By lex, on Fri – July 16, 2004
No telling where this is going to take us. Buckle in.
I’m almost entirely certain that I’m not going through a mid-life crisis. So let’s just get that out on the table.
I haven’t dyed my hair back to what I still consider to be its natural color. I’m not in the market for a liposuctionist. I’ve had motorcycles forever, so that’s not new, and am not shopping for a sports car. I am not actively seeking for, nor passively receptive to, a Replacement Hobbit.
One is quite enough to last a man a lifetime.
I haven’t updated my wardrobe recently. I have exactly two suits, both black (I believe it’s a Quentin Tarantino thing, think Reservoir Dogs * ). Why two?
I’ve got two sports coats, at least eight pairs of khaki trousers and uncountable golf / polo shirts. I haven’t been to a tanning booth and don’t intend to go, nor have I booked a tooth whitening session with my local dentist.
I’m not carefully scrutinizing speedo bathing suits, or any class of jewelry, including gold chains. I do not have a personal trainer, and am not doing either yoga or pilates.
I don’t drink herbal tea.
I’m not entirely certain what “feng shui *” is. Even after looking it up.
No. So I’m fairly certain I am not going through a mid-life crisis.
Except there’s this: I’ve recently decided that it would be nice to be wealthy.
Oh, not Bill Gates, Sultan of Brunei wealthy. Just, you know, carrying weight.
See, I’ve got my eye on this spread in Montana, 175+ acres, six bedrooms, riding arena, out buildings and barn. Close to the confluence of three world class trout streams, with its own private airstrip. For my Cessna Citation, which I also don’t have.
Because I’m not wealthy.
I never set out to be wealthy – I knew that the best a service life could offer was a sort of genteel shabbiness. At 18, I was fully content with that. At 30, I had my first chance to bail the nav, and head to the greener pastures of commercial aviation, where a man who’d never finished college could, if he lived long enough, end up making $230k a year shuttling the pax around from LA to Paris, working eight days a month. During that time, he’d be responsible for thousands of lives, but he also knew that if he took care of the one life in the seat he was occupying, then everyone else would be fine too. I turned it down. You only live once, I reckoned, and no one ever has enough money – the more you make, the more you spend, you’re still looking behind the couch pillows for change to buy a Snickers at the end of the month.
I think greed set in when I was 38. I traded out of my underperforming mutual funds to get on board the tech stock rally. For two years I was Warren Buffet himself – everything I touched turned to gold. Back of the napkin calculations showed that if I continued at my current rate of return, I could be living off T-Bond interest in ten years. Living very well.
In Montana, maybe.
Things didn’t turn out quite that way, of course. When the NASDAQ dropped from over 5000 to 3000, I bought, waiting for the bounce. When it broke 2000 (on the way down), I bought some more. At 1700, I knew it couldn’t go any lower and bought with all the cash I had left.
Oh – everything has recovered fairly well since the bottom – we’re not ready to put the kids on the street just yet. But we’re still down an unimaginable amount since my Warren Buffet days, and now it’s probably time to sell some of the laggards and get them out of the portfolio for good. And get back into that nice, steady mutual fund I bailed out of near the peak of the tech boom.
Which is up 16% over the lifetime of the portfolio, by the way.
Ha! This is what I was looking for last week:
Isn’t it simple? See the value set behind it all? See the 12-point program that’s going to lead us towards a better future? See the compelling reason to vote for John Kerry? He’s not George W. Bush!
Saw a guy on the road today in a brand-new Volvo XC-70 SUV with a Kerry sticker on it. The car was too new even to have a tag. But it did have a vanity border:
“My next license plate will be made by Bush-Cheney”
Because they’re felons, don’t you see – people who make license plates in prison. Get it?
It probably has something to do with Halliburton.
Victor Davis Hanson, whose praises I have sung before (arma virumque cano), has a good article today in the NRO:
About this time 60 years ago, six weeks after the Normandy beach landings, Americans were dying in droves in France. We think of the 76-day Normandy campaign of summer and autumn 1944 as an astounding American success — and indeed it was, as Anglo-American forces cleared much of France of its Nazi occupiers in less than three months. But the outcome was not at all preordained, and more often was the stuff of great tragedy. Blunders were daily occurrences — resulting in 2,500 Allied casualties a day. In any average three-day period, more were killed, wounded, or missing than there have been in over a year in Iraq.
I’m convinced once again that if we fail in Iraq, it will not be a failure of might, or even of national will, but of imagination.
Just for the record, I thought the FMA was a terrible idea as actual policy, if it had led to an actual attempt to amend of the Constitution. As a political move, looking to “cement the base,” I am agnostic. Bush the Elder lost his race to WCJ in no small part because he thought that the base didn’t matter that much. W looks to have learned that lesson very well.
But for me it’s a state’s rights issue.
Speaking of state issues, there’s been a bit of blowback from folks * who’d rather tax you at the federal level than at the state level for state provided services. Their point is that the the Bush tax cuts (whatever salutary effect they may have had on softening and shortening the post-bubble recession) were really a shell game, designed to shift the burden from the federal coffers to local government.
Which is, in my view, precisely where they belong.
The average citizen who feels he’s paying too much bread wrung from the sweat of his brow has little chance of making a difference in the US Congress, where competing (and sometimes complimentary) pork barrel politics ends up adding more and more lard to the budget. But in his state or municipality, his impact is vastly greater.
Don’t like ever-escalating, practically confiscatory real estate taxes in your state? Vote for Prop 13.
Just try that in Washington.
We have a hail and farewell tonight back in Coronado – a command function, our presence is cordially required. Kind of a bummer, because we’ve got to thrash down the 5 again, which God knows I do often enough in a week. So anyway, I’ve got to cut this short.
Sayonarra, farewell, have a great weekend!
* 07-01-18 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.