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."

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Predictions For 2015

2014 turned out to be a bit of a tumultuous year to say the least. There was quite a lot that happened, the most recent big deal being the race riots in Ferguson and New York. We finally saw some major relief in gas prices, giving Americans a little bit of extra spending cash—especially during the holidays. Jobs growth also picked up a bit towards the end with the unemployment rate finally dropping below 6% (the U-6 rate notwithstanding of course).

So what will see in 2015? Here are a few of my predictions for what to expect. These are of course opinions, but I have done a bit of homework to come up with these. Will they all come true? Of course not. These are predictions, and if I could actually predict anything with any accuracy assured I would be predicting the winning combination of lottery numbers.

But of course.

So onward and upward, and without further ado, here is what I think will be happening in the coming year. Some good, some bad, some downright ugly.

  • Unemployment numbers will remain in the 5%-6% range for the better part of the year, but 2015 will see record jobs growth numbers. I actually put the unemployment number at the close of 2015 around 5.2%.
  • Gas prices will remain lower up to around mid-summer when there will be a bit of a surge in demand. I see 2015 oil prices remaining stressed, and will likely hover around $75-$80 per barrel.
  • With republicans back in power I believe that the Keystone Pipeline deal may be back on the table, but even if anything makes it to President Obama's desk, he will veto it. The Keystone Pipeline, however, will become a big part of the next presidential campaign, and actually believe that both the republican and democratic candidates will be in favor of approving it.
  • U.S. auto sales will post record numbers. Ford Motor Company and Toyota will lead the pack.
  • GDP growth will rise by 3.2%.
  • Russia's economy will fall into a depression, and Japan's economy will remain in a recession. However, Japan will pull into a recovery towards the end of 2015. China will grow, as will most of the rest of the developed world economically.
  • Iran will develop a nuclear weapon. However, I think there will be enough force to prevent them from actually using it.
  • The GOP will see a young newcomer emerge who will have a strong chance at the nomination who restores conservative values of the republican party.
  • Housing prices and inventories of existing homes will remain stagnant. But new starts will see a rise with more builders looking to build "affordable" housing.
  • The Fed will end quantitative easing.
  • The DOW will continue to see record growth and will close 2015 around 21,000 points. I predict a correction in 2016 however, but not a significant one.
  • Discount retailers will see declines in sales while higher end chains will see increases. I also see entertainment and restaurant stocks increasing significantly in value in 2015. State casinos will see their biggest drop in revenue in ten years by the end of 2015 as consumers shift their spending. Las Vegas, however will have a record year as will Atlantic City.
  • Cuba's economy will see record growth, and Cuba will begin to develop a tourism industry in 2015 with the help of American investors. Although full tourism in Cuba won't be realized until 2016-2017. Incidentally I think Cuba may also experience a regime change.
  • President Obama will by executive order increase the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.
  • Actor and comedian Bill Cosby will be indicted on rape charges and will shock the nation by going to jail. It will be the trial of the century, and perhaps the biggest news story of 2015.
  • Bill O'Reilly will remain the #1 cable TV news show on television, but will announce his retirement towards the end of 2015.
So there you have it. These are my predictions. I think it will be interesting to take another look at all of these at the end of 2015 and see which ones came true, if any of them. Some of them I obviously do not want to happen, but sometimes it is not what you want to happen, but what is likely to happen that matters. Onward and upward, and I shall see you all on the other side.

Happy New Year to all of my faithful readers.

