Mid 02019 Update

It’s been almost a year since my last post and I didn’t do an end of 02017 or  02018 post. Since the start of a year is a relatively arbitrary time in our trips around the sun and happens at different times in certain countries I think a minor update could be appropriate. 

A few big things happened this year. 
I started a financial advising business.
I bought a duplex.
I started funding a chicken farm in Haiti. 

In August 2018 I started Highland Wealth Management. I met Mike Finley 4 or 5 years ago. He teaches classes at the college in town about personal finances. I learned a lot from him and continued on from there. I started this business because I saw how inefficient most people’s finances are. My main goal with this business is to save people hundreds of thousands of dollars over their life. This means keeping more money with the investor and having less go to the advisor. If you look at how much most financial advisors take, it’s a lot 1% to 2.5% a year, of your money! The actual value being provided is very very little. With a few hours of time investment with a fiduciary financial advisor, most people can save more money over their life than they will make in years of working.

I bought a duplex in May 2019. As part of my own personal financial journey I thought getting into owning a rental property might be a good idea. I am living in one side of the duplex and renting the other side. Below are the calculations i used to justify this purchase. I assume the return of the stock market is about 9%-10% a year. A duplex has to return above that for me to even consider it. The below also does not take into account the equity build up for the mortgage pay off. 

Many of my friends are into rental properties. I had been living in an apartment for about 7 years so I thought it was time for a change. I think this will help me in my advising business also if people have rental properties I can help them determine if it’s really a good fit for them or not. While some places are good, I have also seen many cases, for example of inherited properties, that people should just sell.

On purchasing/financing the property. I ended with a 30 year loan at 4.25%. At the time if I’d bought a house the rate was 4%. They were able to raise the rate .25% on a duplex “just because”. That being said, since I was owner occupying the property, I was able to get a 30 year loan with a lower rate than if I was buying it commercially. At the time a commercial loan was 5% and the term was only 20 years, instead of 30. I like the lower rate and longer timeline because it allows a better, more sure, cash flow. For me, cash flow is a key thing for a rental property. I also purchased a place that needed very little as far as work done to make it livable, actually no work. While there are a few cosmetic things I could fix such as a few holes in the siding or other little things like that, this property did not require any major renovations. For me, that was a good first choice.It even came with tenants in one side. That was also nice as when I signed the mortgage the old owners signed a $250 prorated check for the rest of that months rent! The next day as I was moving in the tenants paid me for the next month. So while this has all worked out well for me so far (4 months in, through summer), I still can not say it’s for everyone. There are many other blogs and sources of information on rental properties if you are interested. Or ask me any questions you might have!

If you recall from my 02016 year end review, I had bought into a solar field at the power company at my old apartment. When I moved I had to sell those back to the company. I recooped about $880 from that investment that was $1080. In the end it was about a wash as far as money goes. But the environmental impacts were a positive that were not directly measured, at least not by me. 

I took the money from that sale and bought an electric lawn mower for my new house! I bought an Ego 21” deck, self propelled (push) lawn mower for $500 at Home Depot. While I could have gotten a cheap gas powered push mower for as low as $100, a self propelled Honda gas mower can be as much as $500 also so purchase price was not really more expensive than a comparable gas mower for the Ego electric mower. This was my first foray into electric vehicles (after my self build electric bike, which used a kit, and was a bit of a failure, in execution. The concept of electric bikes is still good. There are many good electric bikes built by manufacturers. I would recommend one of those over a kit). (I also have an electric coffee mug which I really like.) I am very happy with the electric lawn mower. I use the self-propelled all the time as well as the mulching, using as much energy as possible, which leads to the shortest battery life. It usually mows my whole lawn, which takes about 30 minutes. In the off chance it doesn’t I just plug the battery in, which fully charges in 1 hr, and finish up the last 10 minutes of mowing. Not having to deal with gas or oil or spark plugs is fantastic and one reason I expect electric to take over for most gas application in the near future. 

I started a chicken egg business/farm in Haiti with Jhon. I have mentioned Jhon before as far as helping him via paying for his schooling. Jhon told me of an idea he had for a chicken farm. He believed he would be able to sell eggs to local stores. I was hesitant but provided enough money to buy 30 chickens ($15/chicken) as well as to build out a coop, a few hundred dollars. Jhon set up all the business as far as having someone take care of the chickens, his cousin, someone deliver the eggs to business, a neighbor, as well as a different person to collect the money. Jhon is actually studying in a different city than the chickens are. This is a great hands off business, as far as the day to day running. Jhon said the alternative for eggs is they are shipped in from the Dominician Republic. The price of a chicken is $15 and the monthly return is $2/chicken. In less than 1 year a chicken has paid for itself! If the chicken lives 2 years it’s provided a 220% return! After about 3 months of seeing the business work with 30 chickens I decided to purchase 70 more to get the business up to the full size Jhon initially envisioned. The farm now has 100 chickens.

