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Nashville Pride

‘State of Black Nashville’ forum held at Cathedral of Praise

NASHVILLE PRIDE — The community gathered for a public forum to speak on ‘the state of Black Nashville’ on June 27. Fox 17 on-air personality Harriet Wallace hosted the top mayoral candidate forum at Cathedral of Praise, 4300 Clarksville Pike. The event was sponsored by Pumps and Politics radio show where Wallace is also the host.

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Mayor David Briley speaking at The State of Black Nashville forum held at Cathedral of Praise. Briley is joined on stage by his opponents, (l-r) Councilman John Cooper, Representative John Ray Clemmons, and Dr. Carol Swain.

By Wanda Clay

The community gathered for a public forum to speak on ‘the state of Black Nashville’ on June 27. Fox 17 on-air personality Harriet Wallace hosted the top mayoral candidate forum at Cathedral of Praise, 4300 Clarksville Pike. The event was sponsored by Pumps and Politics radio show where Wallace is also the host.

Participating in the forum was current Mayor David Briley and challengers State Rep. John Clemmons, Metro Councilman John Cooper and retired Vanderbilt professor, Dr. Carol Swain.

Wallace said this forum would be candid and necessary because “Every election sees candidates courting the African American vote and several people have approached me, frustrated with what they see as racial disparity in Nashville. They wanted to know how they can learn the future of Black Nashville and how to hold the next mayor accountable.”

The forum began with a recorded presentation of each candidate.

“The meeting was really about North Nashville and it’s priorities and concerns,” said one attendee. “It was a good forum, with the questions speaking to the heart of the African American community. Of particular note was the ‘yes or no’ question about whether or not the candidate would fire the police chief.”

The first portion was the ‘Lightening Round,’ which was simply answers of ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Each candidate answered questions regarding Nashville’s police force accurately reflecting the community served; the current climate of racial tension, the police department and Police Chief Anderson; developers and gentrification, including displacement; economic inequality; housing; the support of high end shopping; support for development of the Clarksville Highway area; support for the increase of the mayor’s appointments of leadership from the Black community; and other issues. However, the candidates found it quite difficult to give a simple ‘yes’ or a simple ‘no.’

Going into the second round, candidates had two minutes to answer. This round consisted of questions regarding 21 Metro schools on the high priority list, most being underfunded with a lack of resources in schools such as Maplewood, Alex Green, Antioch High, Haynes Middle School and others. Candidates were also asked how they intend to offer their support.

Again, questions were brought up regarding Police Chief Anderson and how each would work with him if he remains.

These questions also consisted of thoughts of low income, economic development, affordable housing and mixed income housing—particularly in Bordeaux, yet also in other areas and the entire county.

Several questions were then taken from people in the audience to be intended for a specified candidate with one minute to respond. Audience members asked questions regarding charter schools vs. public schools. Rev. Barbara Washington asked Clemmons: “There’s a wall—why graduates of TSU are not being employed by the city once they become alumni?” Clemmons agreed and mentioned the fact that the city is fortunate to have four prominent HBCUs in Nashville. All candidates gave their perspective on ‘the walls’ set up in business, education and ‘good old boy’ connections along with the lack of affordability to even live in the city following graduation.

Other issues in question included teacher compensation; not raising property taxes in order to raise teacher salaries; affordable housing; and the lack of an increase in wages so that one might afford what is already owned.

The questions ended (from a youth) with the candidate’s thoughts on how the current presidency has an effect on the future. All candidates were in agreement that the current presidency is creating division and causing citizens to say and do things they wouldn’t have beforehand.

“The only thing that can be done is greater voter participation,” said Clemmons.

The forum ended with a ‘call to action’ to the candidates, asking surveyed ‘yes or no’ questions from community members. Questions included concerned: candidates’ support of activities held in Black communities; holding city officials accountable to offer voter registration to the citizens they serve; encourage public transportation to provide free rides to polls on election day; work closely with Equity Alliance for board and commission appointments; work with coalition partners to produce transparent tech inclusion; commitment to quarterly city engagements with Black residents to keep them informed; and support Black stakeholders and other underfunded Black organizations.

