“You can observe a lot by watching.”
Yogi Berra

This morning we walked with our daughter to one of her favorite parks in the city. Well…your editor walked. His daughter rode in grander, sedan style (also known as baby carriage).

The days are beginning to cool off here in the “Paris of the South”…particularly in the early morning hours, when busy little daughters like to begin their busy little days.

Plaza Alemania is located just a few blocks from our apartment here in the Palermo Chico neighborhood. The grounds have a “no pets” policy, which makes them congenial for picnic blankets…and curious, crawling children who are wont to put strange and foreign objects in their mouth…

We chose a shady spot, under a large Jacaranda tree, and watched the world pass by together. A few couples jogged along on their morning run, puffing and panting in matching lycra and brightly colored shoes. Other park goers lazed like lizards in the slowly warming sun, drinking mate and chatting with friends.

Adjacent to the park, along the grand old Avenida del Libertador, the morning commute was just getting started.

We soon fell into quiet reverie…marveling at all the different types of people around us…not just here, but in far off lands, too. So different in so many ways…so similar in others. And almost always, strangers to one another.

How…peculiar.

When we got back to the office, we dug up some interesting “factoids” regarding our fellow human beings.

According to one survey we read, one in four Americans thinks the sun goes around the earth…

Revealed by another, one in five British people say they would have sex with a robot.

And still another finds that more Americans oppose “Obamacare” (46%) than oppose the “Affordable Care Act” (37%).

(For any readers not shaking their head, the two things are one and the same…for better or worse.)

Fortunately, another survey reveals that most Americans don’t trust surveys, with 75% believing the results are skewed to a particular point of view. Only 19% believe they are unbiased.

You can imagine the scenes as they played out across the country when that last result was originally published…

“Honey, says here they’ve taken a poll…and it appears Americans don’t trust polls.”

“I don’t know, Hank. Sounds kinda iffy to me.”

“That’s just the point, my dear.”

“Hmm…whose point, exactly? Nope. I’m not convinced.”

Well, we here at Truth & Plenty take our one and only (so far) survey very seriously…but only because you, Dear Reader, took the time to participate.

As you may recall, a few weeks back, we asked you to write in with your own thoughts on independence. Specifically, we wanted to know what kind of independence you are most interested in.

Some people wrote in to say they wanted to hear more solutions dedicated to “lifestyle independence”…about being able to go where they want, when they want. These folk are the explorers. The wanderers. Readers after our own gypsy-like heart.

Some wrote in from Belize, others from Panama, and a few from Ecuador. And some from the U.S. of A.—who were looking to the above places, and elsewhere, for alternatives…

“In our American ‘consumer culture’, it amazes me how much we take for granted and is wasted,” wrote one reader. “I’m interested in learning more about how to live in a place that values gratitude for the simple joys in life, like fresh food, water, shelter, the beauty that surrounds us everyday and love for self and neighbor.”

Others wrote to say they were interested in tips and insights into how to live healthier, stress-free lives…but without all the added costs that go along with many healthcare plans in the U.S. and elsewhere. Doctoring used to be about patients…now, say many, it’s about bureaucracy.

“As I age (think social security age) I am more concerned about health costs affecting my retirement dollars,” wrote one reader. “Although in good health now, I am hesitant to move to an area that has less medical treatment options available to seniors and specialists such as eye doctors, orthopedic doctors and other more-than-general practitioners. Having lived in several states and definitely experiencing the difference in medical offerings and cost, I am more likely to consider this issue before I move again.”

And still others wrote in to tell us they wanted more on becoming wealth independent. Tapping non-traditional sources of income…reducing onerous tax burdens…protecting the wealth you do have, and learning how to generate more.

“Wealth independence = freedom,” as one reader succinctly put it. “No mortgage, zero to lower taxes (I am willing to pay my share, however not to subsidize the able bodied or the lazy). I’m tired of living in an age where everything is over packaged and over priced.”

Others were not so concerned with having more money, per se, but in using it toward better ends…

“For me, personally, wealth independence as defined by you is a current priority. I do feel prosperous in many ways, and the primary issue is not about making or having more money (although I wouldn’t mind!) but, rather, about feeling more in control of what I am supporting or not choosing to support in the exchange of money.

“I want to feel like I am making ethical choices that are for the greatest good of myself and others. At times I feel extremely tired of our consumer culture and the greed that drives our system. I am saddened by how much our fear of ‘not having enough’ has replaced our compassion toward our fellow human beings.”

We read over your thoughtful responses again today. Actually, we dip into them from time to time, just to make sure we’re staying “on message.”

In fact, we’ve added considerably to the editorial roster of our monthly publication, Independence Monthly. A doctor…a tiny house expert…and a publisher of classical Greek and Latin literature, for starters… (More about all that in upcoming issues.)

Be sure to look out for these, and other expert resources, in the pages of Truth & Plenty, too…
As to that last idea, wealth independence, we have for you today a few action points. Faithful readers will not have failed to notice that we’ve steered the editorial a little to accommodate some of your concerns on this matter. So…

First, if you haven’t done so already, we’d like to invite you to check out our two-part series on the “War on Cash” and the “War on Savers.” Both pertain to people who are enjoying or fast approaching retirement, where fixed-income assets are likely to play a larger than normal part in financial security.

Second, keep an eye out for the next issue of Truth & Plenty, due out this coming Saturday. In it, we welcome a dear friend and one of the brightest financial minds we know to share his views on the wide world of money.

Right now, our friend reckons the time has scarcely been better for Americans (and U.S. dollar holders alike) to cash in on the relative strength of the Greenback to pick up some “non-dollar” assets on the cheap. And he knows just where to look.

Image ©istock.com/jodiejohnson

T&P Tool Shed

Survey Says…Recession

By the staff of Truth & Plenty

Recession. It’s probably the single scariest thing most people don’t really understand. Sure, you have a vague idea of there generally being less money about. And you get that it’s somehow the fault of a bunch of jerks in tight suits somewhere. But for the layman it’s almost impossible to spot the signs of an oncoming financial collapse. Heck, most every economist and financial expert from here to Wall Street didn’t see the last one coming (and it was a doozy).

In an effort to keep abreast of any upcoming financial apocalypse, the WSJ takes a monthly survey of business, financial, and academic economists, in order to gauge the likelihood of recession in the next 12 months. Last month the average odds of recession in the U.S., according to the survey, jumped to 21%—the highest estimation since December 2012. One economist surveyed went as far as to estimate the odds were closer to 50%.

Of course, these are the same geniuses that said the housing market was too big to fail only 10 years ago, so I’d take these figures with a pinch of salt. What’s clear, however, is that the threat of another recession still looms and the sooner you take steps to remove your wealth from the mainstream economy the better. You can find out everything you need to know to get started here.

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