Thursday, October 19, 2017

Corrupt To The Core

Two stories that surfaced this week speak volumes about how the mainstream media and the Democrat establishment is corrupt to the core.

The fact that you have likely not seen mention of either of these stories in the mainstream media should tell you all you need to know about the corruption therein.

When you read the details below I want you to imagine how these stories would be played in the media if Trump or a top Republican was involved.

While the media is spending all of its time the last couple of day on Trump's condolence call with the widow of a fallen Army solider (he allegedly was "insensitive" on the call), these stories have gotten almost no attention. It is almost incomprehensible considering the facts as they have been reported.

The first story involves former U.N. Ambassador (under Obama) Samantha Power's closed door testimony to House Intelligence Committee investigators last week. Power was asked to testify in order to explain how 260 requests had been made in her name to "unmask" American citizens who had been caught up in National Security Agency surveillance of non-U.S. citizens. Those 260 requests were all done in the last year of the Obama administration. That works out to one request for every working day.

Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power
Credit: Washington Examiner

Government Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy reported that Power testified that she made some requests but nothing on the order of the 260 attributed to her. She stated that someone else must have been using her name on the requests.

This should be a bombshell story but I was lucky to find reference to it in any mainstream news source.

First, why is a woman who is a diplomat at the U.N. have a security clearance to unmask names of U.S. citizens? That seems strange in itself. Her job is focused on diplomacy with other nations. It makes no sense whatsoever for the UN Ambassador to have "unmasking" authority for U.S. citizens.

In addition, what kind of system and controls are in place that would allow someone else to use Power's name to unmask NSA surveillance data on a U.S. citizen? Are the controls in place that lax?

You can only come to two conclusions after reading the report of Power's testimony.

She has either lied and committed perjury before the House Committee


There is a serious lack of control over the surveillance program and there should be an immediate investigation as to who used Power's name to access the data and that person should be arrested and tried for this serious intelligence breach.

One other possibility is that Power could have also knowingly given her "password authority" to someone else that lacked authority and she is being cagey about the facts in her testimony before Congress.

In any case, all of this points to serious corruption within the Obama administration in the handling of this intelligence.

The failure of the media to aggressively follow this story is corrupt as well.

It is corrupt to the core.

The second story that you have not likely heard or read about involves reporting by The Hill that an FBI investigation uncovered a Russian bribery plot before the Obama administration approved the controversial deal that gave Moscow control of a significant amount of American uranium.

According to the story, the FBI's investigation had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering to control parts of the nuclear energy business in the United States.

All that the Democrats and the mainstream media seem to want to talk about is Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. However,  here is a story about an FBI investigation showing that Russian collusion was actually occurring in the takeover of a portion of our uranium assets and yet you hear nothing about it.

The reporting of The Hill on the details of the FBI investigation are pretty damning.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.
They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

Consider that paragraph again. The FBI had an eyewitness account-- backed by documents-- that the Russians routed millions to benefit the Clintons at the same time that Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State and in a position in the Obama administration to influence the uranium transaction.

What is most troubling in all of this is that, despite the investigation that uncovered extensive illegal activities and national security concerns, the FBI did not disclose any of this information before the Obama administration approved the sale of the uranium even though all of this evidence had been gathered and was known to the FBI.

Why on earth would they sit on this information and allow this sale to go through considering its national security implications?

It makes you wonder what was going on at the FBI or at higher levels in the Justice Department.

All of this smells of corruption.

As does the failure of the media to aggressively follow this story.

All of it is corrupt to the core.

If you doubt what I am saying about the failure of the mainstream media to report these stories look at these screen shots of a Google search of "Samantha Power testimony on unmasking" and "FBI Russia Uranium Investigation".

Google search-- "Samantha Power testimony on unmasking"

There is not one mainstream media news source other than Fox News at the top of the search results page.

Google search--"FBI Russia Uranium Investigation"

There is not one mainstream source here either other than The Washington Post. The Post story is actually a defense of Clinton and an attack on the story arguing that there is nothing to it. The New York Times, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC and NPR are nowhere to be found on the search page results.

Compare that with a search on Google of "Trump insensitive to dead soldier family".

The New York Times, BBC News, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune are the first four hits. CNN, LA Times and ABC News are not far behind.

Donald Trump is crude at times. He can be arrogant and antagonistic when challenged. His enemies think he is a clown or he is crazy. However, there is no doubt he loves this country. And there is no sense that he is corrupt.

That is a darn sight better than what we see in these stories and in how the mainstream media is treating Trump.

Corrupt to the core.

How else do you explain it?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Electric Cars--Seen and Unseen

Nothing gets a liberal more excited than the thought that the internal combustion engine will soon become nothing but an exhibit in a museum next to buggy whips and whale oil lamps.

Of course, their gripe is not so much with the engine but with the power source---the fossil fuel that makes that engine go---and the carbon emissions that they blame for altering the planet's climate.

That is why the promise of battery-powered cars are so important to the left. California already has a commitment to see to it that there are 1.5 million "zero emissions" vehicles by 2025. (There are 300,000 on the road today. This is about half the total electric or hybrid vehicles in the USA.).

A California legislator wants to take it a step further and ban the sale of new cars powered by internal combustion engines by 2040. France and the U.K. have already announced a similar policy. India wants to get there by 2030. China says it wants to do it even sooner.

How realistic are these goals?

Let's take a look at two issues that relate to that "zero emissions" future.

Of course, both of these issues are not at the forefront of thinking by the left.

Liberal Democrats tend to focus only on that which is "seen" while ignoring those things that are "unseen". It makes things easier. Unfortunately, life is not that simple.

Frederic Bastiat made this observation in an essay back in 1853 about economists but I believe it can be equally applied to politicians and policymakers.

There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.
In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them. 

My experience is that Democrats generally confine themselves solely to visible effects.  They seem to consider only first-level effects and ignore everything else that might flow from that.  All of their focus is on what they see in front on them. They ignore the unseen issues. Republicans, on the other hand, are better at considering both the immediate effects and second-level effects. The seen and the unseen. Especially the unseen effects which should be foreseen. I have written about the seen and unseen in these pages before involving issues such as the budget deficit, immigration, abortion and gun control.

