Rethinking Education – Deriving Meaning


There is little point in learning anything unless you know what it means. Without meaning for you, you won’t likely remember it. You certainly won’t be able to act on it successfully.

For some subjects meaning involves comparisons. For others experience alone serves.

Experience

Suppose I tell you it is minus 20 degrees celsius outside. If you live in northern Canada and it is January, you might say, “A beach day.” If you live in Ohio, you would likely refuse to go outside. If you live in Jamaica, you would have no idea what it means. I recall a Torontonian discussing the cold with a local person in the James Bay area of Canada. The temperature was -55. “Is that Celsius or Fahrenheit?” was the question. “Doesn’t matter.” was the reply.

You have to be there to understand that temperature. When people immigrate to Canada from a warm country they are surprised. When one from India was asked what they found different in Canada, one replied, “Cold means something different.”

Experience involves experiencing -doing. A highly skilled carpenter has much the same subject learning as a new apprentice. They can accomplish much more in a given time because they have done it before. They become faster and more precise. They know things not in the books. The rare exception. Ways to layout the work ahead. A better understanding of materials and their limits.

Tradespeople know little tricks that help them. My grandfather repaired machinery in a factory. He could judge 1/32 inch by eye. He knew how long his thumb joints were and its width at the knuckle and the narrower bone between. Strangely, his forefinger was almost exactly 4 inches long.

Experienced people know what to ignore too. You can’t learn that with a book.

Comparison

People take numbers particularly to have meaning. If they ever do, that’s the exception. Suppose I tell you that in the first few months of the pandemic, 10% of all healthcare workers left their job. Interesting, but what did you learn. If I told you 1.5 million left their job, do you think differently Knowing that there were almost 16.5 million to start is comparison information and makes the information change its meaning.

For more context, the number remaining was about the same as it was at the end of – which year?  2014 as it turns out.

As the number fits to context you know more about the question or opportunity.

In accounting or investing, all the value is comparison. Internally, externally and in time.  Sales were $5,000,000 last quarter would be astounding for your corner variety store, horrendously bad for Walmart.

Context lets you judge meaning. No context – no meaning.

The media often provides data. That is not information until you assess its validity and assign it to a contextual framework. Decisions rely on information in context and compared to other information in other contexts.

Deriving meaning is not as easy as you might think. Take a data point like the number of people who presented with heart issues after taking a Covid vaccine. How many were reliably validated? How many doses were administered? First dose or  second? Was it exactly the same vaccine throughout? Was the population studied reasonably the same? (not a mixture of all ages for example) You can get the first number and for people 12-29 you can get the validated number fairly easily. 1,793 and 1,049 respectively.  The number of doses administered, and whether the adverse event happened after the first or second dose is obscure. When you leap deeper about safety you find the data is about the entire population. Because that involves dissimilar people it doesn’t help you. Some CDC information

Assuming you could find all of that information, your decision would still be in a foggy space.

How many of the 1,049 died would be useful. In that demographic, how many adverse effects are there for people who were never vaccinated? How many of those died? How many of those successfully vaccinated acquired the disease? How many of those had adverse effects and how many died?

The context leads someone to a comparison. Which action makes my odds of health and survival better and by how much? That is the kind of cost/benefit that makes for meaningful decisions. There are many other factors to consider, like economic ones or spreading to others, but you get the idea.

Deriving meaning in subjects without numbers

When you learned European history, how much discussion of meaning came out. I recall things like a chronology of war, but not to much about why they occurred. Looking back now, they appear to be a collection of skirmishes, civil wars, or big armed robberies. The meaning of each is not clear. Perhaps the ego of the leaders. Maybe ancient affronts. Possibly the need for more space to support a growing population. Perhaps theft of riches. In most cases one side was perceived to be weak and therefore exploitable.

Many subjects show tendencies but not determinative outcomes. That’s fine so long as you understand the limits. For example, we know from psychology that disagreeability is an important personality factor. About 60% of men are in the top half of the disagreeable range. That doesn’t mean men are disagreeable and women are not, it means that if you pick a man-woman pair form a crowd, there is a 60% chance the man is more disagreeable than the woman. Not a big difference, but played out over a long time a meaningful distinction.

You can rely on tendencies if you have a big enough sample. It’s like Errol Flynn’s

Decision making is an important ability

It is not taught in school. It could be and should be.

It can involve an enormous number of interconnected variables, some of which are little better than guesses. Successful decision makers change their mind as some of the fuzzy variables come clear. Inept decision makers tend not to change. The most inept never make any decision at all. The best decision makers quit doing dumb stuff sooner.

You can improve as a decision maker with practice. But as Vince Lombardi pointed out, “”Perfect practice makes perfect.” Better decisions are the ones that turn out to predict future outcomes successfully. If your decisions tend not to work out, they may have been poorly considered.

If you keep track of what went into the decision and what outcome happened, you will be able to improve your method of collecting and assessing information and context. Learn a little about Bayesian thinking. You will get the idea of continuously amending your decisions as more facts come available.

