Author Topic: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?  (Read 7529 times)

pecunia

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Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« on: April 23, 2018, 06:33:59 AM »
I’ve been watching a lot of You Tube these past few weeks.  Short films come up about the Russians meddling with our election, who really shot JFK and faking the Apollo moon shots.  Pretty fantastic stuff, right?  Are these things more or less fantastic than Dick Cheney and company faking that Saddam Hussein had WMDs?

So, what about FI.  This promises a thing that can make our eyes glaze over with tears.  This promises two wonderful things.  It promises freedom and it promises a good life.  How can you turn this down?  The claim is that you can leave the “hamster wheel” of the modern work place.  It sounds like a practical paradise.

Isn’t there this little tickle in the back of your brain telling you, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.”  As P.T. Barnum is supposed to have said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  It could be like a false religion to some of us.

Why would this be a massive conspiracy?  Who is benefiting from this as a massive scam?  Give it a little thought.  Remember the movie, “Wall Street,” from a few years back.  The financial guys stole the pensions from hard working honest people.  This mimicked what was happening in reality.

The financial guys stole the pensions.  They took many houses in 2007-2008.  They are smart.  They want more.  They know about PR.  They own over 90 percent of everything in America and they want more.  Have any of you ever given the consideration that maybe they are actually behind FI?

What could be better?  They convince you to work very hard in the most productive time of your life?  They convince you to live frugally and invest your money in Index funds.  Essentially, you are giving both your time and your money over to them.  You are doing this voluntarily. 

It will certainly be a shame that when you are a whisker from your goal that they somehow pull the rug out from under you.  It will be back to work Bucky until you give them your three score and ten.

Papa bear

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 06:40:51 AM »
Not sure how they'll take away my business and rental properties. Maybe I'm one of those faking you all into FIRE...


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e34bb098

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 07:12:40 AM »
Sounds like you need to watch less YouTube.

“Too good to be true” sounds like a much more accurate description of the typical “buy this designer consumer product and your life will be fantastic” ad campaigns we are constantly bombarded with.

If it’s a conspiracy, it’s a pretty dumb one. Why would an evil mastermind convince people to be frugal, when the proven way to get rich is to convince people to spend their money on your dumb product?

plog

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2018, 07:14:13 AM »
Quote
I’ve been watching a lot of You Tube these past few weeks.

Me too.  I stick to 'nut trauma pranks' and 'Russian dash cam fail'.  Consequently, I now constantly wear a cup around my friends and will never drive in Moscow.

Being human sucks in that we have a horrible perception of actual risk.  While we can logically  understand statistics we let emotion and fear seep into the equation and cloud or thinking on subjects.   Just look at driving/flying.  More people are afraid of flying than driving--especially with what happened this last week.

However, that was the first airline accident death in nearly a decade. Then you look at the death per mile travelled statistic between flying and driving and you realize how crazy it is to fear flying (or at least not fear driving several orders of magnitude more than we do).  But we do fear flying more because the thousands of car death that occur daily don't make the news--and no one in the States doesn't know about that Southwest passenger.

Lastly, let's assume you are right--whatever that may entail.  Do you have an alternative?  What do you suggest we do  instead of attempting FI that will produce a better outcome with less risk? 
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 07:16:27 AM by plog »

pecunia

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2018, 07:51:50 AM »
Quote
If it’s a conspiracy, it’s a pretty dumb one. Why would an evil mastermind convince people to be frugal, when the proven way to get rich is to convince people to spend their money on your dumb product?

The dumb product is a one time purchase not likely to be repeated.  I assume there are now millions of people out there attempting the FI lifestyle.  FI will not be a one time purchase.  FI will be a cash flow from your pockets to the Wall Street folks.  As your income goes up, their cash flow from you will go up.  This is definitely a better deal than a one time purchase of some hardware.

Quote
Being human sucks in that we have a horrible perception of actual risk.  While we can logically  understand statistics we let emotion and fear seep into the equation and cloud or thinking on subjects.   Just look at driving/flying.  More people are afraid of flying than driving--especially with what happened this last week.

This is the beauty of their beguiling sales pitch.  Mr. J. L. Collins does an admirable job of selling index funds.  These are supposedly less risk and more talk.  This is sold with the "statistical" evidence from the Trinity study telling you to save 25 times what it will cost you to live for a year.  This specific information appeals to the technical mind.  These are targeted people.  These are the folks that can probably send Wall Street more money with each paycheck.  "Logical" arguments are used to make the sell.

Have you ever noted the almost religious undertones to the way this is pitched?  "Trinity" study.  Where else have I heard of a trinity?  An unassuming lifestyle must be assumed.  Drugs, alcohol and tobacco are expensive purchases.  Giving these up will help you get the dream.  Use a bicycle to get to work.  It saves you gasoline money, gives you the side benefit of exercise and saves the planet.  It is like Wall Street has created their own cult.  The workers who adopt these practices will cost their megacorp less health care costs.

Quote
Lastly, let's assume you are right--whatever that may entail.  Do you have an alternative?  What do you suggest we do  instead of attempting FI that will produce a better outcome with less risk? 

