I love America, mostly I love the idea that is America. I believe the “idea” has drawn people here from all over the planet, and the fruits of the “idea” have drawn even more. The idea, in my mind, is in America there is no permanent social caste system; in our nation, individuals, through effort, ability, creativity, entrepreneurialism and free enterprise, can create prosperity for themselves and the people they care about.
I believe the way to achieve prosperity in a free market, aka capitalist economy, is to first and primarily serve others. Sometimes for money, sometimes for love and friendship, sometimes for faith, and sometimes just because you can, which makes serving others the foundation of a free market, and the highest calling of an individual.
I believe the process of improving one’s life, financially and holistically, is best accomplished through individual liberty, and that the government’s primary purpose is to protect the liberty of its citizens, and this is best done promoting opportunity, not determining outcomes.
These aspirational statements I hold dear to my soul, and while to me they are true to the point of being self-evident, I also understand that every single statement above can be disputed by some and completely denied by others. There are also others who agree with some of things I just wrote, and yet believe in different ways of realizing these objectives.
These “others” who do not agree with the truths or methods I believe are sacrosanct are also Americans, they are my countrymen, they are my friends. We will likely never agree on many tenets, and yet we will live side by side. I can live, wrapped up in my biases, they can live wrapped up in theirs, and we can still enjoy each other as neighbors and human beings. It’s all OK.
When I rant on the internet or a talk at a social gathering around friends, I can wrap myself in bias — the right to do so is sacred — but the way I provide value to others professionally is through financial advice and investment management. The way I create prosperity for my family over time is by investing the money I have earned by serving others and saved in financial markets. In both these pursuits there is no room for bias. Both of these pursuits require reason based on observation, unclouded by bias to the highest extent possible.
As of mid-week, when I am writing this column, the Democratic Party has won control of the Congress. The party has also won control of the Presidency. There will be a change in tone on the national political stage. Some readers are no doubt ecstatic about this change, some are terrified by the prospects.
As high profile as our contentious national politics has become in the age of 24-hour cable news and social media, investor behavior and financial markets are separate and independent of Washington, D.C. Yes, politics and federal policy are on the list of concerns for investors and financial markets, but the list of concerns is actually quite long, and politics has proved nowhere near the top over time.
I’ve had readers send me data and graphs showing how the stock market performs under Democratic and Republican Congresses and Presidents, as if stock market performance was indicative of the philosophical superiority of one party or the other. I doubt that either political party is superior at all; I candidly find both severely flawed.
What I do find superior is the “idea” that is America. People serving others, creating value for customers, employers and companies in new and evolving ways, all day, every day. As long as human beings enjoy the liberty to create value for others, and we as investors have the ability to patiently and prudently share in the value creation process through investment, aka the market, Americans will have the ability to achieve prosperity, regardless of which political "team" is winning the game.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Stock investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal. Marc Ruiz is a wealth advisor and partner with Oak Partners and registered representative of LPL Financial. Contact Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org. Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC.