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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 15, 2019

Anyone who has ever sat through negotiation training knows that a successful resolution is one from which both sides come away thinking they’ve achieved something positive. When that happens, everyone can leave their differences behind and turn to more productive pursuits. When a negotiation ends with one party feeling coerced or beaten up, the well for future cooperation is poisoned, anger and resentment persist, and there’s little chance that whatever was finally agreed to will produce a fruitful outcome.

While no one expects the other side to completely lay their cards on the table, each side expects the other to bargain in good faith. Deliberate lies, contradictions, exaggerations, and misrepresentations are anathema to a successful result. Likewise hurling insults and disrespecting the opposition are almost guaranteed to lead to failure.

Above all, successful negotiators understand that flexibility is paramount. Each side lays out a set…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 10, 2019

In most people, intransigence is a symptom of ignorance and/or insecurity. When we’re stuck trying to defend a point of view we know little or nothing about, or we feel unable to support a position we’ve staked out, the last thing we want is to engage in a rational debate. That limits our options: we can capitulate, defer to people who are more knowledgeable, or dig our heels in.

The more self-assured we are, the more likely we are to value finding a workable solution than worrying about who is right or wrong and who gets credit for the outcome. Such people are more likely to select one of the first two options.

People who are insecure, who are motivated by ego gratification, concern for their public image, or a need for approval tend toward intransigence. And they engage in projection – characterizing anyone who…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 4, 2019

You might think from what I’ve said or written, that I’m one of those Democrats who Senator Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) ramblingly described as hating Trump so much I would do anything to defeat him, regardless of what was good for the country. You’d be partly right. My disdain for our president is clear, but it’s precisely because I love this country more than Donald Trump does. The America he claims to love is viewed through a prism of wealth, celebrity, and entitlement. Like most of you, I see America for what it is. It’s isn’t always pretty, but I love it anyway, all of it.

My view of Donald Trump is biased. I despise him as an immoral, self-serving human being. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be objective about the things he says and does. It’s not very hard to see the truth…

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We’ll see where these predictions go.

America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, January 1, 2019

Two years ago, I swore off predictions, but to be honest, although I was sure Trump had little chance of winning in 2016, I always had a nagging doubt. The Clinton campaign seemed unable to see a discarded banana peel and not slip on it. A lot of us noticed that, but we thought even a campaign as badly run as hers couldn’t result in a Trump victory.

We learn from our mistakes. The problem wasn’t making predictions, it was making them while disregarding important information that was right in front of us. This year I’m confident in the wave that’s been sweeping the country. It’s definitely not a Trump wave, but that doesn’t mean the Democrats aren’t capable of turning it into one. So here are my fearless predictions for 2019, followed by honest confidence levels.

Donald Trump – The president will not be…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell,  December 24, 2018

Our Christmas present from the world of investing is that on the average, for every eight dollars we had invested at the beginning of 2018, we now have only seven. If you’ve been building a retirement account using investments keyed to the major stock indexes and your balance was $800,000 last New Years Day,  (not enough to support you for the rest of your life) it’s now $700,000.

Market indexes are never accurate measures of the state of the economy, but they’re what our president has been touting for two years. Savvy investors understand that the markets rose in 2017 on speculative hope that a nearly guaranteed tax cut law would inject a few more years of life into bull markets that were already long overdue to end.

That’s like looking at your pile of chips at the craps table knowing you’re already way ahead…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, December 21, 2018

Events have been so dynamic, so confusing, with everything seeming to change by the hour, I must have missed it. Apparently, the president’s cabinet and national security advisers have all been replaced by three television personalities. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter, three of the most rabid and brazen commentators on the extreme right are now directing policy for the White House.

That’s how bad things have become in the desperate struggle to keep Trump’s base happy. Yesterday, the trio’s influence on the President forced a shameful, embarrassing impasse over a border wall and funding the government. You can be sure Trump ran his Syria policy by them too, after being rebuffed by virtually his entire administration. So what if it cost him the only remaining respected member of his Cabinet? Who needs Defense Secretary Mattis when he has the unholy trinity on his…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, December 20, 2018

Occasionally, someone you know starts behaving erratically and unpredictably. Maybe he or she always behaved that way, but now the pendulum swings are becoming extreme. Actions appear more dramatic and frantic, and facial expressions take on a look of weary desperation. Attempts at reason or mitigation fall on deaf ears.

You recognize the signs: irrational lashing out, fits of anger and temper, blind stubbornness, actions that seem unproductive at best, destructive at worst. Friends and adversaries alike realize the situation could become dangerously out of control. Some people make comparisons to a wounded animal caught in a trap – remember those horrifying videos of creatures gnawing off their own limbs to escape? Regardless of other allegiances, they understand that they must unite to keep things contained.

When people start describing our president in those terms, we should all be concerned and ask whether Donald Trump…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, December 17, 2018

With a couple of business weeks still to go in 2018, corporate stock buybacks have already passed $1,000,000,000,000 (that’s one trillion dollars) for the year. That’s the same amount that our national deficit is predicted to exceed in 2019, because of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Is that a coincidence?

Let’s examine the question in simple terms, free of politics and hype. “The immediate effects of a tax cut are a decrease in the real income of the government and an increase in the real income of those whose tax rates have been lowered.” If government revenue drops and spending is not reduced, deficits rise. It’s just like what happens to you and me if we take a pay cut while our cost of living stays the same – our credit balances (debts) rise and/or our savings (cash reserves) decrease.

What about buybacks?…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, December 11, 2018

As 2018 lurches to a close and the news media binge over indictments and irrational tweets, each with its own spin added, it’s important to not be swept up in their hysteria. Try to screen out all the nonsense and flack, and concentrate on what’s real.

One real thing we know is that the new Congress will be sworn in on January 3rd. That’s still 23 days off, but the current Congress will be in recess for most of that time. Trump and the Democrats will spar over the border wall and keeping the government open, Congress may send the President a binding resolution rebuking the Saudi Crown Prince, and Robert Mueller will continue to reveal information about his investigation, but no significant business will be concluded before the year-end recess.

In the meantime, the media, in their continual competition for ratings, will…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, December 10, 2018

I was as wrong as everyone else who predicted Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win in 2016. I could rationalize being wrong by reasoning that the combination of the incompetence of Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisers and a couple of unfortunate decisions by James Comey made it more of a Clinton forfeit than a Trump victory, but I won’t.

What I will do, is apply that logic to why, after swearing off making predictions, I now feel confident in my view of the future. This isn’t about inferring logical conclusions or predicting specific events as much as it’s trusting my gut instincts, which usually serve me well. I realize now that in 2016, the prospect of Donald Trump as president was so horrifying, I simplify forced myself to believe it couldn’t happen.

Now that we’re here, there’s no point in denying reality. To help me work through…

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