Sorry - Maybe a drugs, sex and rock'n'roll lifestyle may be the only way to fight back.



harvestbook

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2018, 07:57:56 AM »
I'd bet barely 1 percent of non-wealthy people (people born to wealth or have high salaries) even realistically plan toward FI, much less achieve it. So it sure seems like a sucker bet if you hope to capitalize on a crowd of frugal, minimalist folks.

It's one thing to sit in your cubicle for 40 years and dream about telling the boss to kiss off. It's another to actually save and deprive yourself of instant gratification and little luxuries in order to make it happen. Made even harder by an entire capitalist infrastructure designed to enslave people via debt and health care.

Cryptocurrency would be a far simpler con.

boarder42

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2018, 08:26:24 AM »
this topic is humorous.  This isnt a get rich quick too good to be true concept.  The data can be historically back tested on your own with out the trinity study to show that historically this method for withdrawing money from index funds would have been successful.  the percentage of the population interested in this and driving towards it are so small its not even a blip on a radar to be worthy of conspiracy theory.

also vanguard is owned by the people who invest in the shares at vanguard.  so if your theory is true at all then those who use vanguard would be reeping the beneifts you speek of in this conspiracy world.

FIPurpose

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2018, 08:34:25 AM »

Have you ever noted the almost religious undertones to the way this is pitched?  "Trinity" study.  Where else have I heard of a trinity?  An unassuming lifestyle must be assumed.  Drugs, alcohol and tobacco are expensive purchases.  Giving these up will help you get the dream.  Use a bicycle to get to work.  It saves you gasoline money, gives you the side benefit of exercise and saves the planet.  It is like Wall Street has created their own cult.  The workers who adopt these practices will cost their megacorp less health care costs.


I'm assuming you're not just trolling?

I mean there is a reason Trinity University has a religious name. The study was done by a private religious university. Though it may also be called Trinity because the founder built it from 3 failing colleges. I don't know, maybe he liked the double entendre.

But really I don't think you'll be saving your company any noticeable amount of money on health care or the like. The only way health care costs will come down for corporations was if there were some way to provide the right incentives/disincentives to actually change the habits of a significant portion of the population.

I think you're really overestimating how many people are aiming for FI. There are still millions of people that have no interest in investing, saving, or frugality. IF, and this is a big IF, IF there were millions of mustachians, you'd start to see investment returns waver and wages start to increase dramatically. However, for a lot of people, the labor market increasing wages 10-20% will be more than enough to drive many non-working people back into the labor market even many of the people on the forum here. As long as people are working and improving the mega corporations, our investments will gladly hand over the profits.

I think at most there may be a couple hundred thousand people in the States looking to achieve something like FI.

Psychstache

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2018, 08:44:04 AM »

Have you ever noted the almost religious undertones to the way this is pitched?  "Trinity" study.  Where else have I heard of a trinity?  An unassuming lifestyle must be assumed.  Drugs, alcohol and tobacco are expensive purchases.  Giving these up will help you get the dream.  Use a bicycle to get to work.  It saves you gasoline money, gives you the side benefit of exercise and saves the planet.  It is like Wall Street has created their own cult.  The workers who adopt these practices will cost their megacorp less health care costs.


I'm assuming you're not just trolling?

I mean there is a reason Trinity University has a religious name. The study was done by a private religious university. Though it may also be called Trinity because the founder built it from 3 failing colleges. I don't know, maybe he liked the double entendre.

But really I don't think you'll be saving your company any noticeable amount of money on health care or the like. The only way health care costs will come down for corporations was if there were some way to provide the right incentives/disincentives to actually change the habits of a significant portion of the population.

I think you're really overestimating how many people are aiming for FI. There are still millions of people that have no interest in investing, saving, or frugality. IF, and this is a big IF, IF there were millions of mustachians, you'd start to see investment returns waver and wages start to increase dramatically. However, for a lot of people, the labor market increasing wages 10-20% will be more than enough to drive many non-working people back into the labor market even many of the people on the forum here. As long as people are working and improving the mega corporations, our investments will gladly hand over the profits.

I think at most there may be a couple hundred thousand people in the States looking to achieve something like FI.


Trinity University is so named because it was originally founded on the merging of 3 smaller Presbyterian colleges by a Presbyterian organization. While its founding has a religious basis, there is no mandate for religious courses, participation, or tradition. It is a pretty similar to experience to secular expensive, elite private colleges.

Source: My wife (Jewish) and I (Atheist) both graduated from Trinity. Go Tigers!

P.S. OP, what's up with the quotes around "statistical"? Is math fake news now?

Phoenix_Fire

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2018, 09:02:46 AM »
Interesting article on YouTube's algorithm:

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/algorithms-take-over-youtube-s-recommendations-highlight-human-problem-n867596

Basically, no matter what you start out watching, it will eventually start leading you to conspiracy videos, because those keep people watching.  Something to be aware of when you keep watching the next video after video on autoplay or click on the recommended videos.

thesis

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2018, 09:14:34 AM »
Like another poster said, it's a tad difficult to tell whether this is trolling or not.

For what it's worth, there is still money being made in FI. It's extremely popular to crank out a book when your FI blog gets big enough, and it's even more popular to make money from affiliate links. Granted, some of this is just to offset the costs of running and growing the blog, and there's no shame in using your passion to make money. But I do find it humorous, and over the the Shame and Comedy subforum here there was a good article about how the whole Chautauqua annual event smacks of money-grabbing.

