Protect Yourself From The Whims Of Politicians

whims of politiciansA funny thing about living in the Washington D.C. suburbs is most people don’t talk about politics in person. You’d think since so many residents have careers related to the government and military that neighborhood picnic conversations would be about the latest news from Capitol Hill or Pennsylvania Avenue.

Definitely not.

Aside from an occasional local election yard sign, politics don’t come up. Suburbanites do have strong political leanings but don’t want to risk neighborhood civility by talking about healthcare or taxes.

Conversations are more about summer camps and rodent exterminators.

The political conversations stay on Facebook. Young people and my middle-aged neighbors are all dropping cable in favor of social media. But as we learned from the last election, social media algorithms create a political “filter bubble” that segregates news feed items by political beliefs and strengthens political bias.

So the more biased we are toward one political leaning, the more we’re fed information to support our views.

This seems to be consistent with the lack of dialogue and open-mindedness at the governing levels. Politicians with similar beliefs hang around and don’t talk to the other side or read opposing opinions. Both sides are guilty.

The polarization leads to one-sided legislation, passed only with the ideals of the party in charge.

Healthcare is a perfect example. One party primarily wrote the law. Now the other party wants to dismantle it.

Millions of American’s rely on the current law’s benefits. A few months back, the healthcare bill came down to one man’s thumb down vote. Had he gone thumbs up instead, the impact would have been far-reaching.

The last thing you need is some politician making a decision that negatively affects your life.

Disenchantment with Leadership

Back in the year 2000 when the dot-com bubble burst, an acquaintance of mine lost a lot of money in stocks. He placed the blame squarely on politicians. He’s forwarded negative emails chains about his distaste for politicians ever since.

He lost a lot of money because the stock market went up a lot, then fell. That’s what the stock market does. And he made bad investments. The market was frothy.

Blaming the elected officials was a convenient scapegoat.

Especially during recessions, people blame government inaction for personal hardship, then look to the government to do something to make it all better. 60 Minutes reporters usually interview them about it.

Common sense tells us that relying on a bloated entity to take care of individuals is foolish.

The government cares about the barge, not the lump of coal along for the ride. You, the individual, are meaningless to the government. Ideally, the government sets rules that are fair for everybody, then we all play by the rules.

Of course, that isn’t always the case. Rules are often skewed toward those with influence and money. Thankfully, every now and then us regular folks catch a break and receive benefits too like tax-advantaged investment accounts.

Political and Governmental Risk

Living in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area has its perks. The job market is strong because of the government. Real estate prices are healthy because of the job market. Money is siphoned from all of you around the country and funneled to my city. It’s a good deal here.

And it’s not just your taxes. Every industry organization is based here, like AARP, National Rifle Association (NRA), the American Beverage Institute and hundreds of others call the D.C. area home.

The foreign embassies of all the world’s countries are here. All that government money is spent here too.

But every time the politics change, budgets and priorities change. I’ve seen money flow in many different directions in the 15 years I’ve been here.

In the late 1990’s it was a free-for-all in information technology because of the looming Y2K crisis. Then 9/11 happened and all the money went to intelligence, defense, and homeland security. Then the big healthcare law was passed and a wave of money went toward that for a while.

Nationwide, government funds scientific research, military funding, colleges and universities, infrastructure projects, local development, healthcare, municipal government activities, local law enforcement, and anything else you can think of.

If your occupation is reliant upon government funding, you may need to worry about some administrator making a decision that could negatively impact your job and life. It can happen from the top without any warning. A few years ago one bureaucrat made a decision that ruined my Christmas. It could have been worse.

Money Talks

Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. – Homer Simpson

Replace alcohol with money and it remains true.

Yes, when you acquire more wealth you’ll pay more taxes, and disproportionately so. But it’s not a reason to not build wealth.

As you grow your wealth, you become less dependent on the government. More wealth means you won’t need food stamps, or Social Security, or health care subsidies.

You might start paying less attention to all the political noise and start focusing on happiness or making more money.

