One who intends to leave others better off for his having existed.


Hartzman's Resume

George Hartzman
Greensboro, NC 27455

Objective; To leave others better off for my having existed


President and Economist, Hartzman Fiduciary, formerly Think Professional Education
November, 2007 - Present
- Discretionary Asset Management, Consulting, Lecturer
- Author of Questions for America, What to do Now; Think; Fiduciary Guide/Retirement Plans, for CPA, Attorney and  investor financial ethics, philosophy and economic continuing education classes
- Proposed reducing fees in Greensboro's 457 retirement plan by $572,328 per year as a 2013 mayoral candidate
- Greensboro Shepard's Center; Senior citizen continuing education lecturer on local politics, economics and philosophy
- Registered Investment Advisory and Securities through Intercarolina Financial Services
Custody and trading services through TD Ameritrade Institutional
- Freelance investigative reporting/columnist

Vice President/Investments, Wells Fargo Advisors, Greensboro, NC
March, 2001 - October, 2012
- Foresaw and successfully shorted the 2008/9 financial crisis

Senior Financial Consultant, Merrill Lynch, Greensboro, NC
May, 1997 - March, 2001
- Top quintile client account performance firm wide
- 2001 Masters and Executive Club winner
- Created and managed intern seminar marketing program

Investment Broker, J.C. Bradford & Company, Greensboro, NC
April, 1994 - May, 1997
- Top rookie producer firm wide
- Developed fundamental and technical analysis based investment strategy

Variable Life Insurance Agent, Prudential Insurance, Greensboro, NC
March, 1993 - April, 1994
- Insured over 100 lives in 12 months

January, 1991 - March, 1993; P.F. Collier encyclopedia sales and management, Lanier copier, and home improvement sales

Education; Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD
1986 – 1991
B.S. in Philosophy, Speech Communications. Minor in Public Relations

Girls Fastpitch Softball Coach; 2008 City of Greensboro Champions, Killer Tofu

George Hartzman Biographical Information

References upon request

George Hartzman Biographical Information

I have worked as a financial advisor since 1993, taught CPA and attorney financial ethics in North Carolina for the last 10 years, and foresaw the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

I was born in 1967, in Livermore, California.

I don't remember, but we trick or treated at John Madden's house. 

My father, a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering, was working at the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Test Lab in Livermore, California. His father was an artilleryman in the Russian Revolution, tried and failed to get into the U.S. when it was over and ended up in Havana, Cuba, where my dad was born.

My mom grew up in Brooklyn. Her father owned a jewelry store and died of a heart attack in his late 40’s.  My three surviving grandparents retired in South Miami Beach.

My Mom's brother says we are direct descendants of Genghis Khan. (I cannot confirm the veracity of the item)

During high school in Bethesda Maryland, I was a cashier and a warehouse worker at Hechinger’s, a gas station attendant at an Exxon Station, an automotive tire changer at Goodyear, and an auto parts salesman at High Gear.

I was on the wrestling team before prioritizing weight loss over academics.

While spending a miserable year at a boarding school in Maine after, I was on the wrestling, football and lacrosse teams.

The summer after boarding school, while living at the beach in Ocean City Maryland with some guys from Sweden, I was a hamburger flipper at Roy Rodgers for about four hours, an arcade attendant, a dishwasher, a restaurant cashier at Tony's Pizza, a waiter, and an amusement park ride operator at the Jolly Rodger.(when there’s nobody in them, you can swim under the boats at the log flume, and the best time to go on a roller coaster is when the tracks are wet; sit in the last car facing backwards)

When I went back to high school in Bethesda, a different one, I made pizza, sold auto parts at High Gear, worked construction, was an auto mechanic apprentice at a gas station, cleaned durable healthcare products (wheelchairs, bedpans walkers etc…), sold knifes for Cutco and waited tables at an all you can eat seafood restaurant.

When I was a mechanic’s apprentice, my boss had me doing inspections on motor homes. I would drive these huge motor homes about 15 miles away to pick up other ones, bring them back, inspect them, and then take them for other ones. I thought the motor home dealership was using my boss to do its inspections for the wrong reasons, amongst other instances, when I was almost asphyxiated underneath one of them because of exhaust leaks and drove it back that afternoon unfixed with a passing inspection sticker on it.

I specialized in changing out clutches on Ford Mustangs, mostly because the clutches seemed to go out in them rather regularly.

The day before football tryouts for my senior year, two friends and I took a ride to West Virginia to see a car race. On the way back, we drove off the road at a relatively high speed into a boulder. I was in the front passenger seat of an old barracuda with a metal dash board. I smashed my face and dislocated my shoulder. They had to wire my face back together and it took about 9 months for my arm to work again. I still can't really do a Boy Scout sign with my right hand.

After I recovered, I handled deliveries for a law firm, sometimes on a motorcycle, around greater Washington D.C. during the height of Marion Barry’s tumultuous reign.

From Silver Springs, Maryland, it was about a 12 mile trip into the DC courthouses etc... and back, but I charged for the 65 mile ride outside the beltway into Virginia and around.  More profitable with the motorcycle. (Honda 750K model, one of the last with a kick starter.)

I started driving in a Toyota Corona, for which I acquired a "used" Bloupunct radio via a friend's illegal occupation of sawzawing them out of dashboards in the middle of the night.  Then got my brother's 1971 Cougar XR7, which I sanded down and left primer grey, a 1969 Camaro, a Chevy Blazer, a YZ80, and after college, a two door Jeep Cherokee to sell copiers out of.

In my 5 ½ years of college, of which I thoroughly enjoyed, (I never took my SAT’s, went to Montgomery County Community College for one semester and transferred to Frostburg State University in western Maryland) I double majored in philosophy and speech communications with a minor in public relations, joined a local off campus fraternity, met my wife, tried multi level marketing with NuSkin, waited tables, washed cars, drove limo’s at funerals, and got a real estate license that I never did anything with.

After I graduated from college during the semi-jobless recovery of 1990 right after the first gulf war, I went back to Bethesda and got a job selling copiers with Lanier. When my soon to be bride got out of school with her masters in Psychology, I transferred to Greensboro, NC, because she wanted to get her doctorate and we had never met anyone who said that they didn’t like North Carolina.

When I arrived in Greensboro, I got a left over copier sales territory that nobody wanted because there was no business to do in it so I ended up selling above ground aluminum swimming pools (A bait and switch one call close sales job) until the end of the summer, when an overwhelming majority of swimming pool consumers lost their inclination to purchase a swimming pool until the next summer. Through a co-worker, I briefly got a job selling vinyl siding for Sears, which involved doing relatively bad things to the relatively elderly. I sold Collier’s encyclopedias within the space of a year before I felt I could reapply for a better job in the financial services industry, which very looked for those with sales experience.

I ended up waiting tables and bartending at a minority owned restaurant called Salt Marsh Willies on Holden Road and adjoining nightclub called Spices while studying for my life insurance sales license for the Prudential Life Insurance Company. The rule was that you were not supposed to take out the trash through the back door without somebody with the gun.

I was at Prudential Life long enough to get the one year bonus, at which time I was hired by J. C. Bradford and Company to be an “Investment Representative” (Stock Broker).

One day at work I found out that a co-worker named Gerad Robinson got Lou Gehrig’s disease. I think he was 34 at the time and just had his third kid. I went home to the townhouse that we owned and I told my wife robin that it was time to buy that house that we couldn’t afford.

After we bought the house, I got a great offer with a signing bonus at Merrill Lynch.

In March, 2001, I was offered a job with IJL/Wachovia, with a $40,000 signing bonus. Two weeks after I started at IJL/Wachovia, Wachovia agreed to merge/ be bought by First Union. SunTrust tried a hostile takeover a couple of weeks later, and the shareholder vote was won by First Union at the end of August, 11 days before September 11, 2001. I had the corner office on the first floor of the Jefferson Pilot Building facing Stumble Stilskins.

I have been called a Stockbroker, a Financial Planner, Investment Representative, Investment Broker, Financial Consultant, Financial Advisor, Investment Consultant, Vice President
of Investments, President, Chief Economist and some other names of a disparaging nature.

All the titles represent pretty much the same thing: try to make sure my clients maintain their needs and achieve as much their wants in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of risk while feeding my family at the same time.

The biggest career mistake I have ever made was to teach ethics to CPAs and attorneys.  Once I started teaching, and telling stories of work and play etc..., I started trying to live by what I was saying.

My wife Robin works with Moms at the YWCA. 

Two Kids, three dogs, two cats and a 14 year old hermit crab we got at the beach.

House; 1950 square feet.

We had a travel trailer at Lake Myers RV Resort in Mocksville for ten years.  Car port for an awning. Wood deck to drive the topless 1978 Honda gas go cart (golf cart that's not at a golf course) up on underneath.  Kids learned to ride bikes there. 

I speak on financial planning, investment management and economics in financial workshops, CPA and attorney seminars, civic clubs, conventions, non-profit organizations and professional business groups.

A User’s Guide to Hartzman’s Inquisitions

The following is a most recent culmination of thought that has provided a way to discover how to navigate my life, and I offer it as a vehicle for others to find answers to questions they may or may not have thought of. If what others think is true may not be what you do, interpretations should differ.

Thoughts of the past and future are dependent on existing in the present.

If we think, we are. We were who we think we were. We are what we think we are.

If nothing changes, we may or may not be who we think we’ll be.

If what was, is, or will be is uncertain, the only certainty appears to be present thought.

We may not actually know some of what we think we know.

What we don’t know we don’t know is more than we think.

What is may have been before the beginning, and may still be after the end.

Some of what we need, we don’t know or can’t choose to do, like hunger or thirst.

To exist in the present, we must have acquired enough need in the past to make it happen.

Need appears to be thought, sustenance, hygiene and a temperate climate.

Threatened need alters thought.

The less you think you need, the easier it is to take care of.

Want is everything else, but you have to acquire need to get it.

Over-prioritizing present want can sacrifice future need.

In want is not how much but how happy, Wealth = Happiness If want depends non purposefully not understanding need, what looks obtainable may not be.

Want can be eliminating unneeded.

In time, we “do” in the present, so doing nothing is choosing to do something.

Creating a higher likelihood of a better present by securing need and achieving want in the shortest time with the least risk, by thinking of what to don and when, relative to what was and what could happen after what may happen next.

If thought is both logical and emotional, what we do is too.

If what we think was derived from choice or influence, what we think is may not be.

If emotion occurs before thought, reaction can precede comprehension.

Some of what we think we know, we don’t.

Don’t think you need want, want what you can’t get, or think you know what you don’t.

What to do should be an optimal point between need and want.

There may be less risk and greater return in learning from other people’s mistakes before having to learn from your own.

If there’s less risk and higher return in a plan fitting circumstances, than circumstances fitting a plan; acknowledge, adjust and overcome.

If not thinking isn’t, it’s not about what could’ve been or what may someday, it’s about what we do now.

Have as much fun as soon as possible, with the least amount of risk for as long as you can.

My Pop and Great Grandfather

My dad was born in Havana, Cuba

His father fought in the Russian Revolution, hopped a boat, ended up in Cuba instead of the US, met my Gramma, had dad.

Lost many in the Holocaust.

My Great Grandfather on Mom's side was a Rabbi in Poland who was shot in front of his house by a Nazi in front of my Great Grandmothers mushroom stand.

My pop hauled water in buckets when water shortages hit in Havana.

Emigrated through Miami in 1947 and grew up in Brooklyn

Abraham Lincoln High School

City College of New York.

Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering.

Played soccer in high school, competed in college Olympic style weight lifting events, ran marathons and still lifts.

Studied at Berkeley.

Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Davis.

Worked for Boeing.

Worked at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, California

Retired from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after 34 years.

Figured the meltdowns in Japan a month and a half before TEPCO admitted it.

We play chess by Email

We debate economics, philosophy, politics, ethics and religion.

He wrote a play for 11 years, dealing with biblical inaccuracies and Spinoza's philosophy.

We are supposed to talk every Friday night

He needs new knees

He worries about his kids

Loves Mom

Likes to paint nude women.

Reads a lot and collects used books

Drives cars into the ground

Still exercises almost everyday

Loves his grandchildren

Worries about his activist son.



A few thoughts

Were you to board a spaceship,
head out from earth at 99.999999 percent of light speed,
travel for six months and then head back home at the same speed,
your motion would slow your clock, relative to those that remain stationary on Earth,
so that you’d be one year older upon your return,
while everyone on Earth would have aged about 7,000 years.

Brian Greene

If the Milky Way galaxy
revolves around the center about once every 250 million years
how long is a day to whom?

The opposite of a fact is falsehood,
but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.

Niels Bohr

If something started everything,
and as of the last consensualy agreed upon educated guess,
the known universe is about 13.7 billion years old,
and the Sun, about 4.6 billion years old,
is one of 200 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy,
among about 80 to 100 billion galaxies in the known universe
which appears to include about 10 billion trillion other planets
and there is only so much stuff, much of which ends up turning into other stuff,
how old are we?

Who are we?

We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star
lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe
in which there are far more galaxies than people.

Carl Sagan

If Earth is spinning at about 1,043 mph at the equator
revolving around the sun at about 66,660 mph
moving around the Milky Way Galaxy at about 489,600 mph
headed towards Andromeda at about 180,000 mph
while the Local Group of galaxies is pulled toward the Local Super Cluster at about 540,000 mph
how fast are we surfing through the cosmos?

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.

But we can understand the Universe.

That makes us something very special.

Stephen Hawking

If most believed Earth was the center of the universe
before Copernicus theorized otherwise in 1514
and most people didn’t know the Milky Way was made of stars
before Galileo theorized in 1609
and most didn’t know about dinosaurs before 1855
while most were unaware of other galaxies before 1923
and we found the first planet outside our solar system in 1992,
do we probably not know much more than we think we know?

There is a theory which states
that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here,
it will instantly disappear and be replaced
by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

All the stars, planets and galaxies that can be seen today 
make up just 4 percent of the universe. 

The other 96 percent is made of stuff astronomers can't see, 
detect or even comprehend.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001),
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

If life on Earth were one day...,
land based plants showed up around 10 P.M., or about 450 million years ago,
or at about 90.1% of Earths’ age,
asteroids big enough to cause large losses of life has hit about every 3 minutes,
or about once every 9.48 million years,
insects showed up around 10:30 PM, Dinosaurs - 11 PM,
'Humans' since somewhere between 200,000 to 2,500,000 years, about .04% of the age of the planet, 
about 20 seconds before midnight
while ‘Modern’ humans go back about 10,000 years, or about 0.0001% of Earth’s age,
...and what started everything showed up,
would he/she/it be very happy with what we’ve done with the place?

When they discover the center of the universe,
a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it.

Bernard Bailey

If about 50 million years after Earth formed about 4.55 billion years ago
an asteroid about the size of Mars crashed into Earth
leaving the moon, which is about a quarter the size of Earth,
led to different kinds of  non 'air' breathing life about 3.9 billion years ago
until something started excreting oxgen, like our current vegetation,
which killed off whatever couldn’t adapt,
and about 99% of the thirty billion or so different kinds of everything that has ever lived on Earth 
doesn't exist anymore and left no descendants,
what are the chances of modern humans lasting how long?

Nothing in the entire universe ever perishes…but things vary, and adopt a new form.

Though this thing may pass into that, and that into this,
yet the sums of things remains unchanged.

Ovid (43 BC - 17 AD), Metamorphoses

If most 'everything' is made of many atoms
which may have very possibly been around before this universe,
which may continue to exist after the current universe is gone,
when something living dies or when an inanimate object disintegrates,
do the atoms become part of everything else?

Every atom you possess
has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms
on its way to becoming you.

Bill Bryson

If all the atoms in a human body are completely replaced with other atoms about every 9 years
and a child gets about half its DNA from each parent,
a quarter from each grandparent, an eighth from each great-grandparent and so on,
and the genetic code of everything alive and has ever lived is essentially the same only different, 
is everything on Earth relatively interconnected?

Is everything everything?

So when we say that 80% of the population can expect to be ancestors of all surviving individuals,
we are talking about their 22nd great-grandchildren…
[or] one four-millionth part.

Richard Dawkins
Professor of the Public Understanding, Oxford

If the genetic code of everything alive and has ever lived on Earth
is fundamentally the same but a little different,
did every living thing  basically come from the same beginning?

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe
is that none of it has tried to contact us.

Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes

If there is more unknown than known
like what started everything and why or if what started everything is still around,
and we don’t know for certain what happens before life or after death,
what is the purpose of cognitive existence?

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden
to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15

Should we be able to think and do what we want
as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else doing the same?

The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot

If Earth became uninhabitable,
and 'we' had a spaceship big enough for some people and enough supplies
that could go 250,000 miles per hour,
and it would take about 11,276 years without stopping or hitting anything to get to the nearest star, 
where the chances of there being a habitable planet may be at most one tenth of one percent, 
should we take better care of what we have?

