Rathbun: Let’s get back to independenceWritten by Gary Rathbun | | GaryRathbun@PrivateWealthConsultants.com
As I contemplate Independence Day, I can’t help but think back to our Founding Fathers — what they were like and what they would think of us today. My perception of them is of rugged individualists who wanted to be left alone to create and do for themselves. They came here to escape tyranny and oppression and knew the price to be self-reliant would be high.
They worked very hard through very harsh conditions. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to settle a chunk of land with nothing but hand tools, a horse and a strong back.
Banks back then were little more than depositories for people to store their money in a safe place. Loans from banks were nothing like they are today and the modern stock market didn’t exist. There are days when I wish for these much simpler times even though it would be much more work.
Enough of waxing nostalgic. How can we be more independent today?
In advising my clients, one of the first things I recommend is to get out of debt. Especially on nonappreciating assets, e.g., cars and appliances but also on personal real estate, like your house.
There are many advisers who will recommend that you mortgage your home to the max for the longest period you can and lock in the interest rate. The thought process is that we are due for some serious inflation and you will be able to pay off that debt with cheaper dollars in the future.
While mathematically this may be true, there is a psychological aspect to being debt-free. It is very liberating when no one has a claim on you or your property. Owning your own home free and clear is the very foundation of personal property rights. Personal property rights are the basis of all rights. If you don’t have the right to private property, you don’t have the right to much of anything else.
Secondly, those of you who have listened to me on the radio or read other columns know I am a believer in hard assets. Everyone should have some gold and silver investments. I also think it is a good idea to own some physical precious metals, just in case. I doubt that the U.S. will ever get back to a gold standard for our currency but it doesn’t hurt to have some insurance in case we hit a serious stretch of inflation.
Thirdly, and maybe most importantly, we need to resist the temptation to look to the government for solutions to our problems. Each of us has the power to take control of most aspects in our lives and we should strive to do so. You need to make arrangements to take care of any catastrophic needs you may have in the future that can’t be handled quickly and locally.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not predicting the collapse of the economy. Nor am I saying that you should build a bunker in the backyard and stock it with a couple of years’ worth of dehydrated food. What I am saying is think about how independent or dependent you are and what would you do in the event of a problem, either personal or community-wise?
When Benjamin Franklin was asked what he and the other Founding Fathers had created in the meetings they were holding he answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Can we keep it? We are definitely at a turning point in history and it is up to us as individuals to keep the republic or lose it. As the German officer Otto Von Bismarck stated, “We march individually but we fight together.”
As you observe July 4 this year, think about where we came from and where we are going and what role do you want to play. Let’s truly celebrate our independence.
Gary L. Rathbun is the president and CEO of Private Wealth Consultants, LTD. He can be heard on 1370 AM WSPD every day at 4:06 p.m. on “After the Bell with Brian Wilson and the Afternoon Drive” and every Wednesday and Thursday evening at 6 p.m. throughout Northern Ohio on “Eye on Your Money.” He can be reached at (419) 842-0334 or email him at email@example.com.