Hidden Costs of Working

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Being able to quit your day job and use your time in the way you consciously determine is extraordinary.  

Consider these set of facts. I commute 2 hours each way to work in Manhattan 5 days a week.  That adds up to about 1,000 hours per year spent unproductively commuting.  This is only temporary, but for the sake of exemplifying the power of financial freedom, it shows many of us, including myself, have two jobs.  

One is the 9 to 5 office job and the other is commuting.  I work about 50 hours per week, add on the 20 hours commuting, and my total time commitment is 70 hours per week or nearly 3,400 hours per year!  Given my writing speed, I could write over 1 million words in one year with the time I devote to working a traditional job.  The point is that many of us never consider the total time commitment we have to make to our jobs and what we could do with that time if we weren’t dependent on a paycheck to live. 

In addition to the wasted time commuting there is a dangerous health cost associated with a sedentary lifestyle that office jobs foster.  Office workers are devoid of any prolonged physical activity.  Even if you work out for an hour after sitting for 9 hours the negative effects are not negated.  This means you will likely be visiting the doctor more often than if you were financially independent and not working an office job. Financially, it means increased medical costs, potential hospital visits, and a drag on your financial life.  Financial independence means the freedom to live an active, healthy, vibrant lifestyle.

Another cost of working a 9-5 job is all the time spent away from your family.  Your kids are raised by babysitters, teachers, and friends.  Is there a dollar amount you can place on watching your kids grow up, being there when they have their first little league game, or just being there when they want someone to talk to?  

Let’s use a hypothetical family of 4 where both parents commute 2 hours each day to work (1 hour each way). Let’s also assume that the 2 children are in elementary school.  Waking hours for a typical child ages 5-10 are 7am-10pm.  The parents put their children on the bus at 8am and leave for work.  School ends at 3pm, but both parents are at work until 5pm so their children are enrolled in after school childcare from 3pm-6pm, which costs $500 per child per month.  The parents pick their children up and they have dinner together, do some homework, and then put the children to sleep at 10pm.  This is a very reasonable schedule for modern day Americans where both parents have been forced into the workforce.  

This is not the 60’s anymore, both parents work full time in nearly half of two parent households (Pew Research). In this example guess what percentage of time the parents spent with their children during the child’s up hours? Only one third and how much of that time was quality time?  We all know not much.  From Monday-Friday two-thirds of the children’s time awake was spent with teachers and after school caretakers.  That is the price of not owning your time.  Other people raise your kids.

If this wasn’t bad enough working in an office involves office politics where Machiavelli dons a suit and tie, smiles in your face, and then stabs you in the back with surgical precision.

Let’s summarize the cumulative economic, social, and health costs that working a 9-5 job forces you to pay over a 10 year time span.

Commuting 2 hours each day x 5 days x 50 weeks x 10 years x 2 (Mom & Dad) yields 10,000 wasted hours, which could be productively used to generate an income stream.  If those hours yielded just $10 per hour that’s $100,000 in lost income.

The sedentary lifestyle of working in an office does not come without a price on your health.  The present value of the increased health costs could easily cost you $2,000 more per year.  That’s an increase in expenses of $40,000.

Since you’re working all day and don’t want to become state property you spend $1,200 per month per child on day care for 5 years ($1,200 x 2 x 12 x 5 = $144,000).  When your children turn 6  you spend $500 per month per child on afterschool day care ($500 x 2 x 12 x 5 = $60,000).  Total day care costs from 1-10 = $204,000 (ignoring inflation).

We aren’t finished yet because you and your spouse had to buy 2 cars to commute to work since the home prices near both of your offices are too expensive.  You both take out two $25,000 car loans at 3% interest paid back over 5 years.  Your car payment is $449 for each car, but add in insurance of $150 per month, plus $50 in amortized monthly maintenance per month, $75 in gas per month, plus $10 per month in amortized parking & speeding tickets because you can’t be late to work.  Each car has an all in cost of $734 per month.  10 year cost of owning two cars = ($449 x 2 x 12 x 5) + ($285 x 2 x 12 x 10) = $122,280.

Just from the above costs that’s nearly $500k in costs incurred because you aren’t financially independent and did not have control over your time.   

How would you use your time if you were financially free and didn’t work at a job you despised?  How much traveling would you do?  Where would you travel to?  Would you volunteer in your community or start your own business?  

Start thinking about your ideal life made possible by financial freedom.  Millions of people never scratch the surface of their potential because their time is completely consumed by work.  You have unrealized potential just waiting to be activated.  It’s not a simple linear act to change your life, but with strategy, foresight, execution, and mental strength I’m confident you’ll get there.

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Symbol of the Slave

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A slave is someone whose will is subordinated to external circumstances.  

We learned in school that slaves wore visible chains and worked on plantations. We were taught about physical slavery, but there is another much more insidious and just as destructive form of slavery known as psychological slavery.  

Here again is where philosophy is a priceless guardian of your mind and dreams.  Deriving your self worth from the opinions of others, material objects, or from your physical beauty is cataclysmic to financial and personal freedom.  The reason is because each is outside of your control.  If you build your life upon a shifting and uncertain foundation it will certainly bring pain and distress. 

You can’t control what others think of you, the luster of material objects is fleeting, and physical beauty is extremely temporal.  My question to all people who indulge in vanity is: what will be left of you when those good looks depart? 

For most people, the answer is not much.  What’s the use of being beautiful if you lack virtue or wisdom?  Being corrupted by your own physical beauty is a shame.  

I am always disappointed by beautiful people who haven’t spent 5 minutes on becoming a decent human being.  There’s a saying that goes:

“There are two types of people who never hear the truth; powerful people and beautiful people.”  

