In Observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Hudock Capital Group LLC will be closed Monday January 21st 2019

Letters category: HCG Mailings

Gratitude November 19, 2018
Downloads: Gratitude.pdf

Thanksgiving has always been about being thankful for what we have.  Even before it was declared an official U.S. holiday, it was a centuries-old tradition to have a feast celebrating a good harvest, a victory in battle, or some other momentous occasion.

The custom of celebratory feasts is almost as old as civilization itself.  Yet the idea of “Thanksgiving” is still as important as ever.

Giving thanks for what we have – for whatever good fortune we’ve enjoyed this year – helps strengthen our resolve to deal with today’s challenges and confidently face tomorrow’s trials.  I think that’s why Thanksgiving has evolved from being a celebration of a good harvest into something much more important.

It’s a celebration of life.

As we celebrate life at Thanksgiving, we do so with a spirit of gratitude and compassion.  We do so by remembering those who may be less fortunate than us.  We may volunteer at food banks, make donations to charity, or call or visit those who may be lonely or in need of a kind word.  Regardless of the form of expression, we know that giving thanks means letting others know we care.

So, this Thanksgiving, please join with me in looking back on our good fortune and extending a helping hand to others.  Join me in a spirit of gratitude for all of our many blessings, including those yet to come.  Join me in giving thanks that we have each other to build a world that makes almost every year better than the one before.

On behalf of all of us here at Hudock Capital, we are thankful for you and your friendship and we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

Barbara B. Hudock, CIMA®, CPM®
Chief Executive Officer
Founding Partner

Michael J.Hudock, Jr., CPM®
President and Founding Partner
Wealth Consultant

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend! August 31, 2018
Downloads: Have-a-wonderful-Labor-Day-weekend.pdf

It’s easy to treat Labor Day as little more than the last summer holiday. As one more opportunity to visit the lake. As a day for barbecues or sipping lemonade on the hammock. After all, Labor Day lacks the historical traditions of Independence Day, the gravity of Memorial Day, or the religious significance of Christmas, Easter, or Chanukah. It’s just not quite as important. Right?

Wrong.

As you know, Labor Day is really a celebration of the Labor Movement. What you may not know is that one of Labor’s many accomplishments centers around the thing we hold most dear:

Our children.

These days, most kids in the United States spend their childhood going to school, romping on the playground, riding bikes, or any of a thousand other fun activities. The entire concept of growing up is based on learning, exploration, and recreation.

But it didn’t used to be that way.

In 1900, at least 18% of children worked as child laborers – and that figure is probably low.¹ In the 18th century, hundreds of thousands of children worked in mills and factories, mines and farms. They spent ten, twelve, fourteen hours every day in dangerous conditions for very little money. Many child laborers grew up with callused fingers, poor eyesight, and rotting lungs.
Most never received an education.

Here’s how one historian put it:

Although children had been servants and apprentices throughout most of human history, child labor reached new extremes during the Industrial Revolution. Children were useful as laborers because their size allowed them to move in small spaces in factories or mines where adults couldn’t fit, children were easier to manage and control and perhaps most importantly, children could be paid less than adults. Child laborers often worked to help support their families but were forced to forgo an education.¹

It’s largely thanks to the Labor Movement that child labor has become – for the most part – a thing of the past. Thanks to decades of lobbying and protesting, the Labor Union was able to prod the government into passing an ever-more stringent series of laws prohibiting child labor. For example:

In 1832, New England unions resolved that, “Children should not be allowed to labor in the factories from morning till night, without time for healthy recreation and mental culture,” for it “endangers their well-being and health.”²

In 1836, many trade unions started making formal proposals in favor of minimum age laws. Later that year, Massachusetts became the first state to require children under 15 to attend school at least 3 months every year. ²

In 1842, some states passed laws limiting children’s work days to 10 hours. ²

In the 1870s and 80s, as the Labor Union became a more unified force, many unions proposed banning child labor altogether.² When the American Federation of Labor was formed in 1881, its leader, Samuel Gompers, wrote: “What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails. More books and less arsenals. We aim to…take children from the factory and workshop and give them the opportunity of the school and the playground.”³

In 1904, the National Child Labor Committee began an aggressive campaign for more stringent laws against child labor. ²

I could go on, for pages and pages. Suffice it to say that in 1938, after a century of struggle, the Labor Movement helped ensure the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act. This landmark legislation made it illegal for most industries to employ children under 14. It also imposed a host of other rules against employing older children in dangerous jobs or for long hours.

