BOREF

In Paris, too, they’re intrigued by the potential for WheelTug. Of course, that and $972 will get you a small room at the Ritz. But for what it’s worth, ‘cliquez ici, s’il vous plait.’

ALDABRA 2

At Ameritrade, the on-line symbol for the warrants is AII+. But remember (in case last week didn’t make it obvious): the stock market is risky. And these warrants, even if a good speculation, are riskier still. I have high hopes.

THE MARKET

The best things the market has going for it are that (a) it’s cheaper than it was a week ago; (b) it’s denominated in dollars, which makes it cheaper still to Europeans who’ve watched the value of our currency sink by about a third since 2001; (c) a change in national direction looms, 18 months hence; (d) China, India, Eastern Europe, Russia – for so long stunted – are fast adding to the power of the global economy; (e) technology races on, enhancing productivity that, in turn, enhances prosperity.

On the other hand, we have an awful lot of chickens potentially coming home to roost.

  • Our National Debt – not quite $1 trillion when Ronald Reagan took over – will hit $9 trillion in a few weeks. (Where it was equivalent to around 32.5% of our Gross Domestic Economy back then, it is equivalent to around 65% now. Double.)
  • The projected costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and the structural problems our health care system generally, are a huge drain on our future.
  • Many of our kids are not leaving school equipped to compete with their counterparts abroad.
  • The housing bust, and a general credit tightening, may feed on itself and lead
    to really widespread pain.

I don’t profess to know where the market is headed. If it’s making you really nervous, I’d suggest selling enough shares to make you less so – for three reasons. First, being nervous is not good for your health. Second, if you’re nervous now, you might get really nuts if things got worse, which could lead you to bail out at the bottom (wherever that will be), as so many investors do. Third, it might turn out you were nervous for good reason.

PURPLE AMERICA

This is long . . . but if you follow politics, I think you’ll find it interesting – and if you’re a Democrat, I think you’ll find it heartening. It’s from the August 13 issue of THE NATION.

It begins:

Purple America
Bob Moser
North Wilkesboro, North Carolina

What on God’s green earth has gotten into the Wilkes County Democrats? Here it is, the first pretty April Saturday of a snowy, blowy spring. There’s yards to mow, balls to toss, plants to plant, Blue Ridge Mountains to hike – all of which you’d think would be mighty tempting on Democratic convention day in a place where Republicans have a damn near two-to-one edge.

‘Welcome to red-hot Republican territory,’ says Dick Sloop, a career-military retiree turned antiwar protester who’s the new county Democratic chair. ‘We’ve been like the homeless around here: silent and invisible. The best we ever did in my lifetime, we had two Democrats once on a five-seat county commission.’ Even here in western North Carolina, where Republicans have proliferated since the Civil War (when the woods were full of Union sympathizers rather than pro-lifers), Wilkes County – Bible-thumping, economically slumping – has stood out for its fire-and-brimstone conservatism. It’s been a stiff challenge to find folks willing to run against the Republicans. Hell, it’s been rare to hear anybody publicly admit to being a Democrat. ‘You’ve got a lot of people in this county who probably couldn’t tell you if they’ve ever met one,’ Sloop says.

But in a scene playing out this year all across ‘red America,’ from these lush hills to the craggy outcroppings of the Mountain West, previously unfathomable crowds of Democrats are streaming up the steps of the old county courthouse, past bobbing blue balloons and Welcome Democrats! signs. They’re hopping mad about the national state of things but simultaneously giddy with a new-found hope – finally! – for their party . . .

The single oddest thing about [Howard Dean’s] fifty-state strategy is surely the adjective often attached to it: “controversial.” . . .

 

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