Of course, the meaning is that everyone is courting powerful people and/or beautiful people and no one wants to fall out of their good graces by telling them the truth.  Ironically, withholding the truth degrades the person you are attempting to court favor with.  Not so ironic at all though, because gaining favor is about gaining some sort of power for yourself and has nothing to do with the welfare of the person with whom you are courting.

People who are married to these ways of gaining self esteem may attempt to prolong the illusion they’ve created with the use of their money.  This typically expresses itself by becoming a person everyone mooches off of because you can’t tell people no, becoming addicted to retail therapy to solve personal problems, and buying expensive plastic surgery to preserve the appearance of youth.  All three are fundamentally at odds with your own personal freedom as an autonomous human being and as someone seeking financial freedom.  

These modes of thinking are poisonous because if you don’t engage in self reflection you’ll never become aware of how you are screwing yourself and how your own actions are 100% responsible for your unhappiness.  

How dangerous it is that people can enslave themselves depending on the quality of their thoughts.  This again is why a constant pursuit of truth and a sober view of reality is priceless. Once again, this is why having a strong inquisitive philosophical mindset is crucial to creating and building wealth.  

You don’t have to be as philosophical as Socrates, but you do need to reflect on everything that flies through your head and ensure you remedy any poisonous thought patterns, which could lead to self destructive actions.

Speaking of poisonous thought patterns, what are they and where do they originate?  They are thoughts that contradict your ideals and life purpose.  Their origins are diverse, but they are expressed by the ego.  The part of our psyche that is unenlightened.  

These sort of thoughts more times than not originate in our external world.  I know this is hard to accept, but people who do not share your value system are poisonous to your wellbeing.  Fitting in with the crowd is too big of a price to pay to lose sight of who you truly are and what you truly desire.  

Being philosophical means confronting these uncomfortable and sometimes frightening realities and doing what is in your long term strategic interest.  Lies bring short term stability, but long term destruction.  Truth brings short term chaos and long term stability.  To associate with people who really do not share your values or dreams murders your essence.  You cannot hang around poor people and expect to become rich.  You cannot hang out with politicians and expect to become honest.  Likewise, you cannot succeed if you associate with people who contradict your mission in life.

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” – 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Once again, a bit of wisdom that ostensibly seems completely unrelated to financial freedom is extremely beneficial to understand and wildly dangerous if you do not.

Don’t be so short sighted to think there aren’t any slaves in America today or anywhere else in the world.  Physical slavery has been greatly curtailed, but psychological slavery is alive and well.

What is the root cause of people enslaving themselves to those things in life that are fleeting and temporal?  It begins with values.  What do you prioritize?  What are your deepest desires?  What is your philosophy on life?  What do you want to accomplish before you die?  The answers to these types of questions form a filter for your experiences and thoughts.  

Someone with incorruptible convictions in an ideal, or a principle, or an end goal, will know their true north and act accordingly when life tries to compromise them.  

What is the master value, the value that precedes excellence and all other values?  That would be a love for truth.  This one value is extraordinary because it gives you a fierce desire to constantly challenge your own worldview, to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, and to advance towards your end goal in the most efficient and strategic manner.

If a love of truth deters psychological delusions then why are so many people ruled by illusions?  2,500 years ago in Athens men and women were ruled by the shadows and today nothing has changed because that is the natural consequence of rejecting the master value.  Even in 21st century America, with every opportunity to gain knowledge, we are swimming in a sea of ignorance because people are still living in Plato’s cave.  

They reside in the subterranean caverns of their mental potential because they said no to knowledge, wisdom, and truth.  You cannot afford to say no to the master value.  

Freedom demands a love of truth.

 

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How the Powerful Shaped You

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Knowledge is preferable to ignorance, wisdom over arrogance, and truth over illusions.  

With that said there is much value to be gained in understanding the country you live in, who exercises the most power over the average person, and what their intentions are.  One can surely take an eagle eye perspective of American life and ponder why is it that in one of the wealthiest nations in the world do we have so many people who aren’t financially free?  

Why in the 21st century are so many Americans ignorant?  I believe an understanding of the answer to this question is absolutely critical in your ascension to financial freedom.

Illegitimate power can only persist with the assistance of illusions, but what is illegitimate power in a nation with democratic heritage and ideals?  It’s the use of private power to subvert the public’s interest in favor of economic or political elites.  

To assert your will on a democratic nation without being elected and use your power for selfish ends can only be accomplished if the population is conditioned to either not understand power dynamics or to simply be apathetic towards political affairs altogether.  

A dictator could accomplish these ends by simply asserting force and violence on dissenting citizens, but in a nation like the United States, this is not a viable long term strategy to maintain power.  What is needed is propaganda or manipulative and deceptive information that forms opinions and a worldview that never threatens an illegitimate power structure.  

I will speak on the actions and the influence of elites in the United States, but within the context of achieving financial freedom the most important insight to have is that a free person who is not inhibited by a need to work 40 hours a week to live is dangerous to those who drive the direction of the nation.  

Dangerous for several reasons.  

First, you have time and you’re unpredictable on how you will use that time.  You could educate yourself and come to learn the truth and have the resources to spread the truth and potentially change the power structure of the nation.  

Elites understand that economic freedom is a potential threat to their power and measures were taken to ensure that a financially independent person is the exception and not the rule.  I will speak on several of these measures that have extraordinary influence over every American and are widely unknown.

The actions taken by the nation’s power brokers in the late 19th century were synergistic and wildly potent.  Consequently, they were also a major setback for the autonomy and freedom of the American people.  

If you want to understand the external influences that drive people toward financial servitude you must understand what occurred over 100 years ago in the halls of power.  

Ever since the dawn of civilization those in power were always interested in social engineering to protect themselves from an unruly population.  Being able to control your population makes it easier to rule.  It really is that simple.  