There are not many decisions that are made, are successful, and never change.

Making a decision and communicating it are both important, and often poorly executed.

Helping young people.

  1. Understanding context is as important as knowing some peculiar fact. Young people tend not to expand the space they decide within. Narrow context leads to very weak decisions. Not enough factors are considered.
  2. Learn about about how an honest cost/benefit analysis works.
  3. People should learn to assess the effect of tendencies. As Damon Runyon has opined, “The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet” Much of life is about betting more often on probable events. Learn a little about probabilities. If the tendency is 51% in favour and 49% opposed, after many examples, the 51 % tendency will be dominant. It is a mistake to look at just one example and derive meaning from a tendency.
  4. Be willing to be wrong. You learn more from what you do do wrong. Education is expensive. The only huge mistake is the one you continue to make. How many things can you reasonably expect to get right the first time you try. Mistakes are your friends. Look for situations where mistakes are possible – so long as you can afford them financially, and they are not physically too potentially harmful.
  5. Share decisions you make so they can gain experience from someone else’s mistakes.
  6. Put things they learn from books into context so meaning can be found, or at least assessed.

The takeaway

Education is much more than school. “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything they learned in school.” Albert Einstein.

Children should learn more of what assists them acquire an education.

A sound education improves the likelihood of success.

Knowing a fact is not the same thing as knowing what something means.


Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.


I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

Rethink Education


Education is a difficult idea. We all think we know what it means, but few do. I am one of those who knows too little, so I cannot help with the detail. Maybe a look from far above the fray would help.

What should you teach?

There are choices:

  1. Subject matter. Here is the history of what we, as a people, have learned about this subject.
  2. Understanding. Here is how you can think critically about what people tell you.
  3. How to argue. The purpose is for both to learn. Proving who is right is not important.
  4. Communication. Here are ways to learn from what others know and ways for you to tell them what you know,  efficiently.
  5. Methods. There is an advantage to being able to read faster. Note taking helps. Memory aids. Filing, How to use external resources.

The overview of education

Everything is either history or language. What we know and how we can tell each other about it. In that view, biology and geology are history — what we know so far. English, French, Spanish, art, music, mathematics, and accounting are languages. Ways to to pass information to others.

The important factor in history-like  subjects is the idea of change and seeking new and better descriptions of how things work. That is as true in sociology as it is in quantum mechanics. If the subject becomes settled it is no longer of much use.

Emphasizing subjects

The emphasis seems to be on subjects rather than the other aspects.

If children were taught this is how we came to this point in a subject, here’s what we don’t know but think we can work out, here’s what seems to be conflicted, and here’s how it attaches to our lives, subject learning would be more dynamic. The idea would be to look for the meaning rather than the specific knowledge. Specific knowledge will attache if you know meaning. Meaning won’t necessarily attach to specific knowledge.

Ignoring the idea of language makes some subjects more difficult. If math were taught as a language with its own vocabulary and grammar, the idea of communicating immensely complex ideas in a simple way would provide a framework to learn more. People would get the meaning and technique would make sense.

Music and art are much the same. Different kinds of ideas, but it’s the meaning that matters. Why does some abstract art touch us? In music why does changing the key change the feeling?

The idea is to create a vision for the purpose of learning.

The danger of  education

When something seems settled, there is a tendency to teach what it is rather than what it means. It’s the idea of received wisdom. People should notice that received wisdom is seldom, if ever,  presented with the reasoning for it.  Those who teach this way want the student to accept meaning. When the subject is presented as settled no one looks for it.

The conventional argument of being taught what to think instead of how to think arises and while overstated, is often enough true that we should care.

First approach

The idea of settled should be extinguished from every subject. Our experience tells us that nothing is settled.

If we take the chemistry-history, we would find it adding a new chapter every few years. Our ideas from 1920 are dissimilar to our ideas today. The same would be true for physics, engineering, and architecture.

There are other subjects that have created a body of knowledge that is far bigger than it was but not so specific. Psychology, sociology, political science, various cultural studies, have added value, but much of what they have built is not yet formally provable. May not be ever. These seem to be the study of tendencies rather than projectable outcomes. There is nothing wrong with that. They will grow more rigorous as time p[asses and people find new variables, methods, and ways to describe. Physics and chemistry were once there too.

Do you point out the value of seeking opposing opinion? Seek an evolved answer. You need more than one viewing point for that.

Learning is dynamic and meaning attaches to other things we know. One dimensional learning is boring and easy to ignore what appears.

Second approach

Know what the subject is for. If it is essentially a way to communicate, (language) the technique is not the same as for a subject. The idea of communicating a feeling or mood as with art or music is about a teacher demonstrating how it works.

Munch’s “the Scream”, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and James Lumbers’ ghost images are all art, yet they convey very different feelings.

Would the method chosen to execute the idea affect how they convey their feeling?

The Scream is oil, tempera, pastel, and crayon on cardboard. Would it have a different effect if it was oil on board like the Mona Lisa, or a print, like the Lumbers’ piece.

