3 Things 6-7
06/7/2021 Although MAS is a financial services company, not everything published herein will be about numbers or investing. But no matter the topic, we hope for three things: 1) That you find the time you spend engaged worthwhile. 2) That you’ll reach out to us for help in any of our areas of expertise if something we discuss creates an urging in you to do so. 3) That you’ll share this with somebody new each time you read it. Thing One The Price Of Government Solutions Did you know that the price of a car is almost the same now as it was twenty years ago? Did you know the same holds true for a TV? Interestingly the prices of most of the things you buy have either come down or not gone up nearly as much as you might think. You’ll see that for yourself when you look at the chart below. But you’ll have to keep in mind that I said most things. There is one category, the things in which the government gets heavily involved, where that observation can be stated in the opposite. When the government takes over, costs go up, despite all the good intentions and noble-sounding names attached to the various programs their efforts produce. I’ve already mentioned how close to the twenty-years-ago price a car and a TV are but you can see that for yourself below and you can also see how far away from that same twenty-years-ago price healthcare and education are. During a period where cumulative average inflation was 59%, healthcare and education prices increased by 220% and 188% respectively. That is owing in large part to government intervention, which tends to minimize competition. For example, the good-intentioned “Healthcare Marketplace” which is the central feature of the noble-sounding Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act, is not a marketplace at all. It’s just a government website where you can go apply for an insurance policy. There are no insurers out there vying for your business based on your specific needs. As a result, prices have gone up - significantly - every year the marketplace has been in existence. And I don’t need to tell anybody reading this about what has happened to the cost of a college education. Why does all this happen? It’s simple. Where the government intervenes, competition usually dies. And when competition dies, prices rise. Despite how this may sound, this is not an anti-government rant. We need government for sure as there are things best left to be done by a central body. But we also need a thriving private sector. One that provides the opportunity for companies and, yes, people to grow rich. We don't have to look hard or far to find examples of the misery that is evident in countries whose governments haven't adopted this philosophy. There's a reason people are clamoring to come here. We shouldn't forget that.
Thing Two A Lesson In The Oddest Of Places “Basketball is a metaphor for life.” That was a phrase a very good friend shared with me long ago as a part of a conversation we were having about the game. I believe he attributed the phrase to Phil Jackson, the legendary former NBA player and coach. At the time I thought it was just perfect. Having played the sport at a highly competitive level, no other game seemed to me to epitomize life more than basketball. But I was younger then and there was more life to be experienced - and more games to be played. Fast forward to one day ago and I’m at a local golf practice facility hitting balls next to a man who is clearly struggling but not appearing to be outwardly affected by those struggles. He was elderly but I didn't know how old. Resting between shots, he took notice of me and struck up a conversation. See my paraphrased recollection of it below: Him: 'You must have played football or basketball or both, young man.' Me: 'Basketball. I was too much of a chicken to play football.' (I really was) Him: 'Well you’re playing a man’s game now and it can teach you a lot. Let me tell you something. I’ll turn 81 in two weeks and my mother just turned 101. I started playing golf in my twenties and by the time I was twenty-seven I shot my all-time low score 74. I played for about seven more years then I stopped playing for about twenty years. At 54 when I picked the game back up, I couldn't break 100. I even shot a 115 once. It was frustrating. I did lots of yelling and cussing and screaming but I still enjoyed the game so I kept at it. Practicing and playing, cussing and screaming. One day about ten years ago I decided I was going to break eighty, by golly. So I went to a course - by myself - and got a scorecard and I wrote down two names on the scorecard - Me and Myself. I played each shot twice as if I was two people. I assigned all the bad shots to Me and the good ones (or at least better ones) to Myself. Me didn't play worth a damn again but Myself shot 73, beating the best score I ever shot by one stroke.' (At this point I'm laughing out loud but he continues...) Him: 'You're laughing but let me tell you something, I learned a valuable lesson that day and that's this: I hit all those shots, nobody else. So I took all the credit for the good ones and I got all the blame for the bad ones, whether I wanted it or not. Screaming and cussing and finding something else to blame was pointless. It took me until I was 70 years old to get that. I can't imagine some of the things I might have done golf-wise and otherwise if I had figured that out when I was younger. Now how's that for a story?' Me: "That's pretty damn good."
Thing Three Just A Thought "Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies." - Bobby Jones