Archive for March, 2011

General Public should back NFL Players and Retirees, Period

The general public seems to look at the dispute between NFL owners and NFL players as an argument between two greedy parties that have no right to complain about the their life. The perception is that these are a bunch of wealthy owners vs. hundreds of wealthy athletes that have played or do play a kids’ game for millions of dollars. Listening to the general discourse you would believe that this was a meeting of equal parties but in fact it is far from that. In my opinion there are three huge factors the public needs to consider before making a judgment about this dispute. If the average American weighs these factors they will come down on the side of the players.

Fact 1 – You Think Everybody who ever played Football is Rich Factor

The vast majority of past and future players in the National Football League will play less the four seasons and never be paid a million dollar salary. So often I hear people saying,” they make all this money and they have the nerve to complain!” The facts are whatever the salary, 80% will make it for about 3 years and then they are back out in the regular work world with the rest of us.

“Imagined Contract Envy” is the biggest problem facing the players because when you say football player people think of Ray Lewis not the 40 guys on the Ravens team you can’t even name. If they went to USA Today and looked up their favorite teams salaries they would see that there are fewer than 10 guys on the team making a seven figure salary. The rest are risking certain life time injury for much less. People also feel like if you ever played in the league you are rich for life. The fact is that 75% of former players of all races and nationalities are bankrupt five years out of the league.

Fact 2 The Earl Campbell Factor

Most people who play this game will need lifetime medical care because they have broken bones and trauma from the game. Imagine having a job for three years and being in pain everyday for the rest of your life and needing medical care. The league has done a poor job, and the owners left to their own devices have done next to nothing to take care of all the legends you grew up watching. From brain trauma to bad knees like legend Earl Campbell has, the owners’ record is horrible. And they fight every disability claim that a former player makes no matter how many championship rings that player helped to earn for the team. Players have to act now to protect themselves because the owners have shown for decades a callous disregard for the players’ health and well being after they leave the field of play.

Fact 3 The Flashly Black Male Factor  

Race plays a big part in how people see this issue. The image of the players is they are all a bunch of flashy young Black males and the owners are all a bunch of hard working white male American business owners who gave these inner city youth a chance to make some incredible money. Don’t believe me?  Close your eyes and think NFL Player. Now, close your eyes and think NFL owner.

Well, the truth is there are more young black males in the league now but this dispute affects all your older white heroes too. This is about Bert Jones, John Elway, Dan Fouts and Deion Sanders. It is about all those white guys that played on your favorite teams in the 60s and 70s when whites dominated the league. It is those guys that need medical care badly. Guys who never made big money even during their playing time and are broke and in need of care from the empires they helped to build. If it helps you understand how serious the situation is think of Broadway Joe instead of T Sizzle.

Lastly this is a struggle between guys who are lucky to play a few good years and owners who own the teams forever. The NFL Players and the retirees have a lot more at stake than do the owners. The players have to look down the road and assume the league will try to do what it has always done. The owners always deny, deny, deny when it comes to the former players. There are 66 players on a team at a time. 56 of them you will never know their names and they are the main beneficiaries of this fight for fairness. Remember that when you think about this conflict.

This is an important labor fight by American laborers; don’t let contract envy, racial bias, or perceived wealth, color your decision to support the guys who risk their lives to keep us entertained.


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If You had Been Here My City Would Not have Died

It is easy to overstate even a great truth or be too dramatic when it comes to the ideals and people that one holds dear. But I feel nothing short of the urgency that Mary felt waiting for Jesus to show up and save her only brother from death. You may not be Christian but many have heard the bible story about Mary’s Brother Lazarus dying while waiting for Jesus to arrive and heal him. In her grief and frustration Mary reprimanded Jesus once he arrived because Lazarus was already dead and buried.  Mary said simply, “If you had been here my Brother would not have died!”

Of course, most people know how the story ends with Lazarus being brought back from the dead and everything ends well. But most miss the importance of Mary’s accusatory statement. First, her statement was a declaration of her belief that he had the power to do anything; even control life and death.  And if he had used his power, which she was certain he had, the outcome would have been totally different. Second, Mary was acknowledging that even with that power Jesus’ timing was terrible.

 You can have all the power in the world but there are times when its simply too late and the dye has been cast.