As you enjoy Labor Day, take a moment to watch your children and grandchildren frolic and play. Ask them about school starting. And reflect that these simple joys are largely due to the hard work of laborers.

This Labor Day, let’s all give thanks for one of the greatest blessings we enjoy: Childhood.

From all of us here at Hudock Capital Group, I wish you a safe and happy Labor Day!

Sincerely,

Barbara B. Hudock, CIMA®, CPM®
Chief Executive Officer
Founding Partner

Michael J.Hudock, Jr., CPM®
President and Founding Partner
Wealth Consultant

¹ Walter Trattner, “Crusade for the Children: A History of the National Child Labor Committee and Child Labor Reform in America,” Quadrangle Books, 1970.
² “A Time Line of Child Labor Reform,” Virginia Commonwealth University, https://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/programs/child-welfarechild-labor/child-labor-reform-and-the-labor-movement/
³ “Samuel Gompers,” wikiquote.org. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Samuel_Gompers

July 2018 Market Update August 15, 2018
June 2018 Market Update July 13, 2018
The Sound of Liberty June 28, 2018
Downloads: Independence-Day-JFK-Speech.pdf

Everyone knows that July 4th is “America’s birthday.”  It’s the commemoration of our national independence.  A day for fireworks and fun, patriotism and pride.  A celebration of America itself.

But in a sense, the Fourth of July is even more than that.

Two-hundred and forty-two years ago, a group of Americans gathered together to sign one of the most extraordinary documents ever written, memorializing one of the greatest decisions ever made.  We’re referring, of course, to the Declaration of Independence.  Historians debate which day the signing actually took place, but in the grand scheme of things, details like that don’t matter.

What matters is what came next.

A Trumpet Call of Freedom

President John F. Kennedy explained it best in a speech he gave on July 4, 1962.1 Standing inside Independence Hall, the same place the founders gathered almost two centuries before, he said:

[The Declaration of Independence] was, above all else, a document not of rhetoric but of bold decision.  It was, it is true, a document of protest – but protests had been made before.  It set forth grievances with eloquence – but such eloquence had been heard before.  But what distinguished this paper from all the others was the final irrevocable decision that it took – to assert the independence of free States in place of colonies, and to commit to that goal their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. 

That Declaration, whose yellowing parchment and fading, almost illegible lines I saw in the past week in the National Archives in Washington, is still a revolutionary document.  To read it today is to hear a trumpet call.  For that Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs.  Its authors were highly conscious of its worldwide implications, and George Washington declared [later] that liberty and self-government everywhere were, in his words, ‘finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.’ 

 This prophecy has been borne out.  For 186 years this doctrine of national independence has shaken the globe – and it remains the most powerful force anywhere in the world today.  There are those struggling to eke out a bare existence in a barren land who have never heard of free enterprise, but who cherish the idea of independence.  There are those who are grappling with overpowering problems of illiteracy and ill-health and who are ill-equipped to hold free elections.  But they are determined to hold fast to their national independence.

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln spoke in this hall, [paying] a brief but eloquent tribute to the men who wrote, who fought for, and who died for the Declaration of Independence.  Its essence, he said, was its promise not only of liberty ‘to the people of this country, but hope to the world…hope that in due time, the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.’  

 The theory of independence is old as man himself, and was not invented in this hall.  But it was in this hall the theory became practice; that the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson’s phrase, that “the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. 

 When word first came out that the United Colonies were henceforth free and independent States, it didn’t stop at this country’s borders.  As if carried on the wind, it flew across oceans and over mountains.  It rang in valleys and swept across desert plains.  It penetrated walls and fortresses and iron curtains.  It launched revolutions and birthed democracies.  It was a trumpet call that reached every corner of the world – one that still echoes to this day.

When we celebrate the Fourth of July, we’re observing more than just our nation’s birthday.  We’re commemorating an event that shook the world off its old axis.  We’re participating in a grand, ongoing experiment.  An experiment to maintain, to protect, to uphold certain truths – that all people are created equal.

This Independence Day, take a moment to reflect as you celebrate with your friends and family.  When you look to the skies and see the first glint of rockets reflecting in the eyes of those around you, ask them if they hear it too.  The trumpet call.  The sound of liberty.  The reverberating promise of hope that is still America.

Because on this special day, there’s no sound more beautiful.

On behalf of all of us at Hudock Capital Group, we wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!