Jhon is using this money to fund the rest of his college himself. I am no longer paying for his college directly! This is very exciting for me for 2 reasons.

  1. I don’t have to continually put money in with no direct return to myself.
  2. Jhon is creating a self sufficient business. He will learn and earn through this business.

I recently finished a book called “The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty”. Along with other books I’ve read like “Toxic Charity” and “When Helping Hurts” I think that investing in business, teaching a man to fish, is much more valuable in the long term than just giving money. I am hoping to continue to support Jhon in his various entrepreneurial ideas going forward.

Target Date Funds

Here is a link to a video I made about Target Date Funds.

These are great times to be investing! Today is literally the easiest time in all of history to invest. It is also the cheapest time in history to invest. There is an incredible product called a “Target Date Fund” available for “Joe Investor” that is actually a very good tool.

A target date fund is set up to buy thousands of stocks and bonds (diversity) for the owner of the fund. It also automatically transfers more money to bonds (safer) as the fund owner reaches retirement age. This can be the only fund you need in a retirement fund, if you want.

A target date fund usually has a name like 2055 Target Date Fund. Here’s a link to Vanguard Target Retirement 2055 Fund (VFFVX)
There are target date funds available for every 5 years. 2010, 2015, 2020, etc
You can see from the picture below the comparison of the asset allocation of a 2025 vs a 2055 target date fund.

You can see that the 2055 target date fund has a larger percent of stocks, since you will be retiring in the future so you’ll have time to recover from any stock market dips. You can see the 2025 target date fund has a higher percentage of bonds to reduce volatility.

Click below picture to zoom.

Here is a picture of the path that Vanguard uses to transfer money to bonds as you age.

Here is a link to the Vanguard site where they share more data.

vanguard target date

Here is some further reading on if a Target Date Fund is right for your or not.

The pros, cons of using target-date funds in 401(k) plans
5 things you should know about target-date funds

If you want to start investing and have no idea what fund to put your money in, figure out what year target date is available for closest to when you will be 65 and put your money in that fund while you learn a bit more about investing.

What Is Good?

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. –  Aristotle

What is good? What is truth? How do you know when you find truth? These are some very important questions I have been trying to ask myself lately.

To know how to fix things you first need to know how things work. One thing I have been rather interested in lately is how the brain works. In light of that I read and listened to a few books about the brain.

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Anil Ananthaswamy
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain – (Audiobook) David Eagleman
The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry– (Audiobook) Jon Ronson

One incredible thing to me is how many extremely intelligent people don’t seem to be the most logical. Many of the murderers you hear about are actually very intelligent people. This leads you to question why someone like that would be drawn to doing something that we are told is hardwired into our brains to be avoided.

After reading this article about people who became serial killers and how they had normal childhoods, I came upon the case of Alexander Pichushkin. The gist of his story is that he was hit in the head by a swing and damaged his frontal cortex. This caused him to became a crazed murderer. I am not sure what happened in the years between the swing incident and his first murders besides that he was bullied some and his grandfather died. The point of this story is that it’s pretty scary to think that each of us is one bump on the head away from becoming a murderer.

In another story, recounted from “Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain”, I believe, was told of a respected older man who became caught up in gambling and pedophilia. This is a link to a similar story but not the exact one. The man in the story had a tumor removed and he appeared to return to normal. Months later, the symptoms appeared again. It was discovered that they had missed a piece and the tumor had returned. It was again removed and I believe he made a recovery. Again. Astonishing to think that perhaps something like that could affect a person so much. I am not suggesting we should go set all these people free by any means, but I believe understanding the real cause of crimes has real value.

Moving on in the understanding people and actions as well as trying to determine truth, I thought I’d take the time to read a book by a certified madman, Ted Kaczynski, more commonly known as the Unabomber. Now most people might take pause at that. “Do you want to kill people Axel?” they might ask. I can assure you I am not interested in that. I am in pursuit of the truth. Kaczynski was actually quite a brilliant man. He studied at Harvard at the age of 16 and eventually earned a Ph. D in Mathematics from The University of Michigan and eventually was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley by the age of 25. Subsequently he determined that technology was opposed to freedom and that the only way to let people be completely free was to destroy all technology. This lead him to bomb universities, airplanes and businesses related to technology.

