Thursday, September 30, 2010

Epicurean Camping

A true epicure lives mostly a frugal and ascetic life, but has refined taste in a few dimensions of life, such food and drink. In camping/canoeing, that means combining the primitive with some fine accompaniments for pleasure. This photo provides an example of how to do this in practice. You can see my typical breakfast: hardtack, peanut butter, jelly and black coffee. The "finer" components are the peanut butter & jelly and the freshly perked (not instant!) coffee. The hardtack is .. very ascetic. [It's in the white box, made at a bakery that made it in the Civil War.]

You can also see the wine from the prior evening's festivities around the campfire: as Woody (the attending oenophile) said, a plain, undistinguished red wine ... but it was wine in the wilderness! With our steak & baked potato dinner (with sour cream & chives), that was an epicurean camping exemplified.



Word of the Day

"Gourmand" - noun [$10]
Gourmand means one who delights in eating heartily and well. Usage: A gourmand is one who loves good food and drink and sometimes partakes of them to excess; a gourmet or an epicure , on the other hand, has discriminating and cultivated taste in food and wine.
Sentence: The problem with being a gourmand is the expanding waistline; being a simple epicure is better.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Epicurean Chipmunk

On the recent Epicurean canoe & camping trip, I and my fellow Epicurean campers had much fine food & drink: grilled steaks, baked potatoes, sour cream, fine wines, cognac, Irish whisky, and s'mores. But as true Epicureans, we also ate much as pioneers might have: dried foods, pemmican, flatbreads and hardtack. In the Epicurean fashion, we added some improved ingredients to "spice up" the otherwise bland food. In the case of hardtack, that was peanut butter & strawberry jelly.

In the course of eating my breakfast of black coffee, pemmican and hardtack with peanut butter & jelly, as adventurous chipmunk spotted a piece of "loaded" hardtack that I dropped. Obviously he was a gourmand and grabbed it, carrying a piece bigger than himself to a safe spot to enjoy.

The photo above shows Chip ... or is that Dale? enjoying the Epicurean treat: hardtack with peanut butter & jelly. We had many visits from enterprising chipmunks to our various campsites. They were welcome and as hardtack is rather crumbly, they obtained some fine food from me.
Waiting to sell some gold stocks when the signal gets stronger. I'm keeping my physical gold & silver for now.
Word of the Day
"Execrate" - verb, transitive [$10]
Execrate means 1. to declare to be hateful or abhorrent; denounce; 2. to feel loathing for; abhor; 3. to invoke a curse upon.
Sentence: The Tea Party movements unifying principal is to execrate big government. I hope somehow that can be more finely focused onto the Ruling Class power structures.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hogs at the Trough

I was not surprised by the facts in a Wall Street Journal article that I tore out before going on to my Epicurean camping trip.

"Washington Firms Soak Up Stimulus" - WSJ Sept. 17, 2010.

The Ruling Class Hogs made sure they wrote a "stimulus" bill to feed themselves and their friends and neighbors: "More than $3.7 billion of stimulus contracts, grants and loans have gone to recipients in the District of Columbia and two adjacent congressional districts—Maryland's 8th District and Virginia's 8th District. That amounts to nearly $2,000 for every resident—nearly three times the national average, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of reports filed by recipients."

This shows the depths of greed and depravity of the Ruling Classes in DC. The people need help to recover from a bad recession caused by the Ruling Classes on Wall Street, and their cousins in DC write a stimulus bill to shower money on themselves and the coterie of hogs in DC. More: "More than $2.2 billion of the stimulus money awarded to the Washington area has gone to private firms, many of which are helping federal agencies with the administrative work generated by the sprawling effort: deciding how to award funds, drawing up contracts and monitoring and auditing spending. Some help federal agencies with their internal monitoring systems and public-relations efforts."

The P-O-R crowd gave stimulus money to the Federal government and firms providing it MORE services. Gosh, that's a hard pressed sector, isn't it. Obama touts "shovel-ready" projects and gives them peanuts, while he fills the trough for His, Rip-Off Harry Reid's and Nancy Pelosi's pals and supporters in the Federal government.

