Regular Bauman Daily readers know that I don’t usually publish an article on Mondays. That’s when Clint Lee, Angela Jirau and I release our weekly Your Money Matters video.
And yet here I am, writing to you the day before a momentous U.S. election.
Blame Hurricane Zeta. Its winds toppled trees all over Atlanta. One just down the street from my house severed the neighborhood electricity supply. No juice means no videos.
But even a hurricane can’t keep me down. So on Friday, I drove up to Lake Lanier, boarded my sailboat, plugged my laptop into shore power and began to write.
As I did, it occurred to me that maybe fate is involved.
After all, I’ve been talking a lot in recent weeks about the importance of this election for the economy and the stock market. Some people think my views are controversial … even though they’re shared by the biggest names on Wall Street.
So instead of letting me get away with my normal routine, the gods of financial journalism forced me to come up with one more message before the big day.
Relax. We’ve got this.
COVID, Sell-Offs and Guns … Oh My
It sure seems like we have a lot to worry about. Here’s a sampling of topics covered in my Friday email inbox:
- Daily COVID-19 new infection counts are at record levels in the U.S. and Europe.
- Negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin have degenerated into public insults.
- Stocks are retreating across the board, with big sell-offs in technology stocks despite strong earnings.
- Americans have bought more guns — 17 million — than in any year since records have been kept. Walmart pulled guns and ammo from store displays in anticipation of potential election-related violence.
I didn’t go looking for all that bad news. That’s how the world is now.
I was tempted to feel as dark as my shut-down home office.
A Timely Reminder
But then I remembered an article that my father, ex-Congressman Bob Bauman, forwarded to me without comment recently.
It was published the day before the also-volatile 2016 election. The author noted that our financial publishing business was founded by people, like my father, who believed that our first obligation is to ourselves and to our descendants. He continued:
“True freedom starts with accepting our individual responsibility to make choices based on what’s good for us and those we care about… Making such choices reminds us that we have the option and opportunity to prioritize our personal freedom in the face of national challenges. It’s a choice that remains open to you too. Remember that during tomorrow’s election.”
The author was me.
In his own inimitable way, Dad was reminding me of something I’ve said consistently in my writings: Our fate is in our own hands … as investors, as citizens and as individuals.
I’ve lived and worked abroad for most of my adult life. I’ve traveled to more than 80 countries. I’ve studied history, economics and politics intensely for four decades.
In all that time, I can count the number of politicians who genuinely prioritized the needs of the average citizen on one hand. I learned the hard way that if you want to come out ahead, you need to think and act for yourself first and foremost.
I don’t mean that in a cynical or selfish way. Even the best-intentioned leaders — generally a small minority — must make compromises that go against the interests of people who voted for them.
The bottom line is that the perpetual battle for freedom and prosperity is won — or lost — by each of us in our actions. Politicians of various stripes may come and go, but we can’t rely on them to secure our future.
It’s up to us.
“None but Ourselves Can Free Our Minds”
I know this may sound trite. But there are millions of Americans right now who have convinced themselves that everything depends on who wins the next election. On one side stands the sunlit uplands of freedom and prosperity. On the other side lies chaos and darkness.
Friends, that is nonsense. America is you and me. Whoever’s in power is going to throw obstacles in our way. It’s up to us to decide how to deal with them, on our own terms, with our own interests and those of our families in mind.
As the great Bob Marley said many years ago, true freedom comes from inside.
It’s always been that way, and it always will.
Editor, The Bauman Letter