It would appear that the last legacies of pandemic life are fading in the rearview mirror as Americans return from summer vacations characterized as revenge travel. One might like to think we’d be in a better place today than we were in 2019, but that remains to be seen.

It’s worth remembering that the so-called Spanish flu of 1919 was followed by the Roaring Twenties, high-living times that ended disastrously. But many of the parallels between that time and today don’t really hold. America’s population was much younger in 1923, as were the people in the rest of the world. There was a debt crisis in Europe back then, but America was largely immunized from it. Today, America, and much of the world, has a debt problem but our economy has bounced back from Covid much faster than most.

There was also a global power vacuum in the 1920s following World War I, and both Russia and China were in the early stages of revolution and evolution. Now both nations are facing severe internal challenges, largely as a result of their own actions.

America today has more jobs available than workers. Our economy remains the envy of the world, but our problems shouldn’t be downplayed. A recent Bloomberg story observed that only 16% of Californians can afford a house in their state. A succession of bailouts, from the airlines after 9/11 to half the nation during Covid, has caused a culture of avoiding responsibility. A recent survey found that 62% of student loan recipients say they won’t repay these debts.

Even the value of a college education, once universally accepted, is now being questioned. For every 100 females attending college today, there are something like 75 males.

Students are no longer flocking to professions like medicine and nursing, both of which face chronic shortages in the decade ahead. Advances in bioscience, perhaps accelerated by artificial intelligence and machine learning, may make up for the scarcity of professionals, but that’s not a sure thing yet.

Many of these problems, ranging from those in housing to healthcare, are global in nature. Advisors can help clients work through them—up to a point, since they typically work only with a few hundred clients. It’s easier to help affluent individuals insulate themselves from the world’s troubles. But no one is an island.

That helps explain why advisors like David Bahnsen and Carolyn McClanahan and Ross Gerber, interviewed in Tracey Longo’s cover story on page 40, are entering the national conversation in their communities and beyond. Unlike many advisors, they are using social media to address national issues many advisors consider taboo. For them, it’s too important to keep quiet.

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