The thing about Ted Kaczynski is that despite all his craziness and evil actions, he really has some profound thoughts. i would say that one of his main beliefs was that because of the proliferation of technology people have much less that they have to do to survive. Because of this we are prone to making up “surrogate activities” for ourselves. These activities could be anything we all a hobby. From building fancy cars, learning about astrology, intricate wood working, learning and adhering to any set of silly religious beliefs that don’t help us survive and spending time convincing others of those beliefs, making any collections, lifting weights and just about any other activity you could consider. He even considers many jobs as surrogate activities as we do them more out of interest for money and developed interest in a subject, instead of for survival.

In paragraph 40 he points out “But if they work under rigid orders handed from above that leave them no room for autonomous decision and initiative, then their need for the power process will not be served.” This could point out why many people feel unsatisfied in jobs where they are not required to think and are only cogs in the wheel. This is where the surrogate activities come in. People will feel powerful if they are accomplishing some goal that they have some control over.

These are some thoughts that have been crossing my mind in the last year as I search for a sense of purpose in this world. Wanting to do good is noble but we are certainly unable to determine the consequences of our actions many generations from now. I am reminded of a story by Ravi Zacharias. Basically it is a story where a series of bad and good things happen to a man while his neighbor comments on the goodness or badness of each situation while the man just accepts each think, commenting that “How can you tell what is good or bad luck?” It eventually ends on a positive note, giving the listener the feeling that all bad things can work out to good eventually. I’m not sure how I really feel about the story. I certainly question it.

A story from my life. I believe that I am doing good via a charity I volunteer at. Cedar Valley Gearheads. The gist of our work is that we fix cars and give them to people who are without a vehicle. Most people I talk with seem to really think this is a great ministry and list the reasons. People will have much easier access to food, medical care, jobs, the list goes on. I tend to agree with them. Now what if one person we gave a car to was killed in a car accident a week later by someone running a stop sign. Would that lead me to question if I am really doing good? It might.

Kaczynski’s main problem seems to be the belief that no technology can be used for good and that it will all eventually be used for evil. He does concede in paragraph 128 that “each new technical advance CONSIDERED BY ITSELF appears desirable.” but further points out “all these technical advances taken together have created a world in which the average man’s fate is no longer in his own hands or in the hands of his neighbors and friends, but in those of politicians, corporations executives and remote anonymous technicians and bureaucrats whom he as an individual has no power to influence.”

I think this paragraph is instructive as it shares the helplessness that Kaczynski feels. I think that was his downfall. This, along with his other thoughts about the “power process” can probably give much instruction to those in power, to give workers enough room to exercise ideas, as well as in our individual lives to help us choose activities that will give us the feeling of being in control.

Another interesting topic that Kaczynski brings up in thinking about the application of future technologies. He specifically mentions gene manipulation. As mentioned before all technical advances considered by themselves appear desirable. For gene modification what if you could remove all blindness and deafness before people are born? Surely we’d want that? Also removing the predisposition for other common inherited diseases would certainly be a positive benefit. But what if as Kaczynski discusses in paragraph 124 “Somebody (probably the upper middle class mostly) would decide that such and such applications of genetic engineering were “ethical” and others were not, so that in effect they would be imposing their own values on the genetic constitution of the population at large?” Certainly this would at least make some people pause and consider if genetic engineering is such a good idea afterall.

Ultimately, I am a firm believer in progress and certainly Ted Kaczynski was a crazy man. There is no way his complete plan would ever have been enacted, which is good, but we should consider some of the situations he brings up. I would suggest reading the book “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think” by  Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler for an alternative view of how the future with technology will be much better than Kaczynski thinks it will be. As to the point of what is really good though, I think it is important to continue discussing these questions with each other, especially taking the time to understand where someone else is coming from before we assure them they are wrong. We just might learn something.

