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3 Things 6-26-23

Thing One


The Wealth Gap


The Urban Institute produced some interesting charts on income and wealth by race in the United States.  We've included two below that, while a bit dated, are still indicative of the issues at hand today.


In short, Blacks and Hispanic men earn significantly less (up to a third less actually) over their lifetimes while Black and Hispanic women also earn less (up to just over a quarter less) over their lifetimes.  And, since 1989, the average family retirement savings has increased by five times for Blacks and Whites while it has increased four times for Hispanics in that same period.  The increases overall are encouraging.  But when considered in relative and/or absolute terms, the numbers are alarming.  White families have, on average, $157,000 in liquid retirement savings, which is about 6 times the amount for Blacks and Hispanics.  That is a real problem, and it is one that won’t fix itself.  Referring to Chuck Swindoll’s sage observation (see Thing Three), the data in these charts are part of the 10% of life that has already happened.  It’s up to each of us to reflect on where we are and to decide how to react.  Blaming and lamenting are certainly options.  But there are others that could prove much more helpful to each of our personal situations in the long run should we determine that improvement is needed.  The beauty of life where we live is that each of us is free to choose how we react, up to and including seeking out others for guidance when we deem it necessary.  


So, ask yourself:  Where are you?  Where do you want to go?  And what will it take to get there?


If you need help, admit it, then get it.



Thing Two


The Only Opinion Of You That Matters Is Yours


We're going to briefly discuss three people. The first one is likely very familiar to you while the others may be less so or not at all. They are:  Albert Einstein, Barbara Oakley, Russell Westbrook.


As we said, Albert Einstein is probably the most well known. But as much as he is a household name for his pioneering work in theoretical physics, here are some things you might not have known about him.  He was slow learning to speak as a child.  In fact, he was so slow that his parents consulted a doctor about what they thought was a serious problem.  During his early schooling he had a headmaster tell him that he would never amount to much. You know the rest of the story.  Einstein has gone down in history as one of the brightest men to ever live.


Dr. Barbara Oakley is a professor at Oakland University with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.  She is the author of the best selling book, A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra).  Dr. Oakley is what we’d call a math wiz now, but that wasn’t always the case.  Actually, she wasn’t even close and her teachers pretty much wrote her off.  Here’s how she described herself in her childhood and teen years: “I flunked my way through elementary, middle school and high school math and science”. 


NBA player, Russell Westbrook is in the twilight of a succesful career.  For a stretch from 2015 to 2018, he was arguably among the 5 best basketball players on the planet and even has an NBA most valuable player award to reinforce that argument.  In his prime, he was a combination of power, skill, high-flying athleticism, smarts, and grit.  For those familiar with the vernacular, he averaged a triple double (31 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) for the 81-game, 2016-2017 season.  If you follow the NBA at all, those statistics may have been familiar to you.  But how about these?  He didn’t start on his varsity team until his junior year. He was not an All-American in high school. He was “ranked” the 151st best player nationally as a senior in 2006.


Now here’s one more person.  We’ll call him Average Joe.  He’s born to a family of meager to modest means.  He has peers who are worse off and better off.  They all go to the same elementary, middle, and high schools.  What’s the trajectory of his life going to be?  There are those who would claim to know.  They'll say his fate is pre-ordained and there's not much he can do about it. We say it’s up to him and if he asked for our advice, we’d tell him this: 


You can do and be whatever you want so work hard and go for it.  Know that lots of people will doubt you, and they may do so for good reason, but if you believe you can’t you’re right.  The good thing for you, and the rest of us, is that the opposite is also true. 


Thing Three


Just A Thought


“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll


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