Ross Perot Was 25 Years Ahead Of His Time

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 25 years since I voted in my first Presidential election, which featured the very first and only true opportunity by a third-party candidate to potentially win, at least in my lifetime.  I knew Perot because my father, at the time, worked for EDS, which Perot had founded and had run for many years.  So, the name was very familiar in my house.

The 1992 Campaign

When he went on TV one Sunday night and pulled out all of his charts and sat down and explained why America could not continue down the path it was on, and why his was a better path, people were intrigued.  In fact, it went a bit further than that for awhile, as he actually led in the polls for a short time against the major candidates, President George Bush and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.

Eventually, the campaign fizzled out after what can only be described as a bizarre sequence of events where dropped out only to re-enter the race, only to find out that he could not recapture the spotlight.  Once he re-entered his vice-presidential candidate had one of the worst debate performances I’ve ever seen, which, at least in my opinion, sealed the deal.  While he got almost 20% of the popular vote, which is nothing to sneeze at, he didn’t win a single state.

A Potential Turning Point

Looking back, it was kind of a watershed moment.  Not in decades had a serious third party candidate mounted an actual campaign.  Even though he didn’t have a chance going in, after the election, many wondered if his campaign could serve as a springboard for his Reform Party or other parties to establish themselves as credible challengers moving forward.

As we all know, the answer to that has been a resounding no.  The two major parties have put a stranglehold on Washington and on voters.  Perot’s run was considered ‘one for the ages’, but unfortunately the legacy includes the ‘one’ as a big part, as his run didn’t pave the way for any positive changes.

People Weren’t Ready Then

The thing about that election and the intrigue that Perot brought, is that people weren’t looking for the changes that he was bringing forward.  They were perfectly fine picking between the established sitting President and the rising star Governor.  However, Perot captured the spotlight and made people question that perhaps they were ready for a change.

Unfortunately, asking the question was about as far as it got.  A quarter century, people asked the question, thought about it for a good long time (which is when he stuck around near the top of the polls), but then were perfectly fine to answer ‘No, no changes needed’ when push came to shove.

Heck, if you want me to be truthful, I think that Perot himself may not have actually been ready, which could very well explain his abrupt withdrawal.  The idea of upheaval and being responsible for it might have just been too much for him to handle.

People Are Ready Now

Fast forward 25 years and look at where we are now, and I believe that people are ready for that change.  So much so, that if Ross Perot had a time machine and ran today as he did back in 1992, I think he would, hands down, win the election.

Unfortunately, Perot is now 85, which is why I said he needed a time machine.

But think about it, people are now ready for change.  Even though we’re still stuck within the two parties, just looking at the ‘final four’ shows that people are by and large ready.  On the Democratic side, you have Hillary, who I think will probably win the election, but not because people really are itching to elect her, but because the other three I’m about to present are just too ‘out there’.  Let’s take a look:

  • Bernie Sanders – Hillary’s main competition, that stood pretty strong for a pretty long time, ran on a socialistmb-2016-05-ballot agenda.  He campaigned on the fact of making government bigger, of raising taxes, and redistributing wealth.  All of these things traditionally get any candidate slaughtered, yet people craved change so much that they stuck with him, sometimes passionately so.
  • Ted Cruz – This crackpot is so far to the right that colleagues seriously describe him as carrying a Constitution around and consulting with it on every decision.  An extremist like this would normally not made it out of Iowa or New Hampshire before having been run over by the more ‘traditional’ brand of mainstream candidates, you know like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, or Scott Walker, yet none of those guys caught so much of a sniff of a chance.  Yet the guy that openly preached right wing extremism took it the furthest.
  • Donald Trump – And of course, you have The Donald.  I mean, this guy is looking like he will be nominated by the Republican party for President in a few short weeks.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen even though I’m fairly certain that not one single Republican politician truly wants this to happen.  Yet, here he is.