Once off the cliff, there is still hope if you keep running.

By running ever faster you may not fall.

Wyle E. Coyote

Don’t tread on others unless they’re treading on you, be unloved,
criticize if it won’t help, lose your temper unless it would be bad to keep it,
be a very good bad example, lead without permission, do guilt,
offend many to benefit few or let ego override intelligence.

Don’t do anything you don’t want done to you, unless you need to.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:13

Don’t think you need want or want more than you need,
confuse compassion with justice, consciously over-compensate for unconscious doubt,
over-adore wanted acquisition, do what you don’t want to get what you don’t need,
underestimate irrationality, or think more of what could have than what may be.

Don’t believe everything you think, conclude what you want because you want to
or confuse effort with result.

Don’t afflict inanimate objects with conjured meaning.

Don’t want what you can’t get, let obsession with righteousness metastasize into hubris,
rationalize faults by blaming others, think you know what you don’t,
do what you don’t understand, over think or swim with the incontinent.

Don’t let small mistakes become big ones
by eliminating what’s not working and doing more of what is, sooner than later.

You shall not favor a poor man in his cause.

Exodus 23:3

Don’t think you know what you don’t, conclude what you want because you want to,
say you can if you cant, obfuscate or say you’re going to do and don’t.

Don’t self fulfill prophesy.

You shall not raise a false report

Exodus 23:1

Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you to get what you don’t need,
hide confusion with obliqueness, cut what can be untied, over-sacrifice need for want and vice versa,
catch falling knives, stereotypically generalize, resent, envy, slur, avenge,
ask a barber if you need a haircut, let what you own own you, lend need,
spend more than you make, build monuments, be selfish, unlovable or apathetic,
sacrifice future unhappiness for an unnecessarily pleasant present,
owe more than you can easily repay, succeed at failure or give up.

The true measure of a man
is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.

Samuel Johnson

Give your family a better chance to succeed than your forefathers gave your parents
and your parents gave you.

Make luck happen.

Create a higher likelihood of a better present by securing need and achieving want
in the shortest time with the least risk for as long as possible,
by thinking of what and when relative to what was
and what may happen after what could happen next.

Do the most good, in the best way, with as many people
for as long as you can.

To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to Yahweh than sacrifice.

Proverbs 21:3

If there’s less risk and higher return in using a plan that matches circumstances
than trying to force circumstances to fit a plan,
relax, accept and embrace uncertainty, focus, hypothesize, experiment,
observe, acknowledge mistakes, compare, question the status quo,
consider the counterintuitive, anticipate anticipation,
find strength in weakness, weakness in strength and advantage in disadvantage,
know what you own, consult wisdom, accept and learn from criticism,
look within for faults found in others, embrace differences, respect momentum,
be incremental, bypass irrelevancy, protect your flanks, calculate risk,
prepare for instability when stable, reduce to the least common denominator,
rise above and control emotion, weigh choice, adapt, practice with someone better,
commit, accept responsibility, maximize what works, minimize what doesn’t,
tear band aids off swiftly, pay yourself forward and play to win.

Do the right thing when no one’s looking,
leave others better off for having known you and the world a better place than you found it.

Forget what you give, value what you get,
return what you borrow, replace what you break and forgive quickly.

Hope everything happens the way it does
and leave unanswered questions.

Have as much fun as soon as possible
with the least amount of risk for as long as you can.

George Hartzman

On the famine inflicted by the Soviet Union on Ukraine, 1932-1933

The Holodomor..., "Killing by Starvation" was a man-made famine
in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1932 and 1933
that killed up to 7.5 million Ukrainians.


"Watchtowers went up in the fields to keep peasants from taking anything for themselves. In the Odessa region alone, more than seven hundred watchtowers were constructed. Brigades went from hut to hut, five thousand youth organization members among their numbers, seizing everything they could find. Activists used, as one peasant recalled, "long metal rods to search through stables, pigsties, stoves. They looked everywhere and took everything, down to the last grain." They rushed through the village "like the black death" calling out "Peasants, where is your grain? Confess!" The brigades took everything that resembled food, including supper from the stoves, which they ate themselves.