Sincerely,

Barbara B. Hudock, CIMA®, CPM®
Chief Executive Officer
Founding Partner

Michael J.Hudock, Jr., CPM®
President and Founding Partner
Wealth Consultant

Remembering the Brave People Behind the Names… May 24, 2018
Downloads: Remembering-the-Brave.pdf

Lexington and Concord.  For some people, these are simply names out of a history book.

But there’s a funny thing about history: When you look closer, new names start to appear.  It’s like holding a magnifying glass over a photograph, seeing details leap at you where there were none before.  The same is true for the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  Look closer and other names will soon emerge.

Names like Isaac Davis.

An early Patriot
Isaac Davis was a gunsmith from Acton, Massachusetts.  An early Patriot, Davis was so respected by his comrades, he was elected captain of his local company of Minutemen, a volunteer militia famously required to be ready for action at a minute’s notice.

As tensions worsened between the colonies and the British, Davis worked hard to prepare his unit.  He ensured every man had the proper equipment, which was rare, as few Minutemen had been professional soldiers.  And he trained relentlessly on proper marching and marksmanship.  As a result, there were few companies as well-prepared as his for the coming fight.

A fight that would take place in the spring of 1775, on an old bridge near the town of Concord.

“I haven’t a man afraid to go.”
The shooting started in nearby Lexington, prompting several Minutemen companies from the surrounding area to turn out in response.  Davis heard the news just after sunrise.  By 7:00 AM, he had his company formed and ready to march.

Just as they were about to leave, Davis called for a halt.  As his men looked on, Davis dashed back to his house.

“Take good care of the children,” he told his wife.

Two hours later, Davis reached the bridge near Concord where the other Minutemen had assembled.  Davis arrived last, finding his fellow captains debating what to do next.  At least a hundred British soldiers were just across the bridge, and more were in Concord itself, searching for supplies and burning what they found.

When the Americans saw the smoke, they made their decision: It was time to launch an attack.  The question was, who would lead it?

Davis stepped forward.  “I am not afraid,” he said, “and I haven’t a man afraid to go.”

The shot heard round the world
The Minutemen advanced on the bridge in a column of two abreast.  At the head of the column was Davis.  Years later, many of his friends would recall that Davis seemed to have premonitions of what would happen next.  Yet true to his word, he was calm, confident, and unafraid.

Across the bridge, the British watched in awe.  No one had expected a group of volunteers to march with such precision.

Panicked, a British soldier fired a shot.  Decades later, Ralph Waldo Emerson would immortalize it as “the shot heard round the world.”  The shot that would truly open the Revolutionary War.  The shot that would pave the way for democracy and popular government, changing the world forever.

Thinking they’d been ordered to fire, the other British soldiers launched a volley of musket balls.  Leading the advance, Isaac Davis was among the first hit.  The round passed through his heart.  He died as he fell, but his work outlived him.  His company returned fire, their accuracy stunning the British into an immediate retreat.  It was the first American victory.

It would not be the last.

***

Our history books are filled with distant names like Concord and Okinawa, Gettysburg and Inchon.  But look closer and you’ll see the names that truly matter…the names of people who gave their all.

Memorial Day is a chance for us to look closer.  To see that our country isn’t just made up of words on paper, marble-clad buildings, or pieces of cloth.  It’s made up of people.  People who all contributed, in their own ways, large and small, to the building of our nation.  People with stories.  People who trained.  People who told their partners, “Take care of the children.”  People who said, “I am not afraid to go.”

People like Isaac Davis.

This Memorial Day, let’s remember the names of as many of those people as we can.  Whether it’s cracking open a history book or walking amidst the headstones of the local cemetery, let’s look a little closer at all the men and women who were unafraid to go.

We wouldn’t be here without them.

Sincerely,

Barbara B. Hudock, CIMA®, CPM®
Chief Executive Officer
Founding Partner

Michael J.Hudock, Jr., CPM®
President and Founding Partner
Wealth Consultant

Tariffs and Trade March 9, 2018
Downloads: Tariffs-and-Trade.pdf

Please open your economic textbooks to page forty-seven, class, because it’s time to talk about something you probably haven’t thought of since college: tariffs.

On Thursday, March 1, President Trump announced a new plan to institute a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum.1  Like so many things these days, the response was radically different depending on who you talk to.  More on that in a moment.

Traditionally, tariffs are something most of us don’t have to think about, especially as tariff levels in the United States have been low for decades.  But for investors, President Trump’s announcement has the potential be very significant.  Why?  Because of the possibility that it could spark a trade war.