Wall street doesn't care about your investments. It just wants you to make ignorant decisions with those investments so that those initiated in finance can profit from your stupidity.

Also, personal capital be damned, I use a cheap ledger I got from a supermarket for tracking my budget. Call me old school, but it does everything I need it to do.

E.T.

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2018, 09:20:44 AM »
You've done it now, my alien supervisors are going to be so mad that you discovered their secret Mustachian Wall Street conspiracy. Quick, sell all your stocks and buy a bunch of gazingus pins to cover your tracks. :)

In all seriousness, I hope you don't take the feedback here too personally, O.P.  It's good to question the truth of what you read (MMM/FI blogs) but you should also question your thought process and test your own assumptions for truth. I think when you apply critical thought too much to one area and not enough to a pet theory, you end up making a lot of bad conclusions.  In this case, I think your base assumption that you won't share in the profits of the corporations if you buy index funds is flawed. If evil corporate overlords grow their companies and make more money, I win too bc I share in the ownership of corporate America through index investments. The sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle you mentioned will be a lot more fun when you know you don't need a job anymore to pay for it.

pecunia

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2018, 09:24:23 AM »
Quote
P.S. OP, what's up with the quotes around "statistical"? Is math fake news now?

Fake math is not news but has been used for many years.  I caught one simple one the other day with the statement on an ad that "97 percent of Olympic athletes are milk drinkers."  This may be true, but I'll bet 97 percent of the general population are milk drinkers.  This is a simple example of using math to mislead.  There are masters at lying and cheating with statistics.  DOn't you think financial folks have mastered thiis talent?

Am I a "troll?"  Maybe, I do live South of (under) a big bridge.  Am I sowing hatred and non genuine arguments?  Not hatred, I hope.  I also hope some of my arguments are not genuine, just raising possibilities.  It is a fantastic world and what is apparent is not always the whole story.  I think one should have a questioning attitude.  If you are going to devote years of your life to a cause, don't you want to be sure it is a valid cause?  In this case the cause is FI.

Quote
also vanguard is owned by the people who invest in the shares at vanguard.  so if your theory is true at all then those who use vanguard would be reeping the beneiits you speek of in this conspiracy world.

Who owns most of Vanguard?  Could not the majority change the rules at a time of their own choosing?  I doubt whether the FI folks make up the majority.  You bet I think there could be some sort of hostile takeover to take the money away.  Are financial laws being loosened in favor of those who have a lot of money?  You bet they are.  Has there been discussion among those in power to reform retirement plans, social security, etc.?  You bet there has.  Rules can change.

Quote
I'd bet barely 1 percent of non-wealthy people (people born to wealth or have high salaries) even realistically plan toward FI, much less achieve it. So it sure seems like a sucker bet if you hope to capitalize on a crowd of frugal, minimalist folks.

Nope - Just the opposite.  These folks are "minimalist" because they are investing their money.  I've listened to people who save 80 percent of their income.  Don't you think the financial folks would like to get 80 percent of someone's income as a steady stream?  What is 1 percent of 300 million?  It's 3 million.  This is a substantial amount of people.  This is a market and as the FI community keeps freely touting its message, it's free advertising.

Those with the wealth had to get it from someone.

Maybe some of you remember the big Savings and Loan scandal that preceded the 2008 mess.  Savings and Loans are owned by their customers like Vanguard.  There had to be a bailout.

Just recently, I listened to Mr. J.L. Collins give a very good example of a friend of his who lives on $40,000 / year.  This person achieved financial independence.  He made the point that whether you live on $40,000 or $100,000 you can still achieve financial independence by saving and investing a good proportion of your income.  There is money to be made from everyone.

Pay Day lending is a good business financially.  I saw a You Tube video of millionaires investing in trailer parks.  There is a minority of the population that can't afford to live anywhere else and the millionaires can purchase the trailer park and squeeze these people for every available cent.  There's money to be made if there is a large enough population that you can tap.

Capitalism has no morals only some people do.  If the FI community is dumping a goodly amount of cash into retirement funds, you can bet there are people looking at those funds and desire to have it.

RWD

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2018, 09:59:15 AM »
Who owns most of Vanguard?  Could not the majority change the rules at a time of their own choosing?  I doubt whether the FI folks make up the majority.  You bet I think there could be some sort of hostile takeover to take the money away.

http://jlcollinsnh.com/2012/09/07/stocks-part-x-what-if-vanguard-gets-nuked/

Zikoris

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2018, 10:02:38 AM »
I'd be curious to know how you think someone could swoop in and steal investments that are mine - in my name, managed by me, with myself being the only one who has access to them. Or a theoretical paid off property that I owned. Like, what exactly would "the financial guys" do?

Pensions that went belly-up were a result of mismanagement and underfunding. Not so much of an issue when you manage and fund your own retirement.

Houses that were taken in 2008 were a result of people not paying for them. Not an issue when you either own your property free and clear or at least keep up with payments. That's the reality of mortgages - pay or it gets taken back. There's nothing new or strange about that.

Gondolin

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2018, 10:30:17 AM »
This may be the stupidest post I have ever seen on this board.

I had a 3000 word diatribe composed on why but, I realized it wasnt worth the effort.