Like an invading army the party activists lived off the land, taking what they could and eating their fill, with little to show for their work and enthusiasm but misery and death. Perhaps from feelings of guilt, perhaps from feelings of triumph, they humiliated the peasants wherever they went. They would urinate in barrels of pickles, or order hungry peasants to box each other for sport, or make them crawl and bark like dogs, or force them to kneel in the mud and pray. Women caught steeling on one collective farm were stripped, beaten, and carried naked through the village. In one village the brigade got drunk in a peasant's hut and gang-raped his daughter. Women who lived alone were routinely raped at night under the pretext of grain confiscation—and their food was indeed taken from them after their bodies had been violated. This was the triumph of Stalin's law and Stalin's state."

Timothy Snyder
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, 2010
"From the 1932 harvest, Soviet authorities were able to procure only 4.3 million tons as compared with 7.2 million tons obtained from the 1931 harvest. Rations in town were drastically cut back, and in the winter of 1932–33 and spring of 1933 people in many urban areas were starved. The urban workers were supplied by a rationing system (and therefore could occasionally assist their starving relatives of the countryside), but rations were gradually cut; and by the spring of 1933, the urban residents also faced starvation. At the same time, workers were shown agitprop movies, where all peasants were portrayed as counterrevolutionaries hiding grain and potatoes at a time when workers, who were constructing the "bright future" of socialism, were starving.

...Evidence of widespread cannibalism was documented during the Holodomor.

...Holodomor denial is the assertions that the 1932–1933 genocide in Soviet Ukraine either did not occur or did occur but was not a premeditated act. Denying the existence of the famine was the Soviet state's position and reflected in both Soviet propaganda and the work of some Western journalists and intellectuals including Walter Duranty and Louis Fischer. In the Soviet Union, authorities all but banned discussion of the famine, but according to Ukrainian historian Stanislav Kulchytsky, he was ordered by the Soviet government to falsify his findings on the event, and depict the famine as an unavoidable, natural disaster; the goal of which was to absolve the Communist Party of blame and uphold the legacy of Stalin."

"Japan's sustainable society in the Edo period (1603-1867)"

"In the history of Japan, the 265-year period between 1603 (when Tokugawa Ieyasu became the generalissimo or great "shogun" of the Tokugawa shogunate) and 1867 called the Edo Period.

...During most of the Edo Period, Japan was closed off to the world, suffered no invasion from the outside, and had virtually no exchange with other countries. For the most part, it was a peaceful period, with almost no war inside the country, and marked a remarkable time of development in the economy and culture of Japan.

The first national census, conducted around 1720, indicates a population of approximately 30 million people, which remained relatively constant throughout the entire two and a half centuries of the Edo Period.

The population of Edo, at the time the largest city in the world, has been estimated at 1 million to 1.25 million people. In comparison, London had about 860,000 people (1801) and Paris about 670,000 (1802).

...for approximately 250 years during the Edo Period, Japan was self-sufficient in all resources, since nothing could be imported from overseas due to the national policy of isolation.

...coal was used for making salt in the late Edo Period, but the quantity of coal consumption was negligible. Looking at this period from today's perspective, it was an interesting time for a part of humanity, as a period of peace and flourishing culture.

...during the Edo Period their country had what we now recognize in today's terms as a sustainable society. The population was stable and the society did not rely on material inputs from the outside.

..."The Edo Period had a Recycling Society," we now introduce some elements of what made this sustainable society possible for 250 years.

...people in Edo Japan recycled of goods and materials for another reason: they had very limited goods and materials in the first place.

As a result, everything was treated as a valuable resource, including materials that would otherwise be considered a nuisance, such as ash. Because brand new goods were expensive and newly manufactures items were virtually unaffordable for ordinary citizens, most "end-of-life" goods were not discarded as waste, but rather reused and recycled.

Many specialized traders and craftsmen were also engaged in reuse and recycling (though there was no word for recycling, since "recycling" was just a normal part of life).

...- Tinker (repairers of metal products)
Tinkers repaired old pans, kettles and pots, even those rendered useless by holes in the bottom. They had special techniques to use bellows to raise the temperature of charcoal fires and repair holes using other metal pieces or by welding.

- Ceramics repairer
These specialized craftsmen glued broken pieces of ceramics with starch extracted from sticky rice and heated for coagulation.

