Daddy Days: Real life investing tips

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Caleb Harris  |  Guest columnist

The stock market has been going gangbusters in the past several weeks. Of course, by the time of this publication, things may have changed (after all, past performance is no guarantee of future results).

I’m no stock whiz but I do know it’s all about return on investment. The goal is to get more out than you put in. So I have a hot stock tip for you and it won’t even get you in trouble for insider trading. It’s about the most undervalued stock out there: children.

One definition for stock is actually about family and a person’s lineage. Investments in this area pay dividends not only to the family stockholders, but to society at large. But these investments are direly underfunded and there’s a crisis in education for this very reason.

By and large Americans don’t do things the slow, steady and long-term way. Somehow the moral of the tortoise and the hare didn’t sink in. We want now, today, and forget about tomorrow. And technology (and the wizards and conjurers who create and peddle it) are all too eager to provide the instant gratification we expect. It is historically unbelievable that you can whip out a device from your pocket and from minutes to less than one hour later food, batteries or toilet paper are at your door.

Are we really so busy this has become viable? Yes. How did that happen? And why?

Well, extended to children it’s the same situation. Somehow we’ve deemed it viable to outsource and entirely commoditize the education and upbringing of our children. Technology is quick to provide “solutions” as the pandemic-accelerated adoption of virtual education demonstrated. At best I’d call this education lite.

State test results have become a margin call for funding, but to what end? The idea that a rising tide lifts all boats is true, but the rising tide is a flood of dollars spent on education, not the quality of the education. If this isn’t about providing quality education to the young, then draining the pond seems to be a more effective way of leveling things out.

Things you don’t do with just one tomorrow in mind: plant a tree, start a Tolstoy novel, educate kids.

If the return on investment in education is immediate things like babysitting, government funding and test scores, then I’m afraid divestment has replaced return on investment. Maybe using the financial vocabulary isn’t helping. The “return” on education was never something that was intended to only benefit the parent in the short term. Your child being a productive member of society is going to benefit many others more than yourself in the long run.

Add to this the main long-term components evident in public education (dependency on a one-size-fits-all system and a furthering of ideological group think) and the crisis is more than just a future loss. It might be a toxic asset.

Stock futures are a murky business. The future always is. But here’s one final stock tip touching on this: embrace the future, hug a baby. And then invest in their upbringing.

Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their six sons. Please email comments or suggestions for future columns to thoughtsforcaleb@gmail.com.