The forum closed with two-minute closing remarks from each candidate.

Following the forum, Meekahl Davis said: “The candidates really went after Mayor Briley pretty hard in this debate, criticizing his budget, support for the police chief, and lack of affordable housing. Briley pushed back more forcefully on their criticisms-coming out stronger than I’ve ever seen him.”

“We have a very important decision before us beginning July 12,” said Wallace. “Please be sure you know your candidates and who you want to put in office and the difference between a public servant and a politician.”

Participating partners in this forum include: Tequila Johnson, co-founder of Equity Alliance; Keith Caldwell, president of the NAACP; Bobby Stockard, steering committee of the Haynes Trinity Coalition; Rev. James Turner II, president of IMF; Susan Vanderbilt, board chair of the Nashville Black Chamber; Veronica Clark first vice president of Programming Nashville Coalition of 100 Black Women of Middle Tennessee; Dr. Katherine Brown of the Katherine Brown Leadership Academy.

If you were unable to attend, visit the website of Pumps and Politics for the live stream of the event.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

Nashville Pride

Metro Council candidate Andre Southall suspends campaign, endorses Councilman DeCosta Hastings

NASHVILLE PRIDE — Andre Southall called Councilman DeCosta Hastings on Tuesday and told him he wanted to suspend his campaign and endorse DeCosta for re-election. According to sources, Southall said that he has observed all that Councilman Hastings has done for District 2, has seen his vision, and wants to help him “finish up what has been started.”

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District 2 candidate Andre Southall (r) has suspended his campaign and endorsed Councilman DeCosta Hastings (l) for re-election.

By Pride Newsdesk

Andre Southall called Councilman DeCosta Hastings on Tuesday and told him he wanted to suspend his campaign and endorse DeCosta for re-election.

According to sources, Southall said that he has observed all that Councilman Hastings has done for District 2, has seen his vision, and wants to help him “finish up what has been started.”

Southall recognized some of the achievements that Hastings has brought to the district including the expansion of Clarksville Highway, affordable housing, and economic development.

Hastings said that he appreciates Southall’s support and that he looks forward to working with him during his second term.

“I am very glad to have his support to help win this election,” said Hastings. “District 2 has a lot of challenges to overcome and with his and the community’s support we will get there together.”

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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Education

Cost-of-Living adjustments set for all teachers Extra 3% effective January 1 in addition to 3% raise effective now

NASHVILLE PRIDE — Mayor David Briley announced on Monday that all MNPS teachers and employees will receive another three percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on January 1, 2020, in addition to the three percent COLA the mayor made possible by allocating nearly $30 million in new funding for schools for FY2020. This allocation was six times the allocation in the last budget.

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Mayor Briley in April, delivering his State of Metro address. Briley announced on Monday that Metro teachers will receive an extra 3% raise in 2020 in addition to a 3% raise already in effect. (Photo by: Michael Bunch – Metro Photographer)

By Pride Newsdesk

Mayor David Briley announced on Monday that all MNPS teachers and employees will receive another three percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on January 1, 2020, in addition to the three percent COLA the mayor made possible by allocating nearly $30 million in new funding for schools for FY2020. This allocation was six times the allocation in the last budget.

For weeks, the mayor has been working to find ways to get teachers more money this year while avoiding a tax increase. Thanks to MDHA’s help and the work done by the Council’s Tax Increment Financing Study and Formulating Committee, Mayor Briley is able to free up $7.5 million that would have been paid out of the MNPS budget to repay TIF loans. These funds are recurring, so the raise is ‘paid for’ moving forward. This move does not require Council action since it will simply result in a reduced expenditure for MNPS.

This will bring all teachers to a 6% raise on January 1, 2020, which equates to a 4.5% increase over the course of the year. This is .5% higher than the COLA increase in the proposed substitute budgets that would have raised property taxes.

“I have been working on the MNPS budget with Dr. Battle and Dr. Gentry, trying to find the best possible way to get recurring dollars to teachers while not penalizing the 40% of MNPS teachers who are ‘topped out’ and while avoiding a property tax increase this year—something that would have hurt in-county teachers more than the proposed raises would have helped,” Mayor Briley said. “With this increase in place, we will continue our in-depth talks about comprehensive pay plan restructuring for teachers so the more than half of all teachers who are topped out of receiving meaningful increases will get them in future years. There’s work to be done, but this is an important first step.”

