Jaabir, one of the poorest richest friends I know, decided to take a vacation from not working by driving down to Indian Wells, California to watch the BNP Tennis Open last month. The tennis tournament is considered “The Mecca” for tennis fans everywhere given the terrific turnout of the world’s top pros and the intimate setting.
Before Jaabir left for the seven hour drive south, he urged me to go down with him for a week. I wanted to go, but I couldn’t because I had an interview lined up with a promising new company. I also wanted to be on standby just in case I got word from another potential employer. In other words, I was a dog on a leash. Woof.
To make myself feel better for not going, I started pressuring him to stay so he could do his duty as team captain by recruiting more ringers to help us defend our city championship. Why should he have all the fun right? I learned this strategy from so many who try and bring folks down if they can’t succeed themselves.
As usual, Jaabir brushed off my wishes because he’s free. “Sam, don’t worry! I’ve got everything under control. You are rich, why not live it up a little? Why do you not come with me to Indian Wells? Why work if we’ve got Obama, babay!?”
“Hmm, what the hell Jaabir! America ain’t no welfare country!” I retorted. But then I got to thinking about my own situation. Maybe Jaabir is right. Even though I was smarting for not being able to join Jaabir to tennis Mecca, I decided to write this post as a way to better understand his viewpoint.
WILL OBAMA SET US ALL FREE?
Imagine having a safety net so strong that no matter what we did, we would never fail. The safety net would encourage us to pursue our wildest dreams instead of always living in fear of getting laid off if we don’t do as we are told. We wouldn’t have to put up with an unpleasant work environment just to get healthcare benefits for our family. We’d be free to hop from job to job until we found something perfect. And if we weren’t presently employed, we’d stay unemployed until the ideal opportunity arose.
In many ways President Obama has helped me break free from corporate America. His administration decided to regulate the hell out of the finance industry which has led to a compression in compensation and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. When a bank is required to hold a higher amount of tier one capital on its balance sheet, profitability goes down. Nobody is going to cry for those of us who’ve lost our jobs in finance. After all, we are evil people according to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Where some of my laid off ex-colleagues are extremely bitter, I’ve taken the opposite approach and embraced unemployment by seeing what else the world has to offer. I’ve looked into communications fellowships, startups, entrepreneurship and the foreign service to name a few avenues. I feel exactly the way I did when I graduated from college – full of excitement about what lies ahead.
We’ve really only got about a 35 year work window where we have the energy to labor full-time. Old age will sneak up on us and we’ll no longer have the desire to work from dusk ’til dawn. If we ever decide to change jobs when we are older, we’ll likely face roadblocks due to younger bosses not willing to deal with us old dinosaurs.
President Obama’s second term campaign to raise taxes on individuals making over $200,000 encouraged me to no longer seek richess. After all, I’m entirely happy living off $70,000 – $80,000 a year in expensive San Francisco. Why on earth would I want to continuously torture myself for another 10 years if my passive income is already there? Obama gave me the courage to engineer my layoff so that I could do something else.
GOOD TIMES MAKE US MORE FORGIVING
It doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, there is no denying the good times are back again. For some reason plenty of folks still think the economy is still in dire straits. We haven’t been in a recession since 2009. I’ve been highlighting in articles since 2010 that things are really rumbling back. There’s been 13 consecutive quarters of economic improvement which will probably continue for many quarters to come.
The Federal Reserve has promised to keep interest rates low by flooding the system through its monthly multi-billion mortgage purchase program. Have you seen what Japan’s Central Bank is now doing? Lending (credit) is still relatively tight as we’ve learned from my primary home refinance rejection as well as the discovery that the average credit score for the rejected mortgage applicants is around 729. Just imagine what happens when banks turn on the lending spigots again?
President Obama gave me the confidence to invest a quarter of a million dollars in the stock market last summer when the Dow was at 12,000 because I strongly believed he would win and be better for the economy. The money I made betting friends on the presidential election outcome was just the meringue on my lemon meringue pie.
Despite all the class warfare, continued massive government overspending, and redistribution of wealth through discriminatory tax policies, President Obama’s administration has given millions of Americans the hope of a much brighter future. Some might call our current administration a path towards Socialism. But is Socialism so bad if the happiest people in the world consistently come from countries with Socialist characteristics? If people are getting rich hand over fist with the stock markets at record highs then give me Socialism any day!
Jaabir has a point. I’m unemployed and free partly thanks to Big Government. I realize the desire to make more money through employment is silly once you’ve built a large enough financial nut. Yet the fighter in me is still trying to assimilate back into the Borg out of habit. I never give up.
Perhaps a better way is to get off the grid, take care of ourselves, enjoy life to the fullest, and let other people worry about our country’s problems. If there’s no need to take care of anybody anymore, wouldn’t the world be a better place? We should embrace whomever is President at the time. It’s an important aspect of maintaining our ultimate goal: happiness.
Readers, do you feel President Obama has helped you break free? With a large government safety net, have you found more courage to take more chances that now seem less risky? Alternatively, have you felt less motivated to find new employment or purpose given life is good enough already?
For those asking what Jaabir and his family do for health care in the previous post, he mentioned his wife’s parents pay for their family’s healthcare. Also, if anybody wants to bet on whether a Republican candidate will win the next presidential election, I’ll happily bet NO for up to $1,000 a person. Just shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.
Note: The US added only 88,000 jobs in March vs. 200,000 expected. Not good for the markets. Please read or re-read the recent discussion of fear and greed in stock market investing.