Grow Your Portfolio the Intelligent Way

Do You Own Your Own Life?

By Jim Woods
  • Do You Own Your Own Life?
  • ETF Talk: Tapping into This GRID
  • Helping Musicians Achieve Greater Wellness
  • On Fear and Understanding

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Do You Own Your Own Life?

There is one key question you need to answer for yourself, because, based on your answer, you should be in agreement with me about my conclusion. So, here’s the question:

Do you own your own life?

If the answer is “no,” and you think that another individual or collective of individuals (i.e. a government, a king or a dictator) owns your life, then whatever the collective wants to do with you, or any group of individuals that gather together to achieve a common purpose, is at the whim of the masses or any demagogue with a gun.

If, however, you are like me and you think the answer to the question is “yes,” you do own your own life, you are therefore free to think and act for yourself, associate with who you want and make decisions about how you run your affairs and your business.

And, as long as you are not violating the rights of others who also own their own lives, then you should be free to act according to what you think is in your best interest even if it turns out those decisions are not in your best interest.

This principle of self-ownership is at the crux of the current debate over social media companies in the wake of their recent banning and de-platforming of President Trump and other conservative voices. Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) began the recent wave of bans when it initially suspended, and then permanently blocked, the president’s personal feed.

Now, you may be outraged by the banning of the president from Twitter. You also may be angry about his shunning from Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), Instagram and YouTube. You may also think that this sets a bad precedent, and that these companies are crazy in terms of their bias against Trump, conservatives and any individuals or groups that they deem violates their rules, standards and practices.

Because you own your own life, you are free to disagree with these companies’ decisions, and you are free to complain about it to them, or to close your account or to otherwise voice your concern about any of the issues surrounding what the proper function of these companies should be.

What you are not free to do, at least if you are being logically consistent, is to question their right to own their own lives, and that means their right to decide who to permanently ban and who to de-platform.

If you agree that you own your own life, then don’t Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki also own their own lives? Do they not also have the freedom to make decisions for the companies they created and/or run? And, if those decisions turn out to be bad business decisions, or bad ideas that are unduly biased or that will come back to harm their respective bottom lines, then they will suffer the consequences.

Now, if you think that you do not own your own life, and you think that Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg and Susan Wojcicki also do not own their own lives, then you are probably in favor of Big Government telling you what to do, what to think and what to feel. You are also likely an advocate of “breaking up Big Tech,” consider these entities to be a “public utility” and believe that the government should tell these individuals how they should run their companies, whom they should allow on their platforms, how much money they should charge for advertising, who they should hire and how much money their employees should make.

In short, you are an advocate for telling these people and by extension all people what to do, what to think and what to feel.

So, it comes down to the main question: Do you own your own life?

If the answer is yes, then you must also agree that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and any other person or group of persons also have the same ownership and rights to do with their creations as they choose.

If the answer is no, then like so many people in human history, you will have philosophically sanctioned tyranny.

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ETF Talk: Tapping into This GRID

Over the past few decades, we have seen a remarkable shift in the materials that the world uses to power its machines and generate the energy that is needed to run all the devices that make living life as comfortable as possible.

While carbon-based fuel sources, such as oil and coal, have been used since the Industrial Revolution, they have increasingly fallen out of favor due to their impact on the environment. Instead, we are seeing a rise in interest in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, as they have fewer of the negative drawbacks of coal and oil.

At the same time, we also are seeing a movement toward more efficient ways to store energy and use smart grids. These are electrical grids that contain many energy-saving and energy-efficient measures, including smart meters and smart appliances.

The Nov. 3 presidential election of Joe Biden, who has publicly expressed his support for green energy, might impel investors to turn toward such stocks. So, it is time to turn our attention to the First Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge Smart Grid Infrastructure Index Fund (NASDAQ: GRID).

GRID tracks a market-cap weighted index of global equities that are in the smart grid and electrical energy sector. These are divided into pure play — where more than 50% of the company’s revenue comes from these two sectors or diversified — where less than 50% of the company’s revenue comes from these two sources. After being screened for minimum liquidity and market capitalization, the stocks are then given a collective weight of 80% for pure play stocks and 20% for diversified stocks.

Some of this fund’s top holdings include Aptiv PLC (NYSE: APTV), ABB Ltd. (NYSE: ABB), Johnson Controls International plc (NYSE: JCI), Schneider Electric SE (OTCMKTS: SBGSY), Eaton Corp. plc (NYSE: ETN), Enphase Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENPH), SolarEdge Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: SEDG) and Prysmian S.p.A. (OTCMKTS: PRYMY).

This fund’s performance has been strong, even when including the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Jan. 12, GRID has been up 13.58% over the past month and up 27.73% for the past three months. It is currently up 7.60% year to date.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

The fund has amassed $156.56 million in assets under management and has an expense ratio of 0.70%.

In short, while GRID does provide an investor with a chance to tap into the world of electrical grids, this kind of ETF may not be appropriate for all portfolios. Thus, interested investors always should conduct their due diligence and decide whether the fund is suitable for their investing goals.

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

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Helping Musicians Achieve Greater Wellness

In my spare time, I play music. I play piano, guitar, harmonica and I sing. I also write songs. It’s a fun hobby that I take seriously, and at one point in my youth, it played a big role in my professional pursuits.

One of the downsides of playing music is the repetitive use injuries that can happen after the many hours, and the many years, spent playing your instrument. I’ve had several hand issues related to my playing, but fortunately, I found someone to help me get through it.

That someone is Dr. David Allan, and he’s my guest on the newest episode of the Way of the Renaissance man podcast.

David is a Renaissance Man in the true sense. He’s an accomplished jazz guitarist, pianist and trumpet player, and his early career and formal educational background is in music. Yet, like so many Renaissance Men, David is a seeker. And after pursuing his music career for a number of years, he began looking into ways to help people and his fellow musicians enhance their wellness and live better, healthier lives.

In this episode, you’ll learn all about David’s journey and his approach to integrated wellness, one that incorporates chiropractic care, posture and movement education, exercise, lifestyle and nutrition.

You also learn about David’s new wellness program designed specifically for musicians. This program is aimed at eliminating muscle, nerve and joint pain caused by repetitive use injuries, while also teaching musicians how to build good physical habits that can enhance and extend their careers.

Plus, you’ll also discover how I overcame my own persistent music-related wrist injury with David’s expert treatment.

If you are a musician, or even if you aren’t, I think you’ll find my conversation with Dr. David Allan interesting, helpful, and healing.

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On Fear and Understanding

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

–Marie Curie

The brilliant scientist knew that knowledge was the key to a deeper comprehension of the world, and that the more knowledge we possess, the less we will fear uncertainty. Remember this the next time you are fearful of what you don’t know, and then take action to understand it.

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

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