Should a trade war actually happen, it could have a major impact on investors.  To understand why, let’s have a short Q&A session.

What are tariffs and why do they matter?

Since it’s probably been a while since your Economics 101 class, let’s quickly cover a few basics.

To put it simply, a tariff is essentially a tax on imported goods and services.  Tariffs can be levied on almost anything: metals, foodstuffs, products, etc.  Historically, tariffs are most commonly used when a country wants to protect certain industries within its own borders.  For example, the Tariff Act of 1930 was designed to protect farmers by increasing the cost of importing agricultural products.  By making it more expensive to import crops from other countries, people would be forced to buy mainly from American farmers.  This is known as protectionism.

Once upon a time, tariffs in the United States were both high and common.  But after World War II, average tariff rates dropped significantly, and have stayed low ever since.  In fact, since the 1970s, the average tariff rate on imports has been well under 10%.2

So are tariffs good or bad?

Remember how I said the response to President Trump’s announcement was radically different depending on who you talk to?  That’s because a tariff’s effects can vary wildly, too.

Tariffs can bring two major benefits:

  1. Because tariffs are a kind of tax, they can bring more revenue to the government.
  2. Tariffs, and protectionism in general, can be a major boon to certain industries – including the workers within those industries. In this case, the U.S. steel industry would benefit from a 20% tariff on steel, because it means more people are buying from them instead of their competitors overseas.

You can see why the idea of tariffs can be attractive for many people.

Unfortunately, tariffs can also cause some very negative side effects.  Specifically:

  1. Tariffs can make life more difficult for consumers, whether they be individuals, families, or businesses. That’s because higher tariffs often lead to higher prices, which in turn lead to higher expenses.  For example, if companies must pay more for the steel they need, that could significantly eat into their own profits.
  2. Higher tariffs can lead to trade wars.

Okay, so what is a trade war, anyway?

We live in a global, interconnected world.  Toss a stone into the water off one shore and the ripples can be seen near another.  In this case, higher tariffs can cause some very large ripples.

When one country raises tariffs on a certain kind of product, other countries that depend on exporting that product won’t take to it kindly.  As a result, those countries might retaliate by increasing tariffs on their imports, thereby harming the first country.  Before you know it, tariffs become weaponized and a trade war breaks out.

Trade wars are risky things, because they can quickly jump from industry to industry.  Let’s take the current situation as an example.

After President Trump announced his plan to raise tariffs on steel and aluminum, the European Union threatened to do the same to U.S. imports – everything from motorcycles to bourbon to bluejeans.3  Other countries like Japan and Canada, which are both major steel producers and important trading partners, have threatened similar measures.  Should all this happen, the currents of international trade will quickly become choked.  That would lead to higher prices on many goods and services, which in turn would lead to lower profits, higher costs of living, and even – potentially – higher unemployment.

Should all those things happen, the markets will surely suffer.  As an investor, you don’t need me to tell you what that means.

So why did President Trump decide to raise tariffs?

For decades, the United States has seen a worsening trade deficit with many countries.  In other words, we pay more for importing their goods than they do for ours.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. “ran a global goods deficit of $810 billion” in 2017.4  One of the president’s most long-standing campaign promises was to address that deficit.  It appears that tariffs, along with renegotiating certain trade agreements, like NAFTA, are his tool of choice.

Geopolitical economics is a loaded topic, and there’s a lot of disagreement out there about causes and effects.  Again, tariffs can unquestionably bring lots of advantages, and there’s no question the United States is on the lower end of a trade imbalance with many countries.

At the same time, there’s also no question that Trump’s announcement has spooked both the markets and the global economy.  The Dow fell more than 400 points on the day of the announcement, and continued to fall the next day.5  Many world leaders have already warned about a trade war being a very real possibility.  Even many Congressmen in President Trump’s own party have spoken out against the prospect of higher tariffs.  This isn’t surprising, because the Republican party – or at least a large percentage of it – has traditionally been very much in favor of free trade.

As I’m not an economist, it’s not really my place to decide whether protectionism is good or bad.  It’s worth noting, however, that a trade war did break out the last time the U.S. raised tariff rates this high.

The Tariff Act of 1930, or Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, raised tariff rates to their second highest level in U.S. history.  These days, economists generally agree that the resulting trade war worsened the Great Depression.  (What no one seems to agree on, though, is by how much.)  On the other hand, the United States is in a very different position in 2018 than it was in 1930.  Back then, the Great Depression had long-since started.  These days, our economy is much stronger.  That makes it hard to predict how hard a trade war will hit.