Change Ourselves. Change The World

“Everything done was done by a human. You are a human. You can do it.” – Axel Hoogland

Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Ghandi

“We are not the rational beings that traditional economic theory assumes… Financial institutions and regulators need to accept the reality of (behavioral) biases and design products and policies around them.”Dean Karlan – Yale Economist and Founder of IPA

“Bucky championed a design revolution, maintaining that it was far easier ‘to reform the environment than to attempt to reform people.’” Page 10 Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth

It is very disheartening to me that these two great minds, Buckminster Fuller and Dean Karlan have both basically given up on the ability of people to change. They have decided that it’s easier to provide situations that can steer people a little in the right direction instead of asking people to wake up and see the complete truth. As I’m only 26 years old perhaps I am still coming at the world with a bit of a naive view but I think that it may be thinking like this that has gotten us in our current situation of people plodding mindlessly through life. If we assume people aren’t smart enough to make their own decisions why would it ever occur to them that they would be able to?

Words have power and if people are continually told that something is to complicated for them to understand, for example the stock market, of course they will be afraid of it and be willing to pay massive amounts to people to manage their money. Now that is just a waste of their money. I could become a mutual fund manager right now and beat 90% of fund managers by just investing in Index Funds. I would become rich but I would be engaging in the dumbing down of society as well as basically robbing them. Luckily there are already places like Betterment that are taking that over by robot and hopefully in the next 10 years they will have that market locked up and the mutual fund managers will be done robbing people.
I still have a fundamental belief that if we share as much information with people as possible they will be able to make good rational decisions. To be able to do this there are a lot of inherent biases we need to remove from people’s minds. The first is the thought that “someone else is so much smarter than me. I could never do that.” My favorite self created quote to combat this situation is “Everything done was done by a human. You are a human. You can do it.” If that doesn’t sum up the world I don’t know what does. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and change the world by changing yourself!

Gravity Payments, $70,000 For All Employees

“What is it to you if I am generous?”- God

A link to a page to follow the Gravity Payments results of the $70,000 a year minimum wage for employees. – Added 8-29-02016

A link to a page to an update on Gravity Payment in 9-26-2019.

The above quote was shared with me via a friend. There is no argument that there is income inequality in the USA. This week there was a huge story from Gravity Payments founder Dan Price that he will both slash his own salary to $70,000 and raise the minimum salary of each employee to $70,000, even the office clerk. This was happening the same week as strikes for $15/hour minimum wage by fast food worker across the country.

Gravity is not the first company to voluntarily pay their employees higher than minimum wage. QuikTrip which pays cashier’s $40,000 a year and Costco which pays its employees $44,000 a year are two other noted examples. They are also much larger than Gravity Payments as they have thousands of employees while Gravity has 120. That is not to diminish it’s accomplishments but just to highlight facts. This is a big deal!

After I read this news I was initially quite excited at the change we are seeing these days. I have been quietly debating with friends and myself the merits of a higher minimum wage. This was exactly what I wanted! People were finally able to have a comfortable living. Shortly after that I began to contemplate further. Even the “lowest paid clerk” will make $70,000, over double their current salary, earning the promised $70,000 within the next three years. How will the, currently,  higher paid personnel react? Will their salaries raise also? For example if there was a person earning $80,000 already, compared to someone earning $40,000 currently, the $80,000 earner might be a bit peeved to learn that someone’s salary has raised $30,000 while his has remained stagnant. We are not sure if that’s the case or if higher earners wages were also increased. I will speculate that they were not. I must hope that they will take it in swing. They will recognize that it is his money and they are not losing money simply because their neighbors are now making more. They also have the opportunity to leave a company that has already showed it’s a generous company, to make more money elsewhere if they can.

This reminds me of a passage from the bible.

Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”” (Matthew 20:1-16, NIV)

The workers who came late and worked only one hour were paid as much as the people who worked the full day. Naturally the people who worked the full day were pissed! But they were reminded that no money was taken from them.

As for the people who received the huge raises, I hope they recognize how lucky they are. I hope that they all recognize the good fortune they have been given and pass some along to others who are less fortunate than themselves.One driver for inflation, in my mind, is the excess of money in the hands of individuals. If 2 people both want a thing that is $50 and there is only one left, this will create an increased price for that part. They may end up paying $100 for something that was only worth $50 initially. To combat this price war on things, we need to focus on being less materialistic. If we become happier with what we have, then the increased salaries will be just fine. The people might spend them responsibly, paying off loans or securing a future via a larger down payment on a home or larger retirement deferrals. They would do good to reference this article about retiring a millionaire. If this creates a culture of people worrying about others happiness and their own future instead of buying more material things,  this will have been a great experiment indeed.

