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Socrates said that thought determines behavior, so it follows that if we want to improve our behavior, we should improve our thoughts. How do we do that? Our brain is the most powerful and complex organ in our body. It can accomplish wonderful things when we allow it to work naturally, as it is designed.

Amidst all the political hysteria, gamesmanship, claims of chaos, in-fighting, and media counter-punching, Mr. Trump would be wise take to heart James Carville's 1992 winning campaign slogan for Bill Clinton's presidential run to defeat President George H. W. Bush - "it's the economy, stupid." Rather than insult, the phrase is intended to be an admonition not to underestimate the importance of the economy in every policy and political decision a president makes.

Today Mr. Trump signed an order that will dismantle or reduce a Labor Department rule introduced a year ago that holds brokers and insurance agents who work with retirement savings to a higher standard, known as the fiduciary standard. It requires financial professionals to work in the best interests of their clients, avoiding as many conflicts as possible and to clearly disclose any conflicts that do exist.

Following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, in 2010, PIMCO CEO Mohamed A. El-Erian delivered a lecture entitled "Navigating the New Normal in Industrial Countries." The thrust of his talk was to warn investors, economists, and policy makers not to expect, as many did, economic growth to return to pre-crisis levels. The extent of damage done to the economy through an increasing drag of reactionary regulations and skyrocketing government debt, not to mention distrust of the system would take years, or decades to reverse.

With today's presidential inauguration, we embark on a social, political, market, and economic journey arguably unlike any we've ever seen in our lifetimes or in the history of this country. The degree of disappointment and hurt on one side is balanced by joy and hope on the other. We will likely see and hear equal amounts of both for weeks and months time to come.

The price of a postage stamp just went up again. While a one cent increase in a postage stamp probably isn't going to hurt anyone other than mass mailers, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, the ever-increasing cost of stamps serves as a good reminder of the ever-increasing cost of everything else.

When I was a little kid--probably 5 or 6--my dad started taking Hebrew lessons from a brilliant woman at Sandhills Community College named Vivian Jacobson. Originally from Chicago, Vivian and her husband Ralph had retired to Pinehurst, where they became--and remain--an integral part of the community, and more importantly, close friends of my family (as well as employers of yours truly--I spent many a Saturday doing yard and house work at the Jacobson house!).

As we bid adios to 2016  and anticipate 2017, many of the 'givens' from years past have vanished. The healthcare industry will almost certainly undergo another sea-change, like it did in 2010 with Obama Care. Taxes are apt to fall significantly with both a White House and Congress on parallel courses to cut virtually all tax rates, corporate and personal. International trade is headed for a shakeup as Mr. Trump promises to end or re-negotiate all major agreements on the table and in force that in his view unfairly penalize American interests. Major federally-funded construction projects will renovate highways, bridges, dams, waterways, and airports, but which ones and at what cost to the debt? Immigration laws will be strenuously enforced, impacting families, sanctuary cities, farms, and high tech companies dependent on lower cost visa workers. And foreign policy? If there ever was a case of 'out of the frying pan and into the fire,' we are there. The world is a mess and likely to to get messier, unless and until American diplomacy, backed by credibility and power, is reestablished.

One of the most overlooked and yet most important aspects of long term investing is efficiency. The concept of efficiency touches our everyday lives in so many routine ways we take it for granted. We set the thermometers down or up when we are away to conserve money and energy use. We recycle to reduce the waste going to landfills and slow the drain on our natural resources. We are more gentle on the accelerator when gasoline prices are high. We might even think to remove unnecessary weight of stuff on the seats and in the trunk that serve no purpose in our daily commute.