What happens now? 

 There are still so many things we don’t know.  For instance, we don’t know if President Trump will actually go through with his plan.  If he does, we don’t know if the tariffs will apply across the board, or if they’ll only be levied against certain countries.  (This is something many of his advisers are recommending.  If our closest allies are exempted, then the effects of a trade war would likely be minimized.)  And we don’t know what other nations will do in response.

What we do know is that the possibility of a trade war can have a substantial impact on the economy and the markets.

At the moment,  I don’t believe we need to take any action.  Back in February, the markets took a hit due to the threat of inflation and rising interest rates – and then recovered.  While the markets dipped slightly in response to President Trump’s announcement, it’s far too early to make any changes to your portfolio.

However, this is why my team and I keep such a close eye on what’s going on in the world.  Part of my job is to keep you informed of any ripples in the water so that you always stay afloat.  It’s impossible for me to say what’s going to happen next, but I’ll tell you this: We’ll always be here keeping our hands on the tiller.

In the meantime, please contact me if you have questions, or if there’s anything I can do for you!

Sincerely,

Barbara B. Hudock, CIMA®, CPM®
Chief Executive Officer
Founding Partner

Michael J.Hudock, Jr., CPM®
President and Founding Partner
Wealth Consultant

Sources

1 “Trump to Impose Steep Aluminum and Steel Tariffs,” The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2018.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-wont-quickly-announce-new-tariffs-on-aluminum-steel-1519921704

2 “Average U.S. tariff rates, 1821-2016,” U.S. International Trade Commission, https://www.usitc.gov/documents/dataweb/ave_table_1891_2016.pdf

3 “U.S. allies around the world steel for Trump tariff tussle,” The Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2018.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/asian-allies-steel-for-trump-tariff-tussle-1519977304

4 “Trade Wars Are Good, Trump Tweets,” The Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2018.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/trade-wars-are-good-trump-tweets-1519996161

5 “U.S. Stocks Tumble After Trump Announces New Import Tariffs,” The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2018.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/global-stocks-struggle-after-bad-month-1519868670?tesla=y

Let Me Have A Country May 26, 2017
Downloads: Let-Me-Have-A-Country.pdf

RESOLVED

That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States. 

So said the resolution presented before the Second Continental Congress on June 7, 1776.  The Revolutionary War was already raging, but this simple statement set wheels turning that changed forever the lives of two men whose fondest dream was to have a country to serve.  One would live another fifty years.  The other, another three months.

Both would become immortals in the eyes of history.

June 1776 – Philadelphia

Not everyone agreed with the idea that the colonies should be independent.  Most everyone, however, would agree the idea had no more fervent a supporter than John Adams.

For months, this Massachusetts lawyer had worked fervently to convince his colleagues that America was already independent.  British tyranny, he claimed, had already caused “a complete dismemberment of the British Empire.”  But many in Congress had not been authorized to even consider independence.  It took speech after speech, debate after debate, for Adams (among others) to build support for the cause.

All the Colonies must confederate together, in some solemn Compact.  The Colonies must be declared free and independent states.  When these things shall be finished, I shall think that I have answered the End of my Creation.”  – John Adams1

Adams couldn’t know it, but far away, a young Connecticut teacher was having similar thoughts.

September 1776 – Harlem Heights, near New York City

The war was not going well for the colonies.  The Continental Army, under George Washington, had just been defeated by the British at the Battle of Long Island.  Washington retreated to the northern end of Manhattan Island, ceding New York City itself to the British.  In desperation, Washington sent out a call for help.  Would someone volunteer to sneak behind enemy lines and report back on what the British were planning to do next?

Several officers were summoned, but the request was met with silence.  Understandably, no one seemed anxious to volunteer.  In war, there are few things more dangerous than spying.  Every man understood that if they were caught, they would be executed.  One soldier summed it up when he said, “I am willing to be shot, but not to be hung.”

Then, this young Connecticut teacher stepped forward.  “I will take it,” he said.  “I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary to the public good becomes honorable by being necessary.”2

June 1776, Philadelphia

Adams could see the finish line.  Congress had adopted the resolution of independence, causing him to say that, “This day the Congress has passed the most important resolution that ever was taken in America.”  The next step was to draft a formal declaration.  Adams was one of the four men who assisted Thomas Jefferson in writing it.  When finished, they laid it on the desk before the whole of Congress for it to be either accepted or rejected.