- Truss hoop repairer
Until 40 to 50 years ago, people usually used wooden tubs and barrels to store liquids. Wooden tubs and barrels were made of wooden slats fastened by bamboo hoops. When the hoops aged and broke or warped, the craftsmen fixed the tubs and barrels with new bamboo fasteners.

There were many other kinds of specialized craftsmen to repair broken items, including paper lanterns and locks, replenish vermilion inkpads, and refurbish old Japanese wooden footwear, mills and mirrors, to name a few. They supported a society where nothing was thrown away but everything was carefully repaired, and used until it could truly be used no more.

...- Used-paper buyers
These buyers bought old shopkeepers' books, sorted and sold them to paper makers. In those days, Japanese paper (washi) was made of long fibers of over 10 mm, and specialized paper makers bought and blended various kinds of used paper to make a wide range of recycled paper, from bathroom tissue to printing paper.

- Used-paper collectors
Some collectors were also specialized in used paper, but didn't have the financial resources to buy it. Instead, they picked up and collected trash paper by walking around the town and sold it to used-paper warehouses to get a daily cash income.

- Used-clothes dealers
Until the end of Edo Period, clothes were more precious and expensive than today since all clothes at the time were hand-woven. It is said that there were about 4,000 old clothes dealers in the city of Edo.

...- Ash buyers
Ash is a natural byproduct of fuelwood burning. During the Edo Period, buyers collected ash and sold it to farmers as fertilizer. Ordinary houses had an ash box, and public bathhouses and larger shops an "ash hut" for storage until buyers came by.

...although other cultures in the world also used ash, as far as his research shows, Japan is the only country where ash merchants buy ash from the city for use in other parts of society.

- Human waste dipper
Until around 1955, human waste (night soil) was the most important fertilizer source for farmers in Japan. In many parts of Europe, before construction of sewage lines, human waste was simply thrown from the window to the street below, and the plague occurred repeatedly due to bad hygiene conditions. In contrast, in Japan human waste was treated as a valuable resource in those days.

Farmers regularly visited homes with whom they had contracts and paid money or offered vegetables they had grown, in return for night soil to be used as fertilizer. As distribution channels became more established, specialized night soil warehouses and retailers emerged.

Landlords with many tenants made good money from the night soil produced on their premises. There are even stories of friction between landlords and tenants about ownership of the night soil. Some farmers were very particular about their sources of fertilizer. For example, certain areas were regarded as sources of highly-coveted night soil for growing exclusive brands of Japanese tea.

...such extensive reuse and recycling systems embedded in society would limit the profits of paper makers, printing companies, publishers and shippers. In the economy of today, if people don't continuously buy new goods, the economy falters.

In contrast, according to a wage list of carpenters hired by the Edo feudal government, it took 200 years for wages to double, implying an economic growth rate those days of about 0.3 percent or so. According to today's economic yardsticks, the economy of the Edo Period did not grow much. But can we therefore conclude that systems of the Edo Period, with repeated reuse and recycling, were inferior to our modern economic and social systems?

Japan in the Edo Period could serve as one model of a sustainable society. The basis of its sustained economy and cultural development was not mass production and mass consumption for convenience, as we see in modern society, but rather the full utilization of limited resources."
"Japan had almost zero population growth between the 1720s and 1820s, often attributed to lower birth rates in response to widespread famine, but some historians have presented different theories, such as a high rate of infanticide artificially controlling population."

City of Burbank 457 Plan Negotiations; lowered ICMA-RC's fees from $286 to $88.50 per year

"The City of Burbank is currently contracted with three 457 Plan providers: CalPERS, Great-West Retirement Services (Great-West), and ICMA-Retirement Corporation (ICMA-RC). The City’s 457P Plan is currently with Great-West. The following is a breakdown of the City’s 457 Plan participants, assets, and fees (main plan only):

Current Employees Contributing 775
Total Participants as of 3/31/09 (current and separated) 1,335
Plan Assets as of 3/31/09 $79,310,956
Estimated Average Account Balance $ 59,364

CalPERS Current Estimated Weighted Average Fee .40%
ICMA-RC Current Disclosed Weighted Average Fee .43%
Great-West Current Estimated Weighted Average Fee .89%

CalPERS Estimated Average Participant Annual Fee* $123
ICMA-RC Disclosed Average Participant Annual Fee $286
Great-West Estimated Average Participant Annual Fee * $474

* In cases where all of the revenue that a firm receives from a particular investment option is not disclosed, Aon has estimated the value of revenue streams related to those investments based on industry knowledge and experience.

