Friday, November 19, 2010

Paul Volcker's Advice for Your Children

     It's the best advice I've heard in a long time, some out-of-the-box thinking. I ran across it last year when I drove up to Schenectady, NY, to attend graduation at Union College. B's older son was getting his diploma. (B is my significant other.)

Paul Volcker, 83, still has sharp instincts
     The speaker was former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who told these young hopefuls:  Go to Africa, and learn Chinese.

     Africa, he told them, is the next big thing -- with a wealth of natural resources, governments finally maturing into stable democracies, and a young population eager to join in the social and scientific progress of the 21st century. And it's the Chinese who have recognized this opportunity. They have sent thousands of engineers, businessmen and government officials over to Africa to develop raw materials and expand new markets.

     I'd venture to say that very few, if any, of the Union College graduates followed Volcker's advice. To their detriment. From what I know of those graduates, most of them are unemployed, or underemployed, living at home and suffering from a comatose American job market.

     I also thought -- the parents of these college graduates might also benefit from Volcker's suggestion. A 2006 study from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that performing mental exercises, memorizing information and learning new material can help older adults retain and improve their mental capacity. What better way than to travel to distant lands and learn about new peoples and cultures? And maybe learn a little bit of the language before you go!

      Oh, there is one other thing to tell your kids:  Eat your vegetables! That comes from my mom. She's pretty smart, too. What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?

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