Of all metropolitan areas, Washington's is lowest; it's employment actually rose over the last 12 months. Yet the P-O-R Stimulus bill spent more money there than in truly depressed areas. Incredible greed !!!

The whole passel of hogs in DC needs to be booted out: the existing rulers in Congress, the administration and the entire lawyer-lobbyist clique. They are almost ALL dishonest. At a time of need for national leadership - the Panic and 2008 and its resulting Great Recession - they simply wanted more power and money for themselves. They are a ruling aristocracy gone lustful for MORE and MORE.


I sold a lot of money invested in TIPs [via the Vanguard index fund] as those prices reached new highs. Those levels are very, very risky as TIPs now yield very low rates and have very heavy risk of loss if rates go up. This is "sell high, buy low", "buy low, sell high". Krypto Fund is building it's cash pile and will reinvest it as asset valuation re-adjust and provide something cheap to buy. actions.

Word of the Day

"Emend" - verb [$20]
Emend means to remove errors or corruption.
Sentence: Voters must emend that crucial pillar of support of the Ruling Class this November by electing honest leaders who will vote to help the common people.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Man vs. Nature

Man lost on Friday in a small confrontation. That was when I and my fellow canoeist - The Mariner - attempted to exit Algonquin National Park in Canada via Round Lake. We and all the Epicurean campers had had a fine trip - a bit wet, perhaps, and on that last morning had negotiated 36 winding turns in the Amable du Fond River. The wind was calm, the trees at nearly peak color. The final portage was behind us. Then we entered Round Lake and ... whoooosh. Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, was exerting his power ... right into our faces and from the place we had to go to exit the park.

The Mariner shouted, "Steer into the wind, mate". That's the only way to make progress and maintain our steering. [The Mariner was in the bow and Bunkerman was in the stern of our 17' canoe - heavily laden.] We made slow progress, but the wind was increasing. Round Lake is not completely round - it's got a funnel shape on the east side towards the river and we were in the funnel. We were blown off course a couple times - The Mariner said the wind had a cross-current. We persevered. Stroke, stroke and on and on for about an hour, but very slow progress.

Steering was getting harder. The waves were getting larger.

The larger waves begin to toss water into the canoe amidships. Bunkerman shouted to The Mariner, "We're taking on water !" Still we paddled on and on. Then more water - worse - and steering broke down. Bunkerman shouted, "We're not going to make it". We had negotiated only a fraction of the distance . Sinking would really suck ! We chose to head to shore and rode there in a wave-tossed ride like a rocket with the wind. Smashing into the small trees, we held on, but were taking on more water as we were now parallel to the waves.

We struggled to edge around a log, made it to a small beach and lashed the canoe to some trees. Big Al came by to help - he had a kayak and thus much less wind resistance. We told Big Al that we'd walk for help. That we did and then after a couple hours, a CD$40 "taxi" ride for 5 miles, and the help of Big Al and Mrs. Al, we had the canoe and our gear back at the rental site at the park's entrance/exit.

We had survived !

The lesson ? Make your exit day flexible. The prior day was a fine day for canoeing - had we left the day before, we would have avoided this near disaster. Perhaps plan a longer trip, but keep a flexible exit day.

One more thing: in my "humble" opinion, the GORP prize goes to Mrs. Al. Her GORP had little butterscotch chips that imparted a fine delicate flavor. Congrats, Mrs. Al for your championship GORP. [GORP = Good, Old Raisins & Peanuts, a canoeist-hiker's nutritious snack food which can contain whatever else the maker wishes for better flavor.]


I checked the model and the weak sell signal for gold+silver is still there. TIPs are at a new high and I plan to sell more of those. I think I'll slowly take that allocation to zero. Those yield almost nothing and price risk is now very high. I also plan to cut back teh US stock allocation as the S&P approaches 1200.