Half a century later, the great Senator Daniel Webster imagined Adams’ final, desperate push for independence went something like this:

“We may not live to the time when this declaration shall be made good.  We may die ignonimously and on the scaffold.  Be it so.  If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come when that hour may.  But while I do live, let me have a country.”3 

Adams words, if he said them, were prophetic.  But not for him.

September 1776, New York City

On September 12, the young Connecticut teacher slipped behind British lines, pretending to be looking for work.  Unfortunately, it was little over a week later when he was recognized.  He was quickly captured and interrogated, like all spies were.  With great bravery and dignity, this young man, only twenty-one years old, promptly stated his name and rank: Captain Nathan Hale.

Then, he was sentenced to death.

“On the morning of his execution,” one British officer later said, “Captain Hale entered [my station].  He was calm, and bore himself with gentle dignity.  He asked for writing materials, which I furnished him.  He wrote two letters, one to his mother and one to a brother officer.  He was shortly summoned to the gallows. Only a few persons were around him, yet his dying words were remembered.”4

‘I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.’

These two men, Adams and Hale, never knew each other.  One lived a long life; the other, short.  But both knew what was at stake.  Both were prepared to die on the scaffold.  And it’s this commitment, I think, to the idea of independence that truly made us a country.  Even more than words on paper, even more than all the great speeches and debates, it was the willingness to actually live, and if necessary, die, that cemented the idea.

On July 4, 1776, our forefathers declared America to be free and independent.

On September 22, 1776, the death of one martyr truly made it so.

July 2017, United States of America

This year, as we sit on blankets and lawn chairs to watch the fireworks, as we listen to patriotic music and enjoy a day off with our families, let us always remember that it’s not just the flag, or the national anthem, or even the amazing words written on a piece of paper that make our country what it is.  Those things are all symbols.  Important symbols, yes, but still just symbols.

What really matters is our actions.  It’s the things we do, or are willing to do, that make us an actual nation.  Think about it: what if, after the Declaration was announced, no one had bothered to pay any attention?  What if no one was willing to serve, to starve, to suffer, to die for that Declaration?  I’m not just talking about those who picked up muskets.  I’m talking about the men and women who waited with clutched hands for their loved ones to come home, knowing they were away for a just cause.  I’m talking about the people who labored long hours under candlelight, stressing over every detail about just how this new nation would work.  I’m talking about those who bothered to grow food, forge steel, hew wood, write pamphlets, or travel from town to town, spreading badly-needed news.

It was all those people, people just like us, that truly made the colonies free and independent states.

The actions of John Adams, Nathan Hale, and others set wheels in motion.  Wheels that continue turning today.  Wheels that move us all ever closer to ideals like liberty and freedom.  Today, it’s our job to keep those wheels turning.  It’s our job to say, “While we do live, let us have our country.”

I’m so grateful that I have a country.  I’m grateful for all those who labored to make it what it is today.  It may not be perfect, but it’s mine.

On behalf of all of us here at Hudock Capital Group, LLC, we wish you and yours a happy Independence Day!

Sincerely,

Barbara B. Hudock, CIMA®, CPM®
Chief Executive Officer
Founding Partner

Michael J.Hudock, Jr., CPM®
President and Founding Partner
Wealth Consultant

Death of a Generation May 26, 2017
Downloads: Death-of-a-Generation.pdf

Frank Buckles, the last U.S. veteran of World War I, passed away in 2011.  His death was described as the “passing of the Great War Generation.”  In researching his life, we came to realize that he personified his generation better than most, as he had unique contact with many of the defining moments of the 20th century.  Buckles, like many veterans, served our country both as a soldier and also as a civilian.  In the spirit of Memorial Day, we’d like to share his story with you.

Buckles was born in early 1901 to Missouri farmers.  By the age of sixteen, his family had moved to Oklahoma, and WWI had begun.  He was inspired by recruiting posters to join the military, but being only sixteen, he lied about his age so that he would be considered eligible.  Now he just had to convince the recruiters.  After being rejected by the Marines (too small) and the Navy (flat feet), he was accepted by the Army.  Eager to see some action, he was told that driving ambulances would be the quickest way to get to the Western Front.  He attended Basic Training at Fort Riley in Kansas and in short order was aboard the RMS Carpathia, the same ship that rescued the survivors of the Titanic, and on his way to Europe.

