Category: Wall Street


“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” — Matthew 7:3

There are self-anointed coastal elites, who are just better … much better … than the unwashed masses in the fly-over states.

If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, just ask them. They will gladly tell you … and everyone else.

They implore that we all choose and practice kindness, but by their attitudes and actions they don’t seem to understand what the word really means.

They are perfectionists, who sit in Ivory Tower judgment of those, “who strive valiantly, who err, who come up short again and again.”

They are morally superior. Their world views are flawless. They are not “deplorable.” They will always place themselves in the upper “basket.”

If they have successfully climbed to the summit of higher moral ground, how come so many of them are so darn angry?

Almost DailyBrett must pause now and ask: ‘Have you ever seen a happy activist?’


Making “Elitism” A Dirty Word

“Being proved wrong has failed to get greens to rethink their doomsday assumptions. Instead, every decade sees predictions that planet has five or ten years left if extreme measures are not taken immediately.” — Joel Kotkin, Chapman University Presidential Fellow and Former Washington Post Bureau Chief

It must be nice to know that even if you’ve been proven wrong, you’re always right … err … always correct.

It gives you the right to go slow in the fast lane because you are driving … you guessed it … a Prius.

Even if their elitist candidate loses, they are somehow still above it all.

“Stupid”people made “stupid” choices. ‘Shouldn’t our votes count more than their votes? It’s only fair.’

Soon we will impeach their president. We will the elect our own president.

Cultural elitism and rightfully attaining the higher moral ground (as the term is defined) pertains to more than mere politics.

How about approved lifestyles?

Cows are solely responsible for the destruction of the Amazon Rain Forest. The only appropriate answer? Enforced Veganism.

Proud to be gluten free and want everyone to know about it? TMI? The world must accommodate and openly sympathize with your glorified maladies.

Even though more than 1 billion people globally lack reliable electricity today in the 21st Century, there are actually leaders of nation states are actually daring to exhibit genuine and justified concern for the economic well being of their own citizens.

“How dare you!”

Only authoritarian states rejecting Capitalism (e.g., economic freedom) can truly wisely embrace Climate Stalinism. Giving the people the choice of protecting the planet and putting food on the table … ? Must suck to be you and hungry.

The chosen few are dedicating their Fridays For Future, and will take control of the other six days per week too … particularly a football Saturday. Elitist spoiled children (redundant?) scolded their respective august Ivy League universities for being “complicit in climate injustice?” Does that mean socialist justice/environmental justice … whatever justice … are the only answers?

What happens to your virtually guaranteed six-figure jobs upon graduation? If you are really opposed to capitalism, wouldn’t you become a 24-7-365 agitator? Didn’t think so.

Almost DailyBrett is totally on-board when it comes to Choosing Kindness. This blog has been a consistent platform for the practice of civility, objectivity and embracing other points of view.

Yes, there are actually people on our one-and-only planet, who do not buy your activist prescriptions let alone ingest your pharmaceuticals. There are times when the cure is worse than the disease.

Can you humor us and actually gaze your eyes downward from your higher moral ground, and realize and appreciate that others may have a different take on the world. And that’s okay.

You are all for celebrating diversity. Right?

Let’s go for it, and add a little kindness too.

Climate Stalinism

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/born-with-a-silver-foot-in-his-mouth/

 

“You control the debt; you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.” – Actor Luca Giorgio Barbareschi as arms producer, Umberto Calvini, The International.

In the days of ole, one could buy a treadmill or an exercise bike and work out or employ it as a glorified laundry rack.

Now we have the recent Peloton IPO — (NASDAQ: PTON) — selling its bikes for $1,995 and treadmills for $4,000.

The key differentiator is streaming content (bike or aerobic instructor videos) for a recurring monthly charge of $39 or more. Peloton didn’t just sell a pricey bike and/or treadmill, they more importantly marketed a monthly obligation to a growing subscriber base … and that very well could include you.

The consumer bought high, and is paying even higher.

The stately The Economist reported the news and entertainment industry (i.e., Disney, Fox, ESPN, HBO …) along with major tech players (i.e., Apple, Amazon, Netflix) collectively spent $650 billion in the last five years on acquisitions and content, a sum greater than America’s oil industry.

For example the Mickey Mouse gang just unveiled Disney+ for only $6.99 per month (how long will that price last?), allowing binge watching of the Star Wars catalog to one heart’s content. The downside is another sliver of your financial independence given away for yet another monthly fee.

Sooner or later, the price of each kernel of streaming popcorn is going to add up.

