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What is really change-your-life important, is rarely covered in the media, and what they do cover is chose solely for its ability to get ratings.

Posted by John T. Reed on

I recently did a post saying that too many people are all excited about unimportant stuff that the media emphasizes and not excited enough about truly important matters.
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I said judge and justice appointments are among the not-important things. A reader said he “begged to differ.” Fine. Tell me how Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have your life or mine since they were confirmed. So far, he offers nothing.
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Like I said.
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I cannot find a single US Supreme Court decision that changed my life since I turned ten years old in 1956. Yes, there has been a ton of wailing and gnashing of teeth about decisions. Don’t mean nothing. I also put abortion on the list of unimportant matters that the media talks about endlessly. And in recent decades, you would think SCOTUS is the Abortion Court of the U.S.
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In 1956, I was an elementary school kid a Catholic school. That school still exists. After that, I was a public school student in DE and Collingswood, NJ. Those schools are still there.
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In 1956, I believe we had a used car, phone, fridge, B&W TV. Now I have two new Lexuses, cell phone, landline, Xfinity, a bigger fridge, 4 flat-screen color TVs. Some of those are signifiant changes, but were they caused by the kids of stuff the media obsesses over like who is president. My income and wealth went up because my parents were high school grads; I graduated from college and got an MBA, as did my wife. Also, my dad was a drunk; I am a teetotaler (because of my dad).
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There were no media events that caused those things. My parents could had done them, or tried. They did not try. People around my dad urged him to go to college in high school and to become an officer when he was drafted. He ignored them. I did those things. Nothing the media covered so breathlessly in the 1960s and 1970s was what educated me.
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My 2019 house has lots of things my 1956 house did not and generally could not: computers, cell phones, central air-conditioning, insulation, a three-car garage with electric door openers, LED lights, microwave, electric washer and dryer, DVRs, Bose sound system, gas log fireplaces, garbage disposer, dishwasher.
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But which heavily covered fight between politicians or lawyers or nations made those things appear in my house? None. These were private enterprise innovations. The government was on the sideline occasionally trying to get some of the credit. They deserved none of it. Indeed, it probably would have happened faster had it not been regulated or bothered by the government.
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Then there is war. When I was a cadet at West Point, President Johnson greatly escalated the Vietnam war. But if Goldwater had won the 1964 election, he probably would have done the same. The Fall after I graduated, Nixon became president. He knew Vietnam was a mistake, but he sent me and my classmates there because he simply could not figure out a way to end that might not hurt his reelection chances.
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If Humphrey had won the 1968 election, he may have done the same. The anti-war candidate, Gene McCarthy, fizzled out in the primaries. By the end of my Vietnam tour, September 1970, Nixon was still president. In 1972, Dems got an anti-war candidate—McGovern—but he got slaughtered. Nixon ended the war anyway. In short, there was much Sturm and Drang against and for the war, breathlessly reported by the media, but who won the presidential elections of the era did not really matter.
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I was affected by the sexual revolution, but it happened because of the invention of the pill, Women’ Lib, and the general Baby Boomer “if our parents generation says potato, we say potahto” mindset. The fights the media love to cover had nothing to do with the sexual revolution. It was organic in the Baby Boomer generation.
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I started investing in rental property in 1969. Was that affected by stuff the media made a big deal out of?
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Yes, actually. The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (Reagan) significantly increased the value of real estate like mine nationwide. But the simultaneous increase in interest rates decreased it. Then came the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (also Reagan) which instantly dropped the value of rental properties like mine. My wife and I lost $750,000.
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If Carter had won the presidency in 1980 and Mondale 1984, that probably would have avoided ERTA. Mondale would have signed the TRA 86. So we would have had the slap down, but without the earlier windfall. Also, Reagan signed the S&L deregulation act and there was an oil glut in TX that we were told would never happen. The three aspects of of that financial perfect storm all contributed to that $750,000 loss.
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Net, not much different from Reagan in spite of very different political views between Reagan and his opponents. You would never have figured that out from all the ado about the Reagan era, but that is what the underlying facts were.
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In the 80s and 90s, my life changed dramatically because we had our three sons. The media excitements of the decades did not have a damned thing to do with it. In the 2000s and 2010s, the breathlessly media reported the new derangement syndromes that took over US politics—including having an idiot, and a half-black, and a traitor in the Oval Office, but it had no effect on my life or the life of anyone I know.
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So what’s it all about, Alfie? Certainly not the screaming and yelling of the politicians and the media and the lawyers and the activists and the victims and the scapegoats (currently white males).
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My life since 1956 WAS touched by two things the media was screaming about—my Vietnam tour and the Tax Reform Act of 1976. Although, even that, the media got wrong. I was not killed in Vietnam, just made far more cynical—a good thing compared to the naive alternative—and annoyed by a bunch of ignorant of the real world lifers who thought they could ruin my life and that they needed to do that.
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The loss of the $750,000 in the end, was just a greater completion of my education as a real estate investment expert. My net worth would be higher now if I had not lost that money, but beyond the point of diminishing returns. We are multimillionaires. Without the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the multi would have been a bit bigger. But we would almost certainly still be in the same house, which is the main use of wealth.
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When I write an article about what is important and what is not, I do it with a lot of thought and looking stuff up. It is easy if you watch the news to think what they are covering is extremely important. It almost never is.
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You need to keep your eye on the ball. The media is only keeping its eye on the ratings.
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Had I kept a better eye on the war in Vietnam and the 1980s S&L/oil/Tax Reform crisis, I would have avoided most of the risk and financial loss.
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The big picture was that I got the basics right: staying sober, getting a good education, saving, investing, marrying a good woman, having kids, raising them to be successful, independent adults,  getting checkups and vaccinations and screenings and keeping my weight down.. I probably could not have foreseen the Vietnam war much better than anyone else or the oil glut or the TRA 86 which was a total surprise. I SHOULD however, have paid closer attention to the overbuilding caused by the S&L deregulation.
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[The daily ranting of the media and the politicians]..., “is but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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