So it is with "zero emissions" vehicles as well.

Liberals want to ban gasoline powered vehicles for electric cars. However, where does the power come from that those electric cars need from the power grid when they plug in?

This is the most recent forecast for power generation in the United States for 2026 by BMI Research.

Note that in 2026 it is forecast that the largest single source of power generation will still be coal. Combined with natural gas and oil, fossil fuels are still forecast to make up almost 2/3 of U.S. power generation a decade from now. Nuclear is another 9%.

The vehicles that are "seen" might be emissions free but the "unseen" power source is anything but emissions free.

The other "unseen" issue is how that power will be distributed to millions of vehicles on the road. Today that number is approaching 300 million vehicles.

After all, it is one thing to power a relative few "zero emissions" cars. It is something altogether different when all of those cars are trying to plug in to power up in the same manner as vehicles do at gas stations today. (By the way, the average gas station services 2,000 cars in a typical 12 hour period).

A Canadian, David Booth, recently took a hard look at the "unseen" reality of the electric car future and he offers some inconvenient truths for the zero emissions enthusiasts.

Anyone who tells you that the electric car in your future will be just as convenient as the gasoline-fueled vehicle you’re currently driving is lying. If not overtly, then at least by omission. Nor can they plead ignorance, the calculations required to reach this conclusion are hardly the stuff of graduate-level physics. Indeed, judging from the experts I’ve spoken with, plenty have been the warnings proffered to the politicians, policy makers and futurists advocating an all-battery-powered future.

The major obstacle is how those 300 million vehicles will power up when you are on the road and don't have access to a home charger in your garage. Today it takes over 5 hours for a Tesla S to fully charge on a wall charger. That works fine if you are charging the car overnight for your daily commute but it is less than ideal for longer trips.

A Tesla S Charging Up

A 120kw supercharger station drops that time. A Tesla S can be charged from zero to 100% in 75 minutes and zero to 80% in 40 minutes.  However, that is a far cry from the two minutes it takes to fill up your car at a gas station.

However, right now there are only 828 supercharging stations in the entire world with just over 5,000 charging points.  That will undoubtedly grow with time but what about the charging times and the "unseen" power requirements?

Booth has done the math and in order to fully charge an electrical vehicle in 2 minutes to drive 300 miles, it would require a 3,000 kw (3 megawatts) charging station. That is 25 times more powerful than what exists today. A 350kw charger could do it in 20 minutes and these might be on the horizon. However, this is what Booth says about that possibility.

The 350kW rechargers required for those promised 20-minute refueling is, according to the experts I spoke with, likely the upper limit of the equipment we humans will ever be allowed to handle. In fact, these 350kW rechargers generate so much heat, their amperage is so incredibly high, that the cables carrying all that current need to be liquid cooled. And anything that can recharge our batteries faster than 20 minutes will have to be automated, i.e., phantasmagorically expensive.

The cost of those 350kw superchargers? $250,000 to $500,000 each. And you are still waiting 20 minutes at the charging station. That is 10 times longer than at the gas station. Your trip to Grandma's is going to get a lot longer.

Of course, all of those charging stations will need electric power. Electric generation power that does not exist today for 30 million electric vehicles let alone 300 million.

To replace the average gasoline station with equivalent charging capabilities you would need 30 megawatts of power. That is the same amount of electricity that a city of 75,000 people currently uses. Where does that energy come from and what is going to generate that "unseen" power?

Oh, and by the way, all that electricity, unlike off-hour home recharging, happens during peak-usage daylight hours. 
In other words, all that extra power, at least for intra-city travel, will have to come from new — not existing — sources. At the most optimistic prices posited for the future cost of solar panels — about a buck a watt — that’s another $30 million. If you want to go the windmill route, you’ll need 10 of them, each costing roughly $4 million. Just as further reminder, that’s for each and every roadside station. And for those thinking there may be some breakthrough in the future that will allow faster recharging, know that while battery technology is in its infancy, electricity generation is a mature technology and the laws of power transmission are likely to remain pretty much immutable.

This does not even consider the time it takes to get a new power plant approved (environmental permits, community complaints etc) and built. These timeframes are often measured in decades, rather than years.

I have no doubt that human ingenuity and innovation will provide advances in this area that are not imagined right now. My guess is that many of these are "unseen" today.  We may very well develop new technology that makes vehicular travel "zero emissions".

However, I think it is unlikely to result with any extension of the technologies that are "seen" today. It is more likely that something that is completely "unseen" today will get us where we need to be.

In the meantime, it seems quite foolish to try to legislate and regulate the internal combustion engine and the fossil fuel industry out of business. It has provided us a convenient, efficient and economical system of transportation that we have enjoyed for over a century.

There may come a day when it has "seen" better days. However, that day remains "unseen" right now.

There are just too many "unseen" issues lurking in the background regarding electric vehicles no matter how hard the left wants to ignore them.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Your Financial Life

When I lecture on financial planning to young adults I make the point that their life is roughly divided into four quarters---you could also consider them to be four seasons.

The first quarter (roughly 18-23 years) you are generally relying on someone else for your financial needs. Someone else is paying your rent, making sure you are clothed and have food in your mouth. They are trying to make sure you are being educated. They are paying your cell phone bill.

In this spring season of your life, someone else is paying for the seeds, fertilizer and water. Your main responsibility is to grow to be a responsible human being and be prepared to support yourself over the next three quarters (or seasons) of your life.

The second and third quarters (the next 40-45 years) are your working years. You have to find a means to support yourself financially. Early in the second quarter, most will marry. This is highly advantageous economically as it allows you to share expenses, divide labor and tasks. Being married is a huge benefit in financial terms. Two cannot live cheaper than one but they can live much cheaper than two singles.

Being newly married, with both individuals having incomes, is the golden age of your financial life. It is as if you are at the peak of the summer season.

However, soon thereafter, little people have a habit of arriving on on the scene around your home. With them come needs. Lots of needs. Needs that have to be met.

