Born on the Fourth of July

By Jim Woods

“Jim, why do Americans always think the United States is the greatest country in the world? Don’t the French say France is the greatest country? Don’t the Russians say Russia is the greatest? Isn’t it all just an accident of birth?”

This is a question a friend posed to me recently, as she knew I was an exponent of the notion that America is the greatest country ever conceived. While her question is misguided, it is one to take seriously, as I think a lot of people have the mistaken and tribalistic idea that because you happen to be from a certain place that somehow you naturally will identify with that place/tribe as being superior.

Yet as I explained to my friend, I don’t think America is the greatest country because I, Jim Woods, happened to be born in suburban Southern California.

The reason why America is the greatest country ever is because it was created on the philosophic principle that man is an end in himself, and not the means to another man’s end.

The Founding Fathers enshrined this concept in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, documents so important, and so beautiful an achievement of political and moral thinking, that it sets us apart from any other country in history.

Indeed, the corollary concept involved here is that government’s only legitimate function is the protection and preservation of individual rights. And the Founders knew that in order to preserve individual rights, they must restrict the ability of government (i.e., the group) to infringe upon those rights.

So, you might say that this idea, the sacrosanct idea that man is an end in himself, is what was truly born on the Fourth of July.

Now, think about this idea for a moment, because on this Fourth of July eve, the idea deserves to occupy a substantive place in your grey matter, right now.

You see, it is the concept of enshrining individual rights that has made all things in America possible. Think about it. Every value you hold dear implies a valuer free to choose that value, and free to achieve that value.

The fact that you can be who you want, do what you want (as long as you don’t infringe on another’s rights) and think what you want — and have that protected by the very fabric of your country’s founding principles and founding documents — is why America is the greatest country.

My favorite novelist/philosopher, Ayn Rand, wrote the following about her love for her adopted country of America, which pretty much sums up my feelings on this issue:

“I can say, not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and esthetic roots — that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world.”

The only moral country.

Tomorrow, as you are eating hamburgers, hot dogs, drinking beer and looking up at the fireworks display, remember you do so courtesy of the morality of the Fourth of July.

ETF Talk: ‘HACKing’ Better Profits with a Cybersecurity ETF

“Distrust and caution are the parents of security.”

— Benjamin Franklin

Although Benjamin Franklin lived in a time before cybersecurity was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, he may have been on to something when he said the above quotation. In today’s increasingly interconnected and computer-oriented world, the persistent need to stay one step ahead of malicious actors who want to do us (as a nation) or us (as individuals) harm is an ever-present need. Every week, it seems that we read about either a governmental organization or a company that’s suffered a data breach by unknown but malicious actors, imperiling not just our wallets but, perhaps, even our democracy itself.

As a result, both nations and companies are recognizing the need to invest in more formidable cybersecurity defenses. According to Expert Market Research, the global cybersecurity market is projected to grow to $506.79 billion by 2032 (up from $236.75 billion in 2023). Concurrently, while the Department of Defense’s budget rose 3.2% for 2024, cybersecurity spending’s piece of that budgetary pie rose by more than 15%.

One exchange-traded fund (ETF) dedicated to cybersecurity is the Amplify Cybersecurity ETF (NYSEARCA: HACK). Since HACK’s goal is to produce results that closely correlate to the return of the Nasdaq ISE Cybersecurity Select Index, HACK’s managers select stocks from companies around the world that are dedicated to cybersecurity, regardless of if they are involved with software, hardware or services. While there are market capitalization and liquidity requirements, HACK’s managers will only select companies that derive at least 90% of their revenues from cybersecurity.

Some of the firms whose bonds are in HACK’s portfolio include Broadcom Inc. (NASDAQ: AVGO), Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ: PANW), CrowdStrike Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: CRWD), General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD), Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC), Fortinet Inc. (NASDAQ: FTNT), Cloudflare Inc. (NYSE: NET) and Zscaler Inc. (NASDAQ: ZS).

As of July 3, HACK has been up 8.97% over the past month and up 2.19% for the past three months. It is currently up 7.86% year to date.


Chart courtesy of
www.stockcharts.com.

The fund has amassed $1.7 billion in assets under management and has an expense ratio of 0.60%.

Overall, the HACK ETF may be a good choice for investors looking for exposure to cybersecurity, but it’s important to carefully consider the risks and potential returns before making any investment decisions.

I remain happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to email me. You may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.