Others who read this, please don't post so that this thread will disappear off the front page faster.

boarder42

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2018, 10:33:02 AM »
welp you're right its a conspriacy so you should just keeping working for the man your whole life until you end up in a hole in the ground.

i'll continue to be an optimist and move on about retiring at 34 and doing whatever i want the rest of my life b/c we all know the aliens killed JFK but we're still here.

boarder42

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2018, 10:34:02 AM »
This may be the stupidest post I have ever seen on this board.

I had a 3000 word diatribe composed on why but, I realized it wasnt worth the effort.

Others who read this, please don't post so that this thread will disappear off the front page faster.

oh come on now this thread has the makings of becoming a Top is in level thread with the right amount of publicity. 

Gondolin

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2018, 11:10:01 AM »
Quote
Top is in level thread

Ya know what, you're right! I needed another shot of the optimism gun.

What other questions should we be asking? Personally, I think OP's username is suspicious. "Pecunia" is Latin for "money". At first that makes sense but look deeper. Why use Latin? The Romans used Latin and we all know that they were a bunch of pagan sex cultists. Many secret societies also use Latin for their rituals.... Interesting, no?

Psychstache

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2018, 11:31:15 AM »
This may be the stupidest post I have ever seen on this board.

I had a 3000 word diatribe composed on why but, I realized it wasnt worth the effort.

Others who read this, please don't post so that this thread will disappear off the front page faster.

oh come on now this thread has the makings of becoming a Top is in level thread with the right amount of publicity.



pecunia

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2018, 12:00:50 PM »
Quote
I'd be curious to know how you think someone could swoop in and steal investments that are mine - in my name, managed by me, with myself being the only one who has access to them. Or a theoretical paid off property that I owned. Like, what exactly would "the financial guys" do?

I don't know about your specific situation.  However, since you no longer own the property, it must be happening already.  Jeepers, all in the time since I began this silly post this morning.  Don't give me credibility.  I too want FI or I wouldn't be on this Forum.

It was good to see such a high confidence level in the responses. 

Yeh - It's time to let this one slide into the bit bucket.  I wonder what was in the 3000 words.






DS

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2018, 12:38:07 PM »
Yes it is a conspiracy. Also top is in.

TrMama

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2018, 12:59:32 PM »
This is hilarious. Since you saw it on YouTube it must be true?

When I go to YouTube, it feeds me videos about how to clean your dryer vent and how to paint the exterior of your house. Does that mean there's also a home maintenance conspiracy? Is someone plotting to professionally paint my house against my will? Say it ain't so!

koshtra

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2018, 01:03:17 PM »
Hee! The Wall Street guys don't give a fuck what we do. They get their cut whichever way we jump, as consumer suckers or as investors. The last thing they're worried about -- or interested in intervening in -- is the long-term savings behavior of a few queer ducks off on one edge of the pond.

The grain of truth here is that there is a risk that the whole finance-and-investment system will disintegrate. Economies and markets collapse from time to time, if they're over- or under-regulated. Capitalism is a fairly fragile enterprise. But it's the game they're playing at this table. I don't see how deliberately losing because the board might get knocked over before the end of the game puts you in a better position.

If you're making yourself miserable by being frugal then you're doing it wrong in the first place, and you'll be miserable when you retire rich, too. If you can't enjoy the abundance now you won't be able to enjoy the abundance then either.

Mr. Green

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2018, 02:59:20 PM »
Yes it is a conspiracy. Also top is in.
Every time I see "top is in" in a thread like this it cracks me up. Never gets old.

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2018, 08:59:52 PM »
You are about 22 days late in posting this...

Zola.

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #26 on: April 24, 2018, 02:13:46 AM »
Quote
If it’s a conspiracy, it’s a pretty dumb one. Why would an evil mastermind convince people to be frugal, when the proven way to get rich is to convince people to spend their money on your dumb product?

The dumb product is a one time purchase not likely to be repeated.  I assume there are now millions of people out there attempting the FI lifestyle.  FI will not be a one time purchase.  FI will be a cash flow from your pockets to the Wall Street folks.  As your income goes up, their cash flow from you will go up.  This is definitely a better deal than a one time purchase of some hardware.

Quote
Being human sucks in that we have a horrible perception of actual risk.  While we can logically  understand statistics we let emotion and fear seep into the equation and cloud or thinking on subjects.   Just look at driving/flying.  More people are afraid of flying than driving--especially with what happened this last week.

This is the beauty of their beguiling sales pitch.  Mr. J. L. Collins does an admirable job of selling index funds.  These are supposedly less risk and more talk.  This is sold with the "statistical" evidence from the Trinity study telling you to save 25 times what it will cost you to live for a year.  This specific information appeals to the technical mind.  These are targeted people.  These are the folks that can probably send Wall Street more money with each paycheck.  "Logical" arguments are used to make the sell.

Have you ever noted the almost religious undertones to the way this is pitched?  "Trinity" study.  Where else have I heard of a trinity?  An unassuming lifestyle must be assumed.  Drugs, alcohol and tobacco are expensive purchases.  Giving these up will help you get the dream.  Use a bicycle to get to work.  It saves you gasoline money, gives you the side benefit of exercise and saves the planet.  It is like Wall Street has created their own cult.  The workers who adopt these practices will cost their megacorp less health care costs.

