Smart is the New Rich

To Discern is to Know

We’ve begun a new chapter in the world financial order. The parameters for how wealth will be created, have changed forever.

Two hundred years ago, a man worked with the sweat of his brow to generate a living. The extent of his physical capacity determined how much he would eat. He committed his efforts to the land—tilling and harvesting with the strength of his arms and legs.

A hundred years ago, things changed. The industrial revolution was the time period in which the efforts of several men created a total effort greater than the sum of the individual efforts. We manufactured and mass produced, enabling the standard of living to rise for much of the world’s population, in a very short period of time.

Humanity then entered the next phase of economic development where the products man created would grow in value over time. Real estate, “a bricks and mortar” expression, of man’s creativity and knowledge, would exist and appreciate in value decades after it was originally constructed. These results of man’s labor would dramatically outlive the men who built them.

The era of technology followed. With unparalleled tools, man’s efficiencies were multiplied, and the gathering and streamlining of man’s knowledge provided resources for the success of others—those completely unrelated to the originators.

Then came the last quarter of 2008, when the modern world experienced a financial collapse unrivaled since the Great Depression; the bedrocks of personal wealth and security were permanently undermined. This financial meltdown was, and remains, dramatically more complex than those that preceded it as a result of the multi-layered integration of a global economy. Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Report Card Time

Anybody getting Honor Roll?

First class (Truth and Responsibility, Image Magazine October 2011:

“Each year, we extend our hands to thousands of worthy people all over the world – yet the children down the block, the women who are the backbone of our communities and our families, and the men with whom we laugh at weddings and cry at funerals, are left with their needs largely unmet.

There is no tuition crisis. There is a crisis of understanding.

There isn’t a failure of our young married couples to support themselves – there is a failure in our conviction to support them.

Our married children – those first beginning to build their lives financially, and those who are going through painful periods in their lives, wouldn’t consider themselves failures if we recognized our halachic (Jewish law), ethical, and moral obligations to support them.

Money that helps alleviate the tuition burdens of those in places far away – must first go to alleviate the tuition burdens of our own friends, neighbors and family members.

Money that provides teachers, schoolbooks, new buildings, batei midrash (learning centers), gyms and science labs for children who are strangers – must be redirected to our sons and daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins and neighbors.

 The funds that support families who are struggling – but whom we will never know – must be redirected to those we see every day, those whom will marry our children and with whom we will build our communities.

Second Class (“Taxes No, Charity Yes”, Image Magazine November 2011: Read the rest of this entry »

Taxes: No! Charity: Yes!

“…There is no tuition crises, there is a crises of understanding. There isn’t a failure in the efforts of our young marrieds to support themselves, there is a failure in our conviction to support them…” (Excerpt from: “Truth and Responsibility” featured in the Image Magazine October 2011 Issue)

A 1031 Tax Free Exchange – purchasing a building with the profits of the sale of another building so that the taxes on those profits are deferred… the refinancing of a building in order to free up the equity or profit in the building – with no tax consequences… buying a new business with the profits of an existing business… opening a new division with the profits of an existing division….

All of these are legitimate business practices that enable people to avoid or defer paying taxes on profits earned, yet they sometimes give them the sense that there is no charity obligation on those profits earned!

Giving 10% of one’s earnings to charity is fascinating in that there are no specific sources in the Torah that command a person to do so. There are references to which our Sages tie the obligation to give 10% of our earnings to charity but there is no specific commandment. To keep Shabbat, to honor a parent, and the hundreds of other spectacular, positive and negative misvot (commandments) written in the Torah are our lifeline and the tools with which we grow closer to Borei Olam (G-d). Yet the reality is that ma’asser, or giving 10% to charity, is the foundation of that lifeline, and the facilitator of those tools. Charity enables the wellbeing of each and every individual and the survival of a community. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m Sorry

Featured in the September issue of the Image Magazine

1987: “Say you’re sorry to your brother immediately or there is no TV for you…”

1997: “Say you’re sorry to your mother, otherwise forget about using the car tonight…”

2007: “I’m sorry honey, I didn’t realize you would be upset by this.”

2011: “The holidays are around the corner, it’s time to make a list of those to whom I should apologize.” Read the rest of this entry »

Truth and Responsibility

In front of me stood two children… One of whom I knew; she was a relative of mine. Next to her stood another child, beautiful and in pain as well, but a stranger to me; someone I had never seen before and would never see again. The child I knew sat immediately to my right.

 The next day…

By my side sat two women. One of whom I knew; she is a former neighbor of mine. The other woman I had never seen. Each was clearly in need. Sadness was the common thread they shared. I sensed some hope in their eyes as I stood before them. The woman I recognized sat closer to me – the other a few steps away.

 A few weeks later…

Behind me two men were crying. Each was my age. One of the men I had seen at events and parties, the other I was sure I would never know. The tears of the man with whom I had celebrated were so close they touched my  skin.

 Each of the children, the women, and the men needed help.

What should I do? Whom should I help?

Read the rest of this entry »