Word of the Day

"Eidetic" - adjective [$10]
Eidetic means (of a mental image) having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible
Sentence: The winds, waves, whitecaps and water sloshing into our canoe has been imprinted as an eidetic image onto Bunkerman's memory cells.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Minimal vs. Maximal

Last year on the wilderness "Epicurean" canoe+camping trip, I tried to be a minimalist. That means taking as little gear as possible and being as self-sufficient as possible and having gear that did not seem decadent. After all, this was a wilderness trip. I had never been on a long canoe trip like this before and did not understand that for portages, when one must carry all the gear & canoe for a short distance over land from one lake/river to another, taking two trips was not only possible, but common practice.

This year, I'm going Maximal. Why limit myself to one backpack of gear ? I have hands. I lift weights. I can carry more gear in them as I hump over the portage. Except for the portage, the canoe carries all the weight. That's the great benefit of water travel that pioneers understood. I bought a fine waterproof duffel bag from Cabala's [ ] and I've put lots of gear into it: my sleeping pad and bag, some more clothes in case mine get wet, a warm coat, my coffee pot & coffee, a camp stool (so I won't have to sit on wet ground or a wet log), and some assorted other gear. It's fairly heavy, but the portages aren't that long.

Having the duffel bag also let me diversify my supplies of food and clothes - I split them into two parts and packed part in the backpack and part in the duffel bag. In case of accident and loss of one set, I'll have the second ... and will survive !

Perhaps I've overdone it. If so, next year I've know enough to hit an Aristotelian virtuous optimum.

PS: no posts next week as I will be on the Epicurean camping trip.


Futures are up this AM. I'm still riding on my Brontosaurus, looking for the next water hole when I'll get off and into the trees. But until then, it's a fine, enjoyable ride.

Word of the Day

"Farrago" - noun, plural [$10]
Farrago means a confused mixture, hodgepodge, medley: a farrago of doubts, fears, hopes and wishes.
Sentence: The P-O-R 'stimulus' was mostly a farrago of gifts to states to subsidize overpaid state employees and payoffs to political support groups. Less than 10% went to true stimulus - buying and fixing things that are needed such as roads, bridges, rails ports, air ports, air traffic control, high speed Internet, and valuable conservation and historic preservation projects that increase tourism. The P-O-R 'stimulus was squandered and that' why US poverty and unemployment are distressingly high.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Blather

here, that is. I've been busy preparing for my Epicurean canoe and camping trip next week and finishing up some important business. As a consequence, I have nothing interesting ready for this morning's post. The news is thin gruel. I'm following gold & gold stocks and may sell some soon, when Krypto's model shows a stronger signal.

Rather than blather along, I'll just give you the Word of the Day and shut up.

Word of the Day

"Bolus" - noun [$10] plural 'boluses'
Bolus means 1. a soft ball esp. of chewed food; 2. a large pill.
Sentence: (borrowing from T. S. Eliot's usage) Barry's economic policies resemble a lump of cud, an indiscriminate bolus, having no substance or logic or form that might help the common man get a good job.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The model gave a weak sell signal for gold this morning; I'll wait.

Gold hit a new record high yesterday - it's around $1,270 per troy ounce now. Central banks are buying. The public is buying via the ETFs.

My intermediate/long term target range is around $1,500 to $1,666 on this leg up, hence I think there is more upside. I'll do some selling beginning around $1,500, though.

A short post today as I overslept.

Word of the Day

"Effulgent" - adjective [$10] literary
Effulgent means radiant, shining brilliantly.
Sentence: A pile of effulgent gold coins is lovely to behold.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I refer to your financial world - don't fall for all that advertising for one-stop 'shopping' for financial products. If you want to be able to survive hard times, which we now all know DO occur once in a while, you need to keep strong barriers between your various assets and financial tools.

Why ?

The main reason is the "Right of Setoff". Financial institutions have this legal right. Suppose you have a bank account, a small CD and a credit card all at the same bank. You borrow on the credit card to pay for something needed - like to repair your car. Then you lose your job and eventually can't pay the credit card. Then the bank can take your CD, take all your funds in your checking account and apply it to the credit card balance, and then close your checking account.

Now they've really screwed you. You have to go to check cashing services to cash checks from part-time jobs now.

