JOHN McCAIN AT HIS BEST

This clip is only 38 seconds long, so suffer the first half (the McCain campaign goes negative this week) . . . because the second half is John McCain at his best.*

*That John McCain deplored the despicable negative campaign Bush ran to beat him in South Carolina in 2000. This John McCain has hired the same firm to try to beat Obama.

HIS CHARITABLE GIVING – I

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, last year the McCains gave $211,000 to the John and Cindy McCain Family Foundation (the vehicle through which they do their charitable giving).

Although it’s impossible to know for sure, it’s a pretty fair guess that they’ve spent substantially more operating their private jet each year than they’ve contributed to charity.

That’s totally their choice. But it speaks to their priorities.

The John and Cindy McCain Family Foundation gave out $78,000 last year and $188,000 in 2006 – $93,000 of it to the private prep school his sons attended and the private prep school his daughter attends.

These are huge amounts to give to charity (or to prep schools) if your household income is a few hundred thousand dollars . . . but theirs tops $6 million.

We should honor their wealth (this is America). And it is absolutely theirs to with as they please. But that is the point. You can learn a lot about a family’s priorities from how it spends its money.

HIS CHARITABLE GIVING – II

Ah, some will say, but it’s not his money.

Fair enough. But while it is fine to imagine that the Senator would be more charitable if it were his money, what does it say about his ability to lead others that he has not been able to inspire his wife, whose net worth is estimated at $100 million, to do more?

Has he no say over the number of houses they have, how many cars they have, how much he spends on a pair of shoes?

Are there no pressing world problems the McCain’s have been exposed to that so alarm or concern them or tug at their heartstrings that they would like to use more that $78,000 of their $100 million wealth to address them?

The Bible calls many to tithe – but those are ordinary people, who might even have to sacrifice to do it. I’m not sure what the Bible says about people with 13-bedroom houses (in case you missed the video). But I know lots of people who, because their incomes are extraordinary, give half or more to worthy causes – and still have twenty times as much to spend on themselves as a normal upper-middle-class family. (In the McCains’ case, 20 incomes of more than $150,000.)

You can’t say they don’t give because they expect the government to step in and help. If there’s one thing on which John Sydney McCain III has neither flipped nor flopped, it’s his adamancy that government not help, that government be cut back (except for military expenditures). Like many good Republicans, he expects private charity to be primary in helping those in need.

The problem with that is that – even with centimillionaires giving $78,000 to charity – it’s not enough.

We should respect McCain’s right to want to eliminate the estate tax on $100 million estates and to make permanent – even increase – the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy.

But it’s not good social or economic policy – especially when we are running enormous deficits.

We should respect his right to oppose benefits for returning Iraq vets and to fight relentlessly, time after time, year after year, to prevent a hike in the minimum wage (that at $5.15 an hour worked out to $25,000 a year if you worked 100-hour weeks).

But why would we vote for him?

It’s not that John McCain doesn’t care – he just doesn’t get it.*

*And you know what? – and I can say this because I’m not the candidate – maybe it is, at least a little, that he doesn’t care. How else does one explain $78,000 in giving on an income that tops $6 million a year? Living so lavishly when there’s so much suffering and so much that needs doing in the world?

LOSERS

John Lemon: ‘I am down 95% in BZ+ Boise, 93% in FMD, and 73% in HAPNW (now INHIW). I think I bought most of them over a year ago, so they will be long term losses if I sell. Should I go ahead and dump them?”

☞ Ouch. It’s certainly worth locking in the tax loss, if you can use it. I have tons of this stuff. I even bought more last week at next to nothing. I’ll wait 31 days and sell my initial stakes for the tax loss. (You have to wait 31 days to avoid the ‘wash sale’ rule under which the losses would be disallowed. The other way would have been to sell now, wait 31 days, and then buy, quite possibly even cheaper.) The new shares and warrants may certainly end up worthless. Probably will. But three years, until the warrants expire, is a long time.

We have a rough road ahead, to say the least. But I think Obama is going to win and that there is a decent chance he will be able to inspire the country and markets around the world to see that we have a long-term plan to become strong again (most importantly: energy efficient and independent) and to gradually work our way out of this mess. So while you would be nuts to buy any of this stuff now with money you couldn’t truly afford to lose – which is why almost no one is buying this stuff – there’s always the chance that three years from now you will be the envy of the homeless shelter. And while you would be nuts to bet on, say, these General Motors convertible debentures, because GM really could go broke – really, and maybe even soon – if it makes it through to the other side, you’d do very well.

The rich get richer because they can afford to take really risky bets. But they get poorer or go broke not uncommonly, too. And it may become less uncommon still.

Don’t sell your RSW.

 

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