Often Wrong, Never in Doubt, Part 2

By: Dan Kennedy on: March 15th, 2011 No Comments

I got a ‘C’ in Earth Science in high school, so I’m not qualified to judge the real merits of Al Gore’s dire warnings about global warming. I do recall, there was an ice age before the invention of aerosol deodorant, but this is obviously a more complicated issue.

Such idiocy isn’t new. Remember saran wrap and duct tape for your house?

When I was a kid, in school, we actually had nuclear holocaust drills, to practice crouching under our little wood desks. Handy when a massive fireball hits.

Every once in a while, the dire warnings are valid. Folks in New Orleans should have left – although I confess, if in a hotel when its fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night, I ignore it and stay in bed.

The last time we really had an epic mess in the entire U.S., it was Jimmy Carter’s rendering of the military impotent, giving us double-digit interest rates and inflation and unemployment and high gas prices, gas shortages and gas lines, pretty much bringing everything to a crawl.

Most of the time, most of the screaming warnings of impending disaster prove empty. Most of what everybody worries most about winds up affecting them the least.

I am often asked now for my predictions about real estate, interest rates, the stock market, the economy. I have them, but I recall John Kenneth Galbraith’s statement that economists and their predictions serve but one useful purpose; to make astrology appear legitimate.

Here is what I know: The changes we make will be more important than the changes that occur around us.

I know you win by focusing on what you can control. I know that money never really dries up; in different circumstances, it moves differently. There’s always plenty available.

So, we’ll prosper. Period. I know that, in microcosm, Halbert was right; there’s hardly a problem that can’t be solved with a great sales letter – the macro version, most problems can be solved with better marketing. You can sell your way out of just about any set of adverse circumstances. (And a whole lot of problems persist purely because of lack of good salesmanship.)

I know that we actually do have more to fear than fear itself, but that most decisions made based on fear turn out badly.

I know that Pollyanna positivism, whistling in the dark graveyard is dumb, too; you have to create reasons to be optimistic, so you get to make decisions based on positive expectations.

It’s foolish and dangerous to just be or act optimistic. There are a lot more things I don’t know. Like whether Gore’s right. So I focus on working with the comparatively short list of things I do know.

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