This plan has the support of MNPS School Board Chair Dr. Sharon Gentry and MNPS Director Dr. Adrienne Battle.

“Mayor Briley’s investment shows a deep commitment to our teachers and staff members, and we thank him for his leadership and support for public education,” Dr. Battle said.

“When Mayor Briley saw an opportunity for supplemental revenue, he ensured that it was dedicated to funding a raise for staff members, which is in addition to the raise they are receiving at the start of the year. We are only as successful as our amazing staff, and the Mayor’s actions show how he values them. Our goal is that these resources also ensure that we are able to maintain funding for other new strategic investments. MNPS is thankful to partner with the Mayor and Metro Council who are dedicated to the success of our students and staff.”

The $7.5 million will come to schools in the form of a reduction in the $11.2 million they would otherwise have paid to MDHA for TIF loan repayments this year. In short, it cuts that bill by $7.5 million, freeing up those funds for raises. MNPS will continue to pay what it is required to pay MDHA each year.

“I am grateful to Dr. Adrienne Battle, the MNPS Board, MDHA and the members of the TIF Study and Formulating Committee, whose hard work and support made this additional COLA possible,” Briley said. “I plan to keep at it, and I know we have more great things to come for all students and teachers in our schools.”

Clemmons: Briley’s attempt to appease teachers falls flat
Says Nashville’s teachers deserve better

 

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, a candidate for mayor of Nashville, released the following statement regarding the Briley Administration’s most recent example of fiscal mismanagement:

“Today, we have witnessed yet another hollow attempt at political preservation disguised as a good faith attempt to provide our teachers with much-needed raises. While I appreciate that our mayor finally acknowledges the detrimental impact his lack of leadership is having on our teachers, we should call this announcement of a fiscally questionable plan right before early voting starts what it really is: the last gasp by a mayor in a tailspin. MNPS leadership’s last-minute receipt of this plan demonstrates the lack of transparency and patchwork policy-making that has defined this administration since day one.

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons

“Briley has now had two budgets and multiple opportunities to make fundamental, fiscally responsible budgetary changes in Metro that could have directly benefited our schools and teachers for the benefit of students. Unfortunately, he repeatedly kicked the can down the road, costing our teachers a better quality of life and our students two years of fully funded educational opportunities. This mayor has lost the confidence of teachers, public school parents, and advocates across Nashville, and they will see right through his ploy to try and buy their votes with Metro’s credit card.

“These desperate acts by a desperate politician trying to get reelected will ultimately cost our city and taxpayers more money. We’ve seen numerous eleventh-hour policy proposals out of the mayor’s office over the last six months, designed to appease specific constituencies rather than create real, substantive change. Nashville deserves a mayor who will partner with all stakeholders, engage the community, and make the tough decisions necessary to move our city forward in a substantive manner. Under no circumstances should teachers and Nashville residents be used as pawns for a failing reelection campaign.”

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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Commentary

COMMENTARY: Questioning What is Considered Normal Behavior

NASHVILLE PRIDE — Civilized cultures, races, and classes have accepted expectations of what they consider normal or expected modes of acceptable behavior, which the masses should exhibit in a defined community. These behaviors are based on the studies and observances of established standards or usual practices of the populace in a given group or environment. Acceptable and expected behaviors are often defined and heralded by social scientists, psychologists and those who often benefit most from engineering human behavior.

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William T. Robinson, Jr

By William T. Robinson

Civilized cultures, races, and classes have accepted expectations of what they consider normal or expected modes of acceptable behavior, which the masses should exhibit in a defined community. These behaviors are based on the studies and observances of established standards or usual practices of the populace in a given group or environment. Acceptable and expected behaviors are often defined and heralded by social scientists, psychologists and those who often benefit most from engineering human behavior.