A third avenue. The student’s toolkit

Part of achieving something involves, subject knowledge, technique, and a set of tools. You require all of them to be able to execute.

A carpenter cannot build a house with knowledge and technique. It would be unreasonable to expect the carpenter to build it without tools and materials. So too with students.

Students tools are not like a nail gun and a table saw, but they can be acquired.

Reading faster reduces the time required to survey material. Apparently an average adult reads at around 250 words a minute. Retention is whatever they can hold for future use. Did you know if you read faster, you retain more? Why? Because you cannot let your mind wander. How many times do you find yourself reading half a page and have no idea what you just read?

Do you use memory aids? Notes for example. Do you know how to take notes effectively? Are there tools that make it easier? You can learn a technique and acquire tools that work better than trying to write down everything the presenter said. Things you write tend to be more memorable.

Can you organize your thoughts in spoken and written form. Learning grammar and syntax is useful, but only if it persuades others. Think about a good speech or insightful article. Understand about the person who receives the message. What can they understand and work with.

The ways you write an novel, or an essay, or a book about persuasion are different. None are random. Authors spend a great deal of time perfecting their approach to their reader. Notice that writing and editing are different functions.

Can you debate an idea? Arguing is a skill and some are quite good at it. Always pay attention to the idea that winning an argument is frequently counter-productive. The goal of debate is to learn from the other’s position and thus add nuance to your own. Sometimes it shows you error. Discovering errors in your position is a huge win. “Knowing” things that are wrong minimizes your effectiveness.

The takeaway

Understand the idea of history. The accumulation of what we know so far.

Know about language and ways to communicate.

Understand there are tools and techniques you can acquire to help

Education should include a balance of all.

Always ask yourself, “What’s it for?’ You’ll be surprised how often it changes how you approach it.

Learning is more fun than almost anything else you can do.

When done right, teaching is very close to learning in terms of satisfaction.

You cannot overpay a good teacher, nor underpay a poor one.


Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.


I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

Beware The Know-It-All


We all know some of them. There are two kinds:

  1. The ones who do know it all, at least within their specialty, and
  2. Others who refuse to be wrong.

Most of the people who are in group one have learned how little they know while those in group two are at the peak, according to themselves.

There is a descriptor for what’s happening in the second group. It’s called the Dunning- Kruger Effect.

Dunning-Kruger in Psychology.

a cognitive bias whereby people with limited knowledge or competence in a given intellectual or social domain greatly overestimate their own knowledge or competence in that domain relative to objective criteria or to the performance of their peers or of people in general.” – Wikipedia

The learning curve looks like this:

High confidence, low skill is hardly a place you should want to be. Much like young teenagers. Most grow out of that space.  Some people stay there and some develop complicated theories to justify their confidence. Most of those are in universities teaching subjects where cause and effect are not tightly connected. You don’t see it so often in the engineering department where the subject is more objective.

Humility is the defence.

In personal financial affairs

Where would you place yourself on the curve in respect to:

  1. Investment skill, knowledge, and experience.
  2. Control of spending with budgets, and savings goals.
  3. Holding a clear long term plan for direction
  4. Developing earning power

Some are well up the slope of enlightenment. Others are overconfident. I suppose confident that it will work out.

While you climb the slope of enlightenment, there is a need to acquire skill. What skills should you acquire from others until you develop your own? Other people’s experience is far less costly than making your own mistakes. When you have a question or concern, ask someone. Especially ask, what am i missing?

Most of the deep skills are not ones that affect you every month. Knowing a lot of tax or other law is usually more trouble than it is worth. In those areas, you should have a clear idea of direction and fundamentals, but keeping up to technical details is not crucial. There are people who do it all the time. Ask them.

Spend your time developing skills you need for your career instead of half learning things that are seldom used.

There’s another economic idea. “Comparative advantage” Use your resources where it pays most. Architects should not do their own legal work, and lawyers should not design their own buildings.

The takeaway

Use your resources to your best advantage

It’s easier if you are objective about what you know and could still learn

Do-it-yourself is not always a good choice.

Climb the slope of enlightenment on specific subjects. Include social skills.


Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.


I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

Practical and Applied Economics


Economics at the academic level is quite challenging. Few things can be proven conclusively. Well-meaning, honest people could disagree about almost any point. It is not that way for you and I.The depth of the subject adds small value.

We need to understand the ideas of economics, maybe be able to dig up some data from time to time, and use what we find to make reasonable decisions.

Economic decisions

Economic decisions rely on three absolutes. They apply to each of us, to every business or institution, and to every government.

The three absolutes, (axioms, a priori facts) are these.

  1. Scarcity – There is never enough of anything (resources) to fully satisfy any desire. Certainly not all desires.
  2. Everything has a cost. The cost could be money, time, attention, or others that change with the circumstances.
  3. The result is trade-offs. You attach your scarce resources to the things you want most and in some sort of time order. Priorities.

That’s how we each run our lives.

You don’t need to know much about treaties, foreign exchange, the International monetary fund or the world bank to get along. Knowing a little about money supply might help you predict the nature of your future, but you can be forgiven if you don’t know the difference between M1  and M2.