That requires you to take some of your income and begin satisfying those needs just as was done for you. They need food, clothes and other things. Over time, they need (and want) more and more. You are now not only supporting yourself but others as well.

During that summer season, and into fall season, you also begin to realize that at some point winter will come. You do not want to keep toiling in the field and laboring from sunrise to sunset. You will want to retire. You may be forced to retire. In that last quarter of life (which very likely can be 20-25 years) you have to live off savings accumulated during your working years. In effect, you need to store some of your summer work and fall harvest for the coming winter months.

It looks something like this if you put it in graphic form.

In the first quarter of life, someone else is taking care of your needs.

In the second and third quarter of life, you have to take care of yourself and any children that come along.

At the same time, in addition, you need to be putting enough savings away in order to support your needs in your fourth quarter---your retirement years.

People wonder why it is so hard to get ahead.

Think about what I just described.

During your working years, you are effectively supporting three generations with one income.


Your children.

Your future self.

That is a little sobering.

That is why I tell young people to save until it really hurts. They typically respond that they don't have the means to do it. They say they are just getting started. They will put something away in the future.

It never happens. It doesn't get easier. It gets harder.

When you are young and single, you are only taking care of yourself. It won't be long until you realize what it is like to really be caught in the middle.

Here is a graphic that really captures what it is like to be caught in the middle. This is a chart I saw in ValueWalk that provides a data visualization of the U.S. population sorted by current status in the labor force.

Credit: Jeff Desjardins, Visual Capitalist

This really makes the point about how those who are working in the second and third quarters of their life are really caught in the middle. The workers are surrounded on all sides---by children on the left hand side, by seniors on the right hand side and by those not working on top of them. They are paying for their kids, for their future retirement and, at the same time, a healthy amount of taxes to support those who are umemployed. Oh yes, they also are working to support themselves.

Everyone needs to eat. They need a roof over their head. They need health care. It falls to those in the middle of that graph to provide it all in our economy. It is probably appropriate that the color of the working employed is purple in that chart. They deserve a purple heart for their efforts.

Looking at all of this is why I  typically counsel young married couples to save at least 50% of what they make. Ideally, they should be saving all of what the higher income spouse earns and live off of the income of the lower income spouse.

Not many take my advice but the reality is that they will never have a better time to save.

Speaking of marriage, here is another data visualization of the marital status of Americans visualized by age.

Credit: Jeff Desjardins, Visual Capitalist

You can see from the chart that it is between the ages of 25 and 33 that most Americans are getting married. Marital status peaks between the ages of 45 and 55.

You know the old saying, "Make hay while the sun is shining".

It is also true when it comes to your financial life.

For most, that is going to be before children are born or after they are no longer living in your basement.

However, a dollar saved early compounds over many periods. One saved late does not have the same leverage. That is why you should start early and you need to save the most when you are young. It is the easiest time to start turning The Wealth Wheel to your advantage.

Keep this lesson in my mind in considering your financial life.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Washington Post Is "Surprised"

The Washington Post is rarely "surprised"

After all, those that control and write for The Washington Post seem to think they know everything. They knew Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could do no wrong. They "know" that Donald Trump can do nothing right.

That is why it was such a surprise for them to find out that 63 million American voters did not agree with them last November.

They were "surprised" again this week when they fact-checked a Trump administration statement of policy that indicated that President Trump intends to sign the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act if it becomes law.

This bill would generally make it unlawful for any person to perform or attempt to perform, an abortion after 20 weeks, with limited exceptions.

This bill passed the House of Representatives 237-189 last week and is now being considered in the Senate.

What "surprised" The Washington Post was this factoid in the Administration's statement.
The United States is currently out of the mainstream in the family of nations, in which only 7 out of 198 nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The Washington Post immediately jumped on this and put their fact-checkers on it to prove that this could not be right. They could not wait to put their 4 Pinocchios on this outlandish statement by the Trump administration.

There was only one problem---it was true.

Much to the "surprise" of The Washington Post.

In fact, The Washington Post actually conveyed the Geppetto Checkmark to this factoid. This is how this mark of distinction is described by The Washington Post fact checkers.

The Washington Post explained their conclusion this way.

This statistic seemed dubious at first, because it seemed extreme for just seven countries out of 198 to allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. But upon further digging, the data back up the claim.
Further, what is telling is that the research from both sides of the reproductive rights debate confirm this figure. It’s not easy to boil down complex abortion laws in a cross-comparative manner like this, and there are some minor caveats associated with this talking point. Still, we did not find the caveats rise to the level of One Pinocchio.
We award the elusive Geppetto Checkmark when a factoid surprisingly  (my emphasis) turns out to be true, as in this case.

I thought it was interesting that The Washington Post fact checkers questioned the statistic because they thought it was "extreme" that just 7 countries out of 198 allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Isn't this revealing bias in itself?

The Washington Post thought that the fact that only seven countries allowed elective abortions seemed to be "extreme" in their view.

However, it never seemed to occur to them that the seven countries that are allowing the practice are those that are really on the far "extreme" side of the issue.

What is more shocking is that the United States of America is one of the seven.

The list of the seven countries compiled from The Washington Post research is below. Note that the only countries that have more liberal abortion policies than the United States are North Korea, China and Vietnam. These are hardly the countries you want to keep company with on any human rights issue.

Note that there is not one European country in the seven other than the Netherlands. Since most European countries are generally considered to be more liberal and have weaker religious values than the United States, this also says a lot about how far out of the mainstream America is on abortion.

From the Washington Post...

Here’s a look at the seven countries. We sorted them from the most liberal on gestational limits to the least:

North Korea and Vietnam: No specified gestational limit, though regulatory mechanisms vary.

China: “Abortion is virtually freely available in China, and there are no defined time limits for access to the procedure,” according to Pew Research Center. China now has a “two-child” policy, and human-rights advocates have criticized China’s population and family planning laws.

United States: No federal ban on gestational limit, but 43 states have prohibitions on gestational limits, from 20 to 24 weeks, or the point of “viability,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group. There are some exceptions made, usually for the life or health of the mother.