Quote
Lastly, let's assume you are right--whatever that may entail.  Do you have an alternative?  What do you suggest we do  instead of attempting FI that will produce a better outcome with less risk? 

Sorry - Maybe a drugs, sex and rock'n'roll lifestyle may be the only way to fight back.

This thread was very entertaining. pecunia I assume you were on drugs at the time of posting, maybe one too many hits form the bong!

FI encourages clearing debt and acquiring money as quickly as possible. If you clear lifes biggest debt (the mortgage), you are no longer a true slave to the system, if you like....which is something those financial guys who run the banks don't like!
« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 02:15:38 AM by Zola. »

cerat0n1a

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #27 on: April 24, 2018, 02:46:52 AM »
Quote
I’ve been watching a lot of You Tube these past few weeks.

Me too.  I stick to 'nut trauma pranks' and 'Russian dash cam fail'.  Consequently, I now constantly wear a cup around my friends and will never drive in Moscow.

Just shows you can learn useful stuff off youtube. I've been in many places with interesting driving standards, including India, southern Italy & north Africa and none of them come close to the James Bond car chase/Deathrace 2000 style driving in Moscow. Maybe you need some nicer friends though?

Pecunia - you need to watch some David Icke videos to really understand what's going on.

heybro

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #28 on: April 24, 2018, 03:19:57 AM »
Consider the opposite:

Buy the biggest house you can qualify for and when you've paid on it for 5 years, upgrade to the next biggest house you can afford.  Repeat this every 5 years and do not stop.

Buy as many cars as you can.

Take out as many credit cards as you can qualify for and max them out.

Do not save one penny for retirement.  If you accidentally do, buy only annuities.

I think that about covers it but just to be sure, go ahead and SHAVE any signs of a mustache hourly.
 

FlorenG

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2018, 09:14:55 AM »
I actually think it is a good exercise to think about this questions because by answering them it may help you make your own mind and not yield to the opinion of the masses without some critical thinking.

Personally FI looks very unlikely to be a 'too good to be true' scheme. Most people would say that cutting spending drastically and saving money for an objective ~10 years down the line it is a very hard thing to do. Clearly not a 'get rich in 10 minutes with no effort' kind of approach.

But lets follow the money, who benefits? Well, if you follow the most generalized advice I would say most people put the majority of their money in an index fund following most of the stock market (yes, I'm talking about VTSAX). That means every single company in the market is getting some of your money, not just a few. Besides, for FI it is recommended as little trading and timing the market as possible, and that's where Wall St. makes most of the money from (and I know that's a simplification.)

Then there is Vanguard. They definitely get a lot of publicity here and a lot of our money so... we better keep them real!  But given how large Vanguard is and how many of the retirement accounts in the country (and out of it) they hold, it is one of those cases of 'too big to fail'. It is not a 100% guarantee, but there is some value in knowing that something really huge has to happen for you to lose all your savings.

Who else? Bloggers, FI conference organizers, perhaps Betterment? For the most part I think they're doing a great job, but having a serious community like this acts is also a watchdog and if any business out there tries to rip off the FI people they might be in for a lot of trouble.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2018, 09:18:41 AM by FlorenG »

RWD

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2018, 09:36:00 AM »
Then there is Vanguard. They definitely get a lot of publicity here and a lot of our money so... we better keep them real!  But given how large Vanguard is and how many of the retirement accounts in the country (and out of it) they hold, it is one of those cases of 'too big to fail'. It is not a 100% guarantee, but there is some value in knowing that something really huge has to happen for you to lose all your savings.

You don't lose your money even if Vanguard fails.

FlorenG

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #31 on: April 24, 2018, 11:40:34 AM »
You don't lose your money even if Vanguard fails.

Even better :)

ChpBstrd

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #32 on: April 24, 2018, 11:46:14 AM »
There is a worthwhile philosophical point hidden in all this.

Why do we want money? Because money can be used to entice other people to do things they don't want to do, like perform work for us.

With enough money, you can control other people's behavior so they bring you food, treat your illnesses, harvest natural resources for you, build you a luxurious shelter, clean up your messes, entertain you, and make status symbols for your enjoyment. You can make people do things they don't want to do. It is about attaining power over them.

Perhaps what pecunia was trying to say is that there is a parallel (conspiracy videos are always finding parallels) between financial power and other types of power. Political power and religious power are two other ways to coerce people into doing things they don't want.

Capitalism's introduction of financial power came at the expense of religious and political power, which were the dominant sources of power in the feudal economic era. Back then, it was the church and the nobility who made the peasants work for enough crumbs to live another day. Upon the introduction of capitalism, one's substinance increasingly came from one's own interactions with others (plus any inheritance of financial power).

Why did the peasants work for centuries to benefit their political and religious leaders? (Youtube comment all caps ON) BECAUSE THEY ALL AGREED THAT THIS FORM OF POWER WAS LEGITIMATE.

Are we different? Here we are today, toiling for the benefit of other people because now we all agree money is a legitimate form of power. Freedom means we don't always have to listen to religious/political leaders, so that leaves money as the last universal form of power we will recognize and work for. If our bosses/clients tried to pay us in Monopoly money, we would refuse because others don't recognize that as legitimate money. Similarly, medieval peasants would usually refuse to work for someone who proclaimed himself king or pope. It's all about the social perception of legitimate power - legit kings, religious leaders, and currencies.

