•  THE SECRET SPARK TO CREATIVITY MAY SIMPLY BE WALKING!  A Stanford University research study has found that over 80% of participant undergrads “improved their creative output – defined as generating appropriate and original ideas” – while walking versus sitting, with ongoing impact as students “came up with significantly more and subjectively better ideas” after hiking. Also, results were consistent whether walking was on a treadmill or outside.   [THE WEEK –May 16, 14]
  • THE ‘OLD AGE DEPENDENCY RATIO’ – proportion of geezers to working age Americans – is expected to rise from around 26 today to 44 within the next twenty years. Given current levels of declining birthrates, Germany & Japan are in even worse shape, with projected ratios in the high 60s. Globally over 1.1 billion people should be 65 and older by 2035, representing some 13% of the population and leading to material impacts on global economy – including the likelihood of “secular stagnation… depending on the way policy-makers respond to the new situation.” Current political bias leans toward “the priorities of older people…who tend to vote more than younger people do,” is evident in recent budget decisions which “slash spending on the young and poor while failing to make government health & pension spending any less generous to the well off.” This trend is bound to increase the tension between youth and seniors – particularly since better educated older people (e.g. with professional degrees) are twice as likely to work for longer than those limited to high-school educations.  [THE ECONOMIST – Apr 26, 14]
  • LIFE INSURANCE IS MOSTLY ABOUT CREATING AN ESTATE OR PROTECTING AN ESTATE.  In early years, people want to protect and provide for those they care about; In middle years, it often serves as protective collateral necessary to acquire large assets or investments; In later stages, it’s about protecting retirement and often to ensure personal legacy.  But appropriately structured life insurance also provides many other important, and sometimes critical, benefits including: protecting assets from litigation; avoiding income & minimizing estate taxation; providing substantial savings; allowing charitable giving flexibility; protecting exposure to market risk; and avoiding probate contests or delay in estate distributions at death.  DCG has decades of expertise in structuring optimal estate programs for these protections. Call us for a courtesy update analysis.
  •  PRACTICAL IMPACTS OF THE OBAMACARE LAW:  Yes it will affect the type of coverage available and increase cost of most health insurance protection.  For most companies it probably won’t impact the decision to provide employee coverage – since unless a business employs over 100 in 2015, or over 50 starting 2016, it’s exempt.  However, be aware that (1) the head count includes ‘common law’ employees, which means that ‘independent contractors’ could be considered employees, depending on facts & circumstances that can change relationship during a work period, and which is currently a hot audit area especially in California; (2) Recordkeeping challenges include tracking temps, interns, rehires, seasonal & hourly workers, by actual hours on a calendar month basis (versus payroll-by-payroll); and (3) After a 5% allowable error threshold, if even one ‘qualified’ worker is not covered, the excise tax which can be levied is $2,000 times the total number of all employees.  [CALIFORNIA CPA – May 14]
  • HUMAN HEARING LOSS IS INCREASING, MOSTLY CAUSED BY “SOCIAL AND AMBIENT NOISE, rather than as an effect of aging.” And people are getting louder, at rate around 10 decibels per decade (a logarithmic scale and a big number) according to World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. Among the biggest commercial exploiters of increasing noise are bars – where researchers have found that “men imbibe more than 20% faster when ambient noise is cranked up from 72 to 88 dB” – and some 45,000 fatal heart attacks yearly are attributed to “the stress of noise.” Earplugs are tacky but wise.  [DISCOVER – June 14]
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK:    With dramatic advancements in artificial intelligence systems, medical technology, nutrition, eugenics and more, Intelligence Quotient (IQ) will certainly increase and continue to be utilized for measuring the ‘smartest’ in     our society. But how materially misleading is this, when IQ neglects artistic, emotional, interpersonal and kinesthetic aptitudes?                                                                      
  • “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the titanic.” –Paula Poundstone