America’s rulers are no different in their thinking then the Medici’s during the Florentine Renaissance who ruled with the iron fist that Niccolo Machiavelli described in The Prince or the type of actions taken by Caesar when he dissolved the Roman Republic.  

Unenlightened rulers are not concerned with maximizing the potential of each human being, but rather solely interested in the raw and vain pursuit of naked power.  Understanding this will make it easier to understand the actions taken against the American people by the nation’s rulers in the late 19th century and early 20th century.  

High on the power bestowed upon them by the enormous fortunes made during the industrial revolution America’s industrial titans sought to create an education system that would complement their economic and political interests.  

The purpose of this education system would be the same purpose of nearly every government funded education system anywhere in the world, to advance the interests of those who control the government.  More specifically, the purpose was to create obedient, docile, and unthinking employees who would be conditioned for life in the factory where their freedom was stripped and their autonomy nonexistent.  

Ironically the education system was meant to ensure the citizenry was never truly educated and that they lived their entire lives believing the illusion of their rulers.  The propaganda disseminated by the elites is why millions of people are living in Plato’s cave of illusions.  

Such a state of mind is cultivated in the Trojan horse we know as public schools.  Ostensibly, public schools appear benign and even beneficial, but that is exactly the thoughts of the Trojans described by Virgil in the Latin epic poem/myth, Aeneid.   

After years of fruitless battling between the Greeks and Trojans, the Greeks devised a cunning strategy based in subversion.  They built a wooden horse large enough to hold dozens of Greek warriors and presented it as a gift to Troy.  

The Trojans wheeled the horse inside their city walls and their destruction became imminent as the Greeks climbed out of the wooden vessel, opened the gates of the city, and destroyed Troy.  

Public schools appeared to be a gift to the American people, just like the wooden horse appeared to be a gift to the Trojans, but its purpose was the same of the Trojan horse, to subvert an enemy.  The enemy public schools sought to destroy were freethinkers and those with high minded ideals such as truth, freedom, and justice.  To be even more refined the enemy were people who couldn’t be controlled by the tools used by social engineers.

In the mid 19th century Massachusetts was the first state to adopt compulsory public schooling.  Horace Mann led the reform movement citing his admiration for the Prussian education system first set up in 1819.  After the Prussians were defeated by Napoleon at the Battle of Jena, they sought to create a system of education that would instill its citizenry with unquestioning obedience to authority and prevent any future military defeats.

The American system of public education, championed by Horace Mann, followed the same ideal of obedience to authority.  In the first two decades of the 20th century, Andrew Carnegie and David Rockefeller provided more funding for public schools than the federal government.  Money was invented to buy things.  What did they buy and what was the educational philosophy of these financiers?  Did they ascribe to the Enlightenment ideal of education; that of kindling a flame or the command and control view that education was similar to filling an empty cup?

The first mission statement of David Rockefeller’s General Education Board outlined in Occasional Letter Number One makes it very clear:

“In our dreams…people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science…of whom we have ample supply (Gates, 1913).”

Note that a philosopher is someone who loves truth and wisdom and they had no use for such people.  What kind of people did they seek to cultivate?  A highly influential educator and prominent Harvard professor, Alexander James Inglis, tells us what the purpose of education is in his book, The Principles of Secondary Education, published in 1918.  

Inglis took Taylorism, the scientific management of employees, and applied this wartime efficiency to schools.  He set out 6 purposes that public schools were to carry out.  Take notice of who benefits and who is disadvantaged by the following purposes of public schools:

1)   The adjustive or adaptive function.  Inglis details the importance of inculcating children with ‘fixed habits of reaction.’  To what is ambiguous, but I think it becomes more clear with whom children should develop fixed habits of reaction towards.

2)   The integrating function – Schools are to make children as standardized as possible so their conformity makes them predictable.  Who can profit off of predictability?

3)   The diagnostic and directive function – Each child will be continuously graded and tested on standardized exams and their proper social role will depend on their performance.  The hell with cultivating potential.

4)   The differentiating function – Once each child is diagnosed with their proper social role they will be educated in so far as it is necessary for that specific role, no further.

5)   The Selective function – Social Darwinism through standardized testing. The dumb should be publically humiliated and their opportunities for procreation diminished by being publicly labeled dumb.

6)   The Propaedeutic function – Certain students will be chosen for further education based on their ability to parrot the commands of their school masters.  From this group, future leaders will be chosen.

What is the significance of all this?  Public school was built to carry out the will of wealthy business interests, i.e. the industrialists.  Think about what an ideal employee is to a corporation.  

First and foremost he is obedient; he follows orders, and conforms to the demands of management.  He is predictable using stick and carrot methods.  He is a resource no different than copper or wheat, to be used to maximize profit, and most egregious, he is to never dwell on the fact that he is not a free man.  

Of course, they had no use for philosophers or anyone who couldn’t be scientifically managed.  Such people are unpredictable and can’t be kept in servitude for long.  Public school teaches children to be blindly obedient to their teachers, to accept that truth comes from authority, to conform at every turn to established norms, all of which produces child like adults and perfect employees for corporations that view people as expendable resources.  

Is it any wonder why striving for financial independence and freedom is a huge middle finger to a system that would much rather you be a docile consumer conforming to the demands of corrupt power players?  We in America have been sold lies and illusions and were told it was heresy to question the myths in our midst.

In the pursuit of economic freedom you must work to purge from your psyche the attributes pushed on you to make you a brick in the wall.  These characteristics will not serve you, but serve those who want power over you.  

The most effective way to cleanse yourself of propaganda is to become a philosopher and search for truth in all areas of your life.  

Illusions and deception are everywhere, but we all must light our illusions on fire with the truth.  This is why I advocate for a holistic approach to achieving financial freedom.  If the finance world was more in tune with philosophy and the philosophical world more in tune with finance we would all make extraordinary gains.

