Kids These Days…

Kids These Days… from Schiff Gold

I used to hate it when my parents would tell me how much easier I had it than they did. But as I rip through middle age and rapidly approach “old,” I am becoming much more sympathetic to my parents’ point of view. Not that my parents really had it harder than me… But kids these days? Yeah, they have it way easier than I ever did.

I mean, yeah, my dad may have had to walk two miles to school in the snow — uphill both ways — while I got to ride with mom. But hell, kids these days don’t even have to get up to change the channel on the TV.

And don’t even get me started on the internet. These snowflakes never got the experience of having their mother tell them to “look it up” when that meant flipping through the pages of an encyclopedia. It was really hard at my house because my parents never sprung for the full set of encyclopedias. We had A. That’s it. If I need to look up brontosaurus or the moon, I had to get on my bike and go to the library.

Speaking of the library, that was always an adventure. They had this thing called a card catalog. After you spent 45 minutes figuring out the Dewey Decimal number for the book you were looking for, you went to the shelf only to find it was checked out — or moved to another shelf by some goober who thought it was funny to muck up the system.

What’s particularly amusing to me is when young people stumble upon some old technology and think it’s new and wonderful. Here’s an example – vinyl records.

I still have some of my old vinyl. That would be great since it’s made a comeback except for the fact that my records sat in a non-temperature controlled environment for several years and they are all warped. And most of them were scratched, to begin with.  That’s the problem with vinyl records. They are fragile. This is part of the reason why we figured out a better way to do music. Digital music doesn’t warp or scratch.

There’s also the sound quality issue. Records pop and crackle. I remember when CDs first came out. We were so excited that we could hear all the musical nuances of the Sex Pistols.

Now – some people will tell you the sound quality on vinyl is better. No. Just no. It’s like saying the rotary phone was more convenient.

Oh yeah. That’s another thing kids today will never experience – trying to reach a pencil that is just slightly further away than the reach of a phone cord.

Anyway, don’t get me wrong. I love vinyl records for nostalgia purposes. And the bigger format was way better for album art. But if you are an audiophile, vinyl isn’t the direction you want to go.

It’s also funny when young people think they’ve stumbled onto some amazing new innovation that really isn’t all that new. I mean, a lot of things have changed, but come on now, we aren’t that old. Dinosaurs weren’t roaming the earth when we were kids.

Wolf Richter of Wolf Street provided a good example of this lack of perspective.

A Wall Street Journal reporter wrote a story about miraculously paying bills through an app.  The thrust of the article was how this amazing new technology that enables automatic payments makes us lose “control over our money.”

The article starts out with a survey, which forms the data on which the article is then based – a sample with the sample size of n=1, namely his parents. From there, he extrapolates to the universe, drawing conclusions about how millennials are in a new world.”

But as Wolf points out, people have been setting up automatic payments since at least the early 1990s – even if only using snail-mail and those old rotary telephones.  I like his conclusion.

Just because you weren’t around at the time, or because you were too young to notice, or because the folks in your sample of 1 didn’t do it doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist and that people didn’t do it…

The point of the kid’s WSJ article was kind of interesting though. His contention was that all of the autopayments and apps effectively disconnect us from our money and our spending decisions. As he put it, “These arms’ length transactions come with a high price. A financial professional I talked to says the biggest concern is that it fosters a basic financial ignorance. If you don’t constantly think about where your money goes, you won’t think about whether you’re spending it wisely.”

But again, Wolf provides a little wisdom that comes with age.

No, ‘financial ignorance’ is not fostered by automatic payment systems. It’s fostered by the desire to remain financially ignorant, as in ‘I don’t want to know because I don’t care.’”

He’s right. There is really no excuse for ignorance. After all, we have the world at our fingertips. We don’t even have to spend hours poking through card catalogs or trying to scrounge up a C encyclopedia.

If you want to learn about gold and silver investing, all you have to do is talk with a precious metals specialist. Just call 1-888-GOLD-160. You can do it right now. I’m pretty sure your phone is probably within arm’s reach.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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Peter Schiff

Mr. Schiff began his investment career as a financial consultant with Shearson Lehman Brothers, after having earned a degree in finance and accounting from U.C. Berkeley in 1987. A financial professional for more than twenty years, he joined Euro Pacific in 1996 and served as its President until December 2010, when he became CEO. An expert on money, economic theory, and international investing, he is a highly sought after speaker at conferences and symposia around the world. He served as an economic advisor to the 2008 Ron Paul presidential campaign and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 2010.