Canada: No federal gestational limit, but provinces and territories vary as to whether they will offer abortion services after a certain gestational age. Some offer abortion services up to 12 weeks, others up to 24 weeks. (This is similar to how states operate in the U.S.) Abortions after 20 weeks are not always readily available for Canadians, so women are often referred to a clinic in the United States, according to an abortion rights group in Canada. These procedures may be paid in full or in part by provincial governments.

Netherlands: Abortions are allowed up to 24 weeks. After that period, abortions are allowed only if the unborn fetus has an untreatable disease and would have little to no chance of survival after birth, or for the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.

Singapore: Abortions are allowed up to 24 weeks. After that, abortions are only allowed to save the life of, or for the physical or mental health of, the pregnant woman.

Liberals often like to talk about the extremist views of conservative Republicans.

However, there is almost nothing more extreme than the abortion policies that are in place in the United States of America.

Watch closely if the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" gains any traction in the Senate. If it does, we surely will hear from Democrats how extreme this bill is.

However, you now have the facts to put that claim in context.

The facts are that the extremists are those that will not support this legislation, not those who are supporting it.

Feel free to share these extreme facts with a Pro-Choicer that you love.

They may be surprised as well.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The NFL Retreats

Just over a year ago I wrote "Dissent Is Fine But Don't Diss The Flag" right after Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem before his San Francisco 49er's took the field.

I predicted at the time that I doubted that things would work out well for Kaepernick in the future after pointing out what had happened to Tommie Smith and John Carlos after they had raised black gloved hands during the Medals Ceremony in the 1968 Olympics.

I contrasted their experience with that of George Foreman who won a gold medal at the same Olympics and waved an American flag as he celebrated right after his championship boxing bout.

Foreman prospered during his career---in the ring and in the business world. Most of you probably never heard of Smith or Carlos.

I am sorry to say that things have not worked out well for Kaepernick. He is no longer playing football. As I wrote last year, those that harbor bitterness and resentment rarely enjoy success.

It also appears the National Football League and its owners did not learn much from the Kaeperncik experience.

They sat by and let more of this foolishness continue.

What made little sense was that the NFL had a long, long record of stopping its players from almost any other form of personal expression. The same personal expression the league stated they were protecting in the case of the National Anthem protests.

Consider this list compiled by a friend of mine, Don Adick, on how strict the NFL has been on other issues of free speech and expression by its players.

In 2012 the NFL had an issue with Tim Tebow kneeling for each game to pray, they also had an issue with Tebow wearing John 3:16 as part of his blackout to avoid glare and made him take it off.

In 2013 the NFL fined Brandon Marshall for wearing green cleats to raise awareness for people with mental health disorders.

In 2014 Robert Griffin III (RG3) entered a post-game press conference wearing a shirt that said "Know Jesus Know Peace" but was forced to turn it inside out by an NFL uniform inspector before speaking at the podium.

In 2015 DeAngelo Williams was fined for wearing "Find the Cure" eye black for breast cancer awareness.

In 2015 William Gay was fined for wearing purple cleats to raise awareness for domestic violence. (not that the NFL has a domestic violence problem...)

In 2016 the NFL prevented the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a decal on their helmet in honor of 5 Dallas Police officers killed in the line of duty.

In 2016 the NFL threatened to fine players who wanted to wear cleats to commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

So tell me again how and why the NFL and the media all of a sudden support athletes’ free speech and expression. I’m listening…

What is further confusing is that the NFL had a clear policy on the issue which is contained in its game operations manual which is provided to all 32 teams. This is the section that refers to the playing of the National Anthem at every NFL game according to that manual.

The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.
During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

Despite this clear statement of policy, how long would this nonsense have continued if President Trump had not called out the NFL owners and players for not standing for the anthem?

That in itself was interesting to me as at the time I was in Europe and most of what I saw were headlines from the mainstream media that referred to Trump's comments on the issue as "divisive".

All I could do was shake my head in wonder as I was touring the beaches of Normandy and paying my respects at the Normandy American Cemetery where 9,387 headstones signify the final resting places of the  young Americans who paid the ultimate price storming those beaches.

The Normandy American Cemetery

Would any of them believe that we would reach a point in our history where the President of the United States would be called "divisive" for calling out other Americans for not standing in respect while the National Anthem is played?

Not a chance. It would be beyond comprehension for any of them.

Of course, the NFL is now in full retreat much like the German army was after our boys pushed forward into the European continent from Normandy.

Late today, Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated in a letter to NFL owners that it may make it a mandatory rule that all players stand during the National Anthem. ( The NFL argues that the game operations manual is only a "policy" and not a "rule" therefore they have no power to discipline players on the issue as it now stands.)

Why is the NFL retreating?

Look first to President Donald Trump.

Consider what Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said about Trump's influence. Bear in mind that a couple of weeks ago Ross was an advocate for players kneeling during the Anthem.

“Its a different dialogue today,” Ross said, noting the issue last year was raising awareness for equality and other issues that didn’t involve patriotism. “Whenever you’re dealing with the flag, you’re dealing with something different. [the President] has changed that whole paradigm of what protest is. I think it’s incumbent upon the players today, because of how the public is looking at it, to stand and salute the flag.”

I have to wonder what planet Ross has been living on in the past. When was standing and respecting the flag and anthem anything but patriotism?

Look no further than Jerry Jones as well. A couple of weeks ago he was kneeling on the sidelines with his Dallas Cowboys. He is now saying he will bench any player who does not stand for the anthem.

Love him or not, Donald Trump is not afraid to take a stand. And when he takes a stand he usually is has a feel for where the American people are. I am not talking about the fringes or the fanatics or the liberals who live in a fantasy world. He has a sense for the heartbeat of America. Those things that make America tick....and, more importantly, what ticks them off.

So it is with this issue.

The NFL is not retreating because of Donald Trump. Yes, he put the issue into better focus. However, the NFL simply does not have the support of the people who watch the game and pay to do it to continue to allow their players to diss the flag.

The NFL needs people in those taxpayer-funded stadiums they play in and they need them watching the games on television to justify the ad dollars that are being spent. They are losing both.