Opting out and doing all work yourself is a possibility. Just take off all your clothes and run into the forest. However, such a life will be short, brutish, and nasty. Without the ability to make others work for you, you would live and die like an animal.

Also, the flip side of a life devoted to sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll is addiction, homelessness, and prostitution. We keep working for others because the alternatives are worse. Medieval peasants had the same choice, but different masters.

FI is definitely a conspiracy. It's a mob of selfish peasants seeking to escape coercion by those with financial power, by building up enough of our own financial power to join the new nobility, hire our own peasants, and not need others' money.

We should be wary, though. As YouTube and other social media prove, political power is making a comeback through the use of sophisticated new propaganda tools that can make us believe anything. As they tell us: Freedom is slavery. You'll never be FIRE. Your own liberation is a conspiracy. Return to the fields or, just as well, beg for change to buy cheap vodka/cigs/heroin/whatever. The fruits of your labor end up in a millionaire's hands either way, and the peasants will always keep working.

FlorenG

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #33 on: April 24, 2018, 12:10:39 PM »

FI is definitely a conspiracy. It's a mob of selfish peasants seeking to escape coercion by those with financial power, by building up enough of our own financial power to join the new nobility, hire our own peasants, and not need others' money.

I like that, I was ever to write a blog I would quote that, without the exploiting other peasants implications though...

ChpBstrd

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #34 on: April 24, 2018, 12:21:13 PM »

FI is definitely a conspiracy. It's a mob of selfish peasants seeking to escape coercion by those with financial power, by building up enough of our own financial power to join the new nobility, hire our own peasants, and not need others' money.

I like that, I was ever to write a blog I would quote that, without the exploiting other peasants implications though...

The nice thing about capitalism versus feudalism is that the peasants who work for you get the opportunity to become nobility if they can control their consumption and invest the savings. But to do so, they have to discern that the consumption=freedom propaganda all around them is exactly false.

jim555

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2018, 12:31:59 PM »
I don't see how someone gains by someone else retiring early, so that shoots down the motivation for a conspiracy. 

e34bb098

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2018, 12:35:15 PM »
I don't see how someone gains by someone else retiring early, so that shoots down the motivation for a conspiracy.

Apparently the OP's worry is that the shadowy powers-that-be are going to take all of our stocks and bonds.  It is not clear how they are going to do that, but there you go.

heybro

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #37 on: April 24, 2018, 03:10:26 PM »
Because money can be used to entice other people to do things they don't want to do, like perform work for us.

For better or worse, money is not power exactly.  While you might be able to get someone to do work for you for money, you can't pick anyone you want to do it.  Likewise, some things you cannot buy.
I believe social adeptness is real power.  Being able to get people to do what you want without paying them is actual power.

pecunia

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #38 on: April 24, 2018, 04:38:02 PM »
Quote
Apparently the OP's worry is that the shadowy powers-that-be are going to take all of our stocks and bonds.  It is not clear how they are going to do that, but there you go.

How are they going to do that?  Right out in the open.  Laws will be written and regulations will be changed to make it happen.

Joseph Goebbels was a master of propaganda.  The German people had been through hard times in the 1920s.  You may remember pictures showing a wheelbarrow of cash needed to buy a loaf of bread.  When people are hurting and hungry, they are willing to accept a message of hope for the future.  They are willing to accept extraordinary measures to correct their problems.

Most people in the United States are not like yourselves.  They do not save vast amounts of money for retirement.  Some do not have your wherewithal and some simply can't.  There are a lot of people out there working multiple jobs just to "get by."  Like yourselves, these people age.  These people cannot work forever.  Something must be done.  Social Security is an assist, but it has some troubles and legislation does not seem to be coming down the road to fix it.

Do you remember when the Patriot act was passed?  By golly, the entire country seemed to be in a war fever.  Rarely was a contrary voice heard over our free press.  It may or may not have been a good thing to have that second war in Iraq, but they certainly did sell it.  They learned from men like Joseph Goebbels.  They passed this law called the Patriot Act.  It even let them monitor what books you checked out of the library.  I guess they still monitor every e-mail sent.  They probably monitor every word written on the web.  All to assure the freedom of red blooded Americans.

It could be said that it is the right thing to help old poor people.  I certainly think so.  It'll cost money to help these people.  A simple sell could be made to the public that it is the right thing to do to help the old poor people.  How will this be done?  Oh, there's a group of people out there called the FI community.  They have more than enough for themselves.  It would be the patriotic thing for those with plenty to help those in need.  It should make them feel good to do the "right thing." 

There are only two constants in this world, death and taxes.

Many of these folks are highly skilled.  They have the skills that the nation needs.  They are software engineers, doctors and lawyers.  There has been an ongoing shortage of these folks.  (Well, maybe not lawyers.)  Wouldn't it be a good thing for all of us if they worked to the "legal retirement age?"  You know there aren't very many of these fortunate folks.  They make up less than one percent of the population.  Isn't it right for the fortunate ones to help the rest?

It will be so good that they will be able to "chip in."  They will make America Great Again.

