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My 3rd blog tonight and it's all about me.



November 19, 2009 – Comments (10)

Ok, I'm going to be a little more selfish in this post. I'll give you some background from where I'm coming from and let you make your own decisions, but the fact is that I am truly selfish and I don't want to have less then what I have now.

I grew up financially poor, but paternally blessed. I had a great set of parents in my childhood. Neither of my parents finished high school and my dad went to the army shortly after the 10th grade. I was born on Fort Carson Airforce base about a year before my dad left the army. I was the first of 3 boys and my brothers are 3 and 6 years younger than I am. My dad served in the army as a hellicopter gunner and a driver for the CO. He served in the Vietnam war and half of his unit actually went to Vietnam and the other half stayed behind. My dad stayed behind because he suffered flash burns to his eyes in a training accident. The soldier that took his place in Vietnam as the driver for the CO, died in the line of duty along with the CO. I was smart and energetic at a young age and my dad taught me a lot about being responsible. I had a paper route at age 11 and mom and dad woke up before me every morning at around 4 o'clock. They knew I hated the job because I had to get up so early, but mostly because I had to collect money from people that were deadbeats. I would have quit that job right away if mom and dad didn't re-enforce the benefits of controlling my own destiny. My dad would tell me "How many kids your age can say that they can spend their own money on whatever they want?" I could spend it on whatever I wanted too! My parents gave guidance and encouraged me to save, but if there was something that I wanted, I could buy it without protest. I was smart enough to to use some of the money to help my family in hard times and my parents were smart enough to make sure to treat it as a loan when I did. I would always get every penny back with interest and they wouldn't hear anything different. Even when my dad worked 2 jobs to support the family, he got up every morning before I did to support me. When I started to take on more paper routes, he drove me around when the weather was bad. Then he went off to his 2 other jobs. I started to understand what it took to succeed. My customers were pretty happy as a group because they got their paper every day in a decent condition. I would put it in the mailbox if they asked me to or behind the screen door if they wanted. If it rained or snowed it came in a plastic bag. The 16 year old kid before me made customer satisfaction pretty easy. The customers were used to searching for their paper and usually finding it in a poor condition if they found one at all. Even if they found it it was usually late in the morning. I didn't understand how happy my customers were until that first Christmas. I made more in tips that Christmas than I made for the last 3 months combined.

I continued delivering papers until I hit the age of 15 and was able to work at my local McDonalds. The longest I've been without a job since age 11 has been about 3 weeks and a week of that was a vacation that I took. I've had some lousy jobs but I would never leave one unless I had another one to go to. I've worked 2 jobs when I had to and had a few jobs that I worked 80+ hours a week. I had a job that I worked 80 hours a week while I was going to college for a short period of time. That was ruff, but I survived. I joined the army as a  junior in high school and went to basic training between my junior and senior year. I paid for college myself between what I earned and the GI bill. I've saved money since age 11 and invested it since about age 18. I've managed to provide my family with everything that we need and have invested enough to make us comfortable. While I have taken advantage of government programs like the GI BIll and FHA loans when available. I have never been on welfare, food stamps, or unemployment. There is nothing wrong with any of those programs, but the truth is that even in the hardest times, it was fairly easy for me to find a job.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in an era without a depression until possibly now. I may not have liked some of the jobs, but I was always able to find something to pay the bills.

If I would have taken an easier route in life, I'm sure I would be dependent on the government right now. Most people my age will suffer when social security goes bankrupt, but it's not even something I consider in my retirement plan. It's sad for those people because the government has squandered that money that rightfully belongs to them. They are counting on it and believe that it will be there when they need it. The truth is that even if it was there, they would have been much better off if they would have invested it in something themselves. Even if they knew nothing about investing, an investment in the S&P would put them ahead of the game in the long term. We live in an age where welfare recipients get 10 cents of every welfare dollar, social security is bankrupt and inflation is rampant because of unfunded government responsibilities. Still, people want to vote for the politician that bribes them the most, even when that politician is bribing them with their own money. Citizens in Alaska are happy that the have representatives that steal federal money to create jobs in their state to build bridges to nowhere. They don't care that they are built with their own hard earned money. They may complain when the same thing happens with their money to build a teapot museum in North Carolina or to name a golf course after a US Senator in another state, but they'll still vote for the crook building the bridge to nowhere.

Ok, now I'm going to be selfish! I'm going to put my wants and needs above the general public as a whole.  What do I want? I want to be able to control my own destiny. I want to be able to make the hard decisions about what is right for my family. I want to be independent and not dependent on the government. I wonder if any of our forefathers would have found my selfishness to be unreasonable when they were drafting the bill of rights?