Term Limits Are The Informed Voter

The fact is that most voters are simply not paying attention to what goes on with their elected officials, and that's how so many bad players on both political sides continue to keep their elected seats time and time again, election after election. Many people have called for, and continue to call for term limits.
We're tired of career politicians in this country. It's time to set a limit on how long anyone can serve, and that will right the ship for America.
I disagree. What will right the ship for America are not term limits, but informed voters. I know that the latter is harder to come by, and so perhaps that might be one reason to consider that term limits might counter the effect of the uninformed voter.
Still, I subscribe to one school of thought. I don't care how long a politician serves so long as they are doing right by their constituents. It's not the good players that need to be unseated. It's the bad players that need to be unseated. Most of the time the bad players stay elected.
So many Americans become entrenched in things that simply do not matter. They spend their time learning about their favorite actors and singers, their favorite sports players, the latest technological gadget that is coming out, but when it comes to who's who and who's doing what in Congress or The Senate, or even at their own local level, people turn a blind eye.
It's a scary trend in America for guys like me who strongly feel that America is losing its edge, and definitely sees the country headed in the wrong direction. Worst of all, uninformed voters also suffer another deep rooted problem.
The inability to think things through.
People tend to take what sounds good and take it as the gospel. Taking a little time to think about things like unintended consequences, for example, is rarely ever done. Taxes are a huge example of this. People tend to think of the rich as greedy, evil people who have no concern whatsoever for those on the lower rungs of the ladder. People fail to understand the most basic concepts of economics, and when they clamor for higher taxes on the rich and higher taxes for corporations, what they don't realize is that they are actually clamoring for lower wages, higher prices, reduced benefits, and less jobs.
Businesses do not pay their expenses. They recoup them. Taxes are an expense. They will be recouped.
Worst of all, people who enter the political arena aren't necessarily stupid even if they are often times misguided. But one thing does ring true. They have an agenda, and they know that most Americans won't be paying attention.
This puts us on a very dangerous path.
As to how we get more people involved in politics, I really don't know what the solution is. Some people, no matter how much you try to convince them of the importance of their direct involvement in politics, simply aren't going to get it.
It's boring. It doesn't affect me. My voice doesn't matter. The system is rigged. There is no such thing as an honest politician so why bother?
At some point I think as a nation we have to start becoming more involved. We need to better understand the impact of decisions that are made that dictate our laws. We need to think about all of the facets of any decision made, and the consequences of what even sounds like a great idea on its surface.
And vote armed with information. Not ideology, and not based on just the talking points. But based on facts. Based on results. And based on clear failures.
We don't need term limits. We just need to get the electorate to pull their heads out of their asses is all. That would solve the problem for the most part. That said, I realize it's probably a pie in the sky idea.

Monday, December 29, 2014

If Only It Were True, Ford

Those were the sentiments of a lot of fans of Ford Motor Company when an April Fool's prank was pulled earlier this year announcing that Ford would be bringing back its Ford Bronco in 2016 after being out of production for the past 20 years.

If only it were true, Ford.

If you followed the hoax, it was fairly elaborately done, complete with exterior design photos like the one you see here. But there were interior photos as well which looked fairly authentic. The SUV/SVT was dubbed a concept vehicle but would actually be produced, according to the prank report.

Ford has denied the claim, saying that they have no plans to bring back the Ford Bronco anytime soon. However, they have said that they are looking at introducing the Troller, which is a popular off-road vehicle in Brazil, which Ford Motor Company owns.

Troller was founded in 1995 and was eventually bought by Ford Motor Company in 2007.

The biggest hurdle for introduction of the Troller into the United States are getting past safety standards, which are less stringent in Brazil. But be assured, Ford Motor Company is no newcomer to the world of vehicle safety, and if they really do intend to bring the Troller to the U.S. auto market, you can bet they can get this done, and probably in relatively short order.

Even if the idea of the Ford Bronco revisited seems like it could be a good idea for the company's bottom line, it also seems to be a bit "outside of the realm" of what Ford Motor company has been trying to do with their company since the recession hit, and that is to streamline their business, and reduce their product lines. The short and skinny for me is that the Ford Bronco would not be different enough than it's current other SUV counterparts in the Ford line like the Expedition and the Explorer to make sense.

The Troller on the other hand does seem to be a bit of a smarter choice. The thing is, it kind of resembles a Jeep Wrangler, and there are two things noteworthy when it comes to Jeeps. They are wildly popular, and there are currently no real contenders in the marketplace in their space.

Right now there is no definite timeline in place as to when Troller's may roll onto U.S. shores, or even whether they will wear the Troller badge or the Ford badge. But as far as the Bronco is concerned, it's a nice idea and nothing more. For now.

A Smoking Stock

It happens to almost all investors, and most of the time not due to any lack of due dilligence—sometimes you just miss something. Take tobacco stocks, which despite all of the efforts of the government and other groups to shutter the doors of the "evil" tobacco companies, has been unsuccessful. The stocks have burned through all of the hurdles, and have soared.

If you owned just Altria, for example, one of the best performing of all tobacco stocks, in the last 30 years or so your investment would have grown over 15,000%, or roughly 500% a year on average. That's a return any investor could certainly be happy about since most investors are used to around 10% being a fair annual return on their money.

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course. You can't get mad when you miss something, although you can be disappointed. I am disappointed. Partly because I did own this stock at least twice earlier on and took profits early on as well. But at least I can marvel at the remarkable money that can be made from time to time through investing. There were Altrias before Altria, and there will be Altrias after Altria.

Look at IBM's heyday. Or how about Microsoft or Google? Hell, even Berkshire Hathaway.

Am I saying that Altria is a company to buy now? Certainly not. All of the indicators seem to suggest that the course has been run, and Altria has really become a value play. Some might even argue calling it that might be overly optimistic as some are predicting a decline in the tobacco industry.

The point here is that there are smoking stocks all over the place, and they have come many times in the history of the stock market. You cannot predict who will be the next big winner. But just knowing that it is possible to latch onto one, even if it just a stroke of pure luck? That makes any play in the markets interesting, and even enticing.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Calling All Tabbers

This is an original song I wrote back in 2005 which was released in 2014 on iTunes and Amazon MP3 among some other places. I am curious to know if anyone can make a tab for this song? The song is called 102 Idle Stones. Why do I want someone to tab it? I am curious to see what those tabs may look like. Tabbers are awesome people. They take a song they hear and like and they tab what they believe they hear.

I am curious to see what the interpretation of the song might be among the tabbers of the world. You can post it anywhere you want, just let me know where to find it. Curiosity killed the cat.

102 Idle Stones

Saturday, December 27, 2014

MegaMillions At $172 Million

The lottery is one of those things that people either love, or hate, or perhaps even love to hate. The fact is that the odds are terribly stacked against the average player. Still, I have to look at a couple of things whenever I consider whether or not it is worth forking over a buck or two and playing. One big one for me is the fact that somebody has to win. And in many ways, despite the terrible odds against me, it causes me to consider that playing is indeed worth my money, and worth my time.

Of course, like anything having to do with gambling, or even socking money into a speculative stock market investment, the risk can only be taken if it happens to be money you can afford to lose. If it's down to putting gas in the tank, or food on the table versus buying a lottery ticket, of course you choose the former over the latter.

Another fact I consider are statistics that were compiled by TLC's docuseries How The Lottery Changed My Life. It happens to be a fascinating thing to watch by the way, especially when you see certain people who wound up winning a fortune, only to wind up broke due to a variety of factors, but mostly due to poor money management.

That goes in hand with something I have always believed, and that is that the rich get richer because they know how to be rich, and the poor get poorer because they don't know how to get rich. That is sometimes thought to be a bit of a controversial statement. But think of all of the rich who lost it all on a bad business deal, only to make millions on a good one? Or how about all of the musicians and sports players who made fortunes, only to wind up broke in the end? If you don't know what you are doing when it comes to money, any amount of money will not make a bit of difference in the end.

What did TLC find? The fact is that the lottery, for all its naysayers, creates roughly 1,600 new millionaires every single year. Breaking the math down a bit further that is roughly 4 new millionaires created every single day of the year.

Granted, billions of tickets are sold each year, and so while that does make 1,600 millionaires seem like a pittance compared, that's still a lot of people coming into new money just because they forked over a dollar or two to play the lottery.

The MegaMillions next drawing is worth $172 million. Even the Powerball is worth $110 million in tonight's drawing. You can bet I'll be playing. And of course, I don't expect to win. But since somebody must win, if there is any chance that that someone could be me, I have to have a ticket in my hand to be a possible winner. As the old saying goes, you cannot win if you do not play. And after all, what's a buck?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Lower Gas Prices Will Spike The Economy

When it comes to oil, as a general rule, there is one big factor that I consider. Oil is deeply embedded in the entire United States economy. For that reason, when oil prices, and especially prices at the pump, reach new low levels, I think the overall impact on the economy is potentially great.

This becomes more pronounced when we think about how much of a negative impact high gas prices have had on the average American family in the past five or so years. Pumping up to get to point B drains spendable cash from the pockets of consumers, and this has an effect on the entire economy. Especially where discretionary spending is concerned. But let's not forget that all of the products we buy must get to point B as well, and much of that transport of goods happens using gas.

It is uncertain how long gas prices, or the price of oil in general, will remain lower. But at least in the short term, the impact of low gas prices in the economy could help to lift up many companies that would be direct beneficiaries of the decline in oil prices.

Those would be the places where discretionary money would most likely be spent.

Companies to look at to invest in the decline in oil prices? Retail outlets, especially those that are a step above stores like Walmart, The Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Dollar General. Starbucks is definitely one place that could see more customers willing to spend some of their newfound extra cash on a cup of premium coffee. Restaurants and entertainment venues will fare well as well.

Of course, all of this fresh cash entering the overall economy will have another effect as well. That is, it will help to bolster demand, and that of course can lead to more jobs. Even if oil prices ramp up again, ideally more Americans will be back to work, and the economy will better be able to sustain itself going forward. This recent decline in oil prices, if you ask me, is at the right time, and just what the doctor ordered.

Meg Myers' Desire

I was reminded the other day that much of what we once thought of as alternative music, which is still generally referred to as that, is not really all that much alternative anymore. This style of music has literally made its way into the mainstream.

I still don't call it pop however. I still find that the style of the music is distinct. It's still alternative to me.

One of the newer songs to catch my attention is one from Meg Myers, who by the way happens to be quite beautiful as well, Have you seen her video for her song Desire? Quite eye catching actually if you know what I mean.

The song has a strong driving beat, and I quite like the way that the low E piano note bangs at the end of what is a powerful, but simple riff which drives the song to its crescendo.

