By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management, LLC
Amid all the worried discussion about the recent
economic malaise, there is one often-overlooked group that seems immune from the
effects. This enviable segment of the population is unbothered by rising
gasoline and food prices. Subprime and other mortgage problems? Not a problem.
Many of these folks are even unaware that First
Horizon (First Tennessee) stock has declined 80 percent in the last 14 months or
Who is this apparently fortunate crowd? The
Before you accuse me of being crass and
insensitive, I hadn't considered this silver lining to the crossroads of
$4-a-gallon gas and sleeping under a bridge until seeing the wisdom of our Knox
county government at work.
When this serious and cerebral deliberative body
halved the $100,000 expenditure on the joint city-county 10-year Plan to End
Chronic Homelessness, I thought that the need must be easing. If the homeless
suffer in prosperous times, they must be prospering in a recession.
Call it a reverse wealth
Maybe the program is stupid and wasn't doing any
good. If so, then why not cut it completely? It seems that you would either fund
it or not.
This cut represents 0.0083 percent of the
county's annual budget. If you make $50,000 a year, it is like reducing your
spending $4.15 ' a year, not a month.
Don't get me wrong; $50,000 is real money and I appreciate my elected
officials trying to ferret out waste at every opportunity. I just have to wonder
if this is the first (or next) place to find a meaningful expense
In reality, I don't feel strongly about KnoxCounty reducing its funding for this
specific program. I don't know much about it, so I'm not arguing in favor or
against it. The city government is going to pick up the county's slack, so
assuming the program does good work, it will continue
To be fair, I don't really believe that the
Mayor commission cut the homeless program funding by $50,000 because they
believed the problem is being solved. Nor do I think they were passing judgment
on the merits of this particular program. Their primary stated goal was to
reduce a $600 million budget. But they were focusing on little things that would
never achieve that goal.
It's a common human failure. We often
don't focus on the things we say are most important to us.
Steven Covey wrote about it in his book First Things First. We should spend our
time and energy on the things that matter most. Being busy is not the same thing
as being productive. Do you spend half of your 'investment time' on the smallest
part of your investment portfolio? Or conversely, do you spend three hours
a day watching CNBC or reviewing your online accounts when you could make more
money concentrating on your main job or career?
Are you wasting all of your time with $50,000
debates when you could be looking for $5 million sources of
What are the most important things and major
goals in your life that you can influence? Why spend time working on anything
David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a
Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article
originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).