BUT, suppose you applied Bunkerman's strategy to your financial life. Your checking account is at one bank, your small CD at another and your credit card somewhere else. Now you have bad luck and lose your job. Eventualy the credit card payment can't be made, but you are much better off. They can put it out to collection and harrass you, BUT that bank will have much trouble getting access to the funds in your CD and your checking account. They have to sue you first - and that costs money and takes time. You can get that CD out and convert it to cash and put it under your mattress. You can keep small balances in your checking account and it can be protected, too. That bank really won't care that you defaulted on a credit card, so long as you don't bounce a check.

You are far, far better off. You have islands of safety. You can still live a normal life.

Separateness applies to mortgages, too. Don't get a mortgage from your own bank, OR from a bank from which you have a significant credit card or CDs. Same reason.

Have several credit cards from different places - you don't have to use them, just have them. I have several and rotate my usage to give them all a bit of business.

Don't open a brokerage account at any bank that you do other business with.

All this especially applies to business accounts. Keep that bank separate, too. These walls will protect you if trouble hits.

By the way, all this separateness helps you maintain privacy, too.

Do I trust banks ? Nope, no way ! Keep them at arm's length.

EXCEPTION: you can get a home equity loan from the same lender as your first mortgage. That is a bit of an advantage for you, as you can refinance the first mortgage leaving the second mortgage in place (IF you have enough equity & income). Why ? The home equity lender can re-subordinate the second lien of the home equity loan and let the new first mortgage step to ahead in lien priority. That will never happen if the home equity line is with another bank.


Still riding my Brontosaurus, waiting for a sighting of that water hole out there.

PS: Checked with Krypto .. she wants me to sell a bit of Euoprean stocks. A weak signal, but I'll comply given where the markets are. Also, I see TIPs is over 108, so I'll sell more of those, too. All proceeds to cash as no buy signals exist.

Word of the Day

"Maugre" - preposition [$100] archaic - used by George Washington in private letters, a person who had no formal schooling. Related to the French word, malgré, of same meaning.
Maugre means in spite of, notwithstanding.
Sentence: Maugre all those ads from banks, never give them more than one piece of your financial business. They will stab you in the back at the worst possible time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

There is No Safety Net

Public dialogue in the US has a serious flaw: the myth that a safety net exists for people who have had unfortunate circumstances, such as losing a good job and running through all their savings. There is none if you have no young children. Almost all "welfare" benefits are available only to people with children.

Income levels for single people being eligible for Medicaid (health care) are very, very low. For NY for 2010, the limit is $8,479. If you earn more, you aren't eligible.

The Right often spouts that the poor pay no taxes due to the "Earned Income Credit". I guess they don't check the tax forms. For a single person, the earned income credit is only 7.65% of earned income below $5,970 for 2009. That's the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, but not the employer share. Yet the Right always says the worker effectively pays that part, too. That's called "double talk". For incomes over $5,970, the credit is capped at $457, then phases out from phases out from $7,470 to $13,440. The phase out rate is the same 7.65%, hence the working poor in that income level is paying a double Social Security + Medicare, hence has a very, very high marginal tax rate (higher than private equity fund billionares thanks to their 'carried interest' tax at only 15%).

Emergency rooms ? That works for "emergencies" for now, until the hospitals go broke and close [that is happening in some communities]. Simple procedures like a potentially dangerous cyst are not "emergencies". Many very important health care needs are not emergencies.
Housing support: you get nothing unless you have children.
WIC program: children and recent mothers only.

In Massachusetts, the federal poverty limit for a single person is $10,836. Above that and food stamps go away.

How much money is $10,836 per year ?

A work year is about 50 weeks at 40 hours per week, hence 2,000 hours. That poverty line then equates to $5.42 per hour. The Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. Uh ... does this make sense ? A single person working the minimum wage for a year is NOT poor ?

Notice that such a person is right in the middle of the Earned Income Credit phase out, hence that person's marginal tax rate is very high. How can person work & climb out of such a hole ? The system's barriers to exit poverty are very, very high.

Worse: the banking system. A person who has lost all their savings and gone bankrupt has likely had his/her bank account closed. Banks do that when one defaults on a credit card from the same bank. Now that unfortunate person has no bank account to cash pay checks and must use check cashing services and pay those huge fees.