 We are at the critical juncture in this modern American city called Baltimore. In this moment we will embrace and use our power which is both obvious and plentiful or wait too long to act, losing more than we can possibly imagine. This year a seminal moment, a Lazarus moment if you will, has been graciously given to us to save our city by using our dormant power to resurrect the life of Baltimore.

As ambassadors and the leaders we must Amplify Baltimore. We must be present for the once in a lifetime opportunity that Civic Frame has labored to birth in this city. Imagine that in a modern American city with all of the modern American problems and opportunities, we have four days this year to get together as a community to share solutions and strategies for building a better Baltimore.  We do not have to imagine this because unlike any other major city in America, such an opportunity exists right now in Baltimore.

The question is,” Are we going to Amplify Baltimore?”  As community leaders, political leaders, business leaders, regular citizens, and ambassadors of this faithful movement, are we going to do all we can to bring together the people of Baltimore and empower them to be agents of change in our community?

On January 8th there were three powerful two hour community conversations that illuminated our demographics and city plan, need for political literacy, and our philosophical approach to public safety.  In a room filled with the people of Baltimore from all walks of life Civic Frame held the space for an unusually transparent and vibrate set of civic dialogues. While a number key leaders and activists were present, many were not.

While Amplify Baltimore’s maiden voyage was by all accounts a success it would have been emboldened and empowered by those who were noticeably absent :The city council , the mayor and mayoral staff, community associations of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, Baltimore Development Corp, the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce,  Associated Black, Catholic, and Jewish Charities, Presidents Roundtable members, Pastors of congregations large and small. Major media, Television, Radio, and print mostly failed to cover an event with some of the most important members of the city talking through solutions and opportunities.  And chiefly many citizens of Baltimore were absent from a discussion that requires their much needed input.

Their presence would have indicated a public commitment to the working with the citizens of Baltimore to charting the future of the city.

Hundreds of people who love Baltimore were there and many members of major organizations made an appearance. In fact most of the community members, regular citizens, business people, and educators who were there stayed all day and brought their children as well. People of every strip and silo in Baltimore have stepped up to support this effort but now it is time to support by showing up and being a part of the conversation.

We have eight hours four times this year to be present for our city and really put forth the best that we have to make a critical difference.  The world is watching, the citizens are watching, the state is watching, different cultures are watching to see if the people of Baltimore can come together now that the city has been pushed to the brink.

Our secret formula for creating a great city is getting the leaders and the people all on the same page and involved in what happens in the city. The list of who we don’t need to be a part of this conversation is very short but the list of who needs to be there for this to work is huge. We cannot fail to be present.

Ambassadors we need you to be at every sessions of Amplify Baltimore. It’s 8 hours per quarter this year and it means the world that you not only send your well wishes but also your financial contributions and your presence. We give money to so many organizations that don’t come close to living up to their mission and we accept their non results everyday in the name of supporting Charity and non profit organizations.

Panelist , Speakers and Host we need you not only there for your panel and sessions but we need you there for all the other topics and sessions because you are a vital member of the community and your presence speaks volumes as to how seriously you take your role in this city.  Staying to participate illustrates how much you support your fellow citizens and their effort to Amplify and improve Baltimore. When you come only to speak on your panel and then leave it says you are not really here to be a total part of the community conversation. We have to build a healthy community that has respect for itself and all of its’ members ideas and intentions, and we need to do this now.

When the mayor and mayoral candidates are absent from the political literacy and public safety conversation it makes one wonder if they really understand the job they are seeking and how crucial those roles are. The police commissioner and fire chief need to see their mayor in the audience as they articulate their visions for the city.

How can we have these conversations without each of you? How can we have any conversation without all of you?

Citizens, community organizers, association leaders you will be the main dissenters if your views are not taken into consideration before policies are set. You must be there for every minute of this forum. This is the only forum of its kind in the country and Baltimore is going to be the model for community building in the country but the question is will you be a part of the mosaic that is being painted.

This moment reminds me of the classic picture of the main players in the Harlem Renaissance. I am sure there are a number of important people missing from that picture. They missed a date with immortality because they had another engagement that day. How could they know that that day was going to set a moment in history? The truth is they should have known!  Whenever that much power gathers in the same place for a common concern the universe conspires to elevate the meaning of the moment and it becomes a defining moment.

 Amplify Baltimore is that moment in this city. Change your schedule to be there all day for the next three quarterly sessions.  We need your commitment to the life of the city.

