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… and what class were you in?

Ok ... l admit it- I took a vacation. When I travel, I find it fascinating discovering how differently people live in this vast space we call earth. Not necessarily better or worse, rich or poor, just different. Values range dramatically, family units have a different structure and business and commerce are very much the same but different. Regardless of the region or part of the world you are in, there are those who are in the system, are a part of the system, and then there are those who make up the system ... good or bad, for whatever it becomes. See what happens when I get a little time off- I sound almost philosophical...

Throughout the history of the world, there has been some sort of class system. In the mmediate past decades, here in the United States we found ourselves divided into 3 classes: lower, middle and upper. While I have not yet to find a clear definition as to where the dividing lines stood- income levels, occupation, address, geography and other characteristics helped those who cared help define the lines. Regardless of the tier, some were satisfied as they were classified and some would strive to move up a notch, or struggle to maintain their status. To some extent in the animal kingdom it is or was survival of the fittest: in the human species it is or was survival of the richest .... and then, for us humans something changed; we went from a three tier hierarchy to a two tier system ... the haves and the have not's. It's a fascinating divide-less classes but infinitely harder to define.

As a "money guy" I began to think about if it is all about net worth, or did it go deeper than that? A few years ago there was an uprising of the "99 Percenters" who objected the fact that the bulk of the money in the USA is held and controlled by 1 percent of the population, as they claimed. I travel quite a bit, and wherever I've gone, there is poverty and there is affluence- I've yet to find a location that did not adhere to this finding. Even in the old John Wayne classics there were the bankers and the ranch owners, the Sheriff and the bad guys, the farmers and the townspeople- the Ying and Yang's of social life. There were and are the schooled and unschooled, the innovators and the followers, all working together to create the small town or big city machine we call civilization. But, as a" money guy" who has met with and talked with literally thousands of people, I've learned that money does not buy health, does not define class, and while it admittedly may make life a bit easier at times, it does not buy happiness.

Money by definition may put you in a net worth classification, but cannot buy class. As to the happiness thing, it is defined by such a great variance that we could talk all day and night about how to define success. I vacationed with my big brother (no matter how old I get, he's still my big brother) and felt like the luckiest guy around, not to mention prosperous, proud and as happy as a robin at springtime. Money had nothing to do with was an inner peace and happiness that couldn't' be bought for any amount of shekels. Pride, inner peace and a host of human emotions expressed to me by the thousands I've met both in the office and in my travels have shown me that wealth, net worth or having the most toys does not define oneself: wealth and class is defined by each and every one of us. We all have our own values system and it varies throughout each one of us. It's not just about the square footage of your house or the balance of your 401(k) - it's about how you define yourself. So my friends, while twill still encourage you to save and plan for the future, I also encourage you as well to be the best person you can be to your family, your friends, yourself and to those of whom you have not yet met ... and welcome to "My Percenters Club." There's no initiation fee, no dues, and yields a lifelong party and infinite personal satisfaction.

See what happens when they let me out once in a while...

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