Tax rates, and what is taxed, matters some. Few of us miss the effect of taxation.

Our planning will do best when we have a strong strategic view. If we know what we want and what we have to get it with, applying the three principles within our vision of who we are and what we are trying to achieve. becomes just organized common sense.

Some thoughts from Thomas Sowell

Most things happen for a reason. Sometimes we can estimate the reason and behave differently. One that many people wonder about is why do governments spend so much money?

Thomas Sowell is an economist who relies on exquisite research and rational thought. These two thoughts, taken together,  summarize my current assessment of the spending problem with governments.

  1. “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to ignore the first lesson of economics.”
  2. “The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy.”

Governments spend too much because the people ask them to, and their careers are made better by saying yes. Thomas Sowell thinks and expresses his thoughts clearly. Most activists, and many politicians try not to notice him.

The takeaway

Ironically, as long as the people want unreasonable or unaffordable things, the government can be effective only by ignoring them.When they pay attention and react, it fails. You cannot, and they cannot overspend indefinitely. Irrational doesn’t work.

Ask the governments for less and ideally things that provide a benefit.

Left to their own devices, people do pretty well.

When government plans and spending are done poorly, it upsets the plans people make. Governments can balance their budgets only by unbalancing yours. They have no money of their own.


Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.


I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

Do Warranties Protect You?


Have you ever read a new car warranty? Probably not, but you probably think it protects you against defects in the production or design.

You would be wrong.

All warranties serve the same purpose.

They protect the manufacturer.

How so?

The provide a specific list of things that are covered and for how long. Anything not in the list is not covered. Conceivably anything covered that breaks from a problem with an uncovered part is not covered either.

If there was no warranty at all, what rights would you have? Probably more. Common law jurisdictions like Canada and the United States, actually most jurisdictions where English rules have formed the basis of their system, have a common law idea of “merchantability.” It is an implied warranty.

What’s merchantability?

There are many aspects, but the more common are the principles of “suitability for a particular purpose,” The principle of “workmanlike quality” and the principle of “warranty of title” – the idea that the vender has the right to sell the item.

The manufacturer supplied warranty does make it easier to decide what should be remedied and that saves time and trouble.

The manufacturer’s warranty adds no right you did not have before.

The ideal warranty

It would be better if it specified what was not covered, and anything not specifically excluded is covered by implication.

Does it matter?

Not often but sometimes. Manufacturers have created expectation with their warranties and most of them are reasonable. Most, but not all. If you have had a new car that had many minor problems and at some point the service manager said “This one is not covered because you are now past 20,000 Km.” What if your thought was, “Of the 20,000, 3,000 of them are driving here to make repairs to a new car.”

Now what?

Where it matters in everyone’s life?

Have you ever looked at the constitution? You’ll find it itemizes your many rights. Free speech, religion, own a gun, and many more.

I don’t know of any country whose constitution says, “You have all rights you could ever have, except these, or these ones limited in this way.”

The advantage of the general form is the government must create legislation to create an exception. The exception would be debated and the effect minimized to the least possible meaningful state.

It is a vision idea. If they list what is permitted, then by implication everything else is not permitted. Most people don’t see it that way and much of the legal issues revolve around that dispute. For example, abortion is a hot issue. How much of the conflict is because of the way we have been forced to define our rights and prohibitions.

The takeaway

It’s like quality control and design. When you have defects and study them, you find a majority were designed in.

Much of the legal and political conflict was designed in and will be near impossible to repair.

Be sure you notice the dog that is not barking.


Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.


I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

What Informs Government Policy On Covid?


We would all like to believe it is based on ever evolving science, experience, and expert knowledge, all consolidated in an honest cost/benefit assessment.

Some of us may have convinced ourselves it is so. It”s unlikely that.

Believe what you see

Personal risk assessment – Impossible

Do you see objective evidence? Very seldom. We see case count and deaths but little more.

We are vaguely aware of how case count arises – PCR tests but have no clear information about their reliability. How many iterations are the standard? Some jurisdictions are as high as 45. Most are 35 or or so. The test seems to be find too many “cases” if more than 20. So how good are the case counts? They could be vastly overstated.

Then we have the problem of how many people have been tested. If it is only the people who are afraid of the virus, it is not a random sample. We cannot derive expectation of infection. Maybe someone knows. In the long run the expectation is likely 100%. That’s why we need to know how lethal it might be.

What does a Covid death mean? If it means death with Covid present we get one answer. If it means death caused by Covid, quite another. How can a rational person decide their personal risk and assess their best course of action. The governmental agencies are talking about 2% overall if you are infected. Testing done in California indicates that is ten times too high.

We can’t know what to do with certainty, or even balance of probability.

Government plan and implementation.

Shutdown the economy and wear a mask. More recently get vaccinated. Some jurisdictions made a belated effort to protect the vulnerable elderly in long term care homes.