Anyone deviating from what is considered the accepted mode of behavior (including practices and modes of thinking) is considered atypical or abnormal. Adhering to normal and socially acceptable guidelines literally relegates us to a monolithic society that borders on ‘one size fits all.’ But in reality what is considered normal can be contentious when one manifests natural constraints deviating from the generally accepted populace. All too often, those not following what is considered normal are subjected to ridicule or penalized.

Often, what many people feel is normal for them is not considered normal by the accepted social establishment. There are genetic and environmental factors that often make what is established as normal dependent on the individual. Behaviors or actions that one may exhibit that are not harmful to themselves or the public can be different and contentious as well as atypical or abnormal to others—but not the person themselves.

We should take a closer look at defining or acknowledging what is considered normal in a multitude of circumstances, taking in the reality or experiences of affected individuals—simply saying that what is normal for you may not be normal for me. Therefore, don’t be so fast to impose your expectations of what you feel is right onto someone else based on what you have been taught as normal. In fact, what is considered normal varies depending on cultures, locations, and groups.

‘Normal’ is a word that for the most part, subconsciously promotes conformity. It colors those not going along with it as defiant and atypical. Resisting practices considered ‘normal’ sometimes relegates a person to being a maverick, troublemaker, or just plain defiant—even to being cast as a pariah.

We need to understand that normalcy is contingent on a person’s subjective behaviors and views rather than what is average, usual, and standard among a designated group. Not being considered normal isn’t always an insult or a reason to feel inadequate. Normal patterns adhered to by the masses can be misleading and erroneous. Being able to break from a group’s calculated perception of what is normal and define your own view based on self-analysis can promote self-empowerment.

The truth of the matter is that historically discriminate and inhumane treatment was commonplace and accepted as normal behavior by a segment of the population in the South. This abusive and inhumane treatment was even indoctrinated in laws that kept people of color disenfranchised or in subservient roles. What we perceive as normal can be open to interpretation and in some cases a violation of some peoples’ basic human rights.

What may be considered normal should always be up to interpretation and not always accepted as established behavior to be followed by all. Normalcy has been used at times as a constraint to justify treacherously insidious miscarriages of justice. Those defining normalcy are often in a position to control the actions of others, whether for good or bad.

Hopefully, we will arrive to a point where what is normal for one person or group is not always considered normal for everyone, and that it is acceptable and okay. Contrary to what some people think, normal is not a practice or view that is etched in stone and incontestably followed by all—even if you personally don’t feel or view something the way others do.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride.

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Health

Whose lives matter? Our lives matter

NASHVILLE PRIDE — The red-state legislators who now seek to roll back reproductive rights say they are ‘pro-life.’ But I don’t ever hear them asking Black women about their lives. If they did, they would learn a thing or two. And they’d hear many of us express personal conflicts about abortion.

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Michaela Purdue Lovegood

 

By Michaela Purdue Lovegood

(TriceEdneyWire.com) — Twenty years ago, I was a director of youth programs for a subsidiary organization of the Chicago Housing Authority. I ran after-school, GED and job training programs for Black youth living in the city’s public housing.

In the three years that I ran these programs, there were four times when I supported young poor, Black women in their choice to get abortions. Two of those pregnancies were the results of rape. One was by a family member. Under the oppressive laws now being pushed through state legislatures, these procedures may become illegal.

I helped these young women because what was on the line for all of them was their dignity: they would lose or delay their ability to finish school. Two of these young women would be the first members of their families to go to college. I cared too much about their young lives, I could not allow that to happen.

These courageous young women had created bright futures for themselves and their families, overcoming extreme challenges of poverty, violence and exploitation. They all deserved the chance to succeed. Their communities deserved the pride that would come with knowing new possibilities existed for their children and the next generation.

The red-state legislators who now seek to roll back reproductive rights say they are ‘pro-life.’ But I don’t ever hear them asking Black women about their lives. If they did, they would learn a thing or two. And they’d hear many of us express personal conflicts about abortion.

I share these misgivings. But I also felt misgivings when, at 17, I was taught by the United States Army how to fire a M16 semi-automatic rifle, a M60 automatic rifle, an AT4 rocket launcher, how to throw grenades and how to construct and detonate Claymore mines.