One of the most persistent myths in America is that of freedom.  We are endlessly told that America is the citadel of freedom in the world, but do you feel free?  Do you feel in command of your time and your life?  

When we walk into our first full time job we sense in our bones something is wrong.  Our eyes see a cubicle, but our soul sees a prison.  Frederick Douglas expressed a very similar sentiment when he said:

“I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.”

It’s hard to articulate, but it feels as if an unseen force has robbed us of our autonomy.  We all put on our best looking masks to impress our bosses, but the mask changes nothing.  If you are an employee that is dependent on your job you aren’t much different than an indentured servant on a feudal plantation.  You are not free, now what are you going to do about it?  

We are trading time for money and money is needed to live, but without time what is life?  What is life when we spend most of it in a place that takes our energy and diverts us from our true purpose?  How can we call ourselves free if we do not control the use of our time?  We wake up at 5:30am, we get home at 8pm, we commute 2 hours each way not because we want to, but because we are not free, period.  No matter how steep the ascent to freedom, no matter the cost to be paid to be a free human being, that cost must be paid because life is too damn valuable to be wasted.

With a more sober view of American society and an understanding of the undercurrents of corrupt power, I want to stress that although America is far from perfect if you have the determination, the will, and the ability to execute on your dreams then nothing will stop you.  I bring up the darker aspects of America to paint a more realistic picture of why so many people live in ignorance of forces that have enormous influence on their lives.  Once again, ignorance does not work in our favor.  

If you want freedom you need truth.

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Financial Independence Can Save America

Ancient Roman initialism: Senātus Populusque Rōmānus – “The Senate and the People of Rome.”

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The degree of betrayal that has besieged America is symptomatic of a crumbling empire.  Institutions responsible for protecting the public’s interest have turned into vehicles for personal power and fame.  

Leaders are more concerned with their own glory than the quality of life of those they’ve sworn to fight for.  We are looking more and more like the Roman Empire in its twilight years instead of the nation our founding fathers bequeathed us.

We were once a nation that produced things, we defeated fascism, and we learned from our transgressions and outlawed slavery.  We have never been a perfect nation, but every generation has done their part to make this nation better for their children, but this continuous improvement seems to be stalling. 

The average American is just a shell of the frontiersman of the 19th century or the men who fought in Western Europe and the Pacific to liberate the world. These were people who strived forward in the face of adversity, uninspiring odds and an unknown outcome.  They had courage though and that made all the difference.  

America was born under the toughest circumstances.  Its first citizens were rural folks who were self sufficient and distrustful of authority. Their lives were not easy, but they had more freedom calling themselves Americans rather than Englishmen.  With success came material progress and Americans became consumers instead of producers.  Thesis gave rise to an antithesis.  A hard working people gave rise to a population proud to consume and proud to show off status symbols.

It was an evolution propelled by product propaganda and post war prosperity.   Ironically enough, our success after World War II helped create the gluttonous consumer society we know today.

If success makes you fat and lazy, if it makes you forget what made you successful, then how long can you expect to be successful?  Americans forgot why we accomplished so much.  

They indulged on new found prosperity and were shocked by the austerity of the 2008 financial crisis, but that crisis was caused in part by Americans living in a delusional state of mind going into insane amounts of debt to sustain a mirage of a lifestyle.  

Too many people just couldn’t come to grips with the fact that they couldn’t afford 3 cars, 1 vacation home, and 2 mortgages.  The 2008 financial crisis was reality asserting itself on the stupidity of American society from the blue collar worker who went into debt to finance an illusion or the Wall St executive who risked the entire American economy for the vanity of a bonus check.  

People’s lives were irreparably altered forever for the worse and this sort of mindless and destructive consumerism could very well be more dangerous to American posterity than any other enemy we have.

Each time an American sees the trap of consumerism and decides to become financially independent we as a nation are better for it.  The reason is that you’re producing more for the economy than you’re taking.  You’re self sufficient and that means not depending on the government just to live.

Once again, in simple mathematical terms, you’re a net positive value creator.  Imagine if 15, 25, or even 50 million Americans were financially independent.  What would be some economic, social, and political effects of such a national achievement?

First off this would amount to an economic revolution.  With fewer people in the traditional workforce, there would be upward pressure on certain well paying jobs depending on the industries early retirees were previously working in.

There are numerous jobs that support the minimum income requirements needed to become financially independent.  These would be jobs ranging from software engineers to actuaries and many blue collar jobs.   Some would say it wouldn’t be good for society if too many nurses or doctors, for example, prematurely left their profession, but in the long term, the job market would self correct.

Assuming demand stays relatively stable, more people leaving any profession translates into a lower supply thus driving the price of those services upwards.  With compensation increasing the incentive for young people to enter the field would increase and the supply of candidates for temporarily low supply jobs would also increase over time thus mitigating the risk of losing too many socially vital professionals.

On the social end of the spectrum, widespread financial independence would be one of the best long term remedies to social plagues like substance abuse, alienation, and divorce.

Presumably, parents would be able to spend more time with their children, which would solve many problems that governments are incapable of solving, such as unhealthy personal relationships which lead to destructive behavior.  Some of societies worst problems are created by bad parenting.

Financial independence would provide the ability for people to spend less time working and commuting and more time raising their children to be self sufficient and productive adults.

Politically, widespread financial independence would be one of the best things to happen to our Republic since George Washington.  Financial independence means leisure time, more leisure time means more awareness of the world you live in through reading, writing, talking with others, traveling, and just becoming a more well rounded human being.  This increased awareness begins to dissipate more and more ignorance especially political ignorance.