People Want Change

The bottom line is that people are sick and tired of the same old stuff because they know it’s going to lead to the same old garbage.

People are getting more connected.  The Internet and explosion of smart phones and tablets has done this.  It lets people know, more so than ever, what’s going on, and people now can see that the traditional candidates really don’t care all that much.  Well, they care up until they get your vote, but after that, you mean nothing.  Heck, sometimes they don’t even care that much.  I remember in 2008 when John McCain was the Republican nominee, he gave up on Michigan in something like August, basically ignoring the state.  And this type of behavior is fairly common, yet they promise that they’ll look out for us.

Right.

People are done with it, and they want change.  They crave it.  Now, as I said above, I think that Hillary will win, and even though she’s fully entrenched in the establishment as one can possibly be, I think she’s only going to win because the brand of change from the three closest candidates is just too ‘out there’ (though last week’s Brexit vote shows that, really, anything is within the realm of possibility).

However, Ross Perot’s campaign that he ran in 1992.  That would have been perfect.  It would have resonated so well that I think he would have mopped the floor with any of the other candidates this year.  I think that if he were today the same 60 year old with the same campaign as he was 25 years ago, he would have had a bigger margin of victory than Reagan had over Mondale, and that was a thumping of epic proportions.

People are ready for change.  It might not happen this election, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen soon.  We just need someone that makes a little sense.

Readers, what do you think?  Do you agree that Perot’s message would have hit home today or do think it would have turned out the same way?  For those that remember, what are your memories of Perot and his impact on the 1992 election?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

What Generation Took The Worst Of The Great Recession?

I was surprised the other day when my wife announced that she was a Millennial.  I originally disputed her on this, but then I looked it up and it turns out that she is right.  My error came in the fact that I had thought she was part of Generation Y, but I never got the memo that this really doesn’t exist anymore.  Apparently, they’re now part of the Millennials.

The Active Generations In the Workforce

The first thing to do is identify the different generations.  Surely, we’ve all heard about them by now but so we’re all on the same page, and for purposes of my discussion, I’m using the following:

  • Baby Boomers – Born between 1946 and 1964, so anybody between the ages of 52 and 70.Should I stay or should I go?
  • Generation X – Born between 1964 and 1982, so anybody between the ages of 34 and 52
  • Millennials – Born between 1982 and TBD – so anybody younger than 34 but probably not older than 18

Now, a couple of notes.  In relation to the Millennials, the end date is probably still up in the air.  If history holds true where the generational gaps are roughly 18-20 years, then it will probably end up around 2000 before they cut off, but that’ll probably take a few years to shake out.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are of course people older than Baby Boomers, but quite honestly, you don’t hear much about them and they have largely (but not completely) exited the workforce.  Of course that generation is called The Silent Generation, so perhaps they’re just living up to their name. *LOL*

The Perception Between Generations

As I was doing my digging, I started reading through various articles, blog posts, and commentaries that have outlined the differences between the generations.  There are some common themes that I’m sure many are familiar with:

  • People in younger generations tend to blame those in the older generations for the problems of the world
  • People in the older generations often see those in the younger generations as entitled and lazy

I’ve always actually found these generalizations more humorous than anything else, because I’m going to bet that when the Boomers were the younger generation, the older generations at the time probably thought many of the same things, and conversely, I’ll bet that, as an example, when the Great Depression hit, there was plenty of blame assigned to the generation that was running the show by those younger.

In other words, the generational gap is not anything new.  It’s just the way of the world.

So What About The Recession?

It got me thinking that the Great Recession is a few years in our rear view mirror (though you can certainly feel a lot of residual impact), and I started thinking about who might argue that they took it worse.  I decided to jot down a few different impacts that we saw out of the recession, and came up with likely arguments that each group might use to show how they had it worse.