As I have written before, the real beauty of the American system is that the people are fully in charge. Nothing happens without their support. Politicians need votes. Companies need sales. Sports teams need to sell tickets. TV networks need ratings. If you don't have the people behind you, what you want is irrelevant.

It is easy to forget. Most of the time those people don't seem to realize how much power they do have.

Until they do.

That is why Trump is President.

That is also why the NFL is in retreat.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Saving For A Rainy Day

I will never forget the interview that I saw of a Chinese couple on television a few years ago.

They were a young married couple who had moved from rural China to work together in one of the factories in Guangdong Province.

They lived in a small, one room apartment with only the bare necessities. Their only real cooking utensil was a large bowl that they used to cook their meals on a small stove. They slept on a mattress on the floor. They had no television or computer. They were saving well over 50% of their wages.

The interviewer asked the couple why they saved so much money when they could spend more and have a better life today.

The husband shook his head and replied,

"We need the savings. We could get sick. We would have to pay the doctor. We might not be able to work for awhile. We could lose our jobs. We save because the future is unknown."

It struck me at the time of how incongruous it all seemed to be. This was a man living in Communist China. The theory of communism is that the people will be taken care of by the state. Their education. Their employment. Their health and welfare. However, this man and woman knew they were on their own.

Contrast that with the United States, a supposed evil, greedy capitalist country where we have a social safety net that provides all of the security that the Chinese man and woman were worried about. Health insurance. Disability insurance. Unemployment insurance. Social Security. Medicare. Food Stamps.

It is big reason why the national savings rate in China is almost 50%. At the same time, personal consumption in China composes only slightly more than 50% of China's gross domestic product.

This graph from ValueWalk shows where China stands on the combination of these two metrics compared to other countries in the world and other East Asian economies

The savings rates for the wealthy in China are even higher.  The top 5% of income households in China save an average of 69% of their income. The top 10% save 66.5%. What is also interesting is that very little of their savings are in financial assets like stocks and bonds. In that respect there are few capitalists in China. Only 5.3% of China's household assets are in financial assets compared to 37.9% in the United States. In addition, over half of those financial assets are in bank savings. Bank savings make up only 12.7% of U.S. household financial assets. Where does most Chinese household savings go?--real estate or a sole proprietorship business.

This chart from CNBC shows how other countries compare on their national savings rates. By the way, this data is national saving which is defined as gross national income less total consumption so it takes into account not only personal savings but includes savings by companies as well.

The United States is certainly not a nation of savers. The current personal savings is 3.8%. That is the average amount that is left over from personal income after considering personal outlays and taxes.

This chart from the Federal Reserve of St. Louis shows that the personal savings rate has generally been on a downward slide since most of the significant social safety net program were initiated in the mid-1960's (Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps etc).

It is interesting to note that almost every time there has been a recession (the gray bars in the chart) the savings rate has spiked. It seems that it is only in these times that Americans seem to wake up and begin to realize, like the Chinese worker in Guangdong, that the future may not be all be milk and honey.

Even more interesting is that the only time in the last 50 years that there was a huge spike in the savings rate that was not associated with a recession was right after the re-election of Barack Obama in 2012. To be fair, there was also a small spike right after the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004. Perhaps these elections caused more than a few people to get nervous about the future.

Despite all of the media hysteria, we have not seen a similar effect on the personal savings rate after the election of Donald Trump. We also know that the value of financial assets, particularly the stock market, has also risen substantially since last November. The S&P 500 is up nearly 20% despite the fact that people like Paul Krugman warned that the economy was doomed with a Trump election.

The reality is that a lot more people should be saving for a rainy day.

As we saw in Houston and southeastern Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast recently, rainy days do come.

And it can rain for many more days (and rain harder) than we ever imagined.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Going Viral

What makes something go "viral'?

We hear that term a lot in the interconnected world we live in today. It is used to describe popular videos on YouTube, songs that climb the charts or marketing campaigns for hot new products.

The idea is that something becomes inherently infectious and is passed from person to person like a virus.

I wrote recently that I recently read the book, Hit Makers, by Derek Thompson. Thompson takes an in-depth look at how things become "viral" in the book.

Traditional thinking seemed to assume that some videos, songs, ideas or products became "viral" much like an infectious disease. One person infects two. Two infect four. Four infect eight. It is much like a gigantic pyramid built on person to person contact.

Thompson states that research from Yahoo and others who have studied the spread of millions of online messages on Twitter show this is not how things become "viral"on the internet.

In fact, their research showed that 90% of messages on Twitter showed no diffusion at all. Only 1% were shared more than seven times.

The vast majority of news that people see on Twitter comes from the original source or from one degree of separation.

If that is the case, how do some things spread so quickly?

It is done by what Thompson calls 'broadcast diffusion". Many people get information from one source.

For example, if someone sees something on the Super Bowl, about 100 million people saw it at the same time.  Or you are one of the 103 million people that saw something on Katy Perry's Twitter feed.

Digital blockbusters are not about a million one-to one moments as much as they are about a few one to one-million moments.

The same can be said for other things that spread in popularity. Ideas, articles, books, songs and products don't spread like the graph above.

They grow like the graph below from one source to many. many individuals at the same time. It is not like the one-to-one transmission of a virus. Instead, many people are exposed at once but then one or a handful of those in the initial exposure group share and pass it on.


In effect, the sharing by the few in the initial exposure is duplicated down the line. Most do nothing but the numbers who share can have a big impact down the line.

Thompson points out that almost nothing really goes viral organically. Some ideas or products may have more infectious qualities but nothing goes BIG unless it has that big initial broadcast source---the mention on Oprah, the significant advertising spend, the Walmart book stand or the tweet by Katy Perry.

I can attest to the validity of Thompson's observations based on my own experience with BeeLine's readership analytics. I can immediately tell when one of my blog posts has been shared by someone with a lot of followers on Twitter or Facebook. Readership explodes at once. That one sharer makes a huge difference in readership. I see the spike in volume immediately. It then tails off rapidly unless someone else shares it.

If you want to make BeeLine viral, share it liberally.

The more the merrier---especially if you have a lot of Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

Does anyone know Katy Perry?

