FreedomFest! ’24

By Jim Woods

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.

ETF Talk: Benefit from the Buzz About BUG

Good cybersecurity is all the buzz in a world that’s becoming ever-more reliant on technology.

As discussed last week, the cybersecurity industry is on the upswing, thanks in no small part to the recent prominence of artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies. The cybersecurity industry works tirelessly to protect systems, networks, programs, devices and data from compromising and potentially damaging cyberattacks.

Of course, all this cybersecurity “buzz” extends to the world of investing as well. And who better to capitalize on that buzz than a bug — Global X Cybersecurity ETF (BUG), that is.

Established in 2019 by Mirae Asset Global Investments Co., Ltd., BUG is an exchange-traded fund that provides exposure to companies involved in the development and management of cybersecurity protocols. The fund’s managers select securities in emerging and developed countries that generate at least 50% of their revenue from cybersecurity activities.

BUG tracks the Indxx Cybersecurity Index, which weights its constituents by market-cap. Each is subject to caps, however, which limits the index’s concentration on large-cap companies and increases its exposure to other companies. The index is reconstituted and re-weighted semi-annually.

Roughly 95% of BUG’s holdings are in the Technology Services sector, with an additional 4.5% in Electronic Technology. As a fund predominantly focused on the cybersecurity industry, this niche makes sense.

In addition, 66% of BUG’s holdings are U.S.-based, with its other holdings mainly in Israel (16.09%), Japan (6.77%), the United Kingdom (4.44%), Canada (3.6%) and South Korea (2.65%). Its top 10 holdings are CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. (CRWD), Palo Alto Networks, Inc. (PANW), Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (CHKP), Zscaler, Inc. (ZS), Gen Digital Inc. (GEN), Okta, Inc. Class A (OTKA), Fortinet, Inc. (FTNT), CyberArk Software Ltd. (CYBR), Varonis Systems, Inc. (VRNS) and Radware Ltd. (RDWR).

Currently, the fund has an expense ratio of 0.50%, and roughly $758.90 million in assets under management. As of June 24, the fund is down 4.03% in the past month, 5.70% in the past three months and 4.13% year to date. However, the fund is also up 19.14% in the past year, indicating that the slight dip is more reflective of the current correction in the technology sector, and possibly presents a prime buying opportunity.

While cybersecurity may be all the buzz, you might discover a profitable opportunity in another hive. Thus, always consider your investment goals and do your due diligence before adding any stock or exchange-traded fund (ETF) to your portfolio.

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…

A Juneteenth Holiday ‘Ask Me Anything’

Last Wednesday, June 19, was also known as “Juneteenth,” and financial markets were closed in observance of the holiday. Now, Juneteenth has only been a recognized federal holiday since 2021, so it’s not that surprising to me that a few readers wrote me last week to ask me why the markets were closed (and why the prices of their stocks weren’t changing).

One reader’s question prompted me to do another edition of one of my favorite The Deep Woods issue themes, “Ask Me Anything.” So, let’s kick it off with a Juneteenth inquiry.

David K. writes: “Jim, what is the deal with ‘Juneteenth’? Is this a real holiday? Why is this important? It seems like the government just makes up reasons not to work.”

David, I believe I first learned about Juneteenth in 2020, the year before it was designated a federal holiday. At the time, I must admit I was ignorant of the events Juneteenth was designed to commemorate. And while ignorance on a subject is nothing to be embarrassed by, choosing to remain ignorant should be a source of embarrassment to all thinking men.

So, a few years ago I chose to read about Juneteenth, what it was, what it means and why I think it’s an amazing occasion that should rightly be celebrated.

First, Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 each year, and it commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. The holiday’s name is a portmanteau of the words “June” and “nineteenth”, as it was on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas at the end of the Civil War.


Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Writing today in Reason.com, Ilya Somin puts the significance of this day in brilliant perspective:

“… the abolition of slavery was the greatest achievement of the universal principles underlying the American Revolution, and a rebuke to ethnic nationalism and separatism. Slavery was America’s worst injustice, and its abolition is obviously worthy of celebration.”

I 100% agree with Somin’s take here. I also highly recommend reading his piece, as it addresses some of the unfortunate, yet easily predictable, culture war issues that have erupted around Juneteenth. Somin, however, correctly puts those issues in their proper perspective and focuses the reader on the importance and true meaning of the holiday.

Now, from the perspective of philosophic principles, the notion that one human being has the right to own another human being is perhaps the most repugnant idea that has ever infected humanity. Sadly, you can find sanction for this idea to this day, not only in the legal canons of many countries around the world, but also in many religious texts and traditions.

The abolishment by law of slavery in the United States should be lauded as a benchmark of moral progress in our nation’s laudable history of promoting individual rights, and the wider philosophic idea that man is an end in himself — and not a tool for other men, or the state or the church, to dispose of as they wish.

So, today, I am celebrating Juneteenth, and if you are someone who considers man as an end in himself, and not the means to another’s end — you should celebrate, too.

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The Yellow Snow

And she said, with a tear in her eye
Watch out where the huskies go
And don’t you eat that yellow snow
Watch out where the huskies go
And don’t you eat that yellow snow

–Frank Zappa, “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow

Sometimes wisdom comes to us in the form of serious prose, and sometimes it comes to us via a funky guitar riff and some quirky lyrics. It’s the latter that applies here with the great Frank Zappa’s song, “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow.” You see, in life, we have to watch out for all of the things we need to avoid, otherwise we end up tasting something we’d rather not.

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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