The Housing Market Collapse

  • Baby Boomers –  While many Boomers had built a lot of equity in their homes, as a group they had the biggest and most expensive homes, so the total amount of value lost when the bubble crashed was probably greater than with the other generations.
  • Generation X – Many had come to the age where home ownership was new and had grown quite a bit in the recent year.  They had less equity in their homes when the bubble burst, and were therefore the group most likely to go underwater or lose their homes.
  • Millennials – As a whole, the group here was not largely invested in home ownership, so while the losses weren’t as substantial as with other groups, it probably scared many away from considering home ownership, and other factors that I’ll get into later have made it increasingly difficult to consider home ownership at ages where previous generations entered the market.

Stock Market Declines

  • Baby Boomers – Many Boomer’s were at or near retirement age, and while the safe strategy is to move further away from risky investments as you get close, the healthy markets had probably made it tempting to stay more invested.  Losses were in greater volume, and had a greater impact due to the fact that retirement savings were to be needed sooner.
  • Generation X – Many in this generation who had started saving for retirement saw a lot of the savings wiped out at a time where the savings should be counted on to build a foundation for further growth.  Many Gen X’ers had to essentially start over and found themselves behind the curve that they were once in front of.  In addition, Gen X is the first generation where the shift away from a defined pension plan can’t be counted on.
  • Millennials – While savings weren’t as high, what little the Millennials had built was largely wiped out, and due to staggering student loan debt, many have not even been able to save for retirement, so taking advantage of the stock market recovery has not involved them at all (to some degree, Gen X is impacted by this, but on a more muted level)

Job Losses and Stagnant Wage Growth

  • Baby Boomers – Those Boomers who were still working and did not make it through likely found it harder to find jobs, as senior level positions were often eliminated and not replaced.  Even if Boomers were willing to take a step backward into a more lower paying job, they were often overlooked because employers did not see them as staying long, so jobs largely dried up for this demographic.
  • Generation X – The Boomers that did keep their jobs basically made sure to stay in them.  That, coupled with the lack of new job creation, found many Gen X’ers stuck when they otherwise would have continued up the ladder.  This produced stagnant wages for people in their 30s and 40s, which is a time when expectations are that income grows significantly.  Even once wages started rising again, there was no catching up, so years of stagnant wages continue to impact earnings.
  • Millennials – Job losses meant that new jobs weren’t being created, so new graduates who would normally enter the workforce found themselves unable to do so.   Even when employers started hiring again, they were able to be more selective, and looked for people that already have experience.  This makes finding the ‘first job’ that everybody needs a huge obstacle, even today.

So Who Took It Worst?

When you look at the areas above, it kind of boils down to three distinct themes between the generations:

  • Baby Boomers lost a lot of what they already had
  • Generation X lost a lot of what they were building toward
  • Millennials lost the opportunity to get started

Honestly, I think that each generation will lean toward saying that they took it worst, but that goes back to the whole generational gap premise that I noted above that creates a natural and expected bias.  So, since I’m squarely in the middle of Generation X, I would likely put my vote in that group, though when I remove my bias I can see the case that each would make, which I’m sure is much more complex than I laid out above.

Readers, now that the Great Recession is a few years in the rear view mirror, what generation do you think suffered the most negative effects?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

9 Random Things On My Mind Or Going On – What’s New With You?

It’s a good thing that the days get longer in summer because you need every minute of light and then some.  It’s funny because I have found my ‘falling asleep before bedtime’ spot, which happens to be on one of the couches in the living room.  If you see me heading to that couch anytime in the evening, it’s a sure thing that I’m going to fall asleep.

Here are some things going on or just on my mind that I wanted to share.  Let me know what you think and what’s going on with you.

