As a young student in the wilds of Wyoming, I enjoyed reading the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe. Many of his stories captured my imagination; but my favorite was a spine tingling tale of cruelty and torture – The Pit and the Pendulum.
In this fascinating story, a prisoner of war is condemned to a torture chamber. He fails to fall into the Pit of the Abyss. Instead, his torture is the pendulum. The prisoner is tied down on his back, as a huge pendulum (such as we see on antique clocks) sweeps back and forth above him. The sharp steel of the pendulum slowly descends downward, causing the prisoner to become frantically mad.
Today I believe some people in America have become frantically mad at the various sweeps of the pendulum in our world. We continue to go from one extreme view or action to another. There is no middle ground where common sense is allowed to prevail.
The financial planning profession has been under intense scrutiny recently by the Department of Labor in an attempt to inhibit the “professionals” throughout our industry who aim to serve their own best interests above the clients they serve. As Kris Dwyer, CFP®, wrote for our blog a few months back, LongView has always been Fiduciary Before Fiduciary Was Cool. I am glad that steps are being taken to eliminate those that mar our profession while the innocent firms and professionals are strengthening their policies; despite the maddening increase in paperwork that comes with new regulation.
Another point of madness is in the arena of politics. I graduated from Utah State with a major in Political Science. As a young college student, I campaigned for a local state legislator and was a precinct chairman for a presidential campaign. I have always enjoyed the political process in America, but once again the pendulum has swung too far. There is no enjoyment and honor in politics anymore. There is no middle ground, only the massive sweeps of the pendulum from Left to Right, Liberal to Conservative, Black to White, Rich to Poor, Us vs. Them. In the past, I would watch or listen to all of the political shows, but now I am like the TV executive in the movie Network – “I am mad as hell and I can’t take it any more.”
Why can’t politicians just answer direct questions? Why can’t politicians agree on something? Is there no compromise anymore? Is there no accepting responsibility for actions and decisions? Why is there so much hate? Where are the mature and responsible people?
I can answer that. The mature and responsible people go to work every day, play with their kids, take care of their elderly parents, save and invest for college and retirement. The people I have described are our clients. That is where the pendulum stops at LongView. We will not be swayed by the media or politics. We will be here in the good and the bad times. We will continue to serve the needs of our clients, to help create security and wealth for them.
And now for the rest of The Pit and the Pendulum story. As the pendulum blade draws closer and hope fades, the prisoner is rescued by a General. Hope is restored, and the madness ends.