Gathering information and distributing it to the healthcare professionals has seemed more as obstruction than help. Why are doctors, especially emergency care physicians, prevented from using their best judgement for treatment options? Why does the college sanction those who step outside the government’s preferred narrative?

It seems more  like information management than emergency management.

Inferring what’s behind the government policy?

Given the hesitancy to commit to anything, it is likely the policies are not driven by science, (reasonably objective), published models, (capable of analysis and critique,) expert opinion, (none disclosed), or reasonable projections of the future. In fairness, the information may be scattered and is certainly incomplete. I hope they are using better information on case counts and deaths than they use to terrorize the public.

What else is possible? Being politicians, the tendency is to sample public thought and address policy towards the public’s expectations. Is it possible they are doing surveys to discover public opinion and setting policy from there. For example, if a majority of the public expects mandatory vaccines, would they deliver that without any science to support the value? I think yes. I can see no other reason to do it. The unvaccinated are at more risk from the vaccinated. Many have antibodies superior to the vaccine.

Sampling public opinion tends to get more emotion than rational thought. If 50% of the people think theya re about to die form the disease, it is not surprising to see the plan they use.

The governments have treated it as a health crisis and have responded as if it is uniquely that. It appears there was no emergency measures office that had a plan and implemented it. In the long run it is a health issue. In the short run it is not. All the while, they have been expanding their power.

Some governments have unreasonable goals. Zero-Covid like every other zero, is fantasy and anyone who pays any attention knows that.

The takeaway.

Government seizing power is not in our best interest and never has been.

Coercion is the easiest policy to oppose. People know they have nothing to offer or they would be using it to convince.

Covid is political and no longer medical. It was never a Emergency Measures priority. Politicizing a health issue is unethical.

The health agencies have lost credibility and may not help people make good decisions in future. Will some mistrust all vaccines now?

We deserve better.

Why Do Some People Choose To Remain Unvaccinated Against Covid-19?


You cannot know the right position without assessing both sides. Vaccination versus no vaccination.

When I see anyone with an over the top or shrill position, I assume I am missing something. Sometimes I can figure it out. I cannot do that by assessing my position alone.

The case in favour of vaccination.

  1. Covid-19 harms people. It is a serious disease that causes death and possibly causes long term effects.
  2. It is easy to catch
  3. In the United States, there have been over 47 million cases and of those 761,000 have died.
  4. It is very serious for the elderly, especially those in long-term care facilities. About one of every four who get it in those conditions has died.
  5. People who have the disease can spread it before they have obvious symptoms.
  6. If enough people get it at the same time, it could overwhelm the healthcare system
  7. It doesn’t seem to be “burning out” on its own
  8. Everyone who has had it will recommend you don’t get it. It hurts.
  9. Isolation and masking have effects to mitigate the spread, but are not enough.
  10. The harmful social, mental, and economic effects of isolation could be made unnecessary.
  11. We can get to zero-Covid if enough are vaccinated.
  12. People who are not at risk should be vaccinated to spare those who are.
  13. We have a duty to society to minimize transfer and the effects of the disease.
  14. The CDC says we should each do it.

A simple jab in the arm addresses all of it.

The case against vaccines.