While he never got closer than within 30 miles of the front lines, he wasn’t spared the horrors of war.  With over 2 million U.S. soldiers in combat, and an influenza pandemic, there was an estimated casualty count of 116,516 to deal with.  There was rarely a shortage of wounded or ill that needed his attention.  At the end of the war, he escorted German soldiers back to Germany.  One soldier gave him a belt, with the inscription “GOTT MIT UNS” (God with us), which he kept for the rest of his life.  The war was over, but Buckles would have more adventures and more chances to serve his country in the future.

Shortly after the war ended he was in attendance at the dedication of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.  There he had the unique opportunity to chat with General of the Armies John J. Pershing, the commander of American troops during WWI, whom he described as “the most military figure I’ve ever seen.”

He took a job with the White Star Line, the same cruise line that made the Titanic.  This job gave him the opportunity to travel the world.  Buckles became fluent in German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and later learned some Japanese.  During his travels, he spent significant time in Germany.  He watched the changes the Nazis were making.  He witnessed anti-Semitism.  He was in attendance during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, and watched as Jesse Owens won four gold medals, infuriating the Nazis in the process.  During one of his visits, he had a chance encounter with Adolf Hitler on the steps of his hotel.  Buckles noted his surprise that Hitler was not more heavily guarded.

Next, Buckles began working in the shipping industry, once again spending much of his time overseas.  When World War II began, he was working in Manila in the Philippines.  He had the option to leave, but decided to remain so that he could use his shipping contacts to help U.S. troops get supplies.  In 1942, he was taken prisoner by Japanese soldiers and spent the next three years as a civilian internee; this is where he learned Japanese.  Fearing that the Japanese would start massacring their captives, U.S. commanders organized a daring paratrooper assault on the camp to save the prisoners.  Before they were rescued, Buckles and the other prisoners were kept in squalid conditions.  They were only given a small ration of mush each day. At the time of his rescue in 1945 he weighed less than 100 pounds.

After WWII he moved to San Francisco and married Audrey Mayo in 1946.  A few years later they purchased a 330 acre farm in West Virginia, where he lived for the rest of his life.  He was still driving his tractor and working his farm at the age of 106 when his daughter and only child, Susannah, moved home to help him.  During the last few years of his life, Buckles was identified as the oldest Veteran of WWI.  This recognition provided him with some unique opportunities.  In 2007, he was invited to lead a Memorial Day parade in Washington D.C.  In 2008, President George W. Bush invited him to the White House.  Later that same day he was invited by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to attend the dedication of the Pentagon exhibit honoring WWI veterans.  He was also appointed as the honorary chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation.  Buckles appeared before Congress in 2009 on behalf of the foundation, which advocates that they refurbish and rededicate the District of Columbia War Memorial as a National Memorial of WWI.  He is the oldest person to have testified before Congress.

Buckles passed away in his home on February 27, 2011.  Upon his, death President Obama ordered the flags on all government buildings, including embassies and the White House, flown at half-staff.  The governors of 16 states followed suit.  Buckles is interred in plot 34 of Arlington National Cemetery, near General John J. Pershing.

Buckles’ life touched on so many key events of the past century.  He met with presidents, dignitaries, and for a brief moment a dictator.  He stood where survivors of the Titanic stood.  He watched Jesse Owens and other civil rights leaders break down racial barriers.  He lived through one of the most impoverished times in our nation’s history, as well as its most prosperous.  He watched technology change from horse and buggy to cars and planes.  He witnessed the greatest technological outpouring in human history.  In short, Buckles, as do many of our veterans, personifies his generation’s greatest and most trying moments.

On this Memorial Day, we hope we all take a moment to reflect on the legacy and heritage our veterans have given us.  Be thankful for their sacrifices, which shaped our world and our nation into what it is today.  Our veterans have kept us free and made it possible for us to prosper.  Buckles himself said it best.  “If your country needs you,” he said, “you should be right there.  That’s the way I felt when I was young, and that’s the way I feel today.”

Sincerely,

Barbara B. Hudock, CIMA®, CPM®
Chief Executive Officer
Founding Partner

Michael J.Hudock, Jr., CPM®
President and Founding Partner
Wealth Consultant

Happy President’s Day February 20, 2017
Downloads: Happy-Presidents-Day.pdf

Happy Presidents Day!

As you know, Presidents Day was originally known as “Washington’s Birthday” in honor of America’s first president, who was born on February 22nd. In many regions, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) is also celebrated.

