One problem that we face every day, particularly in America, is the challenge of staying informed. Many people have put a slightly different spin on this argument, contending that we face an overabundance of information. The real task, wording aside, is in sifting through the noise and getting to the heart of timely, relevant information. This quite often comes down to knowing who to believe.
The most common mistake made by the general public is in basing their logic on fear rather than fact. They listen to people who base their arguments solely on deep-seated fears, rather than seeking out the truth by educating themselves.
Consider the following issues presently facing our country that have been topics for a great deal of debate, protest, even violence:
1. The world is running out of oil, and if we don’t act soon to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels we will destroy the planet for our children
2. We have troops stationed in conflicted zones on the other side of the world for extended periods of time away from their homes and family’s
3. Our country has never seen such turmoil over social issues
4. US consumers are living in fear of unsafe goods, particularly foreign-made cars
Readers under 30, try the following exercise: Ask your parents about what the world was like in the 1970s. Ask them if they ever sat in gas lines. Do they remember the Ford Pinto? How about the Chevy Vega? Both of these find automobiles were made during the ‘70s to combat the widely publicized ‘oil crisis.’
For some perspective on the issue of military duty, ask someone who lived through it (your grandparents, perhaps) about Korea, or World War 2. Ask them about the civil rights movement in the 60’s, or the deadly demonstrations of the later part of that decade, especially 1968.
[Please note that I do not mean this to disrespect the fine men and women of our military in any way. They are upstanding people, and should be commended for their service. We are all in their debt.]
Finally, anyone who’s now scared of climbing into a Toyota should pick up a copy of Ralph Nader’s famous ruse Unsafe at Any Speed and study the now-infamous Chevrolet Corvair. Then take a look at GM’s website (media.gm.com) to see the list of vehicles being recalled, which totals about 1.3 million.
The bottom line is this: Every generation thinks they are the first to face problems, that they are somehow unique or special, or bear some terrible burden. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Likewise, every generation thinks they’re the greatest in history.
Truly there’s only one greatest generation: the last one. After all, they have successfully handed over responsibility to their successors. They’ve been custodians for the world, and turned it over in one piece; or at least no worse for the wear. At the end of the day, that’s about the best anyone can hope to accomplish.
Nevertheless, understand that the world is full of fear-mongers and uneducated followers. It can be hard to fight the multitudes who argue for a cause, but it’s important to step back and consider why something is being advocated. The goal of college (or high school, for that matter) should have been to teach you how to think, not what to think.
To think that the answers to all the world’s problems can be told to you by a CNN anchor over your dinner table is absurd. The golden rule for knowing and understanding the world we all live in has always been, is now, and will forever by: Think for thine self.
This blog is written weekly by Dock David Treece, a registered investment advisor with Treece Investment Advisory Corp. It is meant to share insight of investment professionals, including Dock David and his father, Dock, and brother, Ben, with the public at large. The hope is that the knowledge shared will help individuals to better navigate the investment world.