  1. The vaccine was originally  promoted as having the following characteristics. If you are vaccinated, 1) You will not get the disease, 2) You will not spread the disease, 3) It is safe. None of these have turned out to be true. The best we can say now is, if you get the disease and are newly vaccinated, the result will be less serious.
  2. It is not a vaccine in the way we usually think about vaccines. It is more like a prophylactic.
  3. The vaccine seems to have a short period of efficacy. You will require boosters frequently. At least twice a year and likely more often that until it is improved.
  4. Case count is not a particularly helpful stat. If you test more you get more. That doesn’t mean the disease is more prevalent, it just means you see more test results.
  5. Testing with PCR is not as useful as they say. The test uses too many iterations to be precise. At 45 iterations you can find anything you want. That increases the case count but cases don’t tell us much. Cases found by 10 or 15 iterations could be a useful measure.
  6. If there was objective information that made vaccines a good choice, the government, corporate media, and social media would not require fear porn. When the government and media pushes too hard, I know they are lying. Even they are smart enough to use evidence if they have it.
  7. The death rate seems very high and so I assume their reported number is those who died with Covid-19 and not necessarily because of it. It’s a word game.
  8. Why is cheap rapid-testing not approved by the FDA? Except for the company where the head of FDA used to be CEO. It doesn’t sell rapid-test kits. Rapid testing would identify the infected earlier.
  9. Why is there nearly zero effort to provide early treatment protocols. The current version is if you test positive go home and isolate. If it gets a lot worse in five days come back and we will put you in the hospital. Doctors aren’t that stupid. They are being pushed from somewhere.
  10. If I invoke the “follow the money” rule, I find there are businesses and likely people with an incentive to push the vaccine idea. That’s especially true if it needs frequent boosters. Big Pharma loves chronic conditions.
  11. The government is seizing powers they have never had, and we are likely better off if they don’t have them. Most people use common sense to minimize the harm. The people don’t need politicians and expensive bureaucracies to tell them what to do.
  12. People need objective and accurate information. It has been so for a very long time. “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts” Abraham Lincoln.  Today the narrative matters more than facts.
  13. The opposers of vaccine are a mixed lot. Most of the really noisy ones are anti-any-vaccine. Among the rational, there are many who believe this vaccine is not proven safe. It might be safe, but how far should you go to expose yourself to might be safe.
  14. The government is proposing or has already imposed mandates to be vaccinated. Failing which you may lose your job, the ability to go to a restaurant, an arena, a health club, to fly, or to leave the country. The idea is to force people to comply with their edicts. If it made sense, rational people would take it without coercion.
  15. Are their edicts legal? I doubt it, but it would be harder still to make them ethical.
  16. The vaccine introduces risk. All vaccines do, and ones untested by conventional standards likely have more risks than we know. Maybe not, but betting on an unknowable maybe doesn’t seem intelligent.
  17. The death rate is tiny for anyone under age 60 and even under age 85 if there are few existing conditions. For many people, there is almost no risk. Without any comorbidities, a person under 20 seems to have a survival rate if known to be infected, of 99.997%. three in a hundred thousand would die. But that is of those who exhibit symptoms. There will be many more, no one knows how many, who will get the disease, develop antibodies and carry on. Children are exceptionally gifted at defeating disease. I have seen statistics that say no more than one in ten infections result in observable symptoms. That could be a guess. If true then of all children we would expect three deaths per million. Based on observed date so far, that is too high.
  18. People who have had covid-19 and survived have antibodies that are much more effective than the vaccine. The antibodies are sterilizing. They kill the disease before it harms you or can spread it to others. The vaccine is not a sterilizing vaccine like polio, measles or smallpox. Why would anyone who has the antibodies rationally choose to accept the vaccine risk for no potential profit.
  19. You should vaccinate for the betterment of the others. That is sophistry. To demand that is to acknowledge the vaccine doesn’t work very well. If anything we have been told is true, the vaccinated are not at risk. Since the vaccines are leaky, an unvaccinated person with no symptoms is at far greater risk from a vaccinated person than the vaccinated person is from them
  20. Hospitals are not overcrowded. If anything people who should be there for cancer treatments or heart problems are avoiding it. Fear is a poor counsellor. Are those unnecessary deaths being counted in assessing the cost/benefit of vaccination.
  21. There appear to be side affects coming to our attention. Particularly in younger people. CDC claims the heart problems that sometimes appear are rare, but supply no evidence of that assertion.
  22. The communication caused the problem. People do not trust the government, their agencies, and the media because of overpromising the value and executive overreach. Bullying, exaggeration, suppressing the ones who disagree, and publishing data selectively, tend to do that.

The takeaway

If I am to judge the case, I would likely begin by summarizing the presentations.

In favour

  1. Vaccines were tested before introduction and results since are compiled.
  2. Based on the testing done so far, the vaccines are acceptably safe.
  3. It is unlikely you will be seriously sick if you are vaccinated and get the disease.
  4. The death count related to Covid-19 is very high.
  5. The government wants you to take it and will make your life less pleasant if you do not.
  6. Covid-19 can be eliminated if everyone becomes vaccinated.
  7. You owe it to the rest of us.

Opposed

  1. The government and their agencies overestimated the vaccine’s efficacy and continue to do so.
  2. Safety concerns are growing rather than shrinking
  3. Observable evidence exists that shows the risk of death “from” Covid-19 as opposed to “with” covid-19 is immensely lower.
  4.  The history of free people is “That which is imposed, is opposed.”
  5. Covid-19 cannot be eliminated. It will be endemic and treatment protocols will matter more.
  6. The vaccine does not prevent infection and transmission to others, so there is no clear advantage to being vaccinated in terms of improving society’s risk.

Judgement

Anyone who wants to be vaccinated should be and the government should continue to make it available for them. That should include any booster doses.

It is unlikely the disease can be eradicated, so develop more and better treatment protocols.

Anyone who does not want to be vaccinated may avoid it.

Reasons for judgement

The vaccines are given now under an Emergency Use Authorization. It is not legal to do so without full disclosure of the risks.

It is unethical and likely illegal to force someone with no significant risk because of age, health. and/or the presence of antibodies to accept the risk of the vaccine with no provable benefit. The “Do No Harm” standard should apply.

The vaccine is leaky in that the vaccinated person can acquire the disease and may spread it. It is not the panacea the government presents.

People do not trust the governments’ pronouncements. Given the unbalanced approach they have taken, it is reasonable that no thinking person would trust them.

We don’t know everything we will know eventually and so there is room for opinions that turn out wrong. To help with that, spread the information we have more completely and more widely. Include the experience in other countries where the data is reliable. The objective information known should be published so a lay-person use it to help them make their own decision. Opposing opinions should be allowed when presented with evidence and sound reasoning.


Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.


I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

By Itself, Printing Money Doesn’t Cause Inflation.


If they printed a lot of money and no one spent it, would there be any inflation?