Please don’t fail your city. Don’t let it be said that ,“if you had been their your city would not have died.”

Mark Fuller

Manager of Wealth

Amplify Baltimore  Ambassador

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Financial Literacy is DEAD!

The term Financial Literacy has become a term without a true meaning. When people hear the words they automatically think the qualifications of financial literacy are some silly American bench marks that say you are fully on your way to achieving the American dream. 

Financially literate people were the ones who answered yes to the following questions. Do you spend less money than you earn?  Do you own a home? Do you invest in a retirement plan or the stock market, are you upwardly mobile (made more money this year than last year).

The benefits for being this type of literate were really easy to define. You had a savings account that was always building.  You were a respected homeowner. You have a high credit score, and you were on track to retire long before 65 years of age.

But now in the light of the financial downturn we are finding out some very interesting things about this brand of financial literacy and we are finding out it is not enough to sustain us and our families in the new economy. You could have done everything right according to the old rules of literacy and you still would have gotten seriously hurt when the economy turned.

Don’t believe me. Think about how many financially conservative people lost over $100,000.00 in equity when the real estate market crashed. How many people lost 30% to 50% of their life saving when the stock market crashed? How many people would lose everything  if they were ever found liable in a law suit because their assets really are not protected? How many people are in financial ruins after 9 months or more of joblessness?

Were these people financially illiterate? I think not.

I think people who suffered these loses are actually in the majority. And by the old definition these people were financially literate and doing everything you needed to do to become succesful in America. So what happened and what can we do to create a financial literacy that doesn’t leave so many people unprepared for the possibilities of life.

What happened was simple. Even the financially aware, planned for a world where things stayed the same or got better. No one expected that anything could go wrong or that everything would go wrong at the same time across the entire economy.  People planned to earn the same money, live forever, and ride the stock market and real estate waves into a financial paradise. When the reverse happened there was no plan and the government and the banks changed all the rules.

The new financial literacy starts when the maximum protection of your life and your dreams. After you learn to shield yourself from loses in the stock market, real estate crashes, and law suits, then and only then, you are permitted to talk about growing capital through sound and intelligent investing.  It’s not a sexy hype filled strategy but it works every time if adhered to because it doesn’t require everything to go perfectly. In fact, it counts on a lot of things going wrong in life as it tends to happen.

According to the true rules of financial literacy, you are one market downturn away from financial ruin. I know, I’ve been there and it’s not until you follow all the wrong rules perfectly that you understand just how imperfect conventional wisdom really is.

It should not have cost most of working America their life savings to discover the holes in the plan but we learn the most from lost.

If you aren’t sure where to start you should call me so I can share some of the best resources I have found.  The new financial literacy teaches you how to keep your future safe and grow your assets while enjoying your life. It teaches you how things work and then ask you to weigh that knowledge against your current and future plans. Best of all when the rest of the world is in turmoil your family is safe and protected. Your plans all work out if you live to 100, die young and leave a family, or get sick and can’t work. It works if you get sued and are dead wrong and liable. It works if you lose your job or your business fails.

That is a financially literate plan. And if you don’t have a plan that works in all those circumstances then you don’t have a great plan and its going to catch up to you. You have to be honest with yourself and your family about what type of plan you have. And you need to understand what true financial literacy is not a matter how much capital you have.

Financial Literacy is dead  you have gone far too long without knowing it.

Manager of Wealth

Wealth Wellness Wisdom

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You can help your Parents and Grandparents Now!

You may think that the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are doing great in retirement but the truth is the whole world that they once knew is no more. There are new rules and new challenges that they face everyday. The least of which is having enough spendable income in retirement to keep the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.
Many lost 40% to 50% of their savings in 2008 and are hoping to recover. Learn what you can do to make it easier. Learning how to stop their mortgage payments or access much needed capital now for future needs will play a big role in how much they enjoy their retirement years.
Living on a fixed income in a society spinning into hyper inflation will get more and more difficult in the next few years. Everyday 10,000 US citizens turn age 65 and this trend will continue everyday for the next 20 years.  If you don’t know how to help your parents, LEARN!
 Get the vital information your family needs today.
The rules are changing everyday and banks and the government are taking steps that will one day deny seniors access to the capital in their homes. A little knowledge now could save your family a lot of pain in the future.

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Senior Mortgage Specialist
Reverse Mortgage Specialist
1920 Greenspring Drive
Suite 160
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