I know that most of you disagree with me and believe in the government that is being sold to you right now for 4 easy installments of $19.95, but just make sure that when they throw in the free set of steak knives, that one isn't embeded in your back. When you sell your freedom for the promise of prosperity, there are no refunds or exchanges.

I apologize for my selfishness,




10 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 19, 2009 at 11:16 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:

Great blog Chris. Enjoyed it. We have similar backgrounds.

Btw, this isn't a post about investing, so did you run it by leohaas for his seal of approval first?

David in Qatar

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#2) On November 19, 2009 at 11:23 PM, ChrisGraley (28.72) wrote:

I looked for him inthe line for government cheese, but I must have missed him. ;)

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#3) On November 20, 2009 at 12:15 AM, XMFConnor (97.42) wrote:

Well done.

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#4) On November 20, 2009 at 12:55 AM, dwot (29.69) wrote:

Most people my age will suffer when social security goes bankrupt, but it's not even something I consider in my retirement plan. It's sad for those people because the government has squandered that money that rightfully belongs to them.

  What money?  I have need been able to make the numbers add up to how it is government is supposed to afford social security based on people's inputs.  It only worked for as long as it has because the population pyramid.

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#5) On November 20, 2009 at 8:11 AM, ChrisGraley (28.72) wrote:

You are right dwot, but they did all put money in faithfully every paycheck and that money is gone.

Now we want to trust the same people with our healthcare dollar.

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#6) On November 20, 2009 at 12:11 PM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

Good blog!

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#7) On November 20, 2009 at 12:14 PM, kdakota630 (29.42) wrote:

Excellent blog, Chris.

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#8) On November 20, 2009 at 10:01 PM, XXX222 (< 20) wrote:


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#9) On November 22, 2009 at 12:40 AM, Teacherman1 (< 20) wrote:

Similar background Chris, but before your time ( I am of your father's generation), and it was my mother who instilled the work ethic and self reliance in me, because my father passed away when I was four years old. 

She was left a widow with only a high school education and four children ranging in ages from 3 to 9. She got some social security to help, but it was mostly just hard work and carefully counting the pennies that got us through.

Went to college by alternating one semester of full time work with part time classes, and vice versa the next.

I also got the GI bill, but at that time it was about enough to pay for my textbooks and not much more.

By applying the lessons my mother taught me, I was able to get better jobs, more education, and work my way up to a level that only she would have expected of me.

I have had careers in the Oil and Gas business, Commercial Banking, and the Real Estate investing and development business. Although I am way old enough to be retired, I am now in my fourth career as a Special Education teacher in an Austin, Tx area middle school.

I have been able to provide for my children (who now have children of their own) to the degree that my oldest daughter is now a  pediatrician living in Boston, my other daughter a sports director for ESPN living in New York, and my son, the youngest, a post production sound engineer for the movie and television industry living in Los Angeles.

Politicallly, I am a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. By that I mean I know there are those in need, through no fault of their own (often born into that need), that we, through our Govt. do need to help.

The problem is that after they come up with a good idea, they don't tend to execute it very well, and as a result end up wasting money that could be applied to other areas of need.

One problem of with these Govt. programs is that they tend to be self perpetuating and end up causing an attitude of entitlement rather than being viewed as a temporary helping hand.

This was brought home to me a few years ago when the City of San Antonio decided to close down a long time public housing project and sell the land to fund other pressing needs. The howls of protest that came about were loud and strident. A statement by one individual really got my attention and helped me to realize perhaps for the first time how programs that are intended to help people can sometimes turn out to hurt them.

His statement was that they were taking away his home. He was born there, and his mother had been born there, and his grandmother had lived there before them. This was a case of what was intended to be a temporary, short term help for people in need, that had turned into a way of life.

I'm sure he did not see it that way, but I think in the long run, it was a program that hurt him much more than it helped him.

Ok, I will now quit using your blog to insert my own, and get back to looking for Monday's investments.

Have a good weekend, and thanks for sharing some insights into your own character formation and background.




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#10) On November 22, 2009 at 2:15 AM, ChrisGraley (28.72) wrote:

(clap, clap, clap)

Thank you Teacherman!

We seem to be cut from the same cloth and seem to have the same concerns about our government.

I'm starting to feel a little less hopeless about the country than I did a year ago.

It seems that there are a handfull of us on CAPS that understand what hard work is like and also know that a hand-out is not a hand up. I'm hoping that there is an equal percentage in the country's population. It's really is our only hope.

It's not just you, It's David in Qatar and Cato and many others, but I'm starting to feel like there is a posabilty of of change.

Up until I started on CAPs, I've always felt alone on my opinions and now I'm not feeling so alone.

Thanks to all for the reassurance that we aren't entirely hopeless.

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