  1. The mad rush of special events is coming to a close – Starting with Mother’s Day, it’s one opportunity to celebrate after another, which doesn’t end until Father’s Day (which is often delayed from a celebration standpoint).  In between those two we have my wife’s birthday and both kid’s birthday, plus we also have a lot going on with the end of the school years, dance recitals, and everything else.  Don’t get me wrong, we love celebrating every single milestone, but when they come so fast and furious all at once, we have to remind
    ourselves to stop and take a breath so that we can really enjoy and make the most out of each special event.
  2. Orlando – What to say about the tragedy in Orlando that hasn’t already been said?  I think one thing that many people need to realize is that there’s not one thing to blame that we can grasp and use as a fix.  It’s not just an ISIS thing.  It’s not just a guns thing.  It’s not just a mental health thing.  Shutting down the borders or taking away the guns or re-opening the institutions are not individual solutions.  In our complex world, there are so many variables with seemingly new ones popping up all the time.  And, what’s scary is that the ever growing polarization is not going to get us closer to figuring out how to stop these events from happening.  I’m dreading the day when we have to try to explain this to our kids.  So far we’ve been able to keep them insulated, but at 7 and 5, we’re running on borrowed time.  This thought gives me sadness on so many levels.
  3. The Costco credit card switch is almost upon us – I have never seen so much publicity over a credit card, but the days are nearly here.  We’re pretty much prepared.  I think there are just a couple of small automated payments that my wife needs to redirect, and I’m also thinking of creating a laminated cheat sheet that we can carry in our wallets to direct us on what card we should use to maximize our rewards.  We have a few different cash back cards, now it’s just a matter of maximizing our value!
  4. A possible culprit in my battle against eczema – The other day I went to take a load of clothes out of the washer.  All would have been well except it never got ran.  When I reached in for the clothes my hands came in contact with Oxi Clean, which we use as a supplement for our clothes.  It wasn’t even five seconds in and I felt the familiar burn.  I’m thinking that maybe this is some pretty harsh stuff, and maybe even coming into contacts with clothes, sheets, and towels that have been washed in it have been aggravating my skin.  Perhaps it’s time for a ban?
  5. Amazon price matching policy – Here’s a tip, if you want Amazon to adjust a price, don’t use their online chat capability.  Technically, Amazon does not have to match a deal if you find a better price after you make a purchase, but they often will as a courtesy.  No such luck when I found an item, on their own site, $20 cheaper less than a week after I made the purchase.  I had two online agents refuse to help and one even ‘hung up on me’ or whatever the equivalent would be for an online chat.  Not to be deterred, I initiated a phone conversation, and this went much better.  They didn’t give a refund, but we have a $20 credit on our next purchase.  That’s good enough for me!
  6. Basketball dreams – Our son wanted a basketball hoop for his birthday.  These things are something else to put together.  I started, and am about 1.5 hours in.  I figure I have at least another 2-3 hours of work.  Then once we get it in place (it’s one of the portable models), we have to determine how to anchor it.  They want you to fill it either with sand or liquid (it’d be antifreeze in our case) but many people weigh it down by piling sand bags or something similar on top.  Filling it looks better, but piling stuff on it is easier, plus I’d think that emptying it would be a royal pain.  So, we’re not sure on the approach yet.  Any ideas?
  7. Homeowners association – I served on our board for the last two years but declined to run again.  There’s a very cliquey group of people (think high school) that love to ‘run the show’ from a social standpoint, yet they refuse to run for the board.  It bugs me that they make many requests of the board, yet never include the board members in the social events, so I decided to take a break for at least a term.  I am still working on updating content on the website, which nobody else really knows well.  Since it’s WordPress based (like my blog) this is pretty easy.
  8. Anyone else nervous about the stock market – The market had a pretty nice run after the beginning of the year crash.  It seems like the market really loves the low interest rates that are seemingly now just standard policy.  But I’m a bit nervous, as I can’t imagine that will last forever.  Plus, the debt that all of the Central Banks are creating are injecting money that is being used to push the markets higher,mb-2015-06-fire but it’s still debt and what happens when that needs to be paid back?  Or does it? Who knows?  But in any case, it’s a bit scary to me.  It seems like we’re in a situation where everything is hunky dory….until one day it’s not.  I’m not going ‘bearish’ but I’m definitely keeping a watchful eye.
  9. Camping season is upon us – One thing that we’ve settled into is our routine for camping.  This is our fifth year with our trailer, and we now have a pretty good routine going.  We did one trip for Memorial Day, and we have another trip coming up this weekend.  After that we have two weeklong trips and a few more weekend trips.  Summer is short in Michigan so we try to pack it in!