Here’s why: financial independence inevitably leads to an increase in general awareness regarding human affairs.  Once again, this is an effect of free time and curiosity.  With increased understanding of the political process, more people would become enraged by the machinations of corrupt politicians.  With this increased awareness and righteous indignation financially free people could do one of several things:

1) Run for office themselves since they don’t have to worry about losing their job.  Raising enough money to win is a huge obstacle though, which leads to #2.

2) Organize politically and search for candidates.  This could include recruiting wealthy people with integrity to run for office themselves and helping them win.  Another political game changer would require a long term focus and upfront investment. Financially independent people could actively seek out meritorious young people who prove they can handle power, possess empathy, and have leadership qualities and mentor them for a future political run.

3) Financially free people who are not indentured servants are exponentially more likely to speak truth to power, be more willing to shed light on injustices, and overall more courageous since there isn’t an economic ax above their head.  With the fear of losing their job gone forever, they are a force to be reckoned with.

In conclusion, free time is a beautiful thing, which allows people to change the world they live in for the better.  We are plagued by poor leaders, an apathetic public, and no shortage of social problems.  These plagues can be remedied if more people just have enough time to take care of themselves, raise their children, and make a contribution to the public good.

Financial independence creates that precious time.

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Noblesse Oblige: The Obligation of Nobles

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What do the French and American revolutionaries have in common with those seeking early retirement and financial freedom?  They are all revolutionaries.

Think for a second how American society would change in a revolutionary manner if consumer culture took its last breath and financial freedom became the new spirit of the age.  

Think of all the people on the hamster wheel whose only free time is eating and sleeping.  These poor souls have no opportunity to develop their passions or talents, but what if the millions of people living semi-conscious lives and whose hope has been crushed by the grind and struggle of daily life, what if they tasted freedom?  What could they achieve?  What could we as a nation achieve?  

Freedom is a prerequisite for growth, growth is needed for achievement, achievement needed for progress, and progress is needed to advance Mankind.  Those seeking to ‘retire’ at 30, 35, or pick any ‘abnormally’ young age by societal expectations, are basically telling those that chose a conventional lifestyle there’s another way to live life that gives you control of your time and the freedom all people crave.

There are many ways to analyze the root cause of the flaws that exist in western society.  Those flaws include general apathy towards political affairs, an indulgence in consumer culture, and a political system that exclusively serves the powerful.  The most important part of any society is the power structure.  It’s the sufficient condition for all other major societal phenomenon.

The power structure determines what type of education the masses will receive, who the government will serve, who the justice system will serve, who the economy will serve, it affects the psychology of each person through ownership of mass communication companies, and it influences the opinions and tastes of the masses through propaganda.  

In short, the power structure determines the direction of society and the overall quality of the citizenry.  The one defining quality of those who exercise enormous power over society is their vast wealth.  Wealth is amoral.  Money is not the root of all evil and being wealthy doesn’t make you selfish, callous, or an enemy of Mankind.  Rather wealth is an amplifier.  It amplifies your flaws, strengths, values, and priorities.

If the human race is to fulfill its full potential then it’s imperative that the wealthy become enlightened or the enlightened become wealthy. 

Enlightened can be a subjective term unless nailed down with a reasonable definition.  Here is what I mean by enlightened: living life according to higher ideals including a love of truth, justice, and freedom, while transcending the primal desire to be selfish and acting to advance human welfare.

The human race is greatly influenced and guided by the wealthy.  To enlighten the wealthy or to enlighten those on the road to building wealth is to indirectly enlighten humanity.  This is simple cause and effect.  

Those with wealth have power and those with power have influence over the masses.  If a society is guided by self interested elites then the average person will suffer the consequences, but if a society is guided by benevolent elites who use their wealth to advance their fellow Man then the world as we know it takes a sharp turn for the better.

There is a French phrase that embodies the ethos of the enlightened wealthy: “Noblesse oblige,” or nobility brings responsibility. In every generation, there are wealthy people who embody this ethos and there are those who embody the unenlightened ethos of “Gain wealth forget all, but self.”

One person who exemplified the actions and principles of a member of the enlightened wealthy was President Theodore Roosevelt.  The youngest President in history was born into one of America’s wealthiest 19th-century families.  

With every advantage available to support him he entered public service becoming the youngest member of the New York State Assembly at age 23.  Three years later his first child was born and two days after that his wife and mother would die on the same day.  

Did he retreat into a life of ease supported by the privilege of being a Roosevelt?  Not even close.  

From 1889 to 1895 he served as US Civil Service Commissioner, then served as NYC Police Commissioner from 1895-1897 and was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President McKinsey in 1897.  

In the Summer of 1898, he resigned from his post at the Department of the Navy to fight in the Spanish-American war in Cuba.  When he returned he was nominated and elected Governor of New York in November 1898.  The meteoric rise continued.  In 1900 he was chosen to be Vice President under President McKinsey and in 1901 he became the youngest President in US history at age 43 after President McKinsey was assassinated.  

Roosevelt was devoted to the ‘strenuous life’, a life of contribution where privilege was used for benevolent purposes.

The future of the human race literally hinges on the battle between these two ways of thinking between the wealthiest citizens in our society.  It is my sincere hope that you will choose the enlightened side and use the power of being financially free to help people of modest means live up to their potential.

This is enlightened self interest.  The more people you help the more people will want to help you.  Humanity is as interconnected and interdependent as it’s ever been.  No one can escape this truth.  

The most basic thing we all have in common is our mortality.  How do you know that the boy or girl living in the gritty streets of any ghetto in America doesn’t have the cure for cancer in them?  No one knows, but everyone deserves the utmost opportunity to cultivate their potential.  With a new spirit of the age based on enlightened thinking, Mankind has the greatest chance to thrive in the coming century.  

Who would’ve thought that a counter culture could have the potential to inspire people to break free from their daily trance and focus on achieving freedom?  This community has the potential to inspire a nation one person at a time. 