Some use their wealth and influence try to foster change in government, which seems pointless because it’s so unlikely to work. I’m always amazed when billionaires contribute so much to politics when there are so many more noble causes.

The worst money I ever spent was a $25 political donation. I thought it was a good idea at the time. But in hindsight, it helped fund a tiny fraction of a TV ad that I didn’t want to see and had no impact on the future.

That $25 would have been better off in my bank account, working for me.

Stashes of money and multiple income streams can buy you freedom. Money also protects you from emergencies, joblessness, and political decisions you don’t agree with. Even so, most government action or inaction will have minimal impact on your life regardless of what it is or what party passes a law.

Check out the all-new Recommended and Books pages for recommendations.

8 Responses to Protect Yourself From The Whims Of Politicians

  1. Dividend Diplomats September 28, 2017 at 10:49 am #

    RBD –

    Exactly and these are the discussions I have with close friends and family. It’s on us. I don’t care much of what the politicians are doing, as it’s still up to me – to build wealth, to be healthy and to provide the necessities for myself and potential family. Bitching about what’s happening does absolutely nothing, period. Unless you band together with others to cause political change, it’s useless forms of energy that can be spent better on: Building Wealthy, Living Healthy and taking care of others that are in need. Cracks me up, every single damn time.

    -Lanny

  2. Kyle September 28, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    Love it and completely agree with empowering yourself to improve your life, and not worry about things you can’t control (in this case, governmental policy)

  3. Oldster September 28, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    One of my standard responses to the “sky is falling” set is to ask: “What will you do differently tomorrow because of ____________”? The answer is invariably “nothing”. We still work. We still eat. We still go to our kids’ events. Life keeps on keepin’ on (a popular reference from the 70s – I am, after all, an Oldster). I think that the news is a lot like soap operas, you could stop watching for months, tune in one afternoon and know exactly where everything is. Less news, more life. My prescription for happiness.

    • Retire Before Dad September 28, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

      The news is like a soup opera. I like that, and understand exactly what you mean having grown up in the early 80’s.

  4. Matt @ Optimize Your Life September 29, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

    “Real estate prices are healthy because of the job market.” Healthy is one word for it. I usually go with insane when describing my area (Pentagon City). 🙂

    It is crazy how many people are looking for a new job with the change of each administration. Just massive waves of people trying to move to new positions all at the same time. Ours is a bizarre city.

    • Retire Before Dad October 3, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

      Matt,
      Didn’t know you were in the region. I know Pentagon City well and didn’t know prices were insane there. Unfortunately they are not insane where I live or where my rental is! The change in administrations over time does lead to healthy turnover. Very liquid.
      -RBD

  5. Andrea October 1, 2017 at 11:09 am #

    Love your take on life in DC! My husband and I worked there for almost 3 decades, and one thing we noticed is how political appointees from every Administration ride into town, intent of “fixing” things…then find out they can’t due to all those pesky little laws already on the books!

    Another thing we learned quickly was to always hedge your bets where anything financial was concerned. Congress is always tinkering, and many times the members vote on bills without ever reading them. (Remember Nancy Pelosi on Obamacare? “Let’s pass it first, and then we’ll find out what’s in it.” Great way to govern, given the salary and perks these folks pull down).

    Now they’re talking tax reform, and who knows how that’ll turn out for you and me. Or what will shake out on health care down the road. Best strategy is strive at all costs to become as FI as possible, and not depend on Uncle Sugar for anything. Be pleasantly surprised if things play out in your favor, but be ready for the opposite.

    BTW, DC has one of the best dance scenes in the country! We really miss Glen Echo.

    • Retire Before Dad October 3, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

      Sounds like you got to know this place very well. Lots of budget and tax tinkering is going on for sure. I do hope some kind of reform comes through that is positive for the country. It seems if they don’t pass anything, the markets will be angry.

      I was never part of the dance scene in DC aside from some 80’s new wave at Black Cat and maybe a few nights at Cafe Havana in Adam’s Morgan!
      -RBD

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