Over the years, the holiday has expanded to become a celebration of all presidents—hence the name “Presidents Day.” And while Washington and Lincoln still tend to get the most press, we think it’s good to remember that many others have served as Chief Executive, too. So many of the rights, freedoms, and privileges we enjoy today are due to men and women whose names and deeds are shrouded by history. This is even true of presidents. Some presidents were better than others were, of course, but all deserve to be commemorated.

Sadly, some presidents were unable to serve for very long due to their untimely deaths. This has often rendered them mere footnotes in history; the answer to a trivia question and nothing more. And yet even these presidents were able to accomplish important things during their time in office. So for this Presidents Day, we thought we could take a brief look at who a few of these men were and what they did.

William Henry Harrison (9th President from March 4 to April 4, 1841)

Harrison holds two unfortunate records: he was the first president to die in office, and the president with the shortest tenure in United States history. Actually, Harrison holds three records, because he is also known for delivering the longest inaugural address on record. The speech lasted almost two hours, and was given on a very cold and rainy day in early March.

About 22 days after the inauguration, Harrison came down with what seemed to be a bad cold. His doctors did everything they could, but Harrison soon grew worse. He died 9 days later, only a month into his term. Scientists now think he succumbed to typhoid fever as a result of drinking contaminated water.

Because he died so early into his presidency, Harrison never had the chance to do much of note other than call a special session of Congress. But there is some evidence that he would have been a very active president. From the start, Harrison was committed to reforming how the government was run, visiting every federal department to see how it operated and how it could be improved. He also seemed intent on making the presidency a more independent office, one that would not be subservient to powerful individuals in Congress and elsewhere.

His last words were made to his doctor, but historians think they were intended for Vice President Tyler: “Sir, I wish you understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.”

Zachary Taylor (12th President from March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850)

Like Harrison, Taylor was a nationally recognized war hero. His reputation was what effectively catapulted him to the White House, as he was a man without a firm political ideology. He took office during a tumultuous time in American history. The southern states were making increasingly loud noises about seceding, while the three new territories acquired during the Mexican-American War were all demanding statehood.

Despite owning slaves himself, Taylor did not wish to see slavery expanded to the new territories. His solution was to admit California to the Union as a free state, which would give the other non-slavery states more power in Congress. Taylor also worked to ensure New Mexico remained a distinct territory rather than be incorporated into Texas. Finally, Taylor proved to be a surprising defender of religious freedom, promising the Mormon Church that they would be allowed to continue practicing their beliefs in relative independence within the newly organized Utah Territory.

Unfortunately, Taylor died of cholera only a year into his presidency. His last words summed up a lifetime of service to the country. “I am about to die. I expect the summons very soon. I have tried to discharge all my duties faithfully, and I regret nothing.”

James A. Garfield (President from March 4, 1881 to September 19, 1881)

Garfield, our nation’s 20th president, was fated to serve only a little longer than Harrison. But, like Harrison, there is evidence that he intended to be an active, transformative president, and he was able to launch an ambitious agenda before he died.

For much of the 19th century, the government operated on something called the “spoils system.” You’ve heard of the phrase “To the victor go the spoils”? That describes how the government used to work. Whichever party won the presidential election made key appointments based solely off of who their friends were, or who had helped them gain power. Garfield (and his predecessor, Hayes) worked to change that by instituting a merit system where only people who met certain qualifications could be considered for government jobs.

Hayes was also somewhat ahead of his time when it came to civil rights. In his inaugural address, he announced a plan to make full citizens of all African Americans, with more secure voting rights and access to a better education.

Sadly, Garfield’s work in undoing the spoils system contributed to his death. Charles Guiteau, a former supporter who had been denied an ambassadorship he wasn’t qualified for, assassinated Garfield in a train station less than a year after the election. Among his last words were, “My work is done.”

Forty-four men have served our country as president. (Donald Trump, of course, is currently the 45th.) Some served for eight years, some for far less. Some had the talent and time to accomplish great things. Others did not. But to quote Zachary Taylor, everyone who has ever served took on perhaps the hardest job in the world and “tried to discharge their duties faithfully.” For that, they deserve remembrance and respect.

So this Presidents Day, spare a thought for not just the Washingtons and the Lincolns, but all those who tried to carry out “the true principles of government.”

On behalf of all of us here at Hudock Capital, we wish you a happy Presidents Day!

Sincerely,

Barbara B. Hudock, CIMA®, CPM®
Chief Executive Officer
Founding Partner

Michael J.Hudock, Jr., CPM®
President and Founding Partner
Wealth Consultant

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