Remember that in the process of lifting yourself out of your current circumstances you have the extraordinary power to place a ladder for those below you.  

Exercise that power.

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Revolution or Evolution?

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I don’t believe in revolutions. A revolution is a misunderstood evolution.  

In 1789, after centuries of aristocratic rule, the French people shocked the world and began a revolt that would change the course of World history.  Almost as fast as a passing wind the French people reached the point of no return and put a nail in the coffin of aristocratic rule.  

King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette were guillotined for treason.  Not long after the leaders of the Revolution, Robespierre and Saint-Just, were also guillotined.  

Were these thunderous events caused by a spark never before ignited or did a political revolution occur because of numerous factors over a long period of time that finally coalesced to form the visible spark the world saw as violent rebellion?  

Of course, such complicated events do not occur in vacuums and their eventual fruition is the result of many factors occurring over time, but not widely noticed.

The same applies when someone revolts against their lifestyle or dramatically changes their life in a relatively short time period.  The high school kid who was deathly afraid of public speaking becomes a renowned motivational speaker before 30 or in the opposite direction the straight A student in high school and captain of the football team who is in and out of drug rehab by 25.  

Did these revolutions happen in one day?  Does someone gain the confidence and skills to master public speaking in one day?  Do we lose people to drugs because of one bad decision on one day?  No, but ostensibly it appears an unfathomable event has occurred and we attribute this to some unexplained revolution.  

The truth is that revolutions are just well disguised evolutions.  Just because you can’t observe with your eyes the changes in someone’s life or the life of a nation does not mean nothing is changing.  

There are very powerful undercurrents that course through the veins of each of us.  These are the undercurrents created by our values, virtues, and actions.  

You may know at an intellectual level that justice is an ideal, but it doesn’t become a value until it’s practiced on a consistent basis in your everyday life.  If you have extreme discipline and focus you are already a force to be reckoned with.  Discipline and focus give you enormous power.  The most transformative power of all is the power to reshape your life.

If you are seeking financial independence a personal revolution seems awfully seductive.  A rapid change to discard the parts of your life you loathe is extremely attractive.  

I understand this, but there is no such thing as a revolution.  All large scale changes are the result of an evolution of consistently improving yourself each day for a sustained amount of time.  The outward revolution comes after the internal revolution.  This is crucial to understanding the human condition and how you can radically change your life.

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Preparing for Power

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Wealth is power and we all know power is a dangerous thing to possess to the uninitiated.  

Imagine that our world was secretly controlled by extraterrestrial beings outside of physical human perception.  This knowledge would be powerful, but would it be good for everyone to possess?  If this were announced on the BBC or CNN everyone would go nuts and modern civilization would cease to exist.

You don’t put power into the hands of someone who isn’t prepared for power.  That would destroy them.  Likewise, financial freedom is power and you better be prepared for it.

Ever wonder what motivates a bullied teenager to grab a 9mm Glock and shoot their classmates?  

Power.  

The instant they hold that gun they feel they have taken their power back.  They are overtaken by the adrenaline rush of finally feeling powerful and they commit an unforgivable act.

Within this context what makes someone prepared for the power of being financially free?  How can they ensure their new found power will not lead to their own self destruction?  

Your greatest enemy is making power your end and this can only be done by allowing your consciousness to be corrupted by primitive thoughts and making decisions based on intense egotism.  

You must starve the ego by cultivating your noble purpose and life mission.  Having a noble purpose in life bigger than you ironically makes you more powerful.  It gives you the extra push, motivation, willingness to suffer that those without a noble purpose do not have at their disposal.  

Most importantly it starves the primitive ego that is concerned with instant gratification, devotion to self interest, comfort, and power over others.

The second way to prepare yourself for the power of financial freedom is to cultivate a value system congruent with Enlightenment ideals. Enlightenment ideals include freedom, truth, knowledge, wisdom, and the application of reason.  If you live by these ideals you will gain power over the vicissitudes of life and you will undoubtedly transcend your circumstances.  These are ideals expressed all throughout the universe and they do not fail those that commit to them.

The third important piece of work to lay down is ensuring you do not allow your ego into the cockpit of your life.  You are just as complex as an F-18 fighter jet.  

The US military does not allow undisciplined and untrained pilots to command a $50 million piece of equipment.  When you make important life decisions out of the consciousness of egotism it’s just as dangerous as hopping into a fighter jet with no prior training or experience.  If you manage to take off tragedy awaits you.

The person who seeks wealth without the counsel of a noble purpose is the teenager with the handgun.  They have no clue how power can destroy them and the people they love.  Their ignorance is their most dangerous enemy just as Plato illustrates in the Republic. They commit the most unforgivable act by living a life worshiping callous self interest and holding the accumulation of wealth as their divine purpose.

In the end, financial freedom is power and power is dangerous.  In order to combat the pitfalls of power, you must starve your ego by having a noble purpose, an enlightened value system, and never make power your end goal.  It’s easier said then done, but if you can do these three things then the power of financial freedom will be a servant of your life mission.

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The Enemy in Your Head

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You have an enemy that subtly lurks in the last place you’d look.  Only wisdom and virtue expose this enemy and free you from its primitive control.  

The enemy is between your ears.  It’s the primitive part of our brain called the reptilian brain.  It has an important evolutionary purpose, but can inspire destructive behavior if we live life through its primitive ego lens.  

It is solely concerned with survival.  Its chief characteristics include regulating our fight or flight responses, inspiring territoriality, slavish obedience to rituals and authority, cold blooded behavior, and an inability to adapt to change.  

It’s quite interesting to notice the attributes are all valuable in a ruthless Hobbesian dystopia where physical survival is never guaranteed, but in today’s world such attributes will lead you to a certain early death, whether it be physical, social, or spiritual.

