Category Archives: Life Journal

The Dark Side of Capitalism

Philosophically speaking, I favor capitalism over other economic systems. The free market is a beautiful thing. When operating as it should, consumers are free to choose the companies and people they want to do business with. Those entities that provide the most value to consumers are rewarded, and those that don’t go out of business.

I also favor smaller government, particularly at the federal level. When the government regulates marketplaces, they alter the playing field. Their actions can significantly disrupt a market and determine the winners, even when not intended. When this happens, consumers are usually the ones who lose.

Unfortunately, my philosophical views don’t always work out for the best. There is a dark side to capitalism. There are times when unchecked capitalism is not in the public interest. In extreme scenarios, it can bring harm to the public. It can concentrate wealth among the rich through the exploitation and transfer of wealth from the public domain.

Allow me to explain.

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Winning the Day

Over the last couple of years, I’ve read numerous books on improving personal productivity. I’m interested in learning and putting into practice what the experts do and recommend to operate at their highest performance level.

One item that has come up repeatedly is starting the day with planning and solitude. Why? By starting the day off right, you win the morning. And by winning the morning, it puts you in the best position possible to win the day.

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Is your time spending you?

“Either you’re spending your time. Or your time is spending you.” – Seth Godin

I’m reminded of the classic story where you are given a magical bank. Each day if puts $86,400 into your bank account, but there’s a catch. (There’s always a catch, right?)

At the end of the day, whatever you don’t invest, whatever you don’t give away, whatever you don’t spend, it vaporizes. It goes away without anything to show for it.

If you were granted this magical account, what would you do with it?

I’m sure most of us would blow it on ourselves, but eventually, that would get old (or then again, maybe not). We would start to find ways to invest it in future opportunities. And once we experienced the joy of spending it with and giving it to others, we would start spending it with and giving it to those around us. Eventually, we would realize that every dollar is precious and would make certain that we were getting the most of every dollar, every day.

Where am I going with this?

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Planting trees

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” – Greek proverb

I’ll admit it. There are a lot of things in life that I take for granted. Here’s a few of them:

  • Turning the handle on a faucet and having clean water come out
  • Flipping a switch to light the darkness
  • Driving my car on well-maintained roads
  • Heating my house during the cold winter months
  • Having access to a wealth information through the internet

I could continue on, but you get the point. The common thread in this list of amenities is that they are the result of infrastructure built by those before me. At some point, people made decisions to put their time and effort into building things that were bigger than themselves. They had the foresight and took the initiative to build something that would not only benefit them and their direct descendants but also society as a whole.

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Hearing something regularly doesn’t make it true

Do you know what the “illusory truth effect” is? It’s our tendency to treat a false or misleading statement as fact after repeated exposure. You see, as humans, we tend to take shortcuts when assessing if what we hear is true or not. Instead of racing out to collect facts, we evaluate statements based on prior knowledge and how familiar we are with them. Researchers have shown that people who are exposed repeatedly to statements, even when false, are more likely to believe they are true.

How does this work you ask? Let’s take a look at a specific example.

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Sweeping the Floor

We’re 2 weeks into the new decade. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?

From what I see at the gym in the morning and around my neighborhood, a lot of people are doing a good job sticking with it. As I do every year, I’m seeing new faces at the gym, and new people walking and jogging around the neighborhood. While most will dwindle away, some will stick with it. The new routines will become habit, which is when they will start to notice changes in their body.

When people set resolutions for the year, they are always around diet and fitness. People want to eat better and work out to improve their health and lose weight, which are both great goals. Why don’t people place the same attention on their mental health as their physical health?

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2019 – Year in review for the blog

2019 marked the 7th year that I’ve maintained a blog. Since the overwhelming majority of blogs don’t make it past the 6-month mark, I’m happy that I’ve been able to stick with it for this long, and I plan to continue.

As I’ve done each year, here’s the review of the blog’s performance in 2019 and my blogging goals for 2020. It’s a fun state of the union exercise to look back and see how things have went, traffic levels, popular posts, and more.

If you’re interested in past year’s performance, click on the year to see the review for that time and the forward looking goals:

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2020 Fitness Goals

Every year I like to review my fitness goals for the prior year and set new ones for the upcoming year. I’ve found that setting measurable goals and then publishing them keeps me on track and holds me accountable.

In 2019, my goals were focused around three areas – working out, walking, and diet. These were the same 3 areas of focus for 2018, and they will be the same for 2020.

When looking back over the last year, things went well for the most part. There a couple of adjustments I’d like to make. Otherwise, it’s going to be more of the same in the upcoming year. Sometimes it’s best not to fix it if it isn’t broken, if you know what I mean.

Here’s the look back at 2019, and the look ahead at 2020.

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Books to read in 2020

As I like to do every year, here are my book recommendations for you to consider adding to your 2020 reading list. I like to break the recommendations into sections – general recommendations, personal development, business reads, and fun reads.

I read 32 books in 2019, which is more than I usually read. For some reason, the books leaned more towards non-fiction, so this year’s list will be a bit light on the fiction side. I’m planning to read a more balanced selection of books in 2020, which I addressed when creating my reading list for this year.

Here are this year’s recommendations:

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