Worse again: a home. One loses the home in foreclosure, then must rent. Renting in a safe place often requires security deposits and credit checks. Bingo, the working poor gets the door slammed in their face again.

More worse: credit checks. Did you know that many employers now do credit checks ? Hence a person suffering from unfortunate circumstances has another barrier to return to normalcy.

Look at the entirety of this : a person working hard for years, not bad, not evil, not a criminal, but a good person who has had unfortunate circumstances is (metaphorically) tossed into a deep pit to suffer, and that pit has high walls. It's very difficult to escape.

There is no safety net for many, many good people with unfortunate circumstances. It's quite wrong. We, the taxpayers who pay a LOT of taxes are being lied to by the Left and Right.

The Left says it's working for the poor, but it is not. 40+ years of huge taxes and government payments and those who are certainly very, very deserving get no help. All these programs of the Left are incredibly complex, requiring many, many well paid state and local employees (unionized) with fine benefits to administer.

The Right says there is a safety net, but as you can see, there is none for the taxpayer who has some bad luck. Good people - like the voters whom the Right panders to - get tossed into the pit and ground up by the system, effectively enserfed.

What else do we see ? Benefits for the poor are massively concentrated on people with children. What is a relevant law of economics and behavior ? IF one subsidizes something, one gets more of it. Thus the US gets MORE children from the poor. That's the very thing the right loves to gripe about, yet they do nothing.

This downturn has exposed the lies of the past four decades on both the left and right, and the corrupt system of government that feeds off our taxes yet does NOTHING for those very people who deserve some help. It's just wrong and must be reformed.

All these programs need reformed and made simple. As does the US tax system. We need honest people in government. Not deal makers, not negotiators, not good speakers, not people who can work the system. Honest people who will implement real reform - simple reform.

We need a Square Deal: fair and simple.


I am still riding that Brontosaurus to the next water hole. Futures look good this AM. I'll contemplate taking some sugar at the 1150 area on the S&P 500. [sugar = profits]

Word of the Day

"Festoon" - verb, transitive [$10] and "Festoon" - noun [$10]
Festoon means (verb) to hang or form festoons, to shape into festoons; (noun) 1. a decorative chain or strip hanging between two points; 2. a carved, molded or painted ornament representing a decorative chain.
Sentence: The Left piles program upon program to make themselves look good to voters, to cause voters to think the Left is helping them, but it's all phony festoons to hide the core reality: the Left cares primarily about having more and more well-paid, unionized government workers for their power base.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lucky Star

The Bunker will be graced with a new puppy dog from Australia in early October. Her photo is to the left. We've named her Lucky Star, getting the idea from some Persian star names translated to English. Lucky Star is a first cousin once removed of our big boy Kelpie, Sky, and is some relative of Krypto, but we haven't figured that relationship yet.
We expect Lucky Star to be a fast learner as she will have two older relatives to teach her the routine around the Bunker. And of course once she is old enough, she will get a chance to push some sheep around the field.
The breeders for Lucky Star are, of course, the same ones as for Krypto and Sky, viz., in Australia. A Kelpie is very smart and fully grown weighs about 35 pounds.
Doing nothing but sitting on the back of a big Brontosaurus riding the bull move to the next water hole. I'll check my allocations and other stats later this AM. I'd like to lower my TIPs allocation to 5%, but want a good price.
Word of the Day
"Expatiate" - verb, intransitive [$10]
Expatiate means 1. to move about freely or at will: wander; 2. to speak or write at length or in detail.
Sentence: A blog is a wonderful thing: one can expatiate on any subject, broadcast your thoughts to the entire world, and Google will give potential readers a chance, however slim, to find and read them.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Electric Cars are Stupid (Mostly)

What is causing this current infatuation with electric cars ?

I'd say it's the latest bait of that element of the environmental movement that is insincere, that group which really wants us all the go back to life as a peasant in the Middle Ages living in "harmony" with nature in a village of mud-walled, thatched roof huts with outhouses. They always have a carrot dangling just out of reach of the mule (aka 'ass' which is how they think of the common man) to lead it along, like those old cartoons.