I have found through my own journey thus far that I was really only able to realize that I could give some away more after I realized that I had enough. It’s natural for people to seek security. If that means saving up $50,000 or $100,000 before they start donating to charities that’s fine. Another good way to give without giving money is by volunteering time. Your time is just as valuable as money. You could use your time to make money or you could give it away freely. When donating time, don’t feel bad that you aren’t donating money,and don’t let others make you feel bad you aren’t donating money either. This is one issue with our culture is we like to point out the flaws we see in others instead of pointing out the positive. I have done this above a bit, in pointing out that the higher earners could be upset, but I did that just as a thought experiment and to provide discussion that I’m sure others were thinking. When I discussed this topic with friends and they mentioned it I told them what i have written. Let’s be happy that the CEO is doing good!

I did a cost of living using this calculator and found that $70,000 in Seattle is comparable to $56,000 in my current city of Cedar Falls, Iowa. While this is still above the median USA household income, it’s not by much, and it is still $70,000.

How would you react to a situation like this?

Trust. Government Regulation. Guns and Income Inequality (Oh And Of Course Smoking)

I have been wanting to write about gun control and income inequality recently but as I’ve been researching and talking with people I have come across some interesting similarities between both topics that I feel the need to expound upon.

The basic idea shared by both these topics is how much government regulation should be exercised over each issue? I think it’s important to try to understand what is really being said, despite the words used. When a person says I want more government regulation, what they are really saying is “I trust the government to make better choices for my life than I can for myself.”

I am completely ok with that statement if some people want to make it. In fact, it’s probably quite accurate for the majority of people, not because the government is incredibly smart, but because people are often incredibly self centered and ignorant of how the world works. I would never make this statement myself. I am the architect of my own future.

For every regulation you think the government should make you should also be arguing for more taxes. OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOO. I’m not paying more taxes, you say. Ah. Herein lies the problem. People can’t see the world beyond the walls of their own home and they think that the government should take care of them, but they don’t want to pay for it. People expect someone else to pay for it and this is the problem with arbitrarily raising the minimum wage.

How do you conduct your shopping? If you are like most people out there you first ask “What is the cheapest way I can get this?” If that includes buying things from Walmart, which you are very vocal about not liking on Facebook, or buying a burger from a fast food joint because it’s fast, cheap and therefore convenient, you are part of the problem. If you wanted to do something active to make companies listen to you you need to start talking with your wallet. Read this article about Moo Cluck Moo. It is a semi-fast food joint in Michigan that pays its workers $15/hour. Here is the important part for you lazy people who won’t read it “In order to make this model work, customers have to pay a little more.” If you go to McDonalds because it’s faster or cheaper but then argue that McDonald’s should raise their minimum wage, you are part of the problem. That is called internet activism my friends and it’s as useless as a knife at a gun fight.

The same principle has been enacted in the argument for smoking. People are arguing that the government can remove someone’s free choice to smoke and your free choice to avoid establishments that endorse smoking because you think the government is smarter than you. If you are in the NRA you should also be trying to help smokers get back their choice to smoke in places that business owners think it is beneficial for their business (public places like gas stations and hospitals where it’s inherently dangerous excluded). Read my article on smoking if you want to understand that more. If however you are in the NRA but you think that it’s ok to deny restaurants the right to choose if they will have smoking or not, you are really saying that you DO trust the government to make good choices for you and all your arguments for no gun registration is as worthless as a gasoline engine on the moon. (For those of you who don’t understand this, an engine running on gasoline needs oxygen to run, of which there is none on the moon.)

So let’s recap. The question is how much do you trust your government? If you say, unequivocally but argue against higher taxes, you are a liar. If you say I don’t trust the government at all (NRA people and anti-gun registration folks) but argue for some regulation like seat belt laws and smoking laws I also call you a liar.

This is my challenge to you. Let’s start taking a little responsibility for ourselves. Do the right thing! If you think you can make good life choices for yourself lets see you do that. If you don’t think you are capable of making good life choices for yourself, please give your whole paycheck to the government and let them tell you exactly what you should be doing for a job, where you should live, what you should eat etc.

Mark Rain Flickr Creative Commons, cover photo

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Movie Review

I believe watching movies can help us reflect on current situations in our society. I recently watched the movie “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”.

The first thing I do when watching a movie is to identify the motivations of each character. It is also useful to identify what power each character or group has.

Malcolm is the main protagonist in the movie on the human side.His goal is to get the dam working again to provide power for the humans but also work with the apes for peace.