(It's heading to the bit bucket this time.)

e34bb098

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #39 on: April 24, 2018, 05:19:48 PM »
Quote
Apparently the OP's worry is that the shadowy powers-that-be are going to take all of our stocks and bonds.  It is not clear how they are going to do that, but there you go.

How are they going to do that?  Right out in the open.  Laws will be written and regulations will be changed to make it happen.

[snip Godwin-approved analogy]

That is a great and terrifying story, but like all conspiracy theories, mostly divorced from history and logic.

Why would the Powers-That-Be do this, instead of just deficit spending to help the poor, like they have been for decades? 

Why would the Powers-That-Be (USA branch) risk having their plan sunk by a constitutional argument (as this would violate due process, and/or be a writ of attainder)?  Or do "they" also control every single judge in the federal court system, up to and including the Supreme Court?

Why would the Powers-That-Be pick on the relatively small group of early retirees instead of going after larger and wealthier targets?

If a politician wants to keep their constituents happy, they can do this through deficit spending or taxing/spending.  These are legal and established practices.  No need to try some crazy method targeting the irrelevant minority group of FIRE enthusiasts.

It's all very far-fetched and requires villains to be both insanely competent, but also too incompetent to figure out the existing methods of doing this.  And they have to randomly decide to pick on us, the FIRE crowd, a group that at best, is a subject for puff pieces on slow news days.

aceyou

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #40 on: April 24, 2018, 08:10:53 PM »


Have you ever noted the almost religious undertones to the way this is pitched?  "Trinity" study.  Where else have I heard of a trinity? An unassuming lifestyle must be assumed.  Drugs, alcohol and tobacco are expensive purchases.  Giving these up will help you get the dream.  Use a bicycle to get to work.  It saves you gasoline money, gives you the side benefit of exercise and saves the planet.  It is like Wall Street has created their own cult.  The workers who adopt these practices will cost their megacorp less health care costs.


No connections can be made. 

If you destroyed all the bibles and somehow zapped everyone's knowledge of the christian trinity, years from now, no one would conclude that we should or shouldn't live a certain way because a burning piece of shrubbery said so to a bearded person on a mountain.  In essence, the concepts of the bible (or any religion) would NOT get rewritten.   

If you destroyed the trinity study and zapped everyone's knowledge of FIRE, eventually the ideas of that study would get rewritten, because the same tests would yield the same observations and conclusions.

Unlike a conspiracy, the concepts discussed on this site don't need any of us to believe any of it to exist.  We just get to reap the rewards if we are aware of them.

pecunia

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #41 on: April 24, 2018, 08:24:32 PM »
Quote
Why would the Powers-That-Be do this, instead of just deficit spending to help the poor, like they have been for decades?

Haven't people made illogical choices for more than decades, but for centuries, indeed millennia?

Deficit spending is inflationary.  This is an increase of the money supply.  Deficit spending puts the US in hock to foreign powers.  Look at the issues the world bank has caused for various countries when those countries have had debts to pay.  The US is rather rapidly sliding from world dominance in many areas and soon will not be able to bully nations around ton get its way.  Debts will have to be paid. 

The resource of deficit spending may not be as politically palatable in years to come as it is today.  You may remember that inflation was a deterrent to Mr. Carter being reelected.  Inflation is coming back in larger numbers than in recent years and it won't be pretty.

Since the money cannot be borrowed or printed out of thin air, alternative means of raising the necessary revenue must be used.  Political eyes will cast about looking for all available pots of gold that are not so well defended.  The early retirement pots will not be so easily defended since they are held by a small relatively powerless portion of the population.

Quote
Why would the Powers-That-Be pick on the relatively small group of early retirees instead of going after larger and wealthier targets?

As was just stated, relatively powerless.  The early retirees are a low hanging fruit revenue source.

Quote
Or do "they" also control every single judge in the federal court system, up to and including the Supreme Court?

They don't need them all.  Judges often don't agree today.  Despite the best of intents, the supreme court is influenced by public opinion.  They are human, after all.  Publicity will not be on the side of the FI community and this will be a strong influence for the rendering of the decision(s).

Quote
It's all very far-fetched and requires villains to be both insanely competent

Whether they are heroes or villains sometimes depends upon who writes the history.  You see them as villains because they are taking your money.  Other people may see them differently, because they helped alleviate a major social problem.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #42 on: April 25, 2018, 12:56:15 AM »
The conspiracy is convincing the bulk of the population that they "need" stuff that they don't.

spartanswami

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #43 on: April 25, 2018, 02:00:58 AM »
Quote
Why would the Powers-That-Be do this, instead of just deficit spending to help the poor, like they have been for decades?

Haven't people made illogical choices for more than decades, but for centuries, indeed millennia?

Deficit spending is inflationary.  This is an increase of the money supply.  Deficit spending puts the US in hock to foreign powers.  Look at the issues the world bank has caused for various countries when those countries have had debts to pay.  The US is rather rapidly sliding from world dominance in many areas and soon will not be able to bully nations around ton get its way.  Debts will have to be paid. 

The resource of deficit spending may not be as politically palatable in years to come as it is today.  You may remember that inflation was a deterrent to Mr. Carter being reelected.  Inflation is coming back in larger numbers than in recent years and it won't be pretty.

