Archives For August 2011

Gambling or Not??

August 31, 2011

It seems that stock market trading is quite different from when I was dabbling in it in the past. In those days I studied several different parameter including the P/E ratios and such before deciding which company to invest in. And when I did buy a stock I held it for at least a couple of years. Now days trading in the stock market seems more like gambling at the roulette table than anything else.

The only way you seem to be able to make any money is to try to time when you sell back your stock. Now a long-term hold is defined in months if not weeks instead of years as they used to be.  The three major indexes gyrate wildly based on whether a dictator coughs or what particular word the federal bank guys choose to use in his latest speech.

As an experiment I put $4,000 into an Roth IRA for my wife in 1998. It is invested in a moderate stock fund of a very well known mutual fund company. As of today that $4,000 is now worth $4,400 so that makes in a total 1% return over an eleven year period. It has gone up quite a bit higher and lower over this period but the overall effect is one percent.  Since I have a rather sizable 401k (at least by my standards) sitting in a major mutual fund company I get frequent telephone calls from “investment experts” wanting to help me grow my money; of course they want a percentage of the total value for doing this. I can just imagine what is going on in the background when they call and I bet it is not much different from the cartoon above ;)

I admit that the 401k is rather conservatively invested but it has done quite a bit better than my wife’s IRA over the years. Should I give some thirty year old Wall Street jock control over my life savings? I don’t think so. I am not interested in leaving untold wealth for kids/grandkids even if I had them. Unearned income just seems to contaminate people rather than help them.

I am just not a gambler in the casinos or in the stock market….

Give them an “F”

August 29, 2011

Source: Column: Washington leadership’s grade is a solid F – USATODAY.com.

Cal: McConnell and Boehner, challenge the wealthy. The “rich” should be the model for reaching out and helping people so that we can have less government and lower taxes. Churches should be called upon, too. Those megachurches with ornate architecture and huge budgets? How about living up to your commission to help the poor?

BobYou’re right. Boehner and McConnell, when it comes to taxes, you are tone-deaf and cowering before the Tea Party and the bombastic my-way-or-the-highway Grover Norquist. You both know that the tax code needs to be changed to eliminate unnecessary deductions for wealthier Americans as well as to rid us of corporate welfare. Reform would lower rates and broaden the tax base — the very thing your party has wanted for decades — yet you show no backbone or leadership on this. We can’t get serious about tackling our long-term deficits without tax reform.

You know things are getting pretty serious when liberals and conservatives start agreeing on things. That is just what this article is about.  The above article is a weekly thing from two ideological opposites. Here is how they are described in the header :

Cal Thomas is a conservative columnist. Bob Beckel is a liberal Democratic strategist. But as longtime friends, they can often find common ground on issues that lawmakers in Washington cannot.

Right now almost everyone in congress gets an “F” for putting partisan politics above what is good for the country and yes I certainly include the three who represent me personally. When most of the votes fall strictly along party lines something is terribly wrong and that wrong might just result in a total breakdown of our legislative system in the not too distant future.

What do we as citizens do about this? If we go by history we will do nothing about it until it reaches a total crisis state. We have been fortunate in the past to always come back from the edge but those past events in no way guarantee we will to that this time.  What happens if we go over the cliff  this time around? What kind of life will that leave your children and grandchildren?

Cal certainly has a point that the rich should be a model for reaching out and if they fail this duty then they should pay for their government to do it for them . The same goes for churches and the religious establishment. They spend the vast majority of their wealth on themselves. This runs very counter to what most religions say they stand for.

Bob is right about how the Republicans are tone-deaf when it comes to taxes. When Warren Buffet stated that he pays the lowest tax rate of anyone in his office, even the one who empties his trash, something is very wrong with our tax system.  Further into the discussion Bob goes on to how the Democrats have to take their head out of the sand when it comes to needing some reform for social security and welfare systems. But reform doesn’t mean gutting these successful government programs as some in congress are advocating.

Let’s all listen to Bob and Cal and start agreeing that things have to change.  We seniors are known for our strong presence at the polls.  Let’s let them know that we want adults in congress and to put aside all this childish bickering and do what is good for the country. If they can’t do that then we should quickly replace them with someone who will.

A Song Still In Us??….

August 28, 2011


Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.

Henry David Thoreau

These are words written by Thoreau in his famous book Walden Pond.  Anybody who has read any of Thoreau knows that he was a guy who marched to his own drummer. That alone makes him one of my heroes. Although he died at the age of forty-four he left us with many things to think about. All of us seniors need to quietly contemplate this most famous quote.

Will you go to your grave with the song still in you?

If this doesn’t make you a little uneasy then maybe you should just skip the post. I truly believe that even though there are almost seven billion of us currently living on this earth that God made each one of us unique with special talents and gifts. No two of us are the same in that regard.  Most of us spend our lives in the rat race of life and chasing its definition of what it means to be successful. If, while doing that, we  fail to understand and fulfill our dreams  we might just die with that talent or gift still in us.  What a waste that would be!

Our senior years give us time to sit back and contemplate these types of things. For the most part we are no longer in the rat race of life so that pressure is off of us. We are now capable of more thoroughly searching ourselves to determine if we have found those things that make us unique. For some of us the answer to that question is an emphatic yes we have, but for many of us those talents and dreams may still be within us. We owe it to ourselves and to our Maker to end our lives with our song thoroughly displayed to humanity.

Don’t go to your grave with your song still in you……

P.S. if you have a Kindle and are interested in reading about Thoreau, Amazon has many of his works including his most famous two (Walden, and Civil Disobedience) for free. You can’t beat that cost ;)