Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Someone’s knockin’ at the door
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let ’em in
For the Millennials out there, these are the opening lyrics to a song written by Paul McCartney called Let ’em In. Mrs. Groovy and I heard this song on the radio a couple of weeks ago while we were driving up to Wake Forest. And as I took in this song, my percolating brain began to ooze some provocative thoughts.
My first thought was that this song sucks (check out the clip below and see for yourself). I don’t care who’s knocking at the door. And I certainly wouldn’t open it if I knew Sister Suzie, Uncle Ernie, and Auntie Gin were on the other side.
What gets me is that the lyrics to this song are about as creative as the lyrics I come up with to goof on my cat and provoke Mrs. Groovy.
Our cat is Ashby
And I love him welly
It’s not his fault
That he’s so smelly
My second thought was that this song was only foisted on the public because our musical gatekeepers were blinded by celebrity. In other words, the only reason this song ever made it to the airwaves in 1976 is because it was put out by Paul McCartney and Wings. If it was put out by Pete McCaffrey and Legs, it would have never been a Top 40 hit.
Not Everything the Rich and Famous Do Deserve Your Admiration or Emulation
In my book, Paul McCartney is a musical genius. But this doesn’t mean I have to like everything he spits out. And the same goes for every other musician and group out there. I give them all the “Pete McCaffrey and Legs” test. Would I like this song if it were composed by an artist who wasn’t famous? And if the answer’s no, I don’t favor the song with my time and money.
Celebrity worship is bad for two reasons. First, it’s unseemly. A free person doesn’t outsource his or her convictions, values, and tastes to the rich and famous. Only a peasant does that. Second, it’s dumb. Celebrities are just as fallible as you. Brilliance in one area of life (i.e., making money or getting attention) doesn’t guarantee brilliance in all areas of life.
To guard against celebrity worship, I found the following strategy works best. You need to distill whatever a celebrity fancies down to its essence, and then you need to apply the “Pete McCaffrey and Legs” test:
Is the thing in question constructive to my long-term health, whether that’s defined in a physical, spiritual, or financial sense? And does it have the same stature when the great unwashed do it?
If the thing in question fails both components of the “Pete McCaffrey and Legs” test, avoid it like the plague. If it passes both components, have at it. If it’s iffy for either component, tread lightly. Here are some examples.
Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll
What is the essence of partying like a rock star? You consume a lot of alcohol and drugs and engage in a lot of hook-up sex.
Is partying like a rock star constructive? No. Nature frowns on promiscuous sex and wanton drug use.
Does partying like a rock star have the same cachet when the great unwashed do it? No. When the rich and famous enter a dimly lit structure that’s blaring music for a night of debauchery, it’s called Studio 54. When poor people do this, it’s called a crack house.
Conclusion. Don’t party like a rock star. The rich and famous make it look cool, but it isn’t, and it’s bound to screw up your life.
What is the essence of big-time sports? Grown men running around in costumes and throwing a ball.
Is investing a lot of time and money into big-time sports constructive? Not if you’re drowning in debt and living paycheck to paycheck.
Does being consumed by big-time sports have the same cachet when the great unwashed are consumed by it? Pretty much. No one looks down on a poor person just because he subscribes to a premium sports channel and never misses one of his team’s games.
Conclusion. Be careful here. Spike Lee, Jack Nicholson, and Ashley Judd carry on as if big-time sports are important. But big-time sports are no such thing. Remember: big-time sports are nothing but grown men running around in costumes, throwing a ball. If your financial life is in tatters, give big-time sports—or any sports, for that matter—a rest. You got bigger problems to address. If you’re financially secure, on the other hand, and have a healthy relationship with your family and friends, and don’t mope around like a five-year-old when your team loses, then, by all means, enjoy big-time sports. Every guy and gal needs at least one vice.
What is the essence of passive investing. Buying broad-based index funds or ETFs that aren’t actively managed so you can capture market returns without suffering high management fees.
Is passive investing constructive? Yes. In most years, the market is up. The Spider S&P 500 ETF, for instance, has averaged a 9.29% annual return since its inception in 1993. And management fees for this fund are less than one-tenth of a percent. Anyone who systematically invested in this ETF over the past 10 or 20 years has surely increased his or her wealth.
Does passive investing have the same cachet when the great unwashed do it? Yes. Passive investing is equally cool even when Joe Six-Pack does it. In fact, this is what Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, has to say about passive investing.
“Both large and small investors should stick with low-cost index funds. When trillions of dollars are managed by Wall Streeters charging high fees, it will usually be the managers who reap outsized profits, not the clients.”
Conclusion. This is one instance where the average schmoes should heed the advice of their betters (Warren Buffett, Jack Bogle, Tony Robbins, etc.). Passive investing is a solid strategy for those who lack the time and sophistication to unearth the world’s best stocks, fund managers, and financial advisors. You get good returns for dirt-cheap management fees, and you don’t have to think. Instead of poring over balance sheets and technical data, you’re free to do something infinitely more enjoyable—like watching big-time sports (guffaw!).
Talking Trash with Mr. Groovy
Okay, groovy freedomists, I’ve been talking a lot of trash thus far. Paul McCartney mailed it in on occasion! Studio 54 was a glorified crack house! Sports are infantile! A more discriminating blogger, I suppose, would give it a rest at this point. But much to the chagrin of Mrs. Groovy, I don’t roll like that. I have too much Noo Yawk moxie to let things go. So let me conclude this post with another episode of Talking Trash. Have a great weekend. Grease for peace.