They Have The Gravy, And You’re On The Train

During his Silicon Valley days, Almost DailyBrett was consumed by a litany of recurring payments (i.e., mortgage, utilities, taxes, insurance, car payments, credit card usage, mobile phones, cable, house cleaner, gym membership, pool maintenance, gardener …). In toto, all of these outstretched hands each month represented a seemingly out-of-control first-world dilemma on steroids.

Money was coming in, and going out just as quick each month. Similar to the IRS, each of the growing list of providers never forgot to remind your author of his annual/monthly obligations.

Even more than ever, our consumer-oriented economy (70 percent of the total) is predicated on enticing even more Americans to shell out an escalating amount of capital on a monthly basis, ensuring a consistent flow of money in one direction.

Hint: Someone is getting rich and it’s not the average Jane or Joe.

Some can avoid being “slaves to debt” to the bank (e.g., pay off your credit cards each month), but it’s way more difficult to avoid recurring annual (e.g., Amazon Prime or Costco memberships) and worse, monthly payments.

Let’s face it, some monthly outlays are unavoidable (e.g., utility payments). Most have mortgages or rent to pay every 30 days. Many have car payments. Even if you pay your total credit card bill religiously (which you should), it’s still a monthly obligation.

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t want to sound like a parent, but still must pose this question: How many of these recurring payments are absolutely necessary?

Shelter, food, power and water are essential to life. Most likely all or at least some of the above are financed/amortized through monthly payments.

Your author must ask, do we need a Netflix subscription on top of the cable bundle? We are already paying up the Wazzoo for up to and beyond 300 channels, the vast of majority we do not watch … and then we add on Disney+, ESPN+, Netflix and God knows what else.

And we are wondering what is happening to our money?

No Longer Driving The Top Line, How About The Bottom Line?

Follicly challenged Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and others of the species are retiring … and Gen Xers (hatched 1965-1979) are not far behind.

Let’s face it, for most Boomers their peak earnings days are behind them.

If you can’t grow the top line, then reducing the bottom line is a great idea. Can one seriously reduce costs and still live a comfortable happy life?

Do you still require a mortgage? Can you downsize? Can you rent instead? Can you move to a lower-cost state or community?

Is good weather (e.g., California) worth the mounting hassles, congestion, rising costs and always higher taxes?

Can you avoid car payments? How about fixing up your ride?

And most of all, can you build a stone wall preventing new monthly payments from wrecking your budget?

If you must binge watch, is there a free way to enjoy the same content without the monthly ball and chain?

Retirement experts preach avoiding second (or more) homes, subsidizing adult children and overspending.

At some point, that one more monthly expense may prove to be A Bridge Too Far.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/14/who-will-win-the-media-wars

“Official statistics no longer countered this (Ossies) group — who were disproportionately young, clever, female and ambitious — as East Germans.” — The Economist’s “Thirty years after the Wall fell, ” November 2, 2019

“From adversity comes opportunity.” — Former Notre Dame Head Coach Lou Holtz

When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, more than 1 million Ossies took advantage of their newfound freedom from Communism, immediately heading to West Germany and for the most part … thriving. More than one-quarter of East Germans aged 18-30 moved to the west, two-thirds of them … women.

They recognized there were two paths to go by, but in the long run, there was still time to change the road they were on … especially young, clever, ambitious females.

For those 16 million-plus souls adversely trapped for 28 years behind the borders of stultifying-oppressive-surveillance state East Germany, there finally was an opportunity to leave, begin a new life and build a lucrative career. Many took this new road to affluent Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hamburg … and never looked back.

Is moving to a more promising venue, the catalyst for success and building wealth?

Only one way to find out.

“I’m in Favor of Progress; It’s Change I Don’t Like” — Mark Twain

Ever meet Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer or Gloomy Gus?

Their cups are always half empty. They impress upon you what they can’t do rather then what they can do. Their little rain clouds follow them wherever they go … and in the most cases … they don’t go anywhere.

They settle for status quo mediocrity or worse. And soon it will be late … too late in their lives to make a change for the better.

They will choose neither path, and the road will soon be closed for good.

Almost DailyBrett was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The former steel town is a great place to be … from.

Fortunately your author’s family was afforded the opportunity to move to Southern California. For Almost DailyBrett, Sacramento, CA, Portland, OR, Pleasanton, CA Ellensburg, WA and now Eugene, OR followed.

With each move came a change of scenery, variables, superiors, colleagues, subordinates, issues to confront and problems to solve. There were always vexing adversities and intriguing opportunities, and most of all challenges to overcome.

In their coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall earlier this month, most of the newsies focused on the disparity of those who reside and succeed in former West Germany, and those who remain mired in chronic poverty in former East Germany. For many, they could have moved to seek a better life, but for one reason or another … they didn’t.

Yes, there is income disparity even in a model European nation.