Never mind, I doubt she is going to share much of what I am writing about anyway.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hit Makers

What makes one song a hit and another a flop?

That is one of the questions at the heart of a book that I recently read by Derek Thompson titled, "Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction."

Why do we like what we like?

There is a science to it. Nothing "goes viral" by accident.

For example, how would you know that a song nobody ever heard has the potential to be a hit?

How do you know if people will "like" it , hum the tune and tell their friends and neighbors about it?

There are actually online song testing companies that survey thousands of people to evaluate the catchiness of new songs to judge how they will be received by the general public.

For example, the aptly named company "Hit Predictor" has found that songs scoring 65 or over on its numeric scale (scores can go into the 100's) have the potential to be a breakout hit.

Here are a few Hit Predictor scores of the songs that did become hits. I have added the YouTube link of the official music video of the song to each. Each entered the top five on Billboard Hot 100 in fall, 2015.

"Hotline Bling", Drake: 70.25    1.275 billion views

"Stitches", Shawn Mendes: 71.55   837 million views

"Sorry", Justin Bieber: 77.14   2.707 billion views

"Hello", Adele: 105.00     2.031 billion views

There is a similar UK company called "SoundOut" that tests about 10,000 tracks online a month.

Adele songs also test well with SoundOut. The magic number for hit success on SoundOut's metric is 80. For example, SoundOut tested the songs on Adele's second album, "21" before it was released. Every song on that album scored over 80. SoundOut says it has never had that occur ever--before or after "21".

However, only three songs on that album ended up number one hits. Catchiness of the tune does not guarantee a hit once the key threshold is met. Hits only because hits because of exposure and repeated repetition.

I have written before that the one thing that drives favorability with human brains is familiarity. The most popular songs are the ones you have heard the most. We like those things we are exposed to the most.

Reading this in "Hit Makers" reminded of my blog post from 2014 on the popularity of various music genres over time. It is worth reading again with the benefit of Thompson's views on the science of popularity.

Music is much more diverse today than it has ever been. Jazz dominated in the 1940's. Why was that? Perhaps it was because there were just a few AM radio stations and they all played jazz. It is difficult for other music to be popular when nobody ever hears it.

Notice how music genres started to diversify with the advent of television and FM radio in the 1950's and 1960's. There were more outlets for people to hear different kinds of music.

Music started to diversify more in the 1970's and 1980's with even more distribution options like cable tv and shows such as MTV.

It has really opened up in the digital age. It is no accident that music tastes have become more diversified as the distribution of music has become more democratized.

Songs do not become hits or go viral by accident.

As Thompson explains in the book, "Content may be king, but distribution is the kingdom".

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

More Context On Guns

The horrific events in Las Vegas deserves a lot of outrage. Predictably the outrage by most on the left is primarily about the need to take guns away.  Since these mass murders were perpetrated with an assault rifle it only follows that the loudest calls are about these weapons. However, as I have written before, rifles account for very few homicides in the United States annually. And the number has actually declined over the last five years according to FBI crime statistics despite the high profile mass murders we have seen in recent years at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Sandy Hook and Orlando.

These are the homicides by rifles since 2011 per the FBI data.


It might be worth taking another look at my post "Context on Guns" that I wrote in January, 2016.

Context on Guns

(originally published January 7, 2016)

President Obama has his "executive action" pen out again. Frustrated with his inability to negotiate anything with Congress (not that he even makes a reasonable effort) he wants to take matters into his own hands to control gun ownership in the United States.

This is how The New York Times reported on his executive action proposal from Tuesday of this week.

As tears streamed down his face, President Obama on Tuesday condemned the gun violence that has reached across the United States and vowed to curb the bloodshed with or without Congress.

First of all, I am not a gun nut. I have used firearms and at one time had obtained the NRA Sharpshooter classification.  I respect guns and what they can do.  More importantly, I respect the U.S. Constitution. I believe the 2nd Amendment is pretty clear.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

There is no doubt that the people have the right to keep and bear arms and that right is not to be infringed. At the same type, it seems understood that some type of regulation is permitted with regard to that right.  The difficult question is at what point is the right to keep and bear arms infringed by regulations?

For example, does an individual have the right to keep and bear arms such as a nuclear weapon, surface to air missile or bazooka?  I have not heard anyone with the NRA or anyone else make that argument.  Machine guns and other military types of automatic weapons are already illegal and have been since the 1930's.  In fact, the use of these weapons by gangsters such as Machine Gun Kelly, Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger led to the passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934 that made them illegal in the U.S.

If anything is going to be done that might infringe on the right to bear arms in the Constitution it would seem that it should be clearly demonstrated to be a reasonable regulation. To meet that standard government should have to show that vast numbers of the public are being killed (or could be killed) to outweigh the individual constitutional right.  This is clear with an atomic weapon, machine gun or SAM.  In other words, the public's interest to safety outweighs the individual's right to keep and bear arms.

If it is done it should also clearly be done by the Congress in conjunction with the President. There is a reason the Constitution established both an Executive and Legislative branch. They are supposed to be co-equal partners in governing and in protecting the rights of the people.

I often say, "Context is everything in assessing anything", so let's put "gun violence" in the United States in context.

First, despite all that President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the media talk about gun violence, the reality is that murders by firearms have actually dropped across the United States since Obama became President in 2009.

Here is a graph showing murder victims by firearms. (Note: the most recent data for all the charts below from government sources is 2013).

Homicides in which a gun was used are down 8% since Obama took office. 

In addition, despite the fact we hear a lot about the need to control assault rifles, the reality is that rifles of any type are rarely used to kill anyone in the United States. There were only 285 murders committed with a rifle in 2013. That is down 19% since Obama took office. Handguns were used 5,782 times.

It is also true that firearms are much more likely to be used to commit suicide than to commit a homicide. In fact, almost 2/3 of deaths from firearms in the first five years of the Obama administration were from suicides.

How do gun deaths compare to other causes of death?

Homicides caused by guns is not even close to other causes of death including drugs, poisoning, motor vehicle accidents, falls and alcohol. For example, there are over 4 times as many deaths by drugs as there are homicides by guns.  

