and-hold is not a good strategy, especially with all the fees that must be paid to "manage" your life's savings (in addition to the fact that markets are likely to be flat or lower over a long period of time).

It is important for investors to know that even if they lose over 50% of their life savings, their advisor may still "earn" more by keeping clients invested in the markets compared to the commissions he or she would be paid had they recommended that their clients consider GICs(with the goal being to help clients just preserve their wealth while they wait for better buying opportunities)!

Currently, the investment industry really is stacked up against the average investor because, as well as the advisor does financially, for keeping you invested in the markets at all times, their employer (brokerage firm, bank, credit union, or life insurance company) and the "professionals" that manage your money (who on average do no better than the market as a whole), make off like bandits (for themselves). Financially, for themselves, they do better than most people could possibly even fathom. Sadly, the investor, the one who actually took all the risk, sees none of the reward that should rightfully be his.

The average investor takes all the risk and gets none of the reward: Any earnings above GIC rates are eaten up through the different hidden fees.

When the market crashes, advisors will always fall back on:
1)nobody saw it coming
2)this is a great buying opportunity
(why didn't they call you and let you when it was a great selling opportunity?)

Please, get better informed.

The posts on this website are long, detailed, and some may be dry and difficult to get through (and for that I apologize). But, that being said, how many tens-of-thousands of dollars do your investments have to drop in value before you see the value in becoming a more informed investor? Again, I apologize for being so blunt, but please, understand that the things I say, I say only because I really do care.
What The Average Middle-Class Investor Needs To Know About Secular Bear Markets:

1. Secular Bear Markets can destroy the life savings of buy-and-hold investors.

Secular Bear Markets are very real! This is when, for 10 to 20 years (2000 - 20??), markets will have amazing runs and even more amazing crashes, but the overall trend is downward.

The last secular bear market was from 1966 to 1982, so very few people remember.

From 1982 to 2000 we had the greatest secular bull market in history, and this is the only type of market most investors have ever known. And the bubble was re-inflated one last time as low interest rates encouraged people to borrow and spend beyond their means, and bid up asset prices, in what they believed was going to be a never-ending virtuous cycle of forever rising asset values and wages. What most people ignored was the fact that this entire cycle was financed by immense leverage/debt that now has to be paid back, or written off.

When one person's bad debts are written off, the other side of this entry must be that somebody else's savings must also get wiped out! This is a deleveraging process, and it has a very deflationary affect on asset prices. But, it takes a long time for asset prices to bottom out, because, those with savings continue to jump in and buy at what they think are incredibly low prices (at least that is what the last 25 years of history have taught them - but 25 years does not a true history make). So, this process will still take at least a few more years to finally play itself out.

We will hit bottom only when the average middle-class investor is fed up with owning these assets (real estate and stocks) and just wants to get rid of them at any price because they have been money losers (as they drop in value) and have had a negative cashflow, for such a long period of time that investors sees no hope of things ever getting better. Before this happens, we will first have to go through the reality that many people will be forced to sell due to job loss (just to make ends meet, for as long as they can).

That is when we will hit bottom. That is the capitulation that we have to wait for to mark the bottom of a secular bear market and the beginning of a new secular bull market. The fact that this seems impossible to believe for most people, is proof positive, as far as I am concerned, that we have not yet hit rock bottom. People have not yet lost hope when it comes to their investments. That will still take a bit more time.

There are no painless shortcuts this time around that can get us through the necessary pain that we must bear as deleveraging runs it natural course and cleanses a system that is currently very toxic due to the amount of bad debt in it and must still be wiped out through bankruptcy.

I believe, the reality is, much wealth is going to be lost chasing returns as advisors, unfortunately will be successful in convincing their clients to ride out the market to the very bottom. Those willing to take minimal risk and receive minimal reward while they wait this process out, will be generously rewarded. But, it will take patience. Think of the mega-rich who are more than willing to buy 30-year US Treasury bonds that pay less than 4.5% for the next 30-years - from everything the average investor is told, this is a horrible investment. If that's the case, why are the super-rich buying? Are we to assume that the retail investor is right in buying equities while these investors choose the safety of US T-bills?

