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04-04-2019 Columns

Try to avoid “titanic” investment mistakes It’s been 107 years this month since the tragedy of the Titanic. Of course, this disaster has fascinated the world ever since, leading to books, movies, musicals and, ultimately, a successful search for the big ship’s remains. On the positive side, commercial shipping lines learned a great deal from the Titanic, resulting in safer travel across the oceans. And as an investor, you, too, may be able to draw some important lessons from what happened on that cold April night more than a century ago. So, to avoid some “titanic” investment mistakes, consider the following: Create a financial strategy with a solid foundation. Although considered a technological marvel, the Titanic had some real structural, foundational flaws – such as compartments that weren’t fully watertight. To withstand the inevitable rough seas ahead, your investment strategy needs a strong foundation, based on your needs, goals, family situation, risk tolerance and time horizon. Be receptive to advice. The Titanic’s crew had received plenty of Marconi wireless warnings from other ships about ice in the area. Yet they did not take precautions, such as slowing down. When you invest, you can benefit from advice from a financial professional – someone who can caution you when you’re making dangerous moves, such as pursuing inappropriate investments, which could ultimately damage your prospects for success. Be prepared for anything. The Titanic had far fewer lifeboats than it needed, resulting in a tragic loss of life that could have been prevented. As an investor, you need to be prepared for events that could jeopardize your financial well-being, and that of your family. So, at a minimum, you need to maintain adequate life and disability insurance. And it’s also a good idea to build an emergency fund containing six to 12 months’ worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid, low-risk account Don’t overreact to perceived threats. When the iceberg loomed directly ahead, the Titanic’s crew frantically tried to steer clear of it. While this move was understandable, it inadvertently hastened the ship’s demise, because it exposed a more vulnerable part of the hull to the huge ice mass. When you invest, you might also be tempted to overreact when facing perceived dangers – for example, if the financial markets plunge, you might think about selling your stocks. This is often a bad idea, especially if you’re taking a big loss on your sales. If your investments are still fundamentally solid, you might well be better off by staying patient and waiting for the markets to recover. Give yourself time to reach your goals. Edward J. Smith, the Titanic’s captain, apparently wanted to break speed records on the Atlantic crossing – and this desire may have contributed to his somewhat reckless passage through fields of ice. As an investor, you could also run into problems if you rush toward a goal. To illustrate: If you wanted to retire at 65 with a certain amount of money, but you didn’t start saving and investing until you reached 55, you’d likely have to put a lot more away each year, and possibly invest a lot more aggressively, than if you had started investing when you were 30. Put to work some of the Titanic’s lessons – they might help you improve your chances of smooth sailing toward all your important financial goals. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

School Safety Grants awarded For the last few years, the Michigan State Police (MSP) has been in charge of distributing grant money for school safety improvements through the Competitive School Safety Grant Program. Last week, MSP announced that 125 public school districts, 66 non-public schools, 20 public charter schools and nine intermediate school districts/ regional educational service agencies will receive $25 million in state grants from the 2019 Competitive School Safety Grant Program. It is wonderful to see that both the Van Buren ISD and Mattawan Consolidated Schools were among those awarded grants this year. The Van Buren ISD partnered with 10 local school districts to apply for the grant funds and will receive a Program Area 2 grant worth $380,745. Mattawan Consolidated Schools, which applied separately, will receive a Program Area 1 grant worth $43,241 for its own safety upgrades. These funds will go towards improving the safety and security of students, staff, and school buildings through the purchase of technology and equipment. Eligible improvements include physical security enhancements; improved or hardened exterior access points of school buildings; inspection and screening systems, including metal detectors; shatterproof glass or film for exterior doors and windows; fences and gates; mobile telephone applications; school safety assessments, such as those conducted by the Department of Homeland Security; and more. As both an educator and a legislator, ensuring safety in our classrooms has always been a priority of mine. I am a proud supporter of this program and appreciate MSP’s great work on these grants. I’m truly thankful to see funding going towards protecting students here in our community. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can ever be of assistance. You can reach my office toll free at 1-800-577-6212 or via email at

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month You’ve likely seen it on the roads and may have even been guilty of it yourselves—distracted driving is becoming more and more of a problem on Southwest Michigan roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes. In fact, the National Safety Council says that, every day, at least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes. This is a hard truth that is easy to believe. With touch screen enabled vehicles, smart phones, smart watches, radio, food, shaving, makeup, and God knows what else—there are more driving distractions than ever before. A study put out last year by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicated that these sorts of visual-manual tasks increase the odds of crash involvement by 83 percent. Unfortunately, distracted driving persists. To help highlight this growing problem, April has been designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month to both raise awareness of the dangers and to encourage motorists to ignore the distractions, and #justdrive.

To help sweeten the deal, the Michigan State Police and many local law enforcement agencies are warning drivers to expect a higher chance of being ticketed for distracted driving during the month. Let’s face it, despite the law, despite the warnings, despite common sense, we can’t always count on others to be alert while they’re driving. That’s why it is up to us, individually, to do the right thing and focus on the road to help keep us, our precious cargo, and other motorists safe on the roads, not just this month, but every time we get behind the wheel.

I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the important issues facing Southwest Michigan. You can reach me at 517-373-6960 or SenKLaSata@Senate.

National Public Health Week Health starts where we live, learn, work, and play. Our community environment impacts our health long before we ever visit a doctor. Medical doctors are able to treat you once you’re ill, but public health exists to prevent you from ever getting sick in the first place. This week, National Public Health Week, communities across the nation are celebrating the power of prevention and the critical role that public health plays in keeping people safe and healthy year after year. In our community, the Berrien County Health Department and their dedicated staff work to prevent disease, prolong life, protect the health of our community, and promote an optimal quality of life for the citizens of Berrien County. Through vaccination programs for children and adults, reproductive health clinic services, restaurant inspections, and a variety of other health promotion programs, the Berrien County Health Department keeps us, our children, our seniors, our environment, and our communities healthy and safe. A healthy public gets sick less frequently and spends less money on health care; this means better economic productivity and an improved quality of life for everyone. This week, as you enjoy a meal in a restaurant without getting sick and your children or grandchildren stay healthy because of immunizations, pause to remember that it is because of the efforts of public health. To learn more about how the Berrien County Health Department supports your health, visit their website at or Facebook page at

Fighting for funding for new Soo Lock Earlier this week, I joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in signing a letter expressing support for funding to construct a new Soo Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The letter requests $75.3 million, consistent with President Trump’s FY 2020 budget request.

Constructing a new Soo Lock is so critical for several reasons. Over 80 million tons of commodities transit the Soo Locks annually – supporting a significant part of the nation’s economy. If the 1,200-foot Poe Lock – which is now fifty years old – fails, there would be a devastating economic effect not only for the Great Lakes but for the entire nation.

The new lock will help add reliability and reduces the threat of a total outage at the Soo Locks, which would negatively impact our nation’s economy, steel industry, and national defense.

We have tried before to build a second Poe-sized Lock, but for the first time ever, funding for constructing a new Soo Lock has been included in a presidential budget request.

The letter we sent to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development makes clear that we urge House appropriators to follow through on the president’s request.

To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or visit my website: You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

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