What sense is it then for many liberals to favor legalizing drugs but banning firearms?

And why is it that Barack Obama spends so much time on the subject of guns but spends so little time trying to change the culture of violence that exists within our community of young, black males?

In fact, in 2013, almost 50% of the deaths of young, black males between 15 and 24 years of age were the result of homicide. The comparable number for young white males of the same age---8%.

Finally, we see and hear a lot about police violence directed at African American males.

CDC statistics on causes of death indicate that the overall homicide death rate for all black males is 35.1 per 100,000 with 29.4 of those being through the discharge of a firearm.

What is the rate for homicide for black males due to legal intervention (police)? ---.7 per 100,000.

The comparable numbers for white males? 

3.3 per 100,000 deaths for homicides in total. 2.0 of those through the use of a firearm. 

.3 per 100,000 is the homicide rate due to legal intervention.

Therefore, the overall homicide rate for black males is 10 times that of white males.

More interesting, about 10% of total homicides involving white males come as a result of police action. For blacks, only 2% of homicides are the result of legal intervention. 

Therefore, if a black male is the victim of a homicide, there is a 98% chance it was by someone other than a police officer. If it is a white male, it is a 90% chance. 

Context is everything when assessing anything.

Even when it comes to the subject of guns.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Trolley Folly

Streetcars used to be mainstays of transportation in every major American city beginning in the late 19th and early 20th century.

They were an efficient means of transportation when most people lived in cities and most did not have automobiles.

The advent of the automobile, and the development of city bus systems, led to the ultimate demise of streetcars. More people had cars for personal transportation and buses became the preferred method of transit in cities because of lower capital costs and increased flexibility to modify route systems.

You can see how the popularity of public bus transportation exploded after World War I as more and more cities came to rely exclusively on buses. This graph is from an article in City Lab explaining the demise of streetcars as bus transportation took over.

You can also see the slow death of streetcars in this graph from the same article that compares streetcar and bus ridership up to the year 1970. By that time, almost all streetcars were in the scrap heap. The light gray is bus ridership. The dark gray is streetcar ridership.

An interesting sidenote in looking at the graph above is the spike in the use of all public transit during World War II. This was clearly the result of gas rationing during the war. However, the end of World War II led to the growth of personal auto usage, urban exodus and the decline in all public transit.

This led to almost all streetcars ending up like this by 1970.

Old Pacific Electric streetcars from Portland, Oregon

Despite all of this history and experience, liberal politicians in cities around the country have decided that streetcars are "in" again and are the answer to revitalizing urban areas and spurring economic development in their cities.

It is also argued riding a streetcar is considered "cool" by Millennial urban dwellers while riding a bus is decidedly "uncool" as a reason to push for more streetcar projects.

Isn't that a great reason to spend taxpayer money?

Left unanswered is why past streetcar lines were abandoned, bus lines are still operating and cities have grown and changed over the years without those streetcar lines.

Also unanswered is how you can make the economics work without massive subsidies.

The experience of Cincinnati, Ohio is typical.

The Democrat-controlled City Council and Mayor fell in love with the streetcar idea. They moved ahead despite many local objections and the fact the city was already grappling with almost $1 billion in underfunded pension liabilities.

A new Mayor and several city council members were elected on promises to kill the streetcar. When they took office they discovered that the prior administration had signed contracts and spent money such that the city would lose more money by canceling the project than by completing it. As a result, the streetcar project proceeded despite many new city leaders being opposed.

The 3.6 mile streetcar line opened last September at a cost of $148 million (that's over $40 million per mile) with $45 million of that sum coming in the form of federal grants.

The Cincinnati Bell Connector
Credit: www

How is the streetcar doing?

Ridership is running at barely half of the projected ridership that was relied on when the project was being promoted.

Based on an annual operating budget of over $4 million, revenues from rider fares contributes less than 10% of operating costs ($377,752). The rest is made up from advertising, charitable foundational support, tax incentive support money and city parking revenue that has been directed to fund the streetcar.

Proposed streetcar budget for 2018 as reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer

Ed note: After the above article was published by the Cincinnati Enquirer it was reported that an additional $500,000 in revenue in tax incremental financing payments from properties along the streetcar route can be expected as additional revenue. I assume that is in addition to the $400,000 reported below.


Fares: $377,752

Naming rights: $500,000

Parking revenue: $1.5 million 

Tax incentive support money: $400,000

Haile Foundation support: $900,000

Total: $3,677,752


Transdev: $3.3 million

SORTA: $677,368

Safety costs: $84,415

City costs: $337,936

Parking enforcement: $192,000

Total: $4,593,511

It is so bad that City Council member Amy Murray observed that the costs to collect the streetcar fares were higher than the actual fares collected.

Council member Murray was asked why doesn't the city simply disband operations? The short answer is that it can't unless it repays the $45 million it took in federal grants. This obligates the city to operate the streetcar for the next 25 years according to Murray.

Proponents of the streetcar argue that you cannot look at budgets when assessing streetcars. They argue it is unfair to compare buses to streetcars because buses are able to operate on existing roads for which they effectively ride for free. However, that is exactly the point. The road infrastructure already exists. It would be there even if buses did not exist. That makes bus systems much more economical and flexible (routes can be easily reconfigured for changing demographic and economic patterns) than the high fixed costs and the fixed routes with streetcars.

Of course, those proponents also argue that streetcars are cleaner, greener and quieter than those obnoxious buses. You can't be a legitimate liberal cause unless you touch all of the environmental bases as well.

And don't forget that a Millennial would never want to be caught taking a selfie to post on his or her social media account riding a bus!

Other U.S. cities who have jumped on the streetcar craze or are planning to are Portland, Tacoma, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Kansas City, Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Charlotte.

I am a big believer in well-considered mass transit. It makes all the sense in the world when you have well-established routes that have masses of people who travel those routes every day. Developing mass transit on these routes can make travel more efficient, economical and create additional economic development at the same time.

This is clearly not the case with most of these streetcar systems.

As a result, all you have is trolley folly.