The story also needs to reflect the shift away from an agrarian economy, which is largely cosigned to the Stone Age. The following industrial revolution of Johnstown, PA is kaput. The world is now consumer dominated (e.g., 70 percent of the United States economy), digitized and service oriented.

Advantage women … particularly young, clever and ambitious women.

The service oriented consumer economy is right in their sweet spot. Public relations, marketing, advertising, event planning, local government, law, real estate, health care, hospitality … heck, even hardware stores … are dominated by the fairer gender or at a minimum … heading in that direction.

Can men, who once dominated the agrarian and industrial economies with their brute strength, ignorance and testosterone, succeed in this new service economy? Yes for some, but will they en masse? The evidence is not promising.

Not only have women passed men in terms of labor force participation, the same X-curve apply to women vs. men college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above. And in the vast majority of cases, one must or want to move away from home to go to college. Universities and colleges should be a one-way ticket to independence, not back to mom and/or dad.

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

If professional women were a publicly traded stock compared to an equity for professional men, Almost DailyBrett would not hesitate to invest in the growth potential of the fairer gender. As your author has always noted, stocks are a forward rather than a lagging indicator … women are leading, men are behind and the gap is growing.

The wind is clearly in the sails of professional women, particularly those who are brave and smart enough to recognize there’s still time to change the road they are on.

And when their ship comes in they will be ready to board and set sail.

Alas way too many men will be killing time, playing video games at the airport.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/the-night-the-wall-came-tumbling-down/

“Billionaires should not exist.” — Millionaire U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont)

“Every billionaire is a policy failure.” — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York)

“Personal wealth is at best an unreliable signal of bad behavior or failing policies. Often the reverse is true.” — The Economist

Super talented and accomplished media superstar Oprah Winfrey is worth $3 billion.

Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s net worth is $1.9 billion.

Hip-hop star/investor Jay-Z just made into the three-comma club at $1,000,000,000.

Did government fail when Oprah, Michael and Jay-Z all succeeded and thrived, each because of their hard work, fortitude, perseverance and incredible talent?

Did anyone of them trade on their … privilege?

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember Oprah engaging in insider-trading.

Do you, Secretary Reich?

Ditto for Michael Jordan profiting from a monopoly unless Mr. Reich is pointing to Michael’s near-monopoly of talent against the competition he faced night-after-night in the NBA?

Is Jay-Z guilty of fraud, a political payoff or did he inherit his wealth?

Wonder if any of these “basically 5 ways” to accumulate a billion dollars in America apply to Nike founder/Philanthropist Phil Knight?

Have you read “Shoe Dog,” Professor Reich? Nike almost went under about nine times.

The former Labor Secretary’s “5 ways” Twitter screed is intellectually dishonest, and remarkably easy to discredit.

Alas, it is beneath the respect normally afforded to Robert Reich. Next time go high Mr. Reich instead of racing to the bottom. Talented and hard working people can earn their wealth on their own without resorting to nefarious deeds.

From a policy standpoint, we need to ask:

Should we punish Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Uncle Phil and so many others who worked their tushes off to legitimately make their fortunes with a punitive Elizabeth Warren 6 percent wealth tax (up from the original 3 percent proposal), and income tax rates reaching 90 percent or beyond?

Whattyathink Senators Sanders and Warren?

Class warfare — born out of jealousy — is not new.

The effective tax rate for achievers in the United Kingdom in the 1970s once reached 98 percent. If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, ask The Beatles … ask The Rolling Stones, who fled to France and recorded “Exile On Main Street.”

Can a near 100 percent confiscatory tax rate, which was thankfully eliminated in the UK by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, happen in the United States of America? Let’s hope not.

Celebrate Instead of Hate?

Almost DailyBrett remembers boys and girls practicing basketball, so they could be “Just Like Mike.”

Your author can imagine girls admiring and wanting to be the next Oprah.

You should check Ellen’s interview with Bill Gates. They discussed the works and deeds of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, donating a cumulative $50.1 billion to fight global childhood poverty and to improve public schools in our country.

According to Forbes, Gates is worth approximately $96.5 billion — give or take a shekel or two — making him the second wealthiest homo sapien on the planet. Virtually everyone in the first world is using Microsoft’s Windows Operating System, inspired and written by Gates. And his charitable foundation has contributed more than any other non-profit ever to make our world a better place (more than most governments).

His former company Microsoft is valued at $1.14 trillion, generates $96.5 billion in annual revenues, and employs 144,000 in well paying positions with full benefits and stock options. Taken together, the performance of Microsoft as a company and the generosity of the Gates Foundation, puts Bill’s wealth into perspective.

Can we have more “policy failures” just like Bill Gates, Phil Knight, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Jay-Z and so many more?