Readers, did you  hit the ground running for summer?  How are things looking for you?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Ways to Eat More Healthily for Less Money

Eating healthy is all the rage, and as fads go, it is an especially beneficial one. From college kids to busy moms, people everywhere are thinking more carefully about putting healthy, balanced food into their bodies. So, what’s the problem?
 
Well, there is a widespread belief that it is too expensive to make healthy eating a lifestyle. Chain health food stores and boutique markets are partially to blame for this belief, as are heavily marketed, expensive diet programs. Whatever the source of the rumor is, it has got to stop. You can eat well just by using what is available in your regular supermarket. Here are a few ways to do just that.
 
Keep it Simple
 
You do not have to live off chia seeds and specialty grains to have a nutritious diet. Keeping your meals simple is a good way to get started. At each meal, about half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, a quarter should consist of protein, and a quarter should consist of grains. Within these guidelines are endless delicious combinations of ingredients.
 
Make a Plan
 
Meal planning before you go grocery shopping is always a good idea, but it is especially helpful if you are attempting a shift in your dietary priorities. If you have not previously spent a lot of time in the produce aisle, it is easy to become overwhelmed by what you are doing, buy too much of certain items, and then curse yourself as you toss the rotting remains in the trash a week later.
Instead, plan exactly how much of each type of food you will need, either by numbers or by pounds. This will make it easier to stick to your list, and therefore your budget. Planning ahead also allows you to take note of which fruits and veggies are in season and incorporate them into your meals. This will make your produce purchases even smarter.
 
Incorporate Coupons
 
While you are planning your meals each week, remember to hunt down coupons for any special items you want to buy. You can check your weekly circular ad, search the Internet, or even make use of coupons that are attached to other food items. For example, Hampton Creek coupons are often available on the company’s cafeteria products. Next time you get one of their cookies with your lunch, save the coupon and enjoy reduced prices on healthier condiment and dessert options at regular stores like Target and Walmart.
 
Become a Member
 
If you are not yet a member at the grocery store that you frequent, becoming one is a great way to save money and eat well. Most grocery stores offer sales exclusively to their members, which can enable you to enjoy more variety in your menu. Some stores even use your shopping data to create personalized coupons, so you might be able to enjoy discounts on your favorite items simply because you purchase them often.
 
Rethink Meat
 
In a typical American meal, a large portion of meat is the centerpiece, accompanied by smaller sides of bread and vegetables or fruit. However, buying enough meat to give each family member a large portion at each meal can greatly increase your grocery bill. Furthermore, it is better for you to eat more fruits and veggies in proportion to meats. With this in mind, try using meat as a supporting player rather than the all-star in at least some of your meals. For example, you could make a stir-fry using two parts vegetables for one part meat.
 
Community Supported Agriculture
 
Participating in a community supported agriculture program is a great way to get access to fresh produce at a good price. For either a seasonal flat fee or a weekly payment, CSA members can get a portion of whatever produce is yielded by their local farms. For example, you might get a bushel of produce once a week for a twenty-week season, for an average of $30 a week. At that reasonable price, you can support your local farming community while enjoying optimal flavors and being introduced to foods you might not normally try.
 
Healthy Budget, Healthy Body
 
As you can see, eating healthily is not nearly as big of an expense as it is often made out to be. You may need to tweak some of your habits or perspectives in order to make it happen, but it is completely doable. All it takes is a little planning to have a balanced diet that works with your budget.
Content provided by a friend of Money Beagle.
Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.