We all understand the idea of shortage and surplus. A retailer with a shortage has near empty shelves and could raise the prices on the few that remain and expect to sell them. Price inflation.

When the shelves are overflowing, a spring sale might move the the excess. Prices fall.

If there dozens of people waiting at the door waving money, prices rise.

The supply side

Supply crunches raise prices, but tend to be temporary. Other producers see the higher price and bring production on line to take advantage. The new supply pushes prices down again. Full shelves could indicate several things. Among them, people don’t want to spend their money yet.

The demand side

If people have more money and supply is unchanged, venders can raise their prices and expect to sell the same quantity as before. Price is what establishes an equilibrium between supply and demand. It’s called the market clearing price.

If the government creates money, the idea is to increase demand. You must notice that they supply more money without increasing the supply of things to be purchased. Auctions happen if people decide to spend it.

Another inflation factor

Governments use money supply to either boost or slow down the economy. When inflation is high they tend to draw money out of the economy by higher taxes or running budget surpluses and paying down debt.. Reducing the money available tends to reduce demand.

When the economy is down, a little money added can supply a stimulus.

That’s just part of the equation though. People take action too. When they anticipate harder times ahead, they spend less. If they get extra money they save it or pay off credit cards and loans. There is more money, but it isn’t being used to buy anything.

The total amount of economic transactions is what will cause or deny inflation. I can spend a dollar only once, but the person who get s my dollar cans pend it to, and then a third, or even fourth person. The rate of turnover of the money supply is called the Velocity of Money. (V)

It affects prices too.

How it works

Money only affects prices if people spend it. If they don’t, there can be more money printed and no effect on prices.

From 1960 to 2007 the average (V) was1.856 times a year.. At the end of 2007 (V) was 1.977, $1.00 of money supported $1.98 of purchases. From 2007 to now the government has printed a vast sum. M2 money supply went from $7.4 trillion to $20.6 trillion, but not all of it was spent. The purchases amounted to $22.9 trillion at the end because (V )fell to 1.12,

This is what the graph of velocity of Money looks like.

The last 15 years are decidedly abnormal.

Okay? So what.

If (V ) at the end had been 2.0 instead of 1.12, the transactions would have been $41 trillion instead of $22.9 trillion. The supply would not have been there that quickly and prices would have risen. A LOT!

The actual money supply times its velocity is transaction value and if there is supply shortage the price goes up. It is not just the money supply, it is the money supply the people are using for transactions that matters. That is Supply times Velocity.

Why would velocity fall?

People save more when they are fearful. The economy looks to be weakening and I might lose my job. Covid-19. China. The list is long and different for each of us. No one makes impulse purchases when they are afraid for their economic future.

Predicting the future

If you knew the money supply was going to increase in future with no increase in the supply of goods, you would be able to predict prices would rise. We could also guess there is $18 trillion of potential purchasing power if velocity goes up to 2.0 again. The government has been able to hide the inflation due from their money printing operation because not a lot of it was spent.

What if they cannot sustain the uncertainty and fear? Why would we want them to do that?

What would happen if $18 trillion of hidden spending power reappears?

Exactly! Much higher prices.

If it hit all at once and supply was unchanged, prices would become 41/22.9 of their current level. An increase of 80%. Even if it happens over 5 years, the inflation just from unwinding the excess would be around 12.5% a year and that is with no new printed money. Much chance of that? I think not.

An easy prediction – We should expect inflation because the government has an unsolvable problem. If they want to borrow money to pay for exotic and possibly unneeded or postponable services, the interest rates they pay will increase. As higher rates reduce make personal borrowing less attractive, it forces some money into the economy from savings.We can expect (V) to increase. Inflation will rise and make an even higher rate of interest necessary. People tend not to lend money at 4% when inflation is 6%.

It’s called stagflation. Slow economy and high inflation. It’s what president Carter faced in the late 70s and it is where Japan has been for three decades.

Social programs will be damaged because the government cannot afford all of them. That will hurt the poor more than others. New ones being proposed will add to the problem.

Defensive savings will be fruitless too. The purchasing power of the money saved will shrink over time. 7% inflation halves the purchasing power about once a decade. 12% every six years.

Tax rates will go up as the government grasps at straws. The easy things for them to do, borrow, print money, and raise taxes, are ones that add to the harm. Higher taxes and more spending are not answers.

“Vicious circle” comes to mind. Things go from bad to worse and then the cycle repeats.

Your personal defenses

There are a few:

  1. Increase your ability to earn money. Education, a sideline business, work more hours.
  2. Get control of lifestyle spending. The goal should be to have enough money. Some parts of your current lifestyle are more necessary than others.
  3. Reduce the price of your lifestyle. Shopping for example.
  4. Be careful with debt. Inflation shrinks the value of a loan, but higher rates require cash every month.
  5. Avoid dollar denominated investments.
  6. Consider precious metals and possibly crypto. They might work in the very short term. My guess is governments will outlaw both when it gets tight.
  7. Vote for people with economic sensibility and integrity. They might provide a way forward, but it will take a decade at least to fix the problem. And a complete revision of voter’s ideas about government should be doing.
  8. Be aware that as the economy becomes less insane, the spender type of politician will reappear. Deny them office no matter what they promise.