Instead of hating people who are wealthy, let’s celebrate and cheer for the achievers (e.g., Michael Jordan).

If we are concerned about billionaires, our policies should focus on stimulating competition (i.e., über-tough content streaming, video game, smart phone markets…), not limitless redistribution or punitive taxation.

If our political intent is to further divide, demonizing billionaires (as others have been publicly denigrated for ages) is a good way to engender one of the seven Deadly Sins: Envy.

If our goal is growth and prosperity, then let’s encourage Millennials and the generations, who will follow, to shoot for the stars. Let them become tomorrow’s Oprah, Michael, Jay-Z, Bill Gates and Uncle Phil.

And if they succeed financially, let’s celebrate them and at the same time root for competitors to keep them on their toes.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/09/billionaires-are-only-rarely-policy-failures

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/11/07/have-billionaires-accumulated-their-wealth-illegitimately

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/who-we-are/general-information/foundation-factsheet

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/the-lonely-guy-standing-in-line-for-a-burger/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/taxing-uncle-phil-to-death/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/three-comma-club/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” — UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

If a private sector position with full benefits isn’t the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised … what on earth is?

In order to avoid saying she will raise taxes on the middle class for “Medicare For All,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing federal confiscation of all pretax employer paid Medicare health care benefits for literally millions of working achievers.

Her plan will eliminate private health insurance for 150 million Americans or more, and nationalize the $530 billion private health insurance industry.

Isn’t the termination of $8.8 trillion in cherished pretax employer-paid health care benefits for millions of employees, the equivalent of a middle class tax increase on steroids? Keep in mind, the annual federal budget is only … $4.45 trillion.

Instead of Starbucks paying $20,000 for this benefit to each of its 291,000 employees for private insurance (e.g., Blue Cross, Kaiser …), the legendary coffee roaster would be compelled to turn-over a similar amount to the federal government. In turn, these employees would lose their Starbucks offered pretax Medicare benefits and choice of private health insurer, only to forced into government paid … and only government paid … DMV-style insurance.

The Bernie Sanders “Medicare for All” bill (which Warren supports) calls for a 4 percent federal income tax increase for middle class workers. In order to avoid saying she is raising middle class taxes, Warren proposes instead federal confiscation of pretax employer paid health care benefits.

“In practice this (redirection of employer-paid health benefits to the government) would be a tax on employment, which seems likely to hurt middle-class Americans.” — The Economist, November 9, 2019

Deciding which plan (Sanders or Warren) is worse is just as difficult as deducing which is better.

How about keeping and retaining private health insurance, and our ability to choose our own doctors, dentists and optometrists?

Almost DailyBrett has always exhibited a libertarian streak. If we empower our $4 trillion behemoth federal government to confiscate pretax employer-paid health insurance, and eliminate private health insurance for 150-million-plus souls, the obvious question is:

What’s next?

Tax On Billionaires

” … if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us?” — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commenting on the spectre of a Warren presidency to the company’s 35,000 employees.

The public relations spin by Bernie and Elizabeth has focused squarely on the likes of Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon and Leon Cooperman, including Warren mocking the latter for his tearful concern about the future of our country.

Consider the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $36 billion to fight third-world poverty. Does no good deed go unpunished?

The centerpiece of the billionaire vilification campaign is a 2 percent wealth tax on those with assets exceeding $50 million (how many folks in blue states California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts … are included in this tax?), and 6 percent for those with $1 billion or more. We are not just talking about giving “two cents” (on each dollar) more.

How would the federal government determine the amount of wealth to be taxed and confiscated? When would it be paid? How much stock will needed (needlessly?) be sold (maybe even at loss) and how much will be immediately bought back? What’s the algorithmic multi-billion dollar impact on the 52 percent of the country investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds for their retirement or children’s education?

Is this tax, constitutional? Are we talking about double taxation? More to the point, do we want as a nation to empower … there’s that verb again … our massive government to punitively confiscate wealth and with it, achievement? How about a tax on lower upper class wealth? Ditto for a levy on upper middle class wealth? And how about … ? The possibilities are limitless.

Three European nations still impose wealth taxes: Norway, Spain and Switzerland. How’s Spain doing?

Eleven European nations have rescinded their wealth taxes: Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden.

That’s right, wealth taxes didn’t work in Denmark and Sweden, why should it fly in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

According to the stately The Economist, Warren’s all-government all-the-time programs include requiring Amazon, Facebook and Google to be regulated as platform utilities (before or after their breakups?), 40 percent of all board seats held by “public reps” (read, unions), bans on nuclear power and fracking, 75 percent lobbying taxes, 37 percent taxes on capital gains, and the imposition of taxes on unsold stocks (employing Enron-style mark-to-market accounting or MTM) … and the list goes on and on and on.