Since the money cannot be borrowed or printed out of thin air, alternative means of raising the necessary revenue must be used.  Political eyes will cast about looking for all available pots of gold that are not so well defended.  The early retirement pots will not be so easily defended since they are held by a small relatively powerless portion of the population.

Quote
Why would the Powers-That-Be pick on the relatively small group of early retirees instead of going after larger and wealthier targets?

As was just stated, relatively powerless.  The early retirees are a low hanging fruit revenue source.

Quote
Or do "they" also control every single judge in the federal court system, up to and including the Supreme Court?

They don't need them all.  Judges often don't agree today.  Despite the best of intents, the supreme court is influenced by public opinion.  They are human, after all.  Publicity will not be on the side of the FI community and this will be a strong influence for the rendering of the decision(s).

Quote
It's all very far-fetched and requires villains to be both insanely competent

Whether they are heroes or villains sometimes depends upon who writes the history.  You see them as villains because they are taking your money.  Other people may see them differently, because they helped alleviate a major social problem.


I see where your positions are coming from and I've had the same thoughts myself. A more simpler approach will be for the powers that be to do a money grab from the back end. I foresee a means test for money that we've already paid into the system, i.e. Social Security payouts will be terminated for individuals with a certain threshold of savings, ditto Medicare, Roth IRA withdrawals will no longer be tax free. Surtax on investment holdings above certain threshold. No tax deduction for 401K contributions above a savings threshold.

Much easier to pass legislation like the above since the indebted majority will support, the elite ruling class and their financiers will not be affected (they never had any need for such social programs). The only ones hit will be the FIRE crowd.

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #44 on: April 25, 2018, 02:34:27 AM »
The conspiracy is convincing the bulk of the population that they "need" stuff that they don't.

Excellent response.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #45 on: April 25, 2018, 05:04:20 AM »
What happened to the Southwest passenger?

pecunia

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #46 on: April 25, 2018, 05:50:05 AM »
Quote
In essence, the concepts of the bible (or any religion) would NOT get rewritten.   

If you destroyed the trinity study and zapped everyone's knowledge of FIRE, eventually the ideas of that study would get rewritten, because the same tests would yield the same observations and conclusions.

Which is the true constant?  You presume that the Bible could be destroyed and would not be reconstituted.  Then you put your "faith" in the 4 percent rule.

The Bible represents a lot of constants that will be reconstituted in a "mysterious way."  These constants are the moral rules a civilization should live by.  The 4 percent rule is NOT a rule of Physics.  It is not a rule handed down by Providence.  The 4 percent rule is a statistical pattern which has a high correlation.  It depends on other people's behavior and the assumption that resources will continue to sustain us.  History shows us a lot of civilizations for which things have changed.  I'd guess those civilizations, Aztec, Mayans, Indus, folks on Easter Island, etc.  had their equivalent to the 4 percent rule too.

The only thing permanent in this world is change.  It's as old as all the rocks.  That part ain't a conspiracy.

chemistk

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #47 on: April 25, 2018, 05:56:41 AM »
There is a worthwhile philosophical point hidden in all this.......

....Opting out and doing all work yourself is a possibility. Just take off all your clothes and run into the forest. However, such a life will be short, brutish, and nasty.

I paraphrase, and I apologize, but there's a sub-point to be made here.

There's another thread circling around here. "Why I disagree with MMM..." or something like that. Connecting these two topics for a moment here.

The pursuit and achievement of FI (at least, if you can read past Pete's anecdotes and language and understand the real point to be made), is guided and dependent upon the idea that it is you who will choose your happiness.

FI really isn't about money. FI bloggers, this forum, etc. talk more about the means to achieve FI, because once you see the carrot, you you want to follow it. How? Well read these 147 articles and forum threads and you've got a start....

I think @pecunia you're aware (at least I hope you are) that FI is the realization that you can accomplish a certain lifestyle by controlling your income and your expenses. Your picture is extreme but there's a simple counter to all of that.

If your income and savings is reduced or eliminated, through ignorance or force, you (as someone who has seen the light) should be able to assess your situation and decide that you're going to pursue FI within your new means.

Pete used to say that if he lost all his money tomorrow and had nothing - he would simple adjust his lifestyle and go back to work.

You can't lose the game if you never play by the rules.

Even if they storm your house and declare you are guilty of treason and sentenced to die, even in that moment, you can choose to be happy.

pecunia

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #48 on: April 25, 2018, 06:06:11 AM »
At chemistk

Quote
Even if they storm your house and declare you are guilty of treason and sentenced to die, even in that moment, you can choose to be happy.

Yah - I liked what you wrote.  Dale Carnegie once wrote that the only thing you can control is your attitude.  It might be a little hard sometimes, but it seems right.  The good thing about this site is that the people have an upbeat attitude.  A little hope goes a long way.

jim555

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Re: Is FI (Financial Independence) a conspiracy?
« Reply #49 on: April 25, 2018, 06:07:34 AM »
I don't see how someone gains by someone else retiring early, so that shoots down the motivation for a conspiracy.

Apparently the OP's worry is that the shadowy powers-that-be are going to take all of our stocks and bonds.  It is not clear how they are going to do that, but there you go.
Highly unlikely since the people who make the rules are the ones who own the stocks and bonds.  They are not going to hurt themselves.