If there’s one thing Americans of all stripes can agree on today, it’s that we live in bitter, angry, polarized, politically divisive times.
Yet too few seriously question what it is they’re so upset about.
If they did, they wouldn’t just be calmer, happier and less stressed out. They’d also be considerably richer.
Two of the nation’s smartest men – including one of the world’s wealthiest – are trying valiantly to get folks to understand this.
Yet most either haven’t heard them – or won’t believe them.
That’s a shame, really. Because understanding their point of view can dramatically impact not just your perspective on the world – but the size of your investment portfolio.
Many Americans today are angry and frustrated. Why is that?
Is it because we’re going through a severe depression like we did in the 1930s, when a quarter of the nation was unemployed and millions stood in breadlines?
No. Unemployment claims are at a 45-year low, and U.S. household net worth – that’s assets minus liabilities – is at an all-time high: $96.9 trillion.
Is it because we are in an existential conflict like World War I or World War II, where our very freedom and security are at risk? Of course not.
Is it because we are in an unpopular war like the one in Vietnam, with a draft that forces young Americans to fight and die overseas?
No. We are still embroiled in the war in Afghanistan – the longest in U.S. history – but it largely affects professional military personnel and their families.
Is it because we are going through a great societal upheaval like the civil rights era of the 1960s?
No. There are racial tensions, yes. But things are getting better, not worse.
If you doubt this, ask yourself some simple questions… When were Americans less racist than they are today? Less homophobic? When did women have more equality?
Things are not perfect, to be sure. But the trend line is undeniably positive.
Many people don’t understand this. Or, worse, they don’t want to hear it.
Recall the many Congressional representatives who sat on their hands during President Trump’s State of the Union speech earlier this week.
They don’t like the man or his policies. Fine. I get that.
But they can’t applaud for a stronger economy, higher wages, growing business and consumer confidence, or record-low black unemployment?
There is more than just politics as usual going on here. A substantial percentage of Americans don’t want to acknowledge good news or favorable developments. (Nor do they want their elected representatives recognizing any positive outcomes. That would demonstrate they are out of touch.)
These folks are fully invested in grievance and resentment.
This is not most Democrats today, in my experience. It’s those on the fringe, both the far left and the far right.
They are having a competition to see who can be more negative, more offended or more outraged, despite the fact that Americans today are living longer, healthier, safer, richer and freer lives than ever before.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates – the world’s richest man until Amazon founder Jeff Bezos surpassed him recently – calls this “the greatest story that no one knows.”
In a New York Times interview this week with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, the two men talked about all the ways American society and the rest of the world are getting better – and why most Americans don’t recognize it.
This isn’t just valuable knowledge for its own sake. It’s a solid foundation for a whole investment approach.
After all, why risk your hard-earned money in the financial markets if we live at a terrible time, in a horrible world and in a nation that’s on the wrong track?
It isn’t true.
And in my next column, I’ll explain how the perspective shared by Bill Gates, Steven Pinker and me can dramatically increase your net worth.
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