Saturday, May 28, 2011


I was getting to the opinion page of the New York Times (still for free). At the masthead was a changing colorful banner advertisement for a "Wealth Management" firm. I have recently noticed this buzzword phrase, wealth management, directed at retired geezers, who presumably have a lot more than their social security and medicare to help them through their declining years.

What's in a name like Wealth Management? What do wealth managers do? It's what bean counters, investment counselors, and CPAs used to do, when I was in school and at work.

I even minored, a half century ago, in Business Administration and Economics, as a supplement to my engineering degrees. And I once audited a course in Business Law to learn the language of corporate bosses.

In recent years the communications subject of "framing" has come into usage in the political world. It was featured in a best seller written by UC-Berkeley Professor George Lakoff. His descriptive book was titled "Don't Think of an Elephant." But of course, we who read it can't forget that title. Lakoff writes that the words we choose to describe our message already have conditioned the recipient to think about the topic, as we would have them think.

Gun Control or Firearms Safety? Global Warming or Climate Change? Tax and Spend or Share the Sacrifice? Can you tell when you are being "framed?" I was just looking for an op-ed page.

As a senior in high school we had a very useful social science segment on Propaganda, and I still recall our teacher John Mather telling us about the Big Lie and other devices used by those who would control our minds.

So who will I go to for help in "managing" what money I have left, after a life of work, climbing and descending corporate ladders?

Public television has its corporate sponsors with pictures of whales to move us to "Pacific Life." NPR broadcasts with the help of a very peaceful "PAX Mutual Fund."

Let me simply recall a time-honored warning, Buyer Beware!

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