19th-century German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, put forward the idea that all of humanity, at some level, is driven by a will to power.  This is not necessarily dark or sinister.  It all depends on why you want power and what you will do with it.  

In all of us exists the potential to commit great acts of Good and Evil.  The destructive Evil is born from your reptilian brain and its power over you is directly proportional to your unawareness of its existence.  

So what does financial freedom have to do with your reptilian brain and Friedrich Nietzsche’s idea of the will to power?  The dominant attributes that stem from the reptilian brain are antithetical to achieving financial freedom because one must be adaptable in the face of a constantly changing landscape.  

One must have the ability to question established dogma and societal rituals and create a life of their choosing.  Additionally, you must be cognizant of what is motivating your will to financial power.  Someone living in a primitive state of mind seeks such power to exert their will on others, to impress their contemporaries, and prove through the endless accumulation of wealth that they are ‘elites’, while all others are plebeians.  

Those are some of the primitive motivators, but what’s deleterious to human progress are the methods employed by someone living in a primitive state of mind to achieve financial power.  

Of course, there are degrees of barbarous actions, but they express themselves in more benign forms by way of selling products based on deception and manipulation all the way to the most grotesque acts of human indecency such as instigating a war in order to sell weapons to the opposing armies.  

These are expressions of Mankind’s primitive self, emanating from the reptilian brain.  Do not think you are incapable of such acts of moral degradation.  The truth is we all are because these are hardwired features of all of our minds.  

Just because we all have the potential to commit inhumane acts doesn’t mean we are destined to, but the acquisition of power is an extremely dangerous circumstance to someone who has not sought virtue and self knowledge beforehand.  

This is the key point I want to convey.  If you do not heed the counsel of Socrates and acquire virtue and wisdom before power, then power will destroy you, as it has done to millions before you.  What would be the value of acquiring wealth if the seeds of self destruction, by way of lacking virtue and wisdom, conspire to assassinate you when you are at seemingly untouchable heights?  

Showing humanity the importance of knowledge, wisdom, and virtue was so important to Socrates that he did not blink to die in the name of these principles.  

At the conclusion of Socrates’ speech to 500 of his fellow Athenians he said, “When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them…if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing, – then reprove them, as I have reproved you, for not caring about that for which they ought to care, and thinking that they are something when they are really nothing. And if you do this, I and my sons will have received justice at your hands.”

What good is there in a life lacking virtue?  Make wisdom, virtue, and self knowledge your number one priorities and your motivations will remain loyal to you as a human being and your eventual success of achieving financial freedom will not serve your primitive self, but your more enlightened self.  Furthermore, your success will become an instrument for Good instead of an instrument used to accelerate Man’s self destruction.

“Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say again that the greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living – that you are still less likely to believe.”

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

That was one of several crucial ideas Socrates sought to ingrain into the consciousness of his fellow Athenians.  Again Socrates bestows on us timeless wisdom that those seeking financial freedom can use as a growth accelerator.  Let’s dive deeper into the consequences of living the unexamined life and the examined life.

Wouldn’t life be so much more comfortable and less turbulent if we weren’t constantly questioning our motivations and the way we lived?  We could blame a litany of forces that are responsible for our failures.  Common punching bags include our parents, our ‘friends’, our government, the economy, or maybe plain bad luck.  Who wants the discomfort of responsibility and critical thought?

Furthermore, how about people born into poverty in America?  If anyone has a cause to curse their circumstances and the things outside their control it would be the young child born on the unforgiving streets of any ghetto in America and raised by a single parent and the brutality of crime.  

The reason poverty is so persistent is that it’s a self reinforcing intergenerational phenomenon.  We should have compassion for people who, at no fault of their own, were given an unjust start to their life.  We can all understand someone being angry at the world for what they had to go through as a child because of the harshness of their circumstances, but blaming others can only get you so far because wherever you are in life can be transcended by strategic action.  

You will only see what needs to be done if you consistently live the examined life.  If you never turn the mirror inwards the blueprint will never materialize.   How else can you improve if you are not open to feedback from the universe?  This applies to financial success just as much as any other worthy endeavor in life.  

The path to financial independence is not a linear ascension.  The single most important factor in your rate of acceleration to financial freedom is your ability to learn, adapt, change, and overcome.  If you buy a triplex in San Francisco, for example, with the strategy of renting to young well to do professionals and having $500 in cash flow per month, but after the first 4 months you’re cash flow negative, then the situation is trying to teach you something.  Examine your analysis before buying the home and pinpoint where you went wrong.  The examination will tell you the blueprint.  

In the end, your choice to live the examined or unexamined life is a reflection of your highest values.  If you seek comfort and ease then the unexamined life is preferable, but if you seek continuous improvement, growth, and achievement then living the examined life is absolutely necessary.

 

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Delay Gratification and Reap the Rewards

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There is one characteristic of American society that is antithetical to financial independence and that is the need for instant gratification.  

From sex to money, to retail therapy, too many people sacrifice their long term interests to satisfy their fleeting short term appetites.   

This general inability to delay gratification has significant deleterious consequences in nearly every aspect of your life.  The married man that can not master his sexual impulses and practices infidelity can not have a healthy satisfying relationship with his wife or any woman for that matter.  

The woman that lives beyond her means, derives self worth from the opinions of her peers, and therefore can not control her impulse to buy designer clothes will never be free on two levels.  For one her peers control her happiness and therefore she is a slave to what the Greeks called ‘doxa,’ common opinions, and 2) she’ll always have to work to live, unless she marries rich, but like all addictions access to the drug only intensifies the addiction.  

The young adult who consistently makes the decision to go out and party with friends instead of study for his professional credentialing exams is making a grave mistake.  