Warren supporters caution America’s Investor Class (52 percent of the entire nation) not to worry; her plan will eventually be watered down or not approved. If so … what’s the point?

Are Warrenites and Sandernistas supporting Republican control of at least one house to serve as a check and a balance to radicalism? Didn’t think so.

Some see Warren as a Socialist champion against Capitalism or buy low sell high.

Instead, Almost DailyBrett sees Bernie and Elizabeth as two peas in the same pod.

They are threatening our economic freedom. They will dip into our wallets, and deny us benefits and physician choices we already enjoy. The only winner? Big government.

Instead of wisely controlling the size and scope of government, some will be cool with a greatly empowered … there’s that verb again … carnivorous federal bureaucracy with even more power over our individual abilities to chart our own financial futures.

Be afraid … be very, very afraid.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/elizabeth-warren-wealth-tax-european-nations/

https://slate.com/business/2019/11/elizabeth-warrens-health-care-medicare-for-all-single-payer-unfair.html

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/10/24/elizabeth-warrens-many-plans-would-reshape-american-capitalism

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/07/how-would-elizabeth-warren-pay-for-her-health-policy

https://slate.com/technology/2019/10/mark-zuckerberg-said-elizabeth-warrens-presidency-would-suck-for-us.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/how-blue-cross-saved-my-bacon/

“When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work. We are workers. And by selling this idea, ‘Hey man, I’ll teach you how to be rich.’ How is that different than an infomerical?” — Jon Stewart to CNBC’s Mad Money host and former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager, Jim Cramer

No truer words were ever spoken.

During the course of his 2009  infamous viral dressing down of CNBC’s “Mad Money” Jim Cramer, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart took direct aim at the notion of get-rich-quick, particularly in times of an economic meltdown.

Some acquaintances of Almost DailyBrett have inquired and even critiqued your author’s daily devotion to CNBC, the repeated clicks on Charles Schwab’s retirement IRA platform, and the checking of the value of the Eugene, Oregon residence on far-less-than-perfect, Zillow.

Yours truly is a dedicated capitalist, devoted to maintaining and growing wealth under the banner of Buy Low Sell High.

Buying low and selling high generates … profits. Yes, profits. Sorry Bernie and Elizabeth.

Some vehemently argue that nothing-is-guaranteed Wall Street is more or less, gambling.

Almost DailyBrett disagrees with this conclusion, but clearly recognizes that gamblers are energized and engaged. No one plays poker and puts their chips on the roulette table and cavalierly accepts the verdict. They play to win the game.

As Herm Edwards said: “You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game.”

And more times than naught, gamblers lose. The staggering accumulated wealth and gaudy palaces along the Las Vegas Strip are monuments to the … losers.

Don’t investors want to win too? There are no guarantees on Wall Street. Invested money is placed at risk. Doesn’t that make Wall Street the greatest casino of them all?

Achieving the spread between buying at a lower price and eventually selling at a higher price is more … much more … than simply investing in a 401k or IRA and forgetting about it. ‘Ahh … just let the pension fund chiefs or the mutual fund managers worry about it.’ Don’t worry.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about your nest egg. Growing, caring and nurturing your tomorrow is a business. In effect, it is the ultimate business.

You want to ensure that you live a long and happy life, and that you expire before your money runs out.

The Wall Street crash of 2007-2010 is still fresh for most of us. Ten years later, we are enjoying the fruits of the longest bull market in American history with a record low, full-employment Department of Labor unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

Time to put up our feet? Hell, no.

Manage Rather Than Be Managed

“Stewart had no special Wall Street knowledge, as he was the first to admit. What he had was a nose for a scam, and an uncanny ability to articulate what the rest of us were feeling.” — New York Times columnist, Joe Nocera

Recognizing that Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a stock market analyst or technician, he is nonetheless still right: “Our wealth is work.”

Part of the task before us is to understand completely a very simple question: How does a company makes money?

Please allow Almost DailyBrett to speak ex-cathedra: If you do not understand how a publicly traded company makes mula (e.g., McDonald’s makes hamburgers and feeds 1 percent of the planet each day), then you are gambling on a stock, not investing.

Remember posing this question to my classes about Bitcoin.

Some students volunteered that Bitcoin is a crypto-currency … whatever that means. “It’s been going up” (and down). Currencies are associated with countries (i.e., greenback, USA; Euro, EU; Pound Sterling, UK). What country backs Bitcoin?

Nada.

Therefore in your author’s portfolio, there is no place for Bitcoin or any other Ponzi Scheme.

