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We Have It Good Here

Mike Earl, CFP®, CPWA®

I recently finished reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a novel by the Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The story is captivating (and sobering) – I highly recommend it.

The novel traces one day in the life of a prisoner in a 1950s Soviet labor camp. It’s bleak.

The story was first published in 1962 in a Soviet literary magazine. Solzhenitsyn had spent 8 years in a Soviet labor camp. “The book's publication was an extraordinary event in Soviet literary history, since never before had an account of Stalinist repression been openly distributed.”

Reading this novel during the Christmas season made me even more aware of how richly blessed we are here in the US.

Imagine for a moment that we’re past the worst of the COVID scare. Imagine also that you aren’t watching or reading political news. Then live a typical day in America. Just how good do we have it?

  • Relatively affordable energy to heat and cool our homes, as well as run dozens of cool gadgets throughout our homes and offices.
  • Hot water, dishwashers, washers and dryers, smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, etc.
  • Fuel-efficient, reliable vehicles to transport us at high speeds, wherever we want to go.
  • iPhones for basically anyone that wants one – and the iPhone itself has only existed for about 12 years! Today, near four billion people on the planet have a smartphone.

That's 3.8 billion smartphones globally

  • Amazon, Target, and many other retailers deliver products right to our doorstep.
  • Airplanes to visit anywhere in the world. Lower-cost fares from carriers to enable Americans from nearly all walks of life to visit friends and family via air travel.
  • Costco, Cub Foods, Aldi, Amazon, Target, etc.
    1. When we walk into a grocery store, we have THOUSANDS of items to choose from, including fresh produce from all over the globe, all year long.
    2. If you have shopped for groceries outside the US, you know just how good we have it here.
    3. Remember when Amazon just sold books online?
    4. 20 years ago, we didn’t even have Costco in Minnesota! Costco is a weekly stop for my family.
  • The Internet!! Endless information (yes, probably too much information) at our fingertips.
  • I can read just about any book ever published in history on my smartphone.
  • I can listen to over 50 million songs on Spotify, for a monthly cost of about $14.
  • You can open an investment account within minutes from your phone, transfer money electronically, and invest at almost no cost in every publicly-traded company in the world.
  • Online banking – including check deposits from your phone. Very few trips to the bank needed.
  • Innovation is changing every industry. The Home Depot app has been a game-changer for me. I build my shopping list over a period of several weeks at home, then walk into the store and have the app tell me exactly which aisle and bin holds the items on my list.
  • Podcasts. Loads of podcasts. A university-level education while on your commute.
  • Modern health care that helps improve and extend our lifespans.
  • Software that can revolutionize many parts of our lives. Software makes it easier than ever to start a new business—on a shoestring budget.

That list could go on a lot longer. Troubles will always be with us, but we should also be mindful of -- and thankful for -- progress and innovation.

Because The Wealth Group, Austin B. Colby & Associates is independent of Raymond James, the expressed written opinions above are our own and not necessarily reflective of Raymond James’ opinions.