The takeaway

Bad times won’t last. Strong people will, if there are enough of them.

Governments do not solve problems, they cause them, or in the most generous interpretation, invite them.

Learn to live within your means

There may come a time when Mexico builds and pays for a wall at the southern border just as Donald Trump promised. If they do, it will be to keep fleeing Americans out.

Printing money is a something for nothing idea. The problem is if some gets something for nothing, someone else gets nothing for something. They don’t tolerate that indefinitely and not beyond a modest limit. Common sense says something for nothing can’t happen forever.


Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.


I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

Best Answers Evolve.


How many people decided on what they wanted and what they have to get it with and then got it in one unchanged step. Perhaps over a long time.

I don’t know a single person or entity who has done that. None of Microsoft, Facebook, Google, or Apple would fit that model. All of them evolved.

Evolving best answers

People find it is easier to evolve if they are directionally accurate in seeking what they want. Precision is not a point worthy of attention.

Two things to consider

  1. What moves you towards your vision?
  2. What harms your achievement of those visions?

Moving towards smart is actually harder than avoiding stupid. You must be brilliant or know more to do that.

According to self-made billionaire, Charlie Munger, Warren Buffets partner and co-chair of Berkshire Hathaway.

It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

Seven more Munger thoughts you can apply.

  1. “I have a way of handling a lot of problems. I put them on what I call my too-hard pile. Then I just leave them there. I’m not trying to succeed in my too-hard pile.”
  2. “Our game is to recognize a big idea when it comes along, when one doesn’t come along very often. Opportunity comes to the prepared mind.”
  3. “It never ceases to amaze me to see how much territory can be grasped if one merely masters and consistently uses all the obvious and easily learned principles.”
  4. “If the incentives are wrong, the behavior will be wrong. I guarantee it”
  5. “I would argue that passion is more important than brain power.”
  6. “Knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.”
  7. “A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage, etc.”

The takeaway

Your chances of success are greater if you avoid distractions, or easily seen catastrophes.

Know the purpose and if a particular method does not tightly connect, set it aside. It could be either in the “No” basket or in the “Too-Hard” basket.

Focus matters.


Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.


I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

Executing Plans That Have A Chance Of Success


Tactical planning and strategic planning connect at implementation.

On the strategy side we have what we are trying to do, what we have to do it with, when and where it will happen, and who is involved. On the tactical side we have methods, costs, limits, and risks.

Planning that follows this form typically ends acceptably well if it is implemented as designed. When it fails it is usually because it was implemented poorly or not at all, or because the tactics came to dominate the thinking.

It is a capital mistake to begin with tactics.

In a business

Many businesses market their goods and services based on what they are good at doing. Instead they should move one step closer to the customer and find what they want to buy. In one business I had, we hired a salesperson who had previously sold expensive pots and pans door to door. He made a stunning observation, “It’s surprisingly easy to sell things people want to buy.” How is that hard to believe?

Nonetheless many stick to selling what they make, instead of making what will sell.

Finding what customers want.

Most customers don’t know what they want with enough precision to make the optimal decision. If you have contact with people with the resources to do something effective, addressing the what with question begins with education and identifying opportunities. When they connect those to their own condition, they will see the merit in the tool, tactic, or object you propose in relation to the opportunity.

People value a creative solution to a problem they know they have, and they value identification of problems and opportunities they did not know about. Under those conditions, the solution is not sold, it is bought.

When you don’t have those conditions, people must be sold and that is immensely more difficult and personally frustrating.

Where to begin.

Strategic planning follows the identification of a vision. Things like — Who am I? What values do I hold? What will I not do? What do I want to achieve? How do I want to share that achievement?

The vision part is easy to talk about and is for clarification. Most people have the idea, but not in context of how to implement. Fuzzy vision is a serious impediment to moving forward.

Planning with no vision.

Planning requires some effort. Willpower is not an answer. People don’t last long using it in respect to implementing.

  1. Why should I do it? – Because it specifically addresses my values, and
  2. Why should I not do it? — Because it does not.

Why is motivating. There is an incentive. Humans react to incentives and disincentives. You get far more of what you incentivize and far less of what you don’t.

The takeaway

When you know what you want and why you want it, it is easier to choose methods that get you there and then easier to keep doing it.

When you start with methods, they will be uncomfortable because unconnected methods require willpower and that is in short supply if it exists at all

H.L Hunt, the oil tycoon in the middle part of the 20th century sums it up rationally. “Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities, and go to work” If you look at what has worked for you in the past, I think you will find you did all four steps well. Deciding and commitments work.

Businesses should find what customers would like to buy and find a way to deliver it to them at an acceptable price. In personal planning you are both the customer and the provider. Find the incentivized step. Then and only then, find a way to deliver it.

Method first planning nearly always fails.


Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.


I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

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