Stewart publicly undressed Cramer because the former believed the latter’s network (e.g., CNBC) was not doing enough to protect retail investors, particularly those who were experiencing the daily assault on their portfolios between 2007-2010.

Most of us wish to forget that time, and yet we took the steps to manage our accounts and protect our nest eggs. We chose to manage instead of being managed.

Maintaining and building wealth requires us all to work, to stay alert, and have a healthy batting average when it comes to making our financial decisions.

Stay alert. Stay engaged. Stay the course.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/iinzrx/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–2

http://money.com/money/3982267/jon-stewart-5-best-money-moments/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/how-blue-cross-saved-my-bacon/

The beer stand at Oregon’s Moshofsky Center indoor “tailgate” party offered an intriguing choice last Saturday.

One could purchase a 16-ounce Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale for $10.

Or one could consume two 12-ounce Coors Lights (a.k.a. “The Silver Bullet”) for the same price … $10.

Here’s the question: What is more important … the quality of the beer or the cost of the suds?

Back in college we never blinked about the source of our fermented hops, water and barley, our only considerations were access and cost (e.g., Oly quarts for 55 cents).

Heck, we even tapped keg beer and consumed nothing but foam.

When contemplating this national issue, consider that Oregon is celebrated for its microbrew culture (along with Pinot Noirs and Cannabis).

Almost DailyBrett is a big fan of user friendly Mirror Pond pale ale with its smooth full taste, reasonable amount of malt and barley, and low alcohol.

But would your author … even for a nanosecond consider drinking two Coors Lights (24 ounces) for the same cost of one Mirror Pond (16 ounces)?

The real question: Was yours truly willing to make “love in a canoe” in the name of thrift?

“Life Is Too Short To Drink Cheap Beer”

The Germans are legendary for their beers, namely golden (helles) and dark (dunkles) lagers.

Das Reinheitsgebot or the German Beer Purity Law goes back to München 1487, five years before Columbus set sail for the New World.

Besides setting its protectionist standard for beer (e.g., no Silver Bullets in Deutschland), the Germans also coined the above phrase about life being simply too short to ingest Coors Light or any other Ausländer lager, let alone English ales.

For Almost DailyBrett, is his expected stay on this planet way too short to even consider … let alone drink … Coors Light regardless of price?

Mirror Pond pale ale is the anchor brand for Bend Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, and favorably rivals Chico California’s Sierra Nevada’s Pale and Ft. Collins, Colorado’s New Belgium’s Fat Tire.

Admittedly, $10 is pricey for a one half-pint when you consider you can buy a “sixer” at your local supermarket for approximately the same price. One should also consider and weigh the ambiance of game day at Moshofsky with several thousand of your most intimate fellow Duck fans.

Isn’t Gemütlichkeit or being warm and fuzzy all over with kindred spirits the same whether one Mirror Pond or two Coors Lights are being carried and consumed?

That question is the essence of the dilemma. How many beers do most people quaff before, during and after a nationally televised football game (e.g., Oregon’s 17-7 win over Cal)? For Almost DailyBrett, the answer is typically two.

Okay, let’s rephrase the question: Two Mirror Ponds for $20 (32-ounces total) or two Silver Bullets for $10 (24-ounces).

Would your author actually Make Love In A Canoe?

Gasp, would yours truly consume two beers that are F…… Close to Water?

Alas, dos Coors Lights were the shameful order of the day in direct violation of the Reinheitsgebot, and everything we hold dear in America.

At least your author was not tempted by PBRs at any price or quantity.

When it comes to a race to the bottom, yours truly will only stoop so low.

https://www.coorslight.com/av?url=https://www.coorslight.com/

Mirror Pond Pale Ale

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinheitsgebot

 

“Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: ‘We the People.’”

“We did it. We weren’t just marking time, we made a difference. We made the (shining) city (on the hill) stronger – we made the city freer – and we left her in good hands.  All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.” — President Ronald Reagan Farewell Address, January 11, 1989

President Ronald Reagan was not a first-person singular leader: I, Me, Myself.

Even though he was completing one of the most successful presidencies in American history and was justifiably entitled to take a bow, he still for the most part gravitated toward first-person plural even in his farewell address: We, Us, Our.

These vital pronouns salute the team that makes it happen, the linemen who protect the quarterback, the pit crew changing the tires in less than three-seconds, the people who write the emails, send the letters and form the coalition that makes a politician and a movement successful.

Donald Trump is an über first person singular type of guy, and that is his greatest weakness. He could learn from Heisman Trophy Winner Marcus Mariota, Five-Time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and most of all from Ronald Reagan.

