Don’t really need ’em, do we?

This is a picture of the Ames Resource Recovery Plant (garbage dump). Its closed to residents now. COVID-19 don’t ya know. We pay for it and we pay for the salaries, which haven’t been cut. The left lane with the door down is for residents. The lane about 6 feet over is for commercial drivers. Just 6 feet separates us from certain death. Bureaucratic nonsense is what it is. Paper pushers are not what you want in a crisis.

The first thing they do in an emergency is figure a way why they can’t do their job. In Ames they got that down to a science. All these signs over the front of city hall saying “Closed!” You know its an emergency, I saw a cop patrolling. Normally they got their ass sitting at city hall. Well guess what? Its kind a obvious we don’t need you. When you can go on vacation and you don’t have to be filled in, you’re superfluous. We could do a whole lot of cutting in city government.

Waste Management was no better, “We’re not taking large items right now”. Everybody is conspiring to force me to store garbage at the house. That seems stupid to me. Downright stupid. Boone County Landfill is just as worthless as Story County. Just some worthless sons a bitches. Like all bureaucrats they’re as lazy as the day is long. Lucky for them citizens are too stupid to cut them. Don’t need them. A shutdown shows that.

Closer, closer…

If you look to the right side of this chart you’ll see the DOW all time high at 29,511 on February 12, 2020. At the extreme right edge you’ll see it today (3/20) close to its 52 week low at about 20,000. Close to 30% off the market top. You’ve got to figure its going to go lower. In 2008 with the Global Financial Crisis it went negative 48% off the top. I suppose if I cared I’d put 3% of available cash in the market now.

But frankly, I want to see it hit 15,000 before I got serious. Even then I don’t think I’d put more than 50% of available dollars at that point. I think it could get down to DOW 10,000 fairly easily, especially considering they want Trump out so bad. A lot of people think that’s what all this is about. DOW 10,000 would be a 2/3 decline. I think I’d put 80% of available cash in at that point. Never want to go 100%.

Buying opportunities like what may be coming don’t come along that often. For god sakes don’t sell now. Keep your powder dry. What I’m talking of course is an S&P 500 index fund. We’re getting closer, but we ain’t there yet. The bad news is I don’t think it would be in the trough long at 10,000. Psychologically it would be devastating. You’d need to be ready to pull the trigger quick if it gets that low.

[The great buying opportunities I know of with my limited knowledge were 1929, 1973, 1987, 2002 and 2009. Essentially 5 times in the past 100 years was there a distinct opportunity. Number 6 may be anytime. Doubling your money is a good opportunity. Tripling it is a great opportunity.]

Ain’t life funny?

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold them. Having grew up with the activist mindset, its tough coming down from the fight. Norms go through life without a care in the world, or rather just being concerned with things that are their business. Activists/nuts worry about things that aren’t ever going to change. Washington isn’t ever going to change. That’s one a lot of activists worry about. My God, don’t they get it? Washington isn’t about you, its about cash. And how much they can accumulate.

Another big one for a lot of people is “climate change”. They’re going to change the world. Well, kind of. They want to change the United States, Canada and Europe. The idea that the problem is China, India and Brazil never seems to compute with them. Think about that, they want to solve a “problem” without confronting it. How they’re going to do that is beyond me. I know how they want to solve it, by taxing the United States taxpayer. Fix China by taxing the American.

On the local level I’ve realized the futility of several areas. No matter if I buy gas at a Casey’s in Des Moines, Boone or Ames, as often as not I won’t get a receipt at the pump, I have to go inside. Kind of defeats the purpose of ‘pay at the pump’. Then it hit my keen computer like brain, “Quit going there!” Don’t deal with the aggravation, go somewhere else. I’d quit going to Kum & Go because they wouldn’t let me pump my gas then walk in and pay. If they don’t want you take a hint and leave.

The lack of snow removal can be an irritant if you live in the Midwest. The city’s aren’t going to get it done, if you don’t like it you better move south. Life gets easier when you realize you have to do your job, no one else has to do theirs. That just reminded me how true that is! 10 years ago or so self-checkouts were just starting. I’d be going through a checkout line at Walmart watching the cashier be rude, slow, inefficient and surly and be thinking, “You’re putting yourself out of a job genius.” They did.

I went to the new Fareway downtown. They have 4 self-checkouts now. They NEVER had them. They do now. After Hy-Vee remodeled they must have 16 now! Easily half their extensive line of checkouts is now done by the customer! Its crazy. Like I say, it gets easier once you realize you and this world are phucked. Our country doesn’t have borders, we give drivers licenses to illegals, register them to vote, haven’t a clue if terrorists walk across the border too.

We give jobs here in America away to Indian graduates instead of Americans. We impeach the best president we ever had. We pay taxes but don’t get the services. We pay taxes and police the world. We die for the world. We spent the past 75 years building the biggest baddest military in the world, yet we can’t defend it against unarmed people who want to walk in. We give them welfare and free medical instead.

