“The first duty of a man is to think for himself” ― Jose Marti
There’s something about the presidential election season and all the campaign slogans, catch-phrases, buzzwords, and colorful themes that go along with it. For much of the last century Americans have been treated to a collection of new terminology and phrases every four years as part of the presidential election cycle.
Words are powerful, and sometimes it takes no more than a few strung together in just the right sequence to have a memorable and long-lasting impact. For instance, if I were to say, ‘read my lips, no new taxes,’ most would remember George Bush for having said that back in the year 1988 while campaigning for president. If I were then to say, ‘it’s the economy, stupid,’ you’d likely recognize Bill Clinton for having skillfully deployed that phrase to defeat then President Bush just four years later.
‘Rigged’ – and America’s Love of Buzzwords
In the year 2000 many heard the word, ‘Chad’ for the first time, and in 2004 we were introduced to the term, ‘Swift-boating’ as part of that year’s election lexicon. More recently platitudes like, ‘too big to fail,’ ‘shovel-ready jobs’, and ‘affordable healthcare,’ were utilized to great effect.
But this year, beyond some of the more colorful quips such as ‘low-energy, deplorable’, and ‘liar’, the phraseology of the 2016 season was truly epic. We heard the phrases, ‘drain the swamp, ‘the establishment is corrupt,’ and ‘the system is rigged,’ — and it’s that last one I want to talk about for a minute.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word Rig: to fix in advance for a desired result <rig the contest>. In other words, “rigged” means there is intentional, deliberate activity to produce a result advantageous to an individual or group.
Now it might sound a little funny at first, but that, in my opinion, is exactly the kind of approach anyone thinking of retiring these days should consider implementing for themselves.
Why You Must ‘Rig’ Retirement in Your Favor
Every year, America’s workers and retirees watch as billions of dollars are lost to red-tape inefficiency, government waste, corruption, and bad monetary policies. Add to that the record levels of global debt, the uncertain future of the Eurozone, and the slowing of growth in China, and you paint a picture of a lethargic global economy — with implications for everyone, especially for millions of American retirees.
Additionally, we are all living longer lives, which means we must find ways to make our savings last. We must seek to add leverage to our savings without taking on any additional risk.
Stack it all up, and hopefully you’ll see the need to forsake your ‘reactive’ approach and become resolutely ‘proactive,’ taking matters in your own hands.
Washington’s Undercover Army of Lobbyists
If we go back to the dictionary we find the meaning of the word Lobbyist, as: An activist who seeks to persuade members of the government (such as members of Congress) to enact legislation that would benefit the group (company or industry) they represent.
Sounds an awful lot like the word ‘rigged’, doesn’t it?
And while not an absolute, the idea of one group seeking to gain leverage or advantage almost certainly means there is another group being deliberately placed in a position of disadvantage.
It’s the kind of thing that goes on in Washington, D.C. every day. For instance, in the financial sector alone there are thousands of lobbyists working not only to nullify existing regulations, but also to influence the language in up-coming legislation to minimize the impact on the companies or groups they’ve been contracted to represent.
It’s easy to get the impression there wouldn’t be any rules at all if the groups these lobbyists represent could have things their way. They don’t mess around, and they leave nothing to chance. They spend a lot of money to get what they want, and these industries have positioned themselves to take maximum advantage of the current financial situation in every way they can.
They call it lobbying, but I call it rigging. Either way, it’s exactly the kind of approach every serious individual must consider taking for their own retirement plan.
Ours is an uncertain world, and as an active or near-retirement worker, you must consider the idea of ‘rigging’ retirement in your favor — it would be a disservice to yourself to do anything less. The simple truth is, if you aren’t deliberately, systematically, and methodically positioning your retirement assets where they will do you the most good, you’re simply resigning yourself to a position of disadvantage.
It’s easy if you try. Begin by putting yourself back in control of your assets, and don’t be satisfied with any plan until you are arguably in the most advantageous position possible.
And remember, even in the best of times it makes sense for rational people to distance themselves from the consequences of negative financial trends, but in the current economic environment it makes even more sense to adopt and employ strategies (‘rig’) that are realistic, practical, and unquestionably wise.
P.S. There’s an interesting, in-depth article over at The Center for Public Integrity website discussing the various means lobbyists employ to influence legislation on Capitol Hill.