In regards to money on the sidelines, after we get past the fact that this is just a fallacy, remember, it didn't matter how much money was on the sidelines, General Motors had to restructure through bankruptcy, wipe out its shareholders, force its debt holders to take a severe hit, and its employees had to make fairly severe wage, benefit, and pension plan concessions. All of this is deflationary.

3. Advisors very rarely discuss Secular Bear Market investing strategies with their clients.


- Too much work? Secular Bear Markets require advisors to do a lot more in the way of research. (it also requires calling all their clients (200 to 1,000+) and making significant changes to their portfolios - may be easier, when the markets crash, to just tell their clients, "Nobody Saw It Coming."

Not good for an advisor's business/income?
(if they get paid a lot more for having you invested in mutual funds, they may fear losing you to GIC's - and if you own mostly GIC's, they fear that you may not need them anymore.)

- Or maybe, they just don't know much about Secular Bear Markets themselves?
(if that is the case, do these advisors really bring much in the way of value to their clients?)

What's best (or easiest) for the advisor isn't always what's best for the client.

(again, even if your mutual funds drop by 50% in value for a third time in just ten years, because your advisor didn't see it coming, again, he or she will probably still "earn" much more for just keeping you invested in these funds compared to what they would have earned had they switched you to GIC's when equity/bond markets were over-valued.)

Please, don't accept, "Just Diversify and Think Long-Term."
(The only people who get rich with this advice are the ones who are giving it to others.)


A Few Last Things To Consider:

If, over the last ten years, your advisor didn't see the last two market crashes coming (50% drop in investment values), will it destroy your retirement plans if he again misses the next such drop, because he believes his clients should always be invested in the market, regardless of market valuations, where we are in the business cycle, or how long we have been in the current secular trend?

Does your advisor justify his simple buy-and-hold strategy by telling you that he just doesn't believe in "market timing", and history has proven stocks outperform in the long-run?

Remember Japan? The nation with the second biggest economy in the world, and a country that has actually maintained a trade surplus for years on end! Today, their stock market is valued at around 25% of where it was, almost 20 years ago? Therefore, it has lost almost 75% of its value over the last 20 years. And this was during a 20-year period where the global economy was actually growing at an unsustainable pace!

So, the facts are this; the world's second largest economy, an economy that tends to have a trade surplus, has experienced a 75% lose in stock values (Nikkei 225 index), and this all took place during a 20-year period where the world experienced record growth!

Is that long-term enough to prove that simple truths are sometimes not truths at all?

And so, when people try to explain this away by saying that the US isn't Japan, let me make this very clear, the US may be much worse, because Japan is a nation of producers and savers, whereas the US is a nation of consumers and maxed-out debtors.

Live! Love! Laugh! Learn! Leave a Legacy!

The content on this site is provided as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content shall not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial product, or to participate in any particular trading or investment strategy. The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author. Any action that you take as a result of information or analysis on this site is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.


Negative Nationalism, Positive Nationalism, and Misguided Patriotism

Excerpts from John Ralston Saul's "The Collapse of Globalism - And The Reinvention of the World"

Negative Nationalism:

Insecurity, poverty, and ambition are three of the roots of this destructive nationalism. Its expression is often dependent on ethnic loyalty, an appropriation of God to one’s side, a certain pride in ignorance, and a conviction that you have been permanently wounded – that is, an active mythology of having been irreparably wounded. On key subjects, ignorance is often encouraged. Such wilful ignorance allows highly sophisticated societies to remain fixated on specific wounds.

Giambattista Vico, the great Italian philosopher: “[W]here ever the human mind is lost in ignorance, man makes himself the measure of all things… [R]umor grows in its course… [T]he unknown is always magnified… [W]henever men can form no idea of distant and unknown things, they judge them by what is familiar and close at hand.”

What is closest at hand will most likely be family or race. Speaker after speaker at the 2004 Republican Convention in the United States invoked the family because, they said, family comes first and is the measure of a society. Of course family is central to human life and to our emotional life in all of its complexity. But family as the measure of structure of society is a mafia argument or an argument of the extreme right, for whom there are only two possible choices: either the sacred family or the sacred nation. In either case, loyalty is measured according to how successfully it represents a closed situation. Thus the democratic and humanist ideas of civilization, society, and community, which are all dependent on our ability to imagine the other – the one who is not close – are expelled to the margins.

