More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Thursday, December 31, 2009

ENTERPRISE IS NOT JUST A STARSHIP

Between 1992 and 1996 I served in the United States Navy aboard the real USS Enterprise. The aircraft carrier Enterprise. It was an interesting time for me, to say the least. Especially considering that when I arrived for duty at the ship it wasn't even in the water. Instead it was sitting in dry dock at Newport News Shipbuilding And Drydock Company in Newport News, VA, undergoing a complex refueling and overhaul. Everything onboard was getting a facelift.

Reflecting back, I took the time to write about my experience and provide a little history on what I would say is probably the most recognized ship to ever set sail in U.S. naval history. I think, especially if you are into military stuff, you may enjoy having a read.

You can find the article at http://www.hubpages.com/hub/ussenterprise.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

YOU'RE AN IDIOT RECAP

On October 19, 2008 I wrote in a blog, "stocks are on a blowout clearance the likes of which we have not seen for at least a couple of decades." I went on to say, "this, the great economic crisis of 2008, will have historically proven to have made the riches of those who dared to proceed contrary to the current sentiment." I was referring to the natural tendency of people to panic in a crisis and throw in the towel. I was saying that it was time to buy stocks. Not to sell them. And then I wrote another blog on November 14, 2008 entitled, "In Judge Judy's Words, You're An Idiot." And of course followed that title up with "if you are selling stocks right now." I didn't want to get anyone's panties into a bunch before they even got into my first paragraph.

I think, if you look back, the stock market has rocketed since. If you bought shares in nearly any company you'd have made money. And in my "You're An Idiot" blog I mentioned 7 stocks in particular that I liked, and that I thought would do rather nicely. And so I thought I'd revisit those to see how things went. For each of them I've assumed the value at the close of trading November 13, 2009 had you invested $1,000 on the day I recommended them. And in the interest of full disclosure, I have since sold all of my shares in these stocks with the exception of WSBF.

  • WSBF $431.19
  • JPM $1,244.56
  • MCD $1,132.73
  • MCS $1,038.56
  • WWE $1,247.18
  • MRO $1,298.33
  • FMX $1,549.69

Considering the year we've had, and that during the period of time in which these stocks are being evaluated, we had higher levels of unemployment, the banks still haven't gotten their act quite together, the credit crunch is still on to some degree and consumers haven't loosened their wallets, these stocks performed rather well. WSBF is, of course, another issue.

What stocks do I like now? Ford Motor Company (F), Sony Corp. (SNE), Brinker International (EAT), Nuveen Equity Premium Opportunity Fund (JSN), Amazon.com (AMZN), Apple Inc. (AAPL), and I still like Marathon Oil (MRO). I do not currently own shares in AAPL, AMZN or MRO.

And for a speculative play, I like a bulletin board stock that presently trades for around 90 cents a share. China Tel Group Inc. (CHTL). Definitely one to watch. For full disclosure, I own shares.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

THE DEMS ARE BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE WITH H.R. 4314

There's a bill before Congress that will be voted on soon to allow for the government to increase the debt ceiling to nearly $12.5 trillion, and while I fully understand the gist of the bill, which is to allow for the Federal Government to continue to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, to continue to fund veterans hospitals operations, and to continue to afford payments to be made to social security and medicare recipients—among other things, of course—the fact of the matter is that we do not have any more money to spend.

Granted, Congress asking for more money is nothing new. We've been here too many other times in the past to even begin counting, republican and democrat alike. The government spends money, introduces programs, entitlements, and all sorts of other things. And then the bills come in. The bills have to paid. In short that's how the current democratic leadership are framing their argument—and oh yeah, old ladies will starve, troops will die...here we go again. We asked for all this stuff and now that the bill has come in, somehow we have to be able to pay for it. And the sad truth is that without passing H.R. 4314, we can't do it.

Let us keep in mind that the bill will pass. Poor little old ladies will still get their medicare and their social security checks will still arrive each month in the mail. American troops won't be left to defend themselves with guns but no bullets.

That aside, we have got to come to a very logical conclusion now, don't we? It's because of that fact that I brought up just a couple of paragraphs ago. We do not have any more money to spend.

I side with the republicans on this issue that H.R. 4314 is not the right direction. I also side with the democrats that we have to pay our bills, and so long as the charges have been made and the programs are in need of funding, we're simply going to have to do it. But now is the time for everyone in our Congress to finally sit down and get to the heart of the matter. We cannot continue to simply spend, spend, spend, and then keep on coming back asking for more and more debt to be allowed. We have to form a committee to take a look at government spending, period. Because unless we address the issues of the spending, raising the debt ceiling time and time again will do nothing to help us. It will serve to put more debt onto the backs of each and every American, and it will serve to stunt our continued growth as a nation. This is nothing more than maxing out your credit card bill and then asking the bank to raise your limit so you can keep spending foolishly.