Dreyfus is the main antagonist on the side of the humans. He refuses to see the apes as intelligent or capable of reason. He is prejudiced against them as animals despite evidence showed to the contrary. His drive is to provide power to the city as they are running out of gasoline so their main goal is to restart the hydroelectric dam. He has power because he is ex-military and started the human city. He has provided protection for others so they trust him.

Caesar is the leader of the apes and the main protagonist of peace in the movie, even more so than Malcolm. He is constantly asked to trust the humans despite the continued disobedience of his conditions, by certain individuals, mainly Carver early in the movie.

Koba is the #2 ape, antagonist and main war monger. He refuses to listen to Cesar’s leadership and calls for peace. He is influenced by his past of being a lab animal and having humans do many painful experiments on him. His main flaw is looking at everything from a self-centered point of view and holding on to hatred from his past to a group of people (scientists) and applying that hate to the new group of people who had nothing to do with that. He eventually resorts to nefarious means to attain his agenda.

The humans main power comes from technology and knowledge.

The apes main power comes from being physically stronger than the humans. One of the characters also mentions that the apes are stronger because they “Don’t need electricity.” They are more resilient to nature.

The movie starts with a brief review of the history of how the humans were negatively affected by the testing that had been completed on the apes. Then it moves to the community in the woods that the apes have established. Caesar and Maurice (an orangutan and close friend of Caesar’s) are discussing the humans and how they have not seen or heard of them in 2 years.

Of course, the next thing that happens a few apes wandering around the woods stumble upon Carver, who’s with a party of humans looking to restart the hydroelectric dam to supply power to the city. Carver immediately feels threatened, because he is afraid of the apes and lacks knowledge about them. He ends up shooting Ash, one of the apes. The rest of the apes descended on Carver and the rest of the humans, Malcolm being part of that group. Caesar uses his wisdom to allow the humans to leave peacefully despite Koba’s insistence of punishing the humans. The apes retrieve Malcolm’s notebook and bookbag at the site of the attack.

Pondering what to do next the apes decide a show of force is necessary. They march down to the human’s city in a show of force. They return the bookbag to Malcolm and issue a warning for the humans not to return to the forest.

What follows from here is some trust building and breaking among the humans and apes as a small contingent, including Malcolm, return to the apes to ask them to be allowed to work on the dam. Cesar again complies in believing that working together is the only way to help both species.

It is around this point it becomes obvious that most of the characters on each side are quite trusting of the other side and willing to work together. It is also obvious that there are some characters on each side who are irrationally afraid of the other side. Carver being the human and Koba being the ape who are most guilty. This is an important point that should be considered and applied to the world at large. Most people are good decent people, but there are just a few violent or ignorant people who choose to make the world a bad place.

Koba eventually steals a gun and shoots Caesar. He makes it look like a human killed Caesar. With no investigation he works the apes up into a frenzy and they attack the city. This is another very important turning point of the story. There is absolutely no investigation by the apes to see if it was indeed a human who killed Caesar. They take Koba’s word because he was the 2nd in command, but he is a twisted individual and has chosen to use his power for evil. Can you think of any situations in the modern world where people jump to conclusions way before any evidence has been shown? Have you ever done this yourself?

Meanwhile, Malcolm has found Caesar and learned that Koba was the real killer. He starts nursing Caesar back to and brings him back to the city.

During his attack on the city Koba shows signs of a dictatorship. He imprisons any apes that are still loyal to Caesar and his ideals of peace. At one point during the attack one ape refuses to kill a human, saying that’s not what Caesar would have wanted. Koba responds by killing that ape.

Malcolm finds Caesar’s son, Blue Eyes, and brings him to see his father. Blue Eyes shares the information that “Fear makes the other apes follow Caesar”. Does Koba’s reign of terror remind you of any point in history? How about any current regimes? Nazis? North Korea? U.S.S.R?

The end of the movie includes the triumphant return of Caesar to power and his ousting of the evil that is Koba.

Overall I thought this was a great movie when thinking of how it applies to current situations such as when groups of people react irrationally and with a lack of information.

It also shows how a few bad people can really affect humanity negatively by using misinformation and hate to lead good people to do evil.

I encourage you to start thinking in these types of terms both when you are watching movies and in your own life. What power do you wield? How do you use it to affect those around you? When you learn of a situation, do you jump to conclusions quickly or do you take time to think through rationally and understand what is really happening?

Ross Elliott – cover photo, Flickr Creative Commons