Its crazy. Well it is if you think about it. The trick is to not think about it, just accept it. Its not 1970 anymore. Something happened in the intervening 50 years. I’m not sure what, but it most certainly happened, whatever it was. We are now on autopilot. Sit back and let it happen. We have auto-driving cars now. You don’t have to think. All you have to do is spend, and accept. Work and die. I’m not sure exactly when the world went crazy.

[The frozen pepperoni pizzas are kind a funny. The top one is a DiGiorno, it comes with a whole 4 pepperonis. The bottom picture is after I made it a pepperoni pizza by way of Armour pepperoni slices. Do you know how many the much more expensive Bellatoria “ultimate” pepperoni pizza comes with? 5. You just have to accept it and buy a bag of pepperonis.]

They didn’t help bake that bread

President Trump signs a “Phase 1” trade deal with China and all of a sudden all these naysayers come out of the woodwork (CNBC, New York Times, CNN) saying its a bad deal! It very likely could be, so what? You’ve done nothing. You haven’t tried. In fact it was in your financial interest to give away the store and you did. And now you’re going to criticize Trump for trying to correct it? You’re going to criticize Trump for calling attention to the problem and addressing it head on?

Steve Liesman epitomizes this mindset. He is so “make my head explode” irrational on China and the concept of fair trade that I can’t begin to understand how he could arrive at such an illogical conclusion. You know he’s not “stupid”. But how the hell… it just doesn’t make sense. Bake your own goddamn bread.

Its not rain …

… they are pissing on you. Trump has been doing this since spring of 2017. That’s evidently when they set the work visa levels for the country, in the spring for summer job levels and whatnot. I’m tired of it. I ain’t voting for him. He sold us out. I’ve been watching this a long time. When Bill Clinton signed NAFTA back in 1993 they sold it to us on the basis of “We don’t want those boring old manufacturing jobs, those are yesterday’s jobs, we want high tech!” So what happens when all we are left with is high tech jobs? They bring in graduates from India to work them! What the hell is that?? When do American workers ever make out? You’ve had open borders for 50 years flooding the labor pool with Mexicans, taking away the low-skill jobs, now you take away the high-skill jobs too?

Ecological splinters

There are certain inconsistencies in the thought process on the Left that drive me crazy (and its a short drive). Nowadays they are worried about the minuscule “carbon footprint” of the United States, while ignoring the Bigfoot print of manufacturing behemoths China, India and Brazil. Air is air and water is water. No matter how clean we keep our air and water won’t matter as long as those 3 industrial heavyweights are muddying them up.

Then there are two big ticket ecological disasters in America that greenie worrywarts (Sierra Club, Izaak Walton League, Audubon Society and such) just flat out ignore. The first is automobiles. Not the amount of pollution they put out, but the wasted resources of their designed obsolescence. They’re made to be replaced after 10 years! 2,500 pounds of plastic, rubber and steel thrown in the dump after maybe a decade!

Plumbers found out some time ago that plastic outlasts metal pipes by a longshot. You might get 60 years out of copper and galvanized, but plastic lasts forever. And while PVC doesn’t work in automotive applications, polymers do. Along with stainless and aluminum. Between those 3 materials, cars could easily triple their lifetime. Thereby reducing their ecological impact by 300 percent. But as it stands now, Detroit designs them with just enough untreated steel to make you throw them away way too early.

The other area of completely unneeded harm to the environment is asphalt shingles. You’re very lucky if you get 25 years out of them. Whereas with rubber/plastic shingles, clay tiles and galvanized metal roofs, you’re talking 100 years if not longer! That’s 400%! Goodnight, do you know how many thousands of pounds are thrown into a landfill every 25 years? A small house roof with asphalt shingles weighs 2,805 pounds, the typical house two to three times that!

Damn right the people who put on those shingles want that to continue! Its like plumbers and conventional water heaters! No way do they want you to go tankless. They want to keep selling you those 40 gallon tank models. You know why? Because without proper maintenance, you won’t get more than 10 years out of them! All you have to do is run a gallon out the bottom once a month, and replace the anode rod every 24 months, and they’ll last forever! Instead we have another big ticket item we throw away after 1 decade instead of 3.

So we worry about the ecological splinters, while ignoring the beam in our eye.

“For real investors”

One of the funniest/saddest things in my lifetime was watching the transition from defined benefit retirement programs into this “do it yourself” mess. They turned the responsibility of retirement over to the individual, but they didn’t provide any guidance or training. Its ridiculously simple, but you have to tell people. People can end up with fantastic amounts of wealth from their investments at the end of 40 years, but you have to have a plan.

The post title was taken from an ad by a financial site called Seeking Alpha (‘alpha’ being the investment gain of money). They used terms like “for real investors” and “advanced portfolio tools“. What a load of crap. They want to make investing seem all difficult. That there is some kind of “black magic” to it. That you have to pay for their “premium side” to get all this expert advice or you’ll end up an abject failure. After making every investment mistake you can make, I’ve learned a couple of things.

