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🎄 It’s August. Let’s talk Christmas

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In today’s email:

  • Retirement is getting harder.
  • Gas prices: The US vs. the world.
  • Mariah Carey: Queen of Christmas?
  • Around the Web: An online jukebox, pivoting careers, a hungry porcupine, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s special podcast: a conversation with Morgan Housel, author of The Psychology of Money. We chat about all things housing, including the state of the market, how we got here, and whether buying a home is a good investment right now.

The big idea
smashing a piggy bank

Buzzkill alert — it’s getting harder to retire

A 2018 study found over half of American adults think about retirement at least four times per week.

In 2022, we’ll take the over on that number.

Due to several factors, America is in the midst of a looming retirement crisis, per Bloomberg.

What’s happening?

For decades, Americans have relied on an increasingly unsteady “three-legged stool of retirement,” consisting of:

  • Pensions, AKA “defined-benefit plans,” which are steadily being replaced by more cost-effective defined-contribution plans funded and managed by workers.
  • Social Security, which was introduced in the 1930s to protect Americans in their later years — but the fund’s reserves are on pace to dry up by 2035.
  • Personal savings, which are down across the board. Only half of private-sector workers have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, and those who do lost a collective ~$3.4T in the first half of 2022.

For those that do have enough to retire, rising inflation means they may not live as comfortably as expected.

So what’s the solution?

Social Security reform is a hot topic in Washington, and there have been several recent proposals to revamp the program.

There’s also the idea of a government-backed retirement account that workers can use across employers, but it hasn’t gained much traction since being introduced 15 years ago.

Until something more promising comes along, just try not to think about retirement if you can help it.

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SNIPPETS

President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. It includes investments in climate change, affordable health care, and a new tax on companies making more than $1B/year.

Bonjour: Meta launched its Horizon Worlds platform in Spain and France, as well as this hot photo of VR Zuck at the Eiffel Tower.

Boom! American Airlines agreed to buy 20 of Boom’s supersonic planes, which are expected to reach 1.3k mph and fly commercially by 2029.

Oracle is now vetting TikTok’s moderation practices, following allegations of Chinese oversight of some user data.

Colossal, the startup trying to de-extinct the wooly mammoth, plans to bring back the Tasmanian tiger, extinct since 1936.

Apple laid off ~100 contract recruiters as the tech giant slows hiring.

Disneyland rebooted its annual pass program, with prices ranging from $449 to $1,599. The top pass comes with free parking and discounted merch… but there are still blackout dates in December.

Too little, too hot: Workers at an Amazon air freight hub in California walked out, demanding better AC and a $5/hr. raise.

Chart
gas price survey

Why gas is actually cheap in America

This summer at the local gas station in Tabor, Iowa, Stacey Rycroft reached an undesirable milestone: $100 to fill the tank of her Chevy Traverse.

“It’s a pretty high level of frustration,” Rycroft told us.

With average US gasoline prices reaching a peak of $5.19 in June and currently hovering at ~$4, Americans have canceled vacations, reconfigured commutes, and plastered gas stations with stickers blaming Joe Biden.

  • In a recent survey, 75% of you said gas was overpriced in the US.

But there is a surprising truth amid the inflation: Compared with other large nations, gasoline in the US is actually extremely cheap. And in the long run, Americans might pay for that privilege.

Read the full story →
Free Resource

From living in the airport to running an eight-figure VC fund

A decade back, Arlan Hamilton was a total stranger to venture capital.

Today, she’s the managing partner of Backstage Capital, a firm that’s invested $20m+ in Women, POC, and LGBTQ+ founders.

She identifies as all three. Talk about representing.

Tune into Arlan’s success story on this episode of Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield.

Topics include:

  • Arlan’s journey to activist entrepreneurship
  • Supporting underrepresented founders
  • Overcoming rejection in stride
  • Tips for attracting investors

Enjoy an hour of inspiration.

A new kind of VC →
Here We Come A-Suing
Mariah Carey

Is anyone the true queen of Christmas?

Superstar Mariah Carey wants to trademark her unofficial honorific, the “Queen of Christmas,” for use on merch including apparel, food, and decor.

But she’s meeting fierce resistance from two singers who argue she’s not the sole ruler of the Yuletide throne, per Variety.

Carey’s rise to royalty…

… began in 1994, when she released “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

  • It’s the only certified Diamond holiday song, and earns Carey an estimated ~$2.5m annually — or $72m+ total.

Billboard dubbed Carey the QOC in 1995, but it didn’t stick until a 2013 press release used it again and media outlets followed, per Bloomberg.

If not Carey, then who?

  • Darlene Love, whose exhaustive discography includes Phil Spector’s Christmas Album. David Letterman called her the QOC; she performed “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on his show from 1986 through 2014.
  • Elizabeth Chan, who only releases Christmas music, including a 2021 album called “Queen of Christmas,” and is suing to stop Carey. “All Access” and The New Yorker have named her queen.
  • The Virgin Mary, according to Carey in December 2021, despite applying for the trademark in March 2021.

A court may ultimately decide whether anyone can claim to be the sole monarch of a holiday — something not even Elvira has done.

As Chen’s lawyer points out, Carey can sell QOC merch sans trademark, leaving Christmas open to all.

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AROUND THE WEB

👑 On this day: In 1968, Saundra Williams became the first Miss Black America, a protest pageant held the same night as Miss America. The competition is still held annually.

🎼 That’s cool: An online jukebox of “beep-boop” music.

🎧 Podcast: Have you ever been so inspired by a seminar that you changed your entire lifestyle? Theresa and Adam have. Listen to “Drop Your Career, Start Beekeeping,” the latest episode of Finding Founders.

🐍 That’s interesting: Snakes used to have legs. What if we… gave them back?

🦔 Aww: And now, a porcupine eating corn.

Meme
Mariah Carey meme

The first cracks are forming. (Source: imgflip.com)

How did you like today’s email?
Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “The Sole Ruler of the Yuletide Throne” Wang.

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