In all three examples mentioned each person failed to exercise self discipline and sacrificed what was best for them in the long term for what was pleasurable, satisfying, or fun in the moment.  

Before the rapper Drake made Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once) a popular term amongst teens, there was a Latin phrase that conveyed a similar message, ‘carpe diem,’ seize the day.  

In many aspects of life, carpe diem is sound counsel, but it is important to not cop out of your long term dreams by saying “YOLO!.”  If you were to make sacrifices for let’s say 6 years and at the end of 6 years you had achieved financial freedom and could live with complete autonomy would you take that route?  

Carpe diem is all about taking life by the horns and doing what you know in your heart is right.  I’m of the firm belief that those that plan their life out intentionally and set out to do whatever is necessary to achieve their goals are the ones who are seizing the day.

In any event having the fortitude of saying no to a cookie today for a cake tomorrow is an invaluable personal attribute to possess in the pursuit of financial freedom and any worthwhile endeavor.

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Build Your Own Personal Philosophy

Raphael’s painting of the School of Athens. At center, Plato converses with Aristotle.

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If you are to transcend societal norms and attempt to break the mold built for you then it’s imperative that you build your own personal philosophy on life that keeps you strong in times of defeat, informs your decision making, and provides the intellectual framework to achieve financial freedom.  

One of the untold differences between those that are bricks in the wall and those that throw bricks at the wall, so to speak, is their belief system.  

What are your belief systems?  Did you purposely pick them or did you inherit them from your culture, society, or family?  Beliefs are a powerful psychological phenomenon that have a direct effect on your reality.  Here’s an example of a belief system that empowers:

My life is short.  My potential is unlimited.  The purpose of my life is to achieve the impossible before I die.

Here’s an example of a belief system that disempowers:

Life is short I die in the end so what difference does it make how I live?

What’s the significance of these two types of belief systems?  The actions the person takes based on these beliefs.  The person who is motivated by death to achieve their potential before they die will work 100x harder, endure the unbearable, and in the end, will achieve their goal.  

Why?  Because they know that the only way life would have any value to us humans is if we die.  If we lived forever life would have no value because there wouldn’t be consequences.  

On the other hand, someone with a nihilistic mindset sees the same thing, but reacts as if death was defeat.  With that thinking, death has truly defeated you because you are basically dead before dying.  

We humans transcend death by making it a motivation to be the best, work harder than we thought possible, and living up to our highest ideals.

The one quote that sums up the ethos I’m expressing comes from the late Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius:

“Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.”

By pursuing financial freedom many of you are attempting to scale the proverbial Mount Everest.  You will need your mind on your side at all times. You cannot fall short of your goal unless you psychologically sabotage yourself.  

If you have an enlightened personal philosophy that arms you with intellectual weapons to fight self doubt, failure, and the opinions of others then you will reach your destination much quicker.

The answers to the following questions will give you sufficient substance to iron out a personal philosophy and will make you psychologically stronger on your journey towards financial freedom.

1)   What is the purpose of your life and why?

This is not an easy question to answer and tragically most people never answer it.   Life is an amazing paradox because we don’t come into this world with an instruction manual.  

Our purpose is what we will it to be.  If you are nihilistic you live without purpose, but how does that make you a better human being?  How does that give you superhuman strength when you’re going through hell?

2)   What are you willing to go through hell and back to achieve?

What are you willing to stake your existence on to achieve?  What’s the one thing that you would be willing to endure pain and heartache to make a reality?

3)   What are your highest ideals?

How do you see your ideal self living?  Do you honor your ideals even when it’s not in your self interest to do so?

4)   What values do you wish to live by?

What are the values that invigorate your spirit?  Which values inspire you most when you see them being acted upon?  Is it a commitment to truth or justice or honor or integrity or patience?

5)   How do you want to be remembered by generations to come?

3.5 billion people are living on less than $3 per day.  They are fighting for their life every single day. From 1914-1989 Germany was one of the harshest places to live in the western world.  Over 3 generations had to endure the horrors of World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, and the Cold War.  Where was their opportunity for freedom?  

On the night of August 12, 1961, the residents of Berlin went to sleep having no idea that when they woke up there would be a wall, guarded by armed soldiers, dividing East and West Berlin. Many Germans died without ever seeing their loved ones on the other side of the wall.  

If anyone is living on $3 per day in America it’s by choice and there will never be walls dividing Americans.  To be American is to live life in a privileged sphere.

Of course, no one working their ass off just to make ends meet wants to hear they are in any way privileged, but if you’re strategic, unrelenting, and committed to personal growth then you’re going to succeed.  

Being in a very powerful position I want you to think about what you will do with the power of being able to control your time. What will your life look like? What time will you wake up?  Will you travel?  If so, where, how long, and how often?  Will you learn a new language?  Will you volunteer for your favorite charity?  Will you write an inspiring manifesto in the French Riviera laying under the warm Mediterranean sun?  

Know your ‘why,’ know your life mission because billions of people will never have the opportunity that you have.  

I hope that gives you a sense of the value of your life and how important it is that you maximize your potential and contribute to the Good of humanity.  Too many people never actualize their potential because they live in the third world, but millions of perfectly healthy people living in rather rich nations also fall short of their potential and that is something that should motivate us to honor life by utilizing every last bit of talent in our bones.

From real estate investing to internet entrepreneurship to strategic living, there is nothing stopping the committed person.  Just commit to being financially free!  

If you have a hard time with commitment in general, begin to build your commitment muscle by working on a small piece of your plan every day. Positive habits and momentum are huge.  If you can do something every day for 30 days it will become a daily habit that you won’t need to think twice about doing.

All of this forward action and progress begins with the guidance and strength of having your own personal philosophy on life.

Excellence demands an outstanding psychology.  Not one you inherit from your environment, but one you customize for your unique mission in life.

 

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