And, as is always the case, it is the taxpayers who pay the price for politicians who make foolish and ill-considered choices without regard to the costs or long-term consequences of those decisions.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Flaw in the Filibuster

Our Founding Fathers created the United States Senate to protect the rights of the individual states as well as providing the protection of minority rights from what could be an emotional majority at times.

James Madison saw the Senate's role to be two-fold as he described it in his notes at the time of the Constitutional Convention.

"first to protect the people against their rulers [and] secondly to protect the people against the transient impressions into which they themselves might be led."

The Senate was clearly established in the Constitution to be a more deliberative body than the House of Representatives.

The Senate's members were originally elected by state legislatures. This was designed to make the Senate more attuned to state rights and to further remove Senators from the tides of the emotional majority.

That safeguard was removed with the ratification of the 17th Amendment which was ratified in 1913 and established that Senators were to elected by direct election of the voters.

What has really caused the United States Senate to be a deliberative body is not in the Constitution at all. It is the use of the filibuster.

There is nothing in the Constitution about a filibuster. There is nothing in the document that requires a super-majority to pass any legislation through the Senate. However, in the world we live in today that has become the reality.

There is little doubt that our Founders liked deliberation from the Senate but they had no interest in rule by the minority. James Madison wrote about their thinking in Federalist Papers No. 58.

"It has been said that more than a majority ought to have been required for a quorum; and in particular cases, if not in all, more than a majority of a quorum for a decision. That some advantages might have resulted from such a precaution, cannot be denied. It might have been an additional shield to some particular interests, and another obstacle generally to hasty and partial measures. But these considerations are outweighed by the inconveniences in the opposite scale."

The filibuster tactic has become increasingly controversial in recent years. The Democrats hated it when they had a simple majority in the Senate. Predictably, the Republicans hate it now that they are in the majority.

President Trump is certainly no fan of the filibuster rule.

The first filibuster did not occur until 1837 in the Senate. A 2/3 vote was required to invoke cloture (end debate and the filibuster) in 1917 and that was revised down in the Senate rules to 3/5 (60 votes) in 1970 after the filibuster was used extensively by Democrats to attempt to stop Civil Rights legislation in the 1960's.

However, that move to attempt to reduce the power of the filibuster was reversed when the Senate revised the rules again in 1975 and abolished the requirement that senators actually hold the floor by speaking. This had the effect of allowing the use of “virtual” filibusters.  Senators can now filibuster a bill without having to do the actual hard work of standing and speaking against the issue on the floor..

A filibuster thus has become not a method for deliberative debate but a pure tool of legislative obstruction.

Not surprisingly, the number of filings for and votes on invoking cloture exploded after 1975.  There were only a handful of cloture votes in the sixties. It is not unusual to now see well over a hundred in recent sessions of the Senate.

I am not opposed to the filibuster rule in general. I think it does serve a useful purpose in what is supposed to be a more deliberative body such as the Senate. This is particularly true since the enactment of the 17th Amendment.

However, the rules need to be reformed. I have believed this for a long time---through both Democrat and Republican majorities.

If a filibuster is used it needs to really be about deliberative debate. The idea behind a filibuster is for the minority to draw attention to "hasty or impartial measures". It is a device to slow things down so that the voters and the general public have more knowledge of what is going on. If that is the case, the filibuster cannot be virtual. It must involve Senators standing up and holding the floor like Mr. Smith did when he went to Washington in the famous Jimmy Stewart film.

Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

If you are going to physically hold the floor with a filibuster debate that also means that no other Senate business can proceed. If you want to block a vote on your issue you must be prepared to incur the wrath of everyone else when that filibuster also blocks consideration of all other Senate business.

I am all for full debate. However, that debate has to end at some point and a vote needs to be taken---up or down--- on a simple majority basis just as the Constitution provides.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Investing Know-How

Investment manager Peter Lynch became famous in the late 1970's through the decade of the 1980's managing Fidelity's Magellan Fund.

Between 1977 and 1990 Lynch averaged a 29.2% annual return for Magellan which was more than double the S&P 500 market index for that period. During his tenure at Magellan its mutual fund assets grew from $18 million to $14 billion.

Peter Lynch used to say that he got some of his best investment ideas by walking around the shopping mall. "If you like the store, chances are that you will love the stock." That was Lynch's way of saying that people should invest in what they know. Start there and learn more about the product and the company. It does not necessarily take investing genius. It just takes tapping in to what you know and following through with some necessary research and due diligence.

Although malls might have been a good place to look for stock ideas in the 1980's that day seems to have passed.

Take a look at this chart that shows the changes in stock market value of some of the biggest names in retail between 2006 and 2016. The malls and shopping centers have not been a good place to shop for stock market winners.

However, what the retail giants have lost in value, Amazon has made up---and more.

The malls might not have been a good place to look for investing ideas the last decade but you could have done pretty well for yourself by just sitting at a computer keyboard or looking at your phone and letting your fingers do the walking for you.

Consider the wealth that has been created in the stock appreciation of just five stocks over the last ten years.

I am certain that all of you were aware of the names of these companies ten years ago. Almost all of you have undoubtedly utilized their products or services in some way. Did you own any of these stocks?

All the numbers below assume $1,000 was invested in each of these stocks on September 1, 2007 (except Facebook which did not go public until 2012 where I have used a 5-year period) and held until August 31, 2017.

If you had invested just $1,000 in these five stocks you would now have over $100,000. Your original stake would now be 20 times larger.

This would have given you an average rate of return of over twice what Peter Lynch was able to produce and for which he became known as the best mutual fund investment manager of his era.

It could have all been done by just letting your fingers doing the walking. There was no reason to even visit the mall.

Investing is easy if you have the know-how.

It is even easier with ten years of hindsight.

If you didn't own these stocks directly I hope you are consistently investing in high quality equity mutual funds. If you are, the odds are you will get your share of winners like these over time. You might not get them for the full run-up but you will still participate in their growth.

The next decade will bring similar winners. I don't know who they will be. However, there will be similar stories in another decade. You can't play if you don't save and put your money to work in order to participate in what the future will provide.

Save. Invest. Diversify. Let the money compound.

That is the know-how to know how to become wealthy over time.