Such nationalism of proximity is dependent on fear. The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm once put its existence down to an incapacity to recover from the loss of our pre-modern social structures. And so we embraced “a new idolatry of blood and soil.” This is a nationalism as a culture of belonging, rather than a nationalism as a civilization of culture. Thus, ignorance, often presented with the charm of innocence, becomes a state of sanctity. Erasmus warned against this almost before it existed: ‘lack of culture is not holiness, nor cleverness impiety.” And of course, this is nationalism in which nationality becomes a synonym of ethnicity.’ Finally it is nationalism as belief, as religion.

If you look around the world, there is the same slippage almost everywhere.

As for the United States, the general atmosphere seems to be, in historian Simon Schama’s phrase, a “Manichean struggle between good and evil, freedom and terror.” Why would such a complex and rich society fall in the simplicities of a Manichean view? Rorty’s guess is that the Globalization of the labour market without the protection of a welfare state leaves Americans “much more vulnerable to right-wing populism than are most European countries.”

More important, in this confused atmosphere with negative nationalism’s growing, we have seen the return of the idea of race as a quality of belonging.

The problem lies in the myth of race and racial division.

The Aga Khan: “The clash, if there is such a broad civilizational collision, is not of cultures, but of ignorance.” In this case, it cannot be plain ignorance and must therefore either be wilful or the product of fear.

The least expected and most obvious manifestation of negative nationalism has been God’s willingness to make regular appearances on the side of various participants in these new civilizational clashes.

Whether intended or not, God is clearly back in his old public, but non-religious, role, as a political sidekick, ready to justify whatever is required.

His fading participation – bored perhaps – in wars that drag on, such as in Northern Ireland, has been succeeded by star appearances in massacres all over Africa. He has been wandering the Afghan mountains with Taliban and Al Qaeda guerrillas. He has broken down temples and led riots in India. He has supported anti-immigrant campaigns in Europe. In his spare time, he inspires rhetoric of those who want more of the death penalty, and more virgin brides, more flags of specific colours flown. He accompanies American presidents, and for that matter, most American elected representatives, on all public appearances. In the 2003 State of the Union speech, there were twenty-two religious references.

As a perfect illustration of the Manichean model, both the United States and its worst enemies feel they have direct access to the divine.

It must also be said that in many places, God takes on a very different voice. This is a voice that can be heard via people organizing slums in Bangkok or Nairobi. These people are often the driving forces behind hospitals and schools. They speak for the God who never went away – the force of love working for the common good, quite a different divinity from the one leading armies in the name of political inevitabilities.

Positive Nationalism:

Positive nationalism has been with us throughout history. It is reinvented for each age. And there are equivalents in the Analects of Confucius and the Koran, to name just two among many non-Western approaches.

Adam Smith is perfectly clear about the good citizen’s priorities: “The wise and virtuous man is at all times willing that his own private interest should be sacrificed to the public interest of his own particular order or society. He is at all times willing, too, that the interest of this order or society should be sacrificed to the greater interest of the state or sovereignty.”

What we have seen over the last decade is a renewed and growing desire to build our societies at all levels with our own hands – that is, to find ways to be involved.

Adam Smith: “This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition… is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

What we do have so far at the international level in the way of regulations with teeth is very limited: the Ottawa Treaty against land mines; the International Criminal Court; the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. What these treaties demonstrate is that international relations do not have to be market driven. If binding agreements on such difficult issues are possible, then international treaties setting corporate tax levels and organizing labour conditions are possible.

Is it realistic to expect such progress? If you look at the evolution over the last decade, you can see that the process is surprisingly fast, considering that the blockage in most cases has come from the most powerful countries. But this is just another reminder that even the remarkable power of the United States cannot be spread thinly to determine world policy. There are now too many nations and regional groups with their own agendas.

