Friday, January 30, 2015

Seriously: Don't Use Brokers

Even before Wolf of Wall Street and now the Furman memo (first at Bloomberg but more fun read is Taibbi's). It was obvious to anyone who paid any attention that managed funds were a bad idea.  Tons of fees and most do worse than the market average (deducting fees even more are worse).  Yesterday's golden boy is tomorrow's goat--past success does not predict future success in finance.

Your best option is and has been to park your money in a couple low cost index funds (exchange traded or not) and then leave it there.  For balance split between total stocks and total bonds.  You can add REIT and international if you feel like it and the ratio of the split(s) should relate to your risk tolerance (more simply: to your age).  That's it.  Anyone who tells you differently is trying to take money from you and pocket it himself (well, maybe herself, but let's be honest: it's probably gonna be a dude).

Yes some people (and maybe you!) can get lucky and pick the right blend of stocks at the right times and make a killing: doing way better than the market.  But 00 may also come up on the roulette wheel, the dealer may not be sitting on 20 with that face card showing, and 7 could get rolled 3x in a row.  If you want to gamble, that's fine, and the stock market is as good a place to do it as any (and more respectable for some odd reason).  If you are just trying to save for retirement the best way possible, on the other hand, gambling isn't the wise choice.  You may hit the financial jackpot, but probably, you're going to be a lot poorer than you would be if you had just stuck with the simple, cheap option.

Because We Don't...Listen?

Look, scientists are not necessarily the people we want to pay attention to for every little thing.  We are, however, the go-to people for, you know, science stuff.  That's why some of this crap is really frustrating.

Look at that list then think about where the two parties sit.  One party is pro-science, the other is not.  There are some crossover issues, but they are not really party platform points...Yes, more liberals (probably) think GM foods are not safe to eat, and certainly more liberal politicians push for laws on labeling, but the Democratic party does not really care.  Animal research is similar.  Nuclear power is also similar except that the party is very much pro nuclear power.  

Only one party has large numbers who state they do not believe the science on climate change.  Only one party has presidential candidates who publicly declare that they do not believe in evolution.  Indirectly on the list but only one party fights against alternative energy mostly that which comes in the form of solar.

I really do wish the Republican party wasn't anti-science.  I probably still wouldn't vote for them because I have a heart (i.e. liberal on social issues) but at least I would be somewhat less fearful of the damage that will be done to our country and our planet when they have power.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Mostly "Conservative" Rich but Not Entirely

So the "Rich Think the Poor Have it Easy" do they?  I am genuinely curious about why this belief comes about.  Is it straight up class-ism?  Is it a combination of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal poisoning their brains?  I just don't understand how anyone could really believe that the poor have it easy.

We have a (small) safety net that mostly keeps poorer people from being completely destitute.  It helps keep poorer families from starving and helps keep a roof over their head.  Public schools provide some opportunity for advancement for their children, though it should be pretty obvious how inadequate that is.  Moreover we put less toward alleviating poverty today than we did 40, 50 years ago.

I wonder how much is an age divide.  Older people are more likely to be rich.  They mostly grew up during that time that being poor was less of an obstacle than it is today, and there are dramatic differences in some standard of living/cultural issues that confuse the whole picture--"When I was a kid I didn't have an  Xbox and a 40 in. flat screen to play it on!  I had a stick and a hoop and I liked it!"

...really this post is going to be either too long or incomplete so I'm leaving it incomplete.  I just wish I could understand the astounding lack of empathy among the well off in our society.  On the one hand they complain about how hard it is to get by on only $250k, on the other they think people making $20k/year have it easy.