I say the democrats are barking up the wrong tree because they have not included in the bill, a comprehensive examination into current spending, and how we can begin the process of reducing it. There's plenty of room to include the language in the bill. The recent health care bill proves there's no shortage of paper available in Washington. Republicans have several bills that can't even make it to the House floor that at least offer up alternatives to spending. I'm not saying they are the solution or that they are not contributors to the problem, but until someone has a better idea, H.R. 4314 is just more of the same old crap however necessary it may well be in the near term.

Monday, December 7, 2009

AS A MATTER OF FACT COMPANIES IN AMERICA SHOULD BE PATRIOTS

I am an American company. I am the invention of capitalism. When my country needed me, I built bombs for it. I modified production lines, conserved metals, and even altered my manufacturing processes. I made no arguments against it. I made no cries of hurting my profits. I made no excuses. I sacrificed and made a contribution for a greater good. I did what I had to do for the safety of the country, its people, and its very sovereignty. Because I know I am an American company. I am the invention of capitalism. Therefore, without America I cannot exist. Without a strong America I will not survive. Its protection is as important, if not more, as are my profits.

I write this little ditty as a message to the elites. I write it as a message to America's CEOs. I write it because I'm starting to get the distinct impression that a lot of people who sit at the top have sadly forgotten how it is that they ever had the opportunity to arrive where they are now. Yeah, through hard work. Yeah, through risk taking. I'm not discounting the efforts of anyone, here. I'm a capitalist too. I work hard, I invest my money, I take on some level of risk. Capitalism offers a reward for that. I know well and good that if my life is not the way that I want it to be, that if I am not making the amount of money that I want to make, that if I am not accomplishing to the degree that I want to accomplish, that it is not for lack of opportunity. It's for lack of effort. There is no one who owes me anything.

That is, with the exception of respect and appreciation.

To me those two things represent a fair wage. A clean, safe, and just working environment. It means that if I work hard for you, you'll work hard for me. I'm not saying at all that I want things handed to me on a silver platter. I'm not saying that I want something for nothing. You don't have to kiss my ass. Hey, look. I'm a big boy. I can take it upon myself to put to the very best use everything that I earn. And if not, well, that's my fault. I get that all too well.

I should, of course, respect and appreciate you as well. I should respect and appreciate that I have a job with which to feed my family, put a roof over their head, put clothes on their back, and to even put something aside for a rainy day, a better opportunity, or a shot at being just like you. And I should have no anger, either, that you are where you are. You represent the possibility I have to look forward to if I give my all.

But I'm having a hard time doing that these days because the respect and appreciation part is lacking for me. I'm being reduced. My life is getting harder. My opportunity is increasingly becoming less of a reality.

And hey, I'm making sacrifices too. I'm paying my taxes. Yeah, I'm not paying the bulk. You're right. But I'm not making the bulk either. A 15% snatching of my take siphons a much bigger chunk of real living money than 50% of say, a million. I'm doing what I have to and I understand it's a tough economy. Everyone's feeling the pinch. Yeah, maybe even the elites are in a bit of a pinch...but come on, let's not kid ourselves. You're not really going to tell me that it's the same kind of a pinch are you?

The thing here is that I love my country too. Just like that company in my little ditty above. I am a patriot. I am an American. I want to do my part. That whole American dream thing is important to me.

What American companies are doing today, what the elites are doing today, is unpatriotic. They are taking down Americans one person at a time. They are sending our good jobs away and replacing them with lower paying ones, if they replace them at all. The middle class is all but gone. The dividing line between the rich and the poor is a neon one.

I keep hearing about that risk. All the hard work at the top that's worth the millions in salaries and bonuses. You know, there's a ton of hard work at the bottom too. And if you don't think so, I encourage you to do what the average American does for a year. Live in their shoes. You'll get it, then, that they're not asking for anything that they don't deserve. They earn everything they get and lately they're not getting their due.

The current direction may boost profits. It may make the elite eliter. Eventually, though, it's going to hurt the country. And since we are capitalism, so too will it be hurt. Progress cannot be at the expense of the very people it is supposed to help.

So yes. Companies in America damn well should be patriots. Only this time it's not about a war. It's about it's very people's livelihoods. Patriotism equals success. Success equals profits. For me it really is that simple.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

IT'S JUST ABOUT TIME TO RUN FROM GOLD

It's been a couple of times now that I've read somewhere, or overheard someone shouting that gold is heading for as much as $5,000 an ounce, and I can't help but think to myself that I've heard all this before. Say, back when oil was playing with $160-$175 per barrel. I remember hearing then that oil could reach as much as $500. The reality is that long before gold can ever reach such heights the bubble (and that's exactly what it is) will burst. As with anything money, there's a resistance.

Right now the dollar is in a world of hurt. The economy has still not fully recovered. Jobs are still not stable. Credit is still unavailable to a lot of people. Those facts fuel the surge of people (and nations) heading into gold as a way to hedge against a tough market and hoard cash. Just like I spoke during all the hype about oil falling like a brick, it did, and so will the price of gold. Realistically I think we can see $1,500-$2,000 an ounce, but much higher than that just seems unreasonable to me. And by the time it would reach that, I think an improved economy will already have worked to fade some of the interest in gold investing.

For me, when it gets a little far fetched, that's when it's time to get out.