Taking Stock ... Peeking into the future

By Malcolm Berko

Dear Mr. Berko:

I’ve enjoyed your column for the past 30 years in our paper, and that’s not just because of your stock picks but because you tell it like it is and very few people have the courage to do that.

Another reason is that you mix your stock recommendations with interesting advice and comments that make me think. Your humor is pretty good, too.

Now that I’ve buttered you up, I hope you’ll take the time for my question.

At 86, I’ve watched a lot of water flow over the dam, and my wife of 60 years and I are concerned about where the U.S. is headed in the coming 50 years.

Our concern is for our eight grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

This isn’t a stock question, but your answer and advice regarding these changes would help me advise our grandkids. All of my children read your column and appreciate your unique way of thinking.

DS, Oklahoma City

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Dear DS:

Wow! You reproduce well! Thirty of those buggers — what a grand, prolific family you have.

It’s little wonder you’re concerned.

However, I suggest you give those grandkids the same advice I gave my grandkids: Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.

Now, Gramps, stop being so serious; there are things that can’t be changed, and that’s the future.

So teach your brood how to sing “Hava Nagila” in Latin, and then make sure your progeny knows how to dance the guten tag hop-clop.

It’s my observation that kids who have mastered those two skills always have a very happy childhood and a wonderful, fun-filled, successful adulthood.

During the past few years, readers from coast to coast have shared their concerns about the economic, social and political direction of this country.

They’ve made comments such as “democracy run amok” and “immigration is weakening our country” and “Wall Street is Evil Street” and “we’re suffocating by our national debt” and “greed is destroying America” and “why work when welfare pays so well” and most apropos: “Congressmen care more about their lobbyists than they do about voters.”

In the past decade, an increasing number of readers have been asking, “Where is this country headed in the future?”

Because this column has been published from coast to coast for 40 years, I’ve a good feel for the public pulse.

Even though the Dow Jones industrial average has been making new highs, there is a growing, palpable angst and anger among readers and investors that’s weighing heavily on their future comfort zones.

They’re feeling the downward undertow that’s the result of so many abrupt changes in our culture.

They believe that this undertow is beginning to destabilize and rip the social, political and economic fabric of America.

In fact, your newspaper, The Oklahoman, in 1951, quoted Alexander Fraser Tytler, a Scottish historian who passed in 1813: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury.

After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.”

Now, the average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history is about 200 years.

And during that time frame, those nations always have progressed through the following sequences: 1) From bondage to spiritual faith. 2) From spiritual faith to great courage. 3) From great courage to liberty. 4) From liberty to abundance. 5) From abundance to complacency. 6) From complacency to apathy. 7) From apathy to dependence. 8) From dependence back to bondage.
Just as surely as we can’t stop the tides or un-ring a bell, this is a progression that cannot be changed.

So accept it, because attempts to change the direction of this downward undertow will do more harm than good.

Just remember: Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.
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Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775 or e-mail him at mjberko@yahoo.com. Visit Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
© 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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