TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY – INDEED

It used to be owned fairly broadly. Since the Reagan revolution, ownership has shifted sharply to those at the top. Income has risen a mere 16% in those 30 years for folks in the bottom quintile and just 25% for those in the middle quintile – but by 281% for those in the top 1% (and even more for the really rich). Meanwhile, with its recent Citizens United ruling, the corporate-leaning Supreme Court gave the wealthy more sway over who gets elected . . . and the Republican minority in the Senate will not allow voters even to know who is funding the ocean of ads this new ruling will spawn. It’s all here.

LIES

Jim Leff: “You wrote: ‘And, yes, I know, everyone hates partisan politics, but these are just facts. When Bush promised a humble foreign policy, he was already looking for a way into Iraq. When he said that the “vast majority” of his tax cuts would go to people at the “bottom of the economic ladder,” he was simply flat-out lying. When so much money is involved and the facts are so clear, how can it be called anything else?’ Want an even bigger lie? How about ‘I’m a uniter, not a divider,’ the lie that pulled in the independents? I never heard any journalist (let alone the Kerry campaign) throw that back at him.”

WARRANTS

Ted Graham: “Can you update us on your current thoughts about BZ+, INHIW and ROICW?”

☞ The easy one is ROICW: it has more than four more years yet to run, and – while still entirely speculative – I actually bought a few more last week at 72 cents. There is the very real chance they will expire worthless; but there is upside as well, as most recently described here.

The Boise warrants, by contrast, have less than a year to run. Here is Boise management’s latest discussion of where they are and the challenges they face. Last August, I wrote:

The warrants give you the right to buy the stock at $7.50 anytime between now (when you wouldn’t want to, because it’s selling for $4.53) and June 18, 2011 (when you would, if it were selling above $7.50). Were the stock to recover to $10 by then – a “were” so subjunctive it gives new depth to the mood – the warrants would be worth $2.50 each, up a further eightfold from here. So I’m holding almost all of mine, even knowing that the stock might well never approach $7.50 between now and June 18, 2011.

In the interim, I have sold a lot of them, mostly at prices ranging from 47 cents (where I sold some last week) to as high as 90-some cents. But you never know what might happen over the next 11 months, so I still have enough that, should the stock resurge, I will have ample profits to visit the newly frozen-over netherworld.

And speaking of unlikely freezings . . . Infusystems warrants expire April 11 and the underlying stock would have to double for them even to start being worth anything. The company reports good progress, so I feel fine about the warrants we chose to convert to stock (as described here) – in my case, about two-thirds of them. As for the warrants I chose not to convert? Well, there’s always a chance.

WAL*MART

As a shareholder, I love this story. In small part:

. . . With 2 million employees, 8,400 stores, $400 billion in sales, 100,000 suppliers and lots of baggage as an environmental bad guy, in 2005 Wal-Mart decided to go green.

. . . Almost overnight, Wal-Mart changed the way it acquired, stored, handled, cooled, heated, sold and disposed of its products. They reached into every part of their retail operations and found savings in trucking, refrigeration, energy, lighting, and on and on. Last year, Wal-Mart used 4.8 billion fewer plastic bags. Its trucks delivered 77 million more cases while driving 100 million fewer miles.

But Wal-Mart soon realized that 90 percent of the embedded energy in its products came not from its stories, but from its suppliers. So that had to change, too. Wal-Mart set three goals: 100 percent renewable energy. Zero waste. Sustainable products for customers and practices for employees.

Every Wal-Mart supplier recently received a 15-part questionnaire, asking for details on energy use and renewable practices. The company intends to use this information to issue a Sustainability Index for each of its products. . . .

☞ Rolling up our sleeves to become more efficient. I love it. Because whatever your political philosophy, on one thing we can all agree: efficiency is good, waste impoverishes us all.

 

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