"Desire, I'm hungry. How do you want me, how do you want me."
The song has a driving rock beat, using a drop D tuning which gives the guitar and bass combination a gruffy growl which just goes right to the gut of the listener. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being horrible and 10 being holy crap that's awesome! I give Meg Myers' Desire a solid 8. It's a fun song to play if you like to play guitar, and it's a fantastically good song to listen to. Whenever it comes on the radio, the volume mysteriously ramps up in the car.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Restoring The Springboard 2015

My blog here has become a bit muddled, befuddled, and I will readily admit, off topic. Not sure where that trend started. But this blog was supposed to be about money, politics, and the random thought. The random thought seems to have overrun my recent posts.

So, there are a couple changes I intend to make going into 2015.

1) I am going to post here more often. The old saying goes that the more updated a site is the more traffic it generates. Since WebAnswers stopped being a big money maker, my Google AdSense earnings have fallen off dramatically.

2) I am going to restore my blog to its original intention for content. I will write about money, politics, and still include the random thought. But I will have much less random thoughts  thrown into the mix.

3) I will promote The Springboard more, along with my Bubblews posts and now Elitevisitors posts.

All in all I want to see 2015 be a good year for The Springboard. I thought about starting a new blog, something that would mimic what I did on Bubblews and call it something like Chatterbox or something like that. And I may still try something like that out. But for the most part I just want to restore at least this blog to some of it's "roots."

The rest of my 2014 posts will just be to get back into the habit of posting regularly. But after January 1st, it's back to business. Time to get The Springboard back on track. Onward and upward and I shall see you all on the other side.

Merry Christmas Dear Readers

To all who have come by for a read here, I wish you all the best this Christmas Eve and into Christmas tomorrow. I realize that The Springboard has become quite a bit different than when I started writing on here. So, my apologies in advance if it has become a bit boring. Perhaps that should be my New Year's resolution? Return The Springboard to money and politics and forget all the other stuff.

Of course, writing on Bubblews and the money that could be made there did keep my away from here a bit, and helped to form a change in course as to the content I provide here.

In any event, I again thank all of my faithful readers for continuing to stop in in any event, and no matter the content. It has been another fun year, and I look forward to the next. May your day be filled with cheer and joy with family and loved ones this holiday season.

Onward and upward, Merry Christmas, and Merry Christmas Eve to all.

A New Writing Site In Revenue Sharing

Revenue sharing is not over and done with just yet. In fact, there seems to be more and more of these types of sites cropping up all the time. From the old days of sites like HubPages, to WebAnswers, and the slowly dying Bubblews, revenue sharing, and more particularly revenue sharing in what is essentially not content driven anymore, but social media driven, is still a huge draw.

Part of the reason is that in these types of circles, one does not need to be a writer per se. One can easily share what they are doing for their day, share personal experiences, or just interact in similar ways that we find ourselves doing on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The big difference, and bigger draw is that you can get paid while doing it.

One such revenue sharing site which is relatively new to the scene, but drawing lots of attention, especially from former writers at Bubblews, is Elitevisitors. The concept is simple, and slightly different than Bubblews, but essentially the same.

You write, you read, you like, you comment, you get paid.

If this sort of thing is your thing, checking out Elitevisitors may be well worth your time. It's too early to tell exactly what the future of Elitevisitors may be. But so far I like it, and think it can stuixck around for a while so long as people enjoy spending time there, and so long as the site administrators don't screw it up.

Visit Elitevistors to see what all the hype is about.

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Two Cents On Daily Two Cents

For whatever reason, I simply cannot use the site. I know there are plenty of folks out there having no trouble at all. I can tell by the fact that they have posts up to read. However, for me, I simply cannot stay logged in, cannot upload pictures, and cannot upload posts.

Not sure exactly what the problem is.

So for now, unless I can come to a major revelation as to what I am doing wrong, I am going to give Daily Two Cents a solid thumbs down, and am going to quit before I even get started over there. On to something else.

Oh well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jingle Bells Goes Crazy

One of the fun things about the Internet is that it is, somewhat, anonymous. You can share anything at all and everything at once, embarrassing or not. At the end of the day, who cares? It is all content. People watch, read, and listen to crazy things. Why NOT put oneself out there for the masses to simply enjoy, or laugh at.

What does one have to lose?

Not a damn thing. That's what it really boils down to doesn't it? To that end I like to do cover songs, and some original songs from time to time. Although I have not done anything new for a while. This song, my rendition of the traditional Christmas tune, "Jingle Bells," was recorded back in 2002. Just me, my guitar, and my sense of humor.

Enjoy, have a good laugh, provide positive or insulting feedback. At the end of the day I don't care. It's gobs of fun to share.