Simple physics means electric cars are very, very inefficient is use of energy. Why ?

Almost no conversion process is 100% efficient. Electric cars require several conversions to get the car moving. First the power must be generated - there are no electricity mines or wells. Then the power must be transmitted to the charging station. Then the battery must be charged. And finally the power is used by the motor to create movement. That's FOUR process conversions. The losses of energy must be very large.

Almost all electric power is generated by coal, natural gas or nuclear. Hydro contributes a lot select areas.

Using natural gas directly in cars can involve only one conversion: burning the gas in the engine to create movement. The finding, drilling, pumping and transportation incur no losses. A distribution system would need to be created.

Using nuclear power for electricity generation to run cars could work, but one loses a lot in transmission and battery charging. Using nuclear power to make hydrogen works better.

Hydrogen cars could work very efficiently and be very, very clean. BUT ONLY if the hydrogen is created by using nuclear power to make the hydrogen from water. Breeder reactors have an almost inexhaustible supply of fuel. Using those plants to make hydrogen, then one needs a distribution system to get the hydrogen gas to the cars. That process will not incur significant losses - it's similar to a natural gas distribution system.

The ONLY positive thing one can say about electric cars is they do not use imported oil. THAT is a BIG PLUS. But that's the only positive thing.

For all the blather about energy policy for the past 35 years, why does the US have none ? That's easy - the ruling classes like crisis and like to keep their snouts in the 'energy crisis' trough. If the problem is solved, the trough empties.

Here's a 'starter' policy.

1. Start building nuclear power plants - breeder reactors are best as they can use plentiful U-238 to make more fuel.
2. Build a combination natural gas & hydrogen (for long term future) distribution system.
3. Perfect natural gas powered cars.
4. Divert much power generation from natural gas to nuclear.
5. Use the natural gas to power an increasing share of US motor vehicles.
6. Over time, start making hydrogen from more & more nuclear plants.
7. Develop a multi-fuel car motor that uses natural gas OR hydrogen with a few simple changes.

When fully implemented (maybe 20 years), all motor vehicles could runs on natural gas or hydrogen transported via a robust distribution system. Eventually as natural gas becomes scarce, the system would be all hydrogen, perhaps after 50 years.

Over twenty years, US dependence on imported oil would go to ZERO. A good result, and the energy used for transportation would be all rather clean, too. Imagine, if this had been done in 1975 after the first energy crisis, how wonderful the US energy position would now be. Why wasn't a few hundred billion $ of stimulus money spent to SOLVE this vexing problem ? That's easy- the ruling class does not want to solve it.

Instead, the ruling classes have kept the US dependent on expensive oil imports that suck huge amounts of money out of the nation. This is an example of why the current ruling classes in DC must be kicked out by the people.

Word of the Day

"Rallentando" - adverb, adjective & noun [$10] Musical
Rallentando means (adverb & adjective) with a gradual decrease in speed; (noun) a passage to be performed in this way.
Sentence: Implementation of Bunkerman's energy policy would cause rallentando consumption of imported oil use, diminishing to zero after a couple decades.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The mountain men and 'coureur de bois' who explored and trapped in the old west and Canadian north needed a nutritious, portable food that would last for weeks or months. They carried and ate pemmican, which was made from dried meat, crushed nuts and chopped berries, held together with some rendered fat as a binder and made into sticks or bars.

I will be going on a canoe and camping trip in the northern part of Algonquin National Park in Canada in a couple week. As Bunkerman, I try to eat foods that have some historical or survival connection. I made some pemmican this weekend for lunches on the trip. Here's my recipe.

1. Two parts Jack Link's Premium Cuts - Prime Rib Beef Tender Cuts (aka jerky);
2. One part chopped walnuts;
3. One part orange flavored dried cranberries (from Trader Joe's)
4. Peanut butter (Jif Reduced Fat)
5. Wax paper

Put the jerky strips into a Cuisinart and chop into very small bits, then put into a sturdy bowl. Add the other two ingredients and mix well. Then started adding peanut butter and mixing (used a knife to cut the peanut butter into the mixture helps) until it sticks into a bar when you grab a bunch into your hand and squeeze.