Almost DailyBrett was privileged to devote two decades of his career, directly serving two first-person plural leaders: Former California Governor George Deukmejian and LSI Logic founder, chairman and chief executive officer Wilf Corrigan.

Did both of these overachievers have healthy opinions of themselves? Of course.

Did they have big egos based upon their proven records of self-made success? Naturally.

One was the most popular governor of California in the modern era; the other was a successful entrepreneur immigrant worth, $432 million.

But when push came to shove, it was about the people around them, the citizens and customers they served, the investors and their shares … we, us and our.

“I Have Returned”

Did you note MacArthur’s first-person singular is his most remembered quote, and his follow-up in first-person plural is forgotten?

Didn’t the collective strength of the U.S. Army and Navy facilitate MacArthur’s return to the Philippines?

MacArthur was later fired by President Harry S. Truman. Surprised?

Will Donald Trump be fired by the American people in 13 months time, despite a robust economy, no new military involvements in the Middle East (or elsewhere) and way too-far-to-the-socialist-left potential opponents? It can happen, but will it?

Under similar circumstances Reagan crushed Walter Mondale in 1984. Reagan won 49 states worth 525 electoral votes, capturing 58.8 percent of the vote. Mondale recorded his home state of Minnesota and DC for a total of 13 electoral votes, 40.6 percent of the vote.

Almost DailyBrett can state with impunity that incumbent presidents have decided advantages heading into re-election years (i.e., Obama, George W., Clinton, Reagan), but not certainty (i.e., Carter, H.W. Bush). Recent presidents with the tailwind of economic prosperity … “It’s the economy, stupid” … all were re-elected.

Your Enemies Will Always Be Your Enemies; Your Friends … ?

Having said that, Trump is his own worst enemy, and that is magnified by his first-person singular devotion on steroids.

Why couldn’t his own campaign quietly conduct opposition research when it comes to Hunter Biden being selected for the board of directors for Ukraine’s natural gas supplier – Burisma Holdings — while his father, Joe Biden, was vice president of the United States? This question is particularly magnified considering Hunter’s well-chronicled repeated problems with cocaine, and zero experience in energy.

For some reason, Trump decides that he … and only he … can conduct this oppo research directly with the leader of Ukraine … and as a result an impeachment proceeding was born. Will he join the ranks of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as impeached presidents, but not convicted in the Senate (if it goes that far)?

The larger question is whether he pulls defeat out of the jaws of victory when his friends (e.g., high propensity Republican fidelity) are still his friends? Will his personal embrace of first-person singular (I, Me, Myself) trigger mistake-after-mistake, and his friends stop being his … friends?

Maybe a little more Reaganesque first-person plural … we, us, our … and some good old fashioned humility would do the trick.

Don’t count on it with this president.

https://www.azquotes.com/quote/551270

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/the-governor-who-changed-my-life/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

Are free dinners the same as free lunches?

Almost DailyBrett is simply amazed by the sheer volume of invitations received every day since the onset of his retirement.

There are annoying robocalls, carnivorous telemarketers, “personal” letters, informational packets, not to mention a slew of digital and broadcast ads.

Dinner for two at the nicest places in town … free of charge.

New “friends” wanting to lend a helping hand in managing your author’s investments, providing a swell place to take vacations year-after-year, distributing retirement savings or taking over residential equity and kicking-back crumbs month-after-month.

Why does one need a middle-man for your own retirement nest egg?

There is a thriving industry to provide Almost DailyBrett and everyone else with a spiffy “vacation club,” spending quality time annually with family (assumes one wants to spend more time with family).

“You deserve it.” How do you know?

Conversely, there is reciprocal industry to extract (for a fee) pigeons from foolish time-share contracts.

Too much time with the family? Too good to be true? Didn’t read the contract? It must suck to be you. Only we can help.

Buy a time-share, get out of a time-share … either way the Land Sharks win and you lose.

Somebody is making money and sad to say, it’s the salesmen/saleswomen.

These apex predators all have the gift of gab with wonderful smiles and they are all well dressed, hiding their dorsal fins.

They have a deal … such as deal … for you.

Their basic proven strategy: Get your derriere into a comfy seat with a nice drink (or two or three … ) and soon it will be time for the contracts … time share, annuity, reverse mortgage … all waiting to be signed.

Just affix your signature right here on the bottom line … muther sucker.

“Die And Go To Hell”

“We don’t sell annuities. I would die and go to hell before I would sell an annuity.” — Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments’ 60-second advertisement

Can’t forget the image of Leonard DiCaprio giving the middle finger to a vacillating on-the-phone investor in Martin Scorsese’s over-the-top plethora of gratuitous F-bombs, drugs and skin: The Wolf of Wall Street.

What value to society is created by time-shares, annuities, reverse mortgage sales dudes and sales dudettes?