In case you missed it…

FreedomFest! ’24

Freedom (I won’t let you down)
Freedom (I will not give you up)
Freedom (Gotta have some faith in the sound)
You got to give what you take…

–George Michael, “Freedom! ’90”

During the height of the MTV years, singer George Michael released a video for his hit, “Freedom! ’90.” The provocative video featured some of the best-looking humans that ever walked the planet, lip-syncing the lyrics while lounging about a seductively lit industrial apartment. Now, I am unashamed to admit that I love the visuals in this video (after all, I’m nothing if not a red-blooded American male). But I also love the message of the video, because shouting out with reverence in celebration of “freedom” is something we all should do.

Today, I’m going to shout out my own version of freedom, and in an homage to the song, I’m calling that version, “FreedomFest! ’24.”

You see, in just two weeks, I will be shouting out in celebration of freedom from the stages of the greatest gathering of free minds, the annual FreedomFest conference, which this year is back to where I think it should be, the mecca of capitalism in action, Las Vegas.

As you may know, FreedomFest is the brainchild of my friends Mark and Jo Ann Skousen, two of the most interesting, most learned and coolest people I know. The intellectual power couple created the annual festival as a place where free-minded liberty lovers like me could come and celebrate freedom in an open-minded environment.

What I love about FreedomFest is that it is independent, non-partisan and not officially affiliated with any organization or think tank. Ponder that for a moment, and then try to think of any other gathering of politically or intellectually oriented individuals that hasn’t descended into a tribalistic orgy of “us versus them.” I don’t think you’ll be able to come up with many examples, but if you do, please let me know so I can attend.

This year, the theme of FreedomFest is “Are We Entering a Brave New World?” a reference to the classic dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley. In preparation for one of the breakout sessions analyzing the novel, I am currently rereading the work. I must say, reading classic literature again in your 50s is a whole different experience than reading it in your 20s, and it’s a pursuit I highly recommend if you want to increase your wisdom.


Your editor re-reading the classic dystopian novel in preparation for FreedomFest! ’24.

Of course, literary discussions are just one of many activities offered up at FreedomFest. In fact, the conference is so packed with all types of presentations, panels, exhibits and films on so many subjects, it’s actually somewhat frustrating to not be able to take it all in. A minor criticism of the conference, I grant you, but a good problem to have for my fellow polymaths.

Here is a link to the complete agenda for FreedomFest! ’24, but just check out some of the activities on offer at this year’s conference:

— Presentations by over 250 top-ranked expert speakers

— Over 10 breakout sessions at a time

— Mainstage events featuring debates, mock trials and keynote speakers

— Anthem Film Festival

— Punching Up Comedy Festival

— Global Financial Summit

— Major think tanks and grassroots organizations

— Over 150 exhibitors at the “Tradeshow for Liberty”

— National and liberty-focused media

— Politicians, candidates and policymakers

— Best-selling authors and book signings

— VIP meet-and-greets

— Yoga and breakfast in the morning

— Live music, dancing, networking, receptions and karaoke at the after-hours events

I’m proud to say I will be one of those “top-ranked expert speakers,” as I’m scheduled to be a judge in this year’s “Pitch Tank,” a takeoff on the popular entrepreneur-focused CNBC show “Shark Tank.” I will also be delivering presentations on my newsletter advisory services, including my talk titled, “The Moral Imperative of Making Money: A Plan for the Decades.”

You see, to me, making money isn’t just a pursuit that allows you to pay the bills or buy a boat or go on vacations. To me, making money via productive achievement is the noblest activity a human can engage in, and the happiness derived from that productive achievement should be the moral purpose of your life.

If you are going to FreedomFest (and you definitely should), here is a link to all of my scheduled activities. In addition to these scheduled events, I will also be at many of the social events held by the conference, including my favorite, the FreedomFest Jam session.

If you do go to the “FreedomFest! ’24,” I ask one thing of you. Come to my sessions, track me down and introduce yourself. Look me in the eye and shake my hand. And please, make it a firm shake, so that I know you’re the type of person who confidently engages in the world. You see, confident people don’t look down, and they never offer up a weak greeting.

FreedomFest! ’24 takes place on July 10-13, 2024, at the Caesars Forum Convention Center, Las Vegas. And because you’re a reader of The Deep Woods, I am able to offer you a very special discount of $50 off the registration price. To take advantage of this special discount, simply go here, or call my friend Hayley Skousen at 855.850.3733, ext. 201. You can also email her at hayley@freedomfest.com. Use the discount code EAGLE50 to get $50 off the registration price. The Deep Woods discount ends on July 1, and the price of a ticket goes up on that date, so now is the time to register.

I hope to see you in Las Vegas, and in the Brave New World of our own making.

*****************************************************************

Give Better a Chance

“Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.”

–Albert Camus

Even French existentialists know that freedom is essential to becoming a better human. You see, if there is freedom, there is opportunity for improvement. Conversely, if there is no freedom — there’s nothing.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

Log In

Forgot Password

Search