Archive for October, 2008

Thu 9 Oct 2008 8:42 am   //   Posted in: Hard times


Friends have asked me what I’m doing about my 401K fund, given the recent performance of the stock market. I obviously have no qualifications to give people financial advice, but here’s my answer: I’m doing nothing differently. I’m going to keep contributing a few percent every paycheck and direct most of it to stock investments. For somebody like me (who won’t retire for another 35 or 40 years), there’s no sense in getting stressed about the markets. After all, there are only two possible scenarios:

1. Stocks will go back up. Even if it takes 20 years, it’s going to work in our favor in the long run.

2. Stocks will never go back up. The American economy reached its peak in 2007 and it’s all downhill from here. Soon we’ll be withdrawing dollars from the bank and burning them as a source of warmth.

In either scenario, you’re not going to benefit by fiddling with your 401K investments right now. The best and worst thing about 401Ks (vs. pensions) is that the individual employee controls his or her own retirement fund. We all knew there were risks to this system when we bought into it. Now we have to have the discipline and patience to let the system work for us. Stay the course. Ignore Jim Cramer.

Wed 8 Oct 2008 11:16 am   //   Posted in: In the news

That one

That one

That one

That one


Update 1:53 p.m.: That one. And with that one, this meme is played out. Over!

Tue 7 Oct 2008 10:06 am   //   Posted in: In the news

The wrath of a journalism major

Do not miss Dana Milbank’s column in today’s Washington Post:

“Palin’s routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric’s questions for her ‘less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media.’ At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, ‘Sit down, boy.'”

Tue 7 Oct 2008 8:16 am   //   Posted in: Hard times

The myth of Main Street

It’s become popular among politicians and TV journalists to ask when the economic pain on Wall Street will be felt on “Main Street.” Take a drink every time you hear somebody say “Main Street” during the debate tonight.

I have a problem with this metaphor. For most ordinary folks, if there even is a “Main Street” in their town, it was totally decimated by Wal-Mart in the 1990s. Main Streets are vestiges from a time before interstates, when dense towns formed organically around crossroads, harbors and train stations. No more. New developments in the suburbs are built without any kind of central business district. If you still have a downtown, it’s probably not a place you hang out. There’s a good bet it’s limping along with a few struggling offices and maybe a weird old barber shop.

The way people live now, home is a cul-de-sac. Business is conducted in a shopping center or an office park a 15-minute drive away on a six-lane divided highway. Mailboxes Etc. or FedEx Kinkos has replaced the Post Office, Amazon or Barnes & Noble has replaced the book store, Safeway or Kroger has replaced most other food shops. Nobody walks anywhere.

So perhaps your town has no soul. But there’s a good unintended consequence to all this. When all your local businesses are part of national chains, they can ride out a few years of a bad economy. Home Depot, Costco and McDonald’s are going to be fine.

So if not Main Street, where will economic trouble cause the most pain in small towns and cities? I think school districts. Schools are localized. They rely largely on local property taxes, bond issues and mutual fund investments for income. We’ve let the businesses in our towns grow huge, national and powerful, but left our public schools in a precarious situation.

Mon 6 Oct 2008 7:44 am   //   Posted in: Misc

Married married married!

Gerritt and Melanie got married on Saturday! The wedding was at their church on Capitol Hill in D.C. and the reception was held on a paddleboat called the Cherry Blossom on the Potomac River. Today they’re off to Hawaii.

I’m so happy for my little brother and his wife. Congratulations guys!!

Thu 2 Oct 2008 8:11 am   //   Posted in: Failure, In the news

“There would be others…”

Things would be swell, but for those liberal reporters and their “gotcha!” questions!

(Direct link)

As a reminder, Sarah Palin has a degree in journalism from the University of Idaho. The more of these clips we see, the more I sense my degree in journalism depreciating.

Thu 2 Oct 2008 6:40 am   //   Posted in: Photos, Planet earth

Brother bear

From our trip to West Virginia two weeks ago… Bret has posted his photos, including this picture of a bear!