Do they really care about their clients? 

As we grow more mature, there seems to be a mindset that retirees in their sixties … let alone older … are losing it upstairs. They are ripe for exploitation.

It seems that new friends are popping up here, there and everywhere. They are always ready to help. Trust us.

Almost DailyBrett detests the hard sell. The harder the push, the greater the personal resistance.

Your author gravitates to proven friends. A prime example is Charles Schwab, which has managed my retail investment portfolio for a generation.

Is publicly traded Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW) intrinsically interested in driving the top and bottom lines, consistent with its fiduciary responsibility to investors? Absolutely.

Schwab’s core business … providing a low-cost trading platform (e.g., $4.95 for equity, mutual fund and bond transactions) … may be a tad boring and predictable, but the client is provided with real shareholder value.

Didn’t CNBC’s Mad Money with Jim Cramer write a book entitled, “Get Rich, Carefully?”

Does anyone think he or she is going to get rich carefully with a time share, annuity or reverse mortgage?

Didn’t think so.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/hasta-la-vista-to-timeshares-annuities-and-reverse-mortgages/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/has-it-come-to-this-tom-selleck-and-henry-winkler/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/506-f-bombs/

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/timeshare-salesman-says-he-lied-for-a-living-062615.html

https://www.cnbc.com/mad-money/

 

“I’ve actually never met anybody who likes their health insurance company.” — Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts)
“And while Bernie (Sanders) wrote the bill, I read the bill. And on page eight — on page eight of the bill, it says that we will no longer have private insurance as we know it. And that means that 149 million Americans will no longer be able to have their current insurance.” — Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota)

If your author didn’t have bad luck 15 years ago, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.

In chronological order: there was the diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2004, my first wife died of stomach cancer nine months later, and to top it off … the brutal arrival of incurable (but today manageable) Valley Fever (e.g., fungus) came in 2006.

Fortunately, Almost DailyBrett was always covered by some flavor of Blue Cross … and that is true today.

At the expense of shedding any semblance of modesty your author earned his health insurance, waking before dawn for mind-numbing commutes and waiting hours for evening flights and confronting countless challenges in between.

The rapid fire series of bad medical luck with a new installment every year, each diagnosis had the potential to devastate your author financially … and yet there was thankfully health insurance, private-sector health insurance.

Any public discussion about eliminating my hard-earned Regence Blue Cross, particularly in the onset of my retirement years, is an absolute non-starter for yours truly. Your author will categorically state that he will not entertain even for a nanosecond, voting for any candidate who advocates taking away my Blue Cross.

Aren’t Democrats labeled by detractors as the “give-away” party, never as the “take-away” party?

Aren’t Democrats the “pro-choice” party, rather than the “no-choice” party?

Sorry Bernie and Elizabeth, Almost DailyBrett is one of the estimated 150-to-180 million Americans who would lose his or her private insurance with the onset of the “Medicare For All” elimination of private insurance scheme.

Think of it in terms of Monte Hall’s Let’s Make A Deal: On one stage is tried-and-true Blue Cross health insurance — the one that has served your author and his family since the 1980s — and on the other stage is … the door. What’s behind this scary door?

What we know for sure is that Blue Cross Blue Shield will be out of business. Private insurance will be nationalized. There will be zero “public option.” There will be only one option, the government, the same government that provides us with DMV, the US Postal Service (USPS) and Amtrak.

Sorry, you author does not want federally mandated Amtrak train wreck health care.

Insurance: A Necessary Evil

Even though insurance by its very nature is a negative product (you pay for it, but you really don’t want to use it), Almost DailyBrett actually likes his private sector insurance company, and wants to keep it. Sorry Elizabeth, this author does not concur with your sweeping ex cathedra pronouncement.

Bernie loves to point out that drug and insurance companies generated a cumulative evil profit of $100 billion (e.g., denominator). Question: What is the numerator? How many companies are we talking about?

Keep in mind that each of these publicly traded health companies has a federally mandated fiduciary responsibility to drive the top, and yes … bottom lines. Are we including bio-tech companies, researching cures for cancer, heart disease and other ailments? Are all of these companies actually making money?

The $100 billion number sounds just a little too perfect … to be real.

Bernie and Elizabeth want to give everyone federal health insurance, and only federal health insurance. No issue divides the Democratic Party more than the question of taking away private health insurance from the one-half of the nation, the 150 million-plus who earned and rely upon their private health insurance.

Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a new “Third Rail of Politics,” and Bernie and Elizabeth are shocking the nation with their draconian plan.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/13/transcript-third-democratic-debate/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/prostate-cancer-a-piece-of-cake-compared-to-valley-fever/

 

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