Then take sheets of wax paper about a square foot in size, place formed bars of the pemmican on it and roll wax paper around the pemmican bar, then use a small piece of tape to keep the wax paper cover in place.

Store in your refrigerator until ready to hit the trails.

Word of the Day

"Self-wrought" - adjective (participial adjective) [$1000 ! yes, found only in the OED]
from "wrought" which is the archaic past and past participle of 'work'.
Self-wrought means produced or brought about by oneself.
Sentence: In two weeks, Bunkerman carry his self-wrought pemmican as a nutritious and historically accurate food on his canoe and camping trip in the north Canadian wilderness.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Blather from the Bloviator

La Grande Bouche ... The Bloviator in Chief ...

speaks again ... and again ... and again.

Does he think ? Nope.

On Labor Day he comes out with some more ... talk. He want to give business $200 billion in tax savings on investments in plant & equipment. Uh ... is not the problem a lack of jobs for HUMANS ? So why is he subsidizing replacing humans with machines ?

He want to spend $50 billion on "road, railways, and runways". Uh ... wasn't the P-O-R stimulus plan supposed to do that ? It had $700 billion. I guess he is tacitly admitting that money was squandered on unproductive spending. And the people are supposed to suppose that crowd of knaves for MORE spending ?

Meanwhile, the massive taxes on jobs continue. As do the onerous new IRS reporting requirements for small business expenditures. As does the favored tax rates for the billionaire hedge fund managers (the capital gains treatment for "carried interest").

The working poor pay higher tax rates than the billionaire hedge fund and private equity managers. A single person making $15,000 per year in a small business pays 15.3% tax for Social Security and Medicare [ no deductions here ! ] AND a 15% marginal tax rate on taxable income (after the standard deduction and personal exemptions). There is almost no "Earned Income Credit" for single people OR married people with no children. Thus those people are paying 15.3% on the gross plus 15% more on their net household "profit", for a total a 30.3% tax rate.

The billionaire hedge fund or private equity manager pays 15% capital gains rate on his "carried interest". This is not a capital investment. He invested NOTHING - he gets the carried interest for free as a management fee. And the multimillionaire who inherited their wealth and has invested in municipal bands pays NOTHING, TOO.

So Obama still wants to tax jobs, give companies tax breaks for replacing people with machines and give billionaires and multimillionaires free ride.

Is that the "Audacity of Hope" ?

No. That's just lazy sleaze and bloviation to get and keep power. No thought is happening in the White House, but a simple calculation of how to change the subject ... from his failures to anything else.

The P-O-R [Pelosi-Obama-Reid] knaves need to be ejected from power. I hope the public gives them the boot this fall.

PS: The Tea Party activists who are listening to libertarian billionaires like the Koch brothers are being fooled. All they want is free rein to turn themselves into a new aristocracy and gain more wealth and power. Notice how they love to adulated at those social events. They want the public to kowtow to them like they were Dukes or Princes in old Europe. Pericles would scorn them. And the public should, too. Ugh.

PPS: One of the biggest lies being shouted is that the working poor pay little or no tax. I guess they've never even looked at a tax return and are making it up. Economists and people in think tanks are like that. They have little or no practical experience in the world.

PPPS: The health care debate is rather false, too. Those opposed to some kind of national benefit keep screeching that the poor get health care via Medicaid. BUT anyone checking would find out that is given almost exclusively to people with children. The common man without a job gets almost nothing. Thus if he gets sick and a big health care bill, he can lose his home, too. And his life savings. Some fairness. The US system is a disgrace.

Word of the Day

"Zetetic" - adjective [$10]
Zetetic means proceeding by inquiry, investigating.
Sentence: Good solutions to national problem of lack of jobs must come from true zetetic analysis of the actual factors forming the situation, not from political calculations for gaining or retaining power. From my own zetetic thinking, it seems obvious that the US has too few jobs because it taxes jobs too heavily.

Friday, September 3, 2010

TGIF but

summer's over after this weekend. I'm taking the day off from posting (ok, I overslept, too). The hurricane will likely dump much needed rain here later this afternoon.