The first is that if you have a matching program from your employer that allows you to put your money into a low-cost index fund, take it. The power of regular bi-weekly investing through 26 pay periods a year is incredible. If you don’t have a matching program that’s fine too. Just $200 dollars a month into Vanguard’s VOO ETF index fund that tracks the S&P 500 will make you a millionaire if you start at age 22.

It would be best if it was twice a month, but even once a month is fine. You don’t have to be a “savvy investor“, you don’t need to have sophisticated “portfolio tools“, you just need the ability to save $200 dollars a month come hell or high water. Its called an index ETF fund. I say ETF because they have lower costs than a mutual fund. A mutual fund has an expense rate around .5%, and exchange traded fund around .05%. Vanguard’s VOO ETF expense rate is actually .03%.

Its real simple, 26 pay periods a year times 44 years. If you let salesmen get you off track into load funds and individual stocks you can end up with far, far less. If you let yourself get within 5 years of retirement fully exposed to the stock market you can end up with far, far less. But if you put $100 a pay period for 44 years into a low-cost index fund, you will have over a million dollars.

With typical historic returns and with investing more as you earn more, you will end up with many millions.

If you let salesmen steal from you, if you get scared when the market goes down, if you live only for today and fail to save for tomorrow, you will end up broke. Albert Einstein is reported to have said compound interest is the greatest invention man ever made. The only sad thing is that we should have to be in the stock market at all. If we didn’t have a corrupt banking system we’d be able to earn 8% in long-term CDs or Bonds. And we wouldn’t have to swim with Wall Street sharks at all.

“I see…. I see a ship!”

Seeing the future is a tough thing. At the end of 2019 its easy to look back and say, “Well of course the stock market did this, this, and that!” Hindsight is 20/20! The trick is, what’s going to happen in 2020? The lines on a chart seem perfectly obvious once they’ve happened, the dips and rises make perfect sense. On CNBC the “experts” say we’re going to have another banner year. That makes me nervous. The experts, like me, are usually wrong. So 2 things call for a market crash: A.) The experts say it isn’t going to happen. B.) They want the ‘Trump economy’ to crash.

The powers that be do not want Donald Trump in office. And since the voters historically vote with their wallet, right now his reelection chances look real good. I know 2 years ago I read they plan to crash it in July 2020. We’ll know in about 7 months. Ah the future…

[The picture of Tina Louise is a reference to an early episode of Gilligan’s Island where the Professor had Ginger pretend to be the fortune teller ‘Madame Ginger’ and “see” a ship coming towards the island in her crystal ball in order to ‘buoy’ the spirits of the castaways.]

Debt slaves

President Trump was on Facebook this morning touting the “record stock market”. Its all a house of cards of course. Business in this country is so fake it makes me sick. For some reason we have a country full of people that think you can have a vibrant economy built on service. Banking, insurance, retail, software… hardly. On top of that, they are so poorly run we have to subsidize them in various ways.

It wasn’t clear whether the Fed is pumping $72 billion a week or a month into the stock market. Between that and the 0% interest money we’ve been subsidizing them with the last 20 years. We had to do that after they crashed the economy with the dot com bubble during 2001-2003. Then we had to keep the border open to supply them with cheap labor.

There’s probably not a more incompetent collection of crooks on the planet. ‘The gang that couldn’t shoot straight’. Business couldn’t stand on their own 2 feet to save their lives. Labor has had to survive onslaught after onslaught of off shoring, flooding with refugees and flooding with Mexicans. You’re so full of it Trump its coming out your ears. Time after time after time those MFs drive a business into the ground, they’re handed a Golden Parachute and the employee is handed an unemployment slip right before Christmas.

The most obvious ripoff of America is in executive compensation. Whereas labor has risen roughly 10x since 1955 ($4K a year to $40K a year, the rate of inflation) CEO salaries are 100x (10 times the rate of inflation). $150K annual in 1955 to $13 million annual in 2019. That’s why they had to offshore production and quit paying dividends to shareholders: They are in effect stealing from the company. The business motto used to be make the company rich, now its make themselves rich. Whereas CEO to line worker ratio used to be 30x, its now 300x.

Swimming with sharks

Still getting ripped off. You go through life and you think you’ve learned all their sneaky tricks, and there’s no way they’re going to get you this time! And they do. T Rowe Price PRHSX Health Science Fund is an interesting example. On Friday the 13th the share price was $84 and change. By Monday it had dropped 5% to $80. What happened? Was the market experiencing a decline? No its been going up .23% everyday for the past week. Well that’s weird, the rising tide is lifting all boats but yours?

Monday just happened to be the day the fund was paying long term and short term capital gains for the year. A huge event for your mutual fund. I wanted to get rid of the fund, but not until I got that year end payout. So $84 dollars a share, the 52 week high, everything’s looking good to get the payout and sell, then it tanks. 5%. I assume at the higher share price the fund would have had to payout more in gains. At the lower price they save 5%. They’re going to screw you, the only question is how.

T Rowe Price and American Century are part of that rare breed of fund families that can lose money during a period of all-time record breaking highs.

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