...ICMA-RC presented the second lowest initial fee proposal of 0.1625% for a 5-year contract

The Committee voted to open negotiations with ICMA-RC to see if the proposal could be enhanced to bring the fees down and increase the customer service options. The negotiations were successful and the following is a breakdown of the final contract items:

Final fee proposal for a 3 year + 1 year + 1 year contract: 0.1475%

Any revenue ICMA-RC receives in excess of their 0.1475% revenue requirement will be paid quarterly to the City of Burbank as an administrative allowance to be used solely for 457 plan administration costs or returned to the participants.

...for an average employee account balance of $60,000, the change in the fee structure by contracting with ICMA-RC are:


Weighted Average Fee = 0.40% - 0.89%

Average Participant Annual Fee = $240 - $534


Weighted Average Fee = 0.1475%

Average Participant Annual Fee = $88.50

The total assets in the City of Burbank’s employee deferred compensation program were
$78,611,698 as of March 31, 2009 (the date in which data was collected for the RFP issuance).

Averaging the three current provider fees to 0.573%, the total estimated annual fees paid by
employees will decrease from approximately $450,445 to $115,952 by the execution of this
agreement’s fees of 0.1475%.

Politics = Chess

A metaphor.
If there are 9,183,421,888 ways to play the first nine moves,
9,417,681 the first six, 72,078 the first four, 5,362 the first three,
and 20 to play the first, are early moves more important than later?

Life is a kind of chess in which we have often points to gain,
competitors or adversaries to contend with,
and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events…

By playing at chess…we may learn foresight, circumspection and caution.

Benjamin Franklin


On the philosophy of Avatar

There’s a sense of entitlement —
‘We’re here, we’re big, we’ve got the guns,
we’ve got the technology, we’ve got the brains,
we therefore are entitled to every damn thing on this planet.’

That’s not how it works
and we’re going to find out the hard way
if we don’t wise up and start seeking a life
that’s in balance with the natural cycles of life on earth.

James Cameron on “Avatar”

Who knew there were trillions
of more than 2,000 species of microorganisms living in the human body
before 2008?

When what lives dies and/or matter disintegrates,
does what was become part of something else?

Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars
and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you.

Bill Bryson

If something started everything, and everything’s the same only different,
is everything everything?

If there was, is, and will be only so much stuff,
how old are you?

If what is, is until it’s not,
is non-sentiency more probable than sentiency?

If mold continues to multiply after eating half a piece of cheese,
what happens when demand exceeds supply?

If we’re the mold and Earth is the cheese,
how many need and/or want how much,
where is half way, who’s got what’s left, who gets cut off when,
who will compete with who for what’s left,
and how is who most likely to win?

The following is a culmination of more than 13 years of ongoing research that has provided a way to discover how to navigate what “is”, and offers a vehicle for others to find answers to questions they may or may not have thought of.

Insights have been accumulated while working as a financial advisor
and portfolio manager through The Asian Currency Crisis, Y2K, The Bubble,
9/11, The Financial Crisis of 2008-9, and continue
as subsequent geopolitical, military, economic, fiscal and monetary events occur.

What you may think I'm thinking isn’t necessarily what I'm thinking.

George Hartzman

If most were to comprehend the “realities” of what may actually be,
as opposed to what most currently think is,
an entirely different set of counterintuitive circumstances could emerge.

Effectiveness through understanding could be exponential,
as long as most continue to not know what they could.

The quotes provide context to increase comprehension,
with the fewest words in the shortest time.

Format originally conceived
to conform to financial institution marketing compliance guidelines
to teach CPAs, attorneys and investors
economics, investment planning, philosophy and business ethics.

Writing style is kind of like poetry, only enigma cocooned in inquiry
surrounded by the random chaos of Socratic thought,
which is not supposed to be easy.

The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot

If the present embodies the past and future,
rational analysis maximizes present accomplishment, and chances of success are better
for those who more accurately prognosticate the farthest into the future,
the who and why to find first is you,
before the when and how to achieve what for the longest time with the least risk.

The questions are puzzle pieces designed to initiate debate,
encourage independent verification and promote self examination.

People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves
than by those found by others.

Blaise Pascal

If what others think is true may not be what you do,
interpretations should differ.