Krypto is enjoying the ride on the back of a Brontosaurus as the trend continued yesterday. No further actions contemplated for awhile.

Word of the Day

"Invious" - adjective [$1,000] obsolete
Invious means impassible, inaccessible, without paths or roads. OED meaning: having no roads or ways; pathless, trackless.
Sentence: This weekend I'll be reviewing plans and test-packing for the Epicurean camping and canoe trip in the invious backwoods of northern Algonquin National Park in Canada.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On for the Ride

My favorite market metaphor is the herd of elephants. Those are the "beefers". A "beefer" is a Big, Evil Fund. A Big, Evil Fund is an actively managed fund (hedge fund or mutual fund or the proprietary trading desks on the Street) with more than $100 million (likely leveraged a lot) which mostly tries to make money trading. Nowadays, many are run by computers.

The "market" is a herd of them - like a herd of elephants. There are few brains: very, little fundamental thinking. Elephants are smart, so maybe dinosaurs are a better choice for the animal. They had small brains. The Steagsaurus had a brain the size of a walnut and a multi-ton body. Or maybe a Brontosaurus.

Beefer behavior is like a heard of brontosaurs: they mill around the water hole, stomping on everything that moves on the ground, and eating everthing edible. Their computers try to extract "vig" from the real investors and the dumb money. After awhile, the water hole is all mud and the food is gone. Then the herd will head out looking for the another water hole. It might be a "bullish" or a "bearish" water hole. Some sectors might be favored, or they'll just play the indexes.

That's what happened yesterday. The herd started moving out.

How does a small, agile mammal - like the common man investor - survive & make some money ?

When the herd is milling around, stay in the trees. If you get involved, you'll get stomped. Pick off some trades on the edges of the herd when asset values get out of whack. Mostly wait. Sit.

BUT keep looking for signs and portents that might signal the herd is getting ready to move out. When it does, don't be afraid to hop onto the back of a Brontosaur & ride along. That's how you make the big money. Ride a trend to the next water hole. Then get into the trees again.

Krypto knows this and has hopped onto the back of a Brontosaur for the ride. Yesterday I bought much $ in US index funds, mostly VTI. If the move is a feint or fades, I'll get back into the trees, but until that seems obvious, I'll enjoy the ride.

By the way, Krypto is a Kelpie from Australian and those dogs are bread and trained to climb onto the backs of a herd of sheep to move them through the gate. Riding a big Brontosaurus is no problem :)

Word of the Day

"Flagitious" - adjective [$10]
Flagitious means criminal, utterly villainous.
Sentence: So much flagitious behavior of politicians and would be politicians has been exposed and is occurring that finding honest candidates seems to be a mission like finding a few righteous men in Sodom.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wondering on a Wednesday ...

whether it's time to re-buy some stocks with the cash Krypto raised on her TIPs sales.

A few portents of better times have occurred lately. Credit card losses have fallen. Mortgage 90 day delinquency rates have dropped, too. And yesterday home prices nationally showed a year over year increase.

Part of the nation seems to be solidly in recovery: New England, parts of the Midwest, the Plains. Part seems still in the swamp: FL, AZ, NV, CA - primarily the places where the housing bubble was worst. But some of those areas such as San Diego shows home price increases now.

China's manufacturing numbers were OK overnight.

The Euro panic seems over.

I was waiting for the low 1000's, but maybe yesterday's 1040 area was the intermediate term bottom.

Thinking ....

I may buy some stocks today, likely just index funds as I have no particularly good ideas on specific stocks.

PS: I did buy some US stocks today, from the cash raised in recent TIPs sales. I've raised my US allocation to 27.5% and will take it to 30% on a dip this fall.

Word of the Day

"Invidious" - adjective [$10]
Invidious means (of an action, conduct, attitude) likely to excite resentment or indignation against a person responsible, esp. by real or seeming injustice.
Sentence: Invidious corporate pay practices for the executive suite, soon to be brightly exposed by mandated comparisons to pay levels for the common worker, are likely to create a new potent issue for the coming election cycle.