Islam, the religion that most concerns the West these days, is fundamentally open and has a more flexible history than Christianity. As the Koran puts it,

We… made you into
Nations and tribes, that
Ye may know each other
(Not that ye may despise
Each other).

What our situation needs is precisely Adam Smith’s public interest, the imagination that Tocqueville invoked, and Rorty’s humanism.

The more complicated our national and international relationships are, the more all of us need to use our most complicated sense of belonging both to feel at home and to find multiple ways to be at home with the widest variety of people and situations.

The common call today is for an examination of values. I am not clear what this means. It has a slight ring of nineteenth-century self-serving nationalism. It would be better to concentrate on something more real, such as serving the public good. Adam Smith put it that “he is certainly not a good citizen who does not wish to promote, by every means in his power, the welfare of the whole society of his fellow citizens.”

If people who know each other well serve the welfare of their fellow citizens, they may learn something unexpected about each other, perhaps about how different they are. If people who do not know each other well, perhaps because they come from different cultures, serve the welfare of their fellow citizens, they may well discover how similar their values are.

In both cases, this would be the process of positive nationalism.

Charles Ferguson: "There has evolved a political duopoly in the United States, in which the two political parties agree to agree on certain things and agree to disagree on others. And, in particular, they agree on things related to finance and money and they disagree on social policy....My quite strong sense is that this is something that is now explicitly understood.

Video I enjoyed: Misguided Patriotism (click to watch)

Inspirational Quotes

(please, keep scrolling down, there are many words of wisdom here)

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. - Albert Einstein

Do good things. Don't do bad things. - Birdsnest

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Your children need your presence more than your presents. - Jesse Jackson

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. - Viktor E. Frankl

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. - Benjamin Franklin

The time is always right to do what is right. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Possession isn't nine-tenths of the law. It's nine-tenths of the problem. - John Lennon

If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. - Bob Hope

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. - Albert Einstein

Be the change that you want to see in the world. - Mohandas Gandhi

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. - Robert Frost

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others. - John F. Kennedy

Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts. - Mohandas Gandhi

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - Mohandas Gandhi

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind. - Albert Einstein

I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong. - John Lennon

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? - Abraham Lincoln

I don't like that man. I must get to know him better. - Abraham Lincoln

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help. - Abraham Lincoln

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. - Margaret Mead

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. - Albert Einstein

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. - Confucius

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. - Plato

Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time. - Theodore Roosevelt

Wisdom begins in wonder. - Socrates

If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been. - Robert H. Schuller

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. - Buddha

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. - Albert Einstein

The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive. - Albert Einstein

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. - Albert Einstein

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. - Albert Einstein

Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right. - Henry Ford

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. - Henry Ford

Giving back involves a certain amount of giving up. - Colin Powell

Honesty is the best policy. - Benjamin Franklin

We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from it. - William Osler

Freedom lies in being bold. - Robert Frost

A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes. - Mohandas Gandhi

Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice. It is within everyone. - Mohandas Gandhi

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. - Mohandas Gandhi

I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world. - Mohandas Gandhi

Where love is, there God is also. - Mohandas Gandhi

Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up. - Jesse Jackson

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. - Mohandas Gandhi

Man is not made for defeat. - Ernest Hemingway

A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Man's mind, stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions. - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving. - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Middle age is when you still believe you'll feel better in the morning. - Bob Hope

He who opens a school door, closes a prison. - Victor Hugo

Nothing else in the world... not all the armies... is so powerful as an idea whose time has come. - Victor Hugo

One can resist the invasion of an army but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas. - Victor Hugo

The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather in spite of ourselves. - Victor Hugo

There is nothing like a dream to create the future. - Victor Hugo

Toleration is the best religion. - Victor Hugo

To love another person is to see the face of God. - Victor Hugo

I demand more of myself than anyone else could ever expect. - Julius Irving

Of all our possessions, wisdom alone is immortal. - Isocrates

Keep hope alive! - Jesse Jackson

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. - Carl Jung

A child miseducated is a child lost. - John F. Kennedy

Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind. - John F. Kennedy

Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process. - John F. Kennedy

Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. - John F. Kennedy

There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction. - John F. Kennedy

Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly. - John F. Kennedy

Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John F. Kennedy

We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last. - John F. Kennedy

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. - John F. Kennedy

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers. - Rudyard Kipling

I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble. - Rudyard Kipling

Corrupt politicians make the other ten percent look bad. - Henry A. Kissinger

In crises the most daring course is often safest. - Henry A. Kissinger

No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there's too much fraternizing with the enemy. - Henry A. Kissinger

The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. - Henry A. Kissinger

To be absolutely certain about something, one must know everything or nothing about it. - Henry A. Kissinger

Whatever must happen ultimately should happen immediately. - Henry A. Kissinger

The more I see the less I know for sure. - John Lennon

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. - Abraham Lincoln

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new at all. - Abraham Lincoln

Everybody likes a compliment. - Abraham Lincoln

Every one desires to live long, but no one would be old. - Abraham Lincoln

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. - Abraham Lincoln

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. - Abraham Lincoln

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts. - Abraham Lincoln

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong. - Abraham Lincoln

I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. - Abraham Lincoln

I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow. - Abraham Lincoln

If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one? - Abraham Lincoln

If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will. - Abraham Lincoln

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. - Abraham Lincoln

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. - Abraham Lincoln

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln

No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar. - Abraham Lincoln

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. - Abraham Lincoln

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. - Abraham Lincoln

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. - Abraham Lincoln

You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was. - Abraham Lincoln

You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes. - Maimonides

A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. - Nelson Mandela

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. - Nelson Mandela

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. - Nelson Mandela

Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity. - Og Mandino
Do all things with love. - Og Mandino

Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new. - Og Mandino

To do anything truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in with gusto and scramble through as well as I can. - Og Mandino

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

I must admit that I personally measure success in terms of the contributions an individual makes to her or his fellow human beings. - Margaret Mead

One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don't come home at night. - Margaret Mead

We won't have a society if we destroy the environment. - Margaret Mead

Women want mediocre men, and men are working to be as mediocre as possible. - Margaret Mead

Don't be humble... you're not that great. - Golda Meir

Moses dragged us for 40 years through the desert to bring us to the one place in the Middle East where there was no oil. - Golda Meir

A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity. - Ralph Nader

There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship. - Ralph Nader

When strangers start acting like neighbors... communities are reinvigorated. - Ralph Nader

The only alternative to coexistence is codestruction. - Jawaharlal Nehru

I don't know that there are any short cuts to doing a good job. - Sandra Day O'Connor

No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows. - J. Robert Oppenheimer

Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists. - Blaise Pascal

Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much. - Blaise Pascal

Nothing gives rest but the sincere search for truth. - Blaise Pascal

People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others. - Blaise Pascal

The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. - Bertrand Russell

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible. - Bertrand Russell

A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand. - Bertrand Russell

It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions make it impossible to earn a living. - Bertrand Russell

We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart. - Blaise Pascal

An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded. - Pope John Paul II

As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live. - Pope John Paul II

Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of men. - Pope John Paul II

War is a defeat for humanity. - Pope John Paul II

All men are by nature equal, made all of the same earth by one Workman; and however we deceive ourselves, as dear unto God is the poor peasant as the mighty prince. - Plato

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics. - Plutarch

It is part of a good man to do great and noble deeds, though he risk everything. - Plutarch

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled. - Plutarch

The omission of good is no less reprehensible than the commission of evil. - Plutarch

Those who aim at great deeds must also suffer greatly. - Plutarch

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. - Plutarch

The oldest, shortest words - "yes" and "no" - are those which require the most thought. - Pythagoras

What else could this mean? - Tony Robbins

Seek first to understand, then to be understood. - Stephen Covey

Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, like your fingerprints. It's something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming. - Jim Rohn

When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die. - Jean-Paul Sartre

My biggest fear; that people, due to a lack of education, and therefore, a lack of enlightenment, understanding and empathy, in trying to protect their self-interest, lose sight of the bigger picture, and do not rise above our predatory, self-preservation mentality, and in the process, lose, not only our "perceived financial wealth", but much more than we ever thought possible, our ability to care for others, especially those with whom we have little emotional connection and from whom we can gain no financial benefit. That would be a step backwards for humanity. - Sukh Hayre

Live! Love! Laugh! Learn! Leave a Legacy!

Music That Moves Me

(click on any of the videos below and listen to some great poets/storytellers)

Another Sunny Day 12/25 - John Mellencamp

The Ghost of Tom Joad - Bruce Springsteen

Mr. Love & Justice - Billy Bragg

Blowin' in the Wind - Bob Dylan

That's Just The Way It Is - Bruce Hornsby

Crossing a Canyon - 54-40

For the Children - John Mellencamp

In the Ghetto - Elvis Presley

Working Class Hero - John Lennon

Rich Man's War - Steve Earle

Billy Austin - Steve Earle

Rotting on Remand - Billy Bragg

The World Turned Upside Down - Billy Bragg

Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford

Peace of Mind - Grapes of Wrath

Hard Times for an Honest Man - John Mellencamp

I Keep Faith - Billy Bragg

Talkin' Bout a Revolution - Tracy Chapman

Call it Democracy - Bruce Cockburn

Ideology - Billy Bragg

I Ain't Got No Home In This World Anymore - Bruce Springsteen (Woody Guthrie)

World Turned Upside Down - Billy Bragg

Waiting for the Great Leap Forward - Billy Bragg

All You Facists (are bound to lose) - Billy Bragg (Woody Guthrie)

Jesus Christ - Woody Guthrie

Where Have All The Flowers Gone - Pete Seeger

Bourgeois Blues - Leadbelly

Bush War Blues - Billy Bragg

Help Save The Youth of America - Billy Bragg

Magic - Bruce Springsteen

Since When - 54-40

Upfield - Billy Bragg

Sing Their Souls Back Home - Billy Bragg

Minutes to Memories - John Mellencamp

Last to Die (for a mistake) - Bruce Springsteen

Northern Soul - 54-40

The Price of Oil - Billy Bragg

God's Gonna Cut You Down - Johnny Cash

The Road I Must Travel - The Nightwatchman

Walk Tall - John Mellencamp

Now More Than Ever - John Mellencamp

American Land - Bruce Springsteen

Your Life is Now - John Mellencamp

Mr. Wendal - Arrested Development

The Times They Are A Changin' - Bob Dylan

This is here, This is Now - 54-40

B-Side of Life - Timbuk3

Life is Hard - Timbuk3

Dirty Dirty Rice - Timbuk3

Superman's Song - Crash Test Dummies

You've Got A Friend - James Taylor

Imagine - John Lennon

We Are The World - USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa)

John Mellencamp - "Life, Death, Love, and Freedom" Tour - February 18, 2008 (Have seen him every time he has come to Vancouver since 1989 - I missed the 1987 concert because I had to study for an exam the next day)

54-40 - PNE - August 30, 2008 (First time seeing them live. Saw them again on Canada Day 2009)

Billy Bragg - "I Keep Faith" Tour - St Andrews Wesley Church - June 5, 2008 (Saw him for the first time April 2007 at the Commodore - friend had free tickets. It was the first time I actually ever heard of him, to tell you the truth. Now, I am looking forward to seeing him again in November, back at the Commodore).

Me and my ladies - front row centre at the Mellencamp concert(we rushed the stage). Well, we politely asked the security guard (that's him behind me) and he said it was okay. A great place for the girls to watch their first concert. They tried to get John's attention to have him autograph their shirts, but it didn't work out. A roadie did give them a guitar pick each as we were leaving the show though.

Bruce Springsteen - Magic Tour - March 31, 2008 - (This was the first time I saw Springsteen live. Amazing show. When I tell my friends (the ones who are fans, anways), how great the show was, they all say the same thing, "That's why they call him The Boss."

The Springsteen photo I had to get from a website as I did not have my camera with me at that concert.

Poetry: an imaginative awareness of experience expressed through meaning, sound, and rhythmic language choices, so as to evoke an emotional response.

Storytellers deliver unique insight into humanity. Good storytelling is powerful and can motivate people as well as entertain them. A storyteller enhances the actual story by making an art form out of the telling of the story.