At 17, I was too young to vote, but our government had no problem teaching me how to kill.

So many young people, especially poor youth, and Black, Brown and queer youth, are trained, even encouraged, to take lives in the name of the United States of America. I can now understand that what I was being asked to do is prepare myself to protect the interests of the wealthy—by killing, and by being ready to sacrifice my own life.

Right-wing legislators crow about protecting the ‘right to life.’ But the color and gender of that life affects its value in our society. What value do we place on a young Black woman’s future, or any girl or woman’s future? On her dignity, her potential, her self-confidence, and her reputation in her community? Lawmakers want to reach into our lives and bodies and choose for us.

That’s why so many of us are rattled by this wave of anti-abortion legislation. We are horrified that the root of this push to control our lives and bodies is to protect economic and political power for the few, who already have far more than they need.

Legislators have no authority over women’s bodies. Most of us know that. Many of us embody that. Now, as voters and activists, we are in a position where we can do something about it. We have to do something about it.

Whether or not you agree with abortion, no other person should have the right to determine what happens to your body or even to the life inside of your body against your will or agency.

(Michaela Purdue Lovegood is the field director and co-creator of the Political Healers program at People’s Action, a national network of grassroots groups. For more than 20 years, through training, organizing and healing justice, she has worked to eradicate racial, gender, and economic injustice, particularly as they impact women, people of color, trans and queer people, and young people.)

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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Community

David and Gail Williams honored at Community Foundation’s Bridge to Equality Fund Luncheon

NASHVILLE PRIDE — The Francis S. Guess Bridge to Equality Award honors the memory of civil rights trailblazer and civic leader Francis S. Guess and recognizes those who spur innovation leading to equality.

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At the fourth annual Francis S. Guess Bridge to Equality Fund luncheon Thursday at the Music City Center. Honoree Gail Williams (fifth from l) poses with panelists (from l) Rev. Dr. Emilie M Townes, Robert Sherrill, Shan Foster, Eddie George, Stephanie White, emcee Vicki Yates, and Sean Henry. (photo by Morgan Yingling/CFMT)

By Pride Newsdesk

The Francis S. Guess Bridge to Equality Award honors the memory of civil rights trailblazer and civic leader Francis S. Guess and recognizes those who spur innovation leading to equality.

The award’s most recent recipients continue to do just that.

The late Vanderbilt University Vice Chancellor and athletics director David Williams II and wife Gail Williams, Vanderbilt Associate Director of Government and Community Relations, were presented the fourth annual Francis S. Guess Bridge to Equality Award at a luncheon Thursday at the Music City Center’s Davidson Ballroom.

At the event, which attracted a crowd of nearly 400 attendees, the Williams family announced the establishment of the David Williams II Scholarship Fund at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, to honor David and his dedication to education.

Williams died at age 71 on Feb. 8, 2019, just days after retiring from his 18-year tenure as a Vanderbilt University vice chancellor and full-time tenured law professor. During the 2017-18 academic year, Vanderbilt Athletics graduation rates were the best in the Southeastern Conference, including 10 Commodore programs finishing with a perfect graduation rate.

“David and Francis [Guess] had a profound relationship,” said Gail Williams in accepting the award. “They would get in deep discussions about the inequitable plight of young African-American males, and how best to go about shortening that gap—and how best to shape the conversations in this community for effectiveness for change and for equity and for equality.

“So to accept this honor, in honor of Francis, is indeed flattery, and kind,” Gail Williams said. “So Francis, thank you for leading the way.”

The event also featured a luminary-filled panel titled ‘A Conversation About Building Bridges to Equality.’ Sean Henry, Nashville Predators president/CEO, moderated the panel, which consisted of: Eddie George, Tennessee Titans great and philanthropist, entrepreneur and entertainer; Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes, dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School; Stephanie White, Vanderbilt head women’s basketball coach; Shan Foster, Vanderbilt basketball great and VP of External Affairs and AMEND Together at the YWCA; and Robert Sherrill, President of Impact Youth Outreach nonprofit.

Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, said: “Like Francis Guess, many people born and raised here have worked to build bridges for those in need of a hand up to a better future. David and Gail Williams weren’t born here, but individually and collectively have set about building bridges to people of every age, race, religion and economic status. Hands were extended to them on their arrival, and in turn they extended their hands to make the path easier for others.

“They walked the walk instead of just talking the talk. But for them the lives of hundreds would be on a vastly different trajectory.”

In 2016, civic leader Ben R. Rechter was awarded the inaugural Francis S. Guess Bridge to Equality Award, while U.S. District Court Judge Waverly Crenshaw received the second award in 2017. Retired U.S. District Court Judge Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr. and State Court of Appeals Judge Richard H. Dinkins shared the 2018 honors.

About Francis S. Guess

Francis S. Guess (1946-2015) was a Nashville trailblazer in his business and civic life as well as a tireless champion for civil

Francis S. Guess

Francis S. Guess

rights. Guess grew up in the old Preston Taylor Homes public housing development. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, attending Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University, he forged a path in the business world and became vice president of The Danner Company, which operated Shoney’s restaurants, and owner-operator of Helicopter Corporation of America. He served 30 years on the Tennessee Commission on Human Rights and was appointed by Ronald Reagan to the U.S. Commission on Human Rights. A resident of Bordeaux, he served on more than 100 boards and commissions and had a lifelong commitment to building bridges and creating equal opportunity in the community he loved.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride

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Advice

Questions your financial advisor would not expect you to ask

NASHVILLE VOICE — Have a meeting scheduled soon with your financial advisor? If so, it could be time to ask a few probing questions that might surprise and challenge him or her, but could help you be better prepared if the U.S. economy takes a turn for the worse that some economic forecasters are predicting.

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Photo by: rawpixel.com | Pexels.com

By Pride Newsdesk

Have a meeting scheduled soon with your financial advisor?

If so, it could be time to ask a few probing questions that might surprise and challenge him or her, but could help you be better prepared if the U.S. economy takes a turn for the worse that some economic forecasters are predicting.

But first, before that meeting and before you start posing those questions, it’s important to understand some of the factors affecting the economy’s future and why there are potential problems that likely won’t go away, says Nahum Daniels, a Certified Financial Planner and Retirement Income Certified Professional.

“Many Americans today have anxiety confronting retirement,” says Daniels , author of Retire Reset!: What You Need to Know and Your Financial Advisor May Not Be Telling You. “And in an unfortunate turn for baby boomers, the U.S. economy is struggling to recover from one of the worst downturns in generations.

“When closely examined, the retirement challenges we face as a society are actually much more complex than they first appear. The mainstream media skate along the surface, pointing to baby boomers with inadequate personal savings who are looking to a fragile (if not insolvent) Social Security system unable to make up the difference.

“But upon deeper analysis, there’s much more to the problem in the U.S. and globally. That includes slowing population growth, shrinking consumer demand, exploding debt, inflated financial bubbles in the stocks and bonds market, deflationary wage and employment pressures, and overspent governments. The connectivity of these global forces may be forming a tsunami.”

Daniels says those in retirement or nearing it are going to want answers from their advisors on how to avoid pitfalls in a possibly volatile future economy. And it starts, he says, by asking the right, penetrating questions. The answers may depend on your particular situation, but the important thing is that you and your advisor have a deeper conversation about your situation and that you are satisfied with the answers:

Do you think our economy faces the risk of an extended period of secular stagnation and, if you do, how do you think my nest egg should be positioned to counteract any negative effects?

Is the possibility of a volatile economic future during my retirement years worthy of hedging against and, if so, how?

Do you believe that our low rates of economic growth reflect bad tax policy predominantly and that corporate tax relief in the U.S. will turn our economy around for the long term?

How reliable are my Social Security and pension benefits, and do you think I should start taking them, or would it be better to defer them for as long as possible?

Can I retire before paying off all of my debt, or should I keep working until I’m completely debt free?

“Some prominent economists predict a long-term slowdown in economic activity, productivity and innovation,” Daniels said. “And neither fiscal (tax) nor monetary (Fed) policies alone may be able to reverse it. Consequently, our personal nest eggs have taken on a level of importance they haven’t previously had.”

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Voice

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