3 Things 2-01

02/01/2021

Thing One

An Important Declaration

Got some cash you want to play around with and try to make a quick buck? Cool. There are lots of options.

You could head to your nearest gas station and buy a few lottery or scratch off tickets. If you're lucky, you could win anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred million for the price of a cup of coffee.

Or, you could go (either on-line or virtually) to a casino and try your luck at one of the many games of chance that offer you the opportunity to turn a small amount of money into a fortune.

Or, you could bet the horses (again either online or in-person) and turn a little into a lot.

Or, since it's that time of year, you could find a group that has a Superbowl Squares game going and buy in. For a few bucks and a lot of luck, you could end up with overflowing pockets.

Or, since on-line stock trading platforms have "democratized wall street" and "put the little guy on even footing with the big guy", you could plunk down some money on a company like Gamestop. Unless you've been under a rock for the last week or so, you've undoubtedly heard about what's happened to that company's share price. And you've also probably learned a bit about what a short squeeze is. We're not going into the details of that here nor are we going to make a judgment about whether buying Gamestop, or AMC, or Blackberry, or any number of other stocks that became Robinhood-famous this week is the right or wrong thing to do. We're just going to take the opportunity to make this declaration: You can put your money to work, you can put it to play, and you can even do both. Just know which option you've chosen and why.

Putting it to work means investing for the long term. It means accepting volatility as a fact of life. And it also means accepting that there are no guarantees. But, if done the way most successful long-term investors have done it, with similar results, it means you can reasonably expect to produce solid returns over time.

Putting it to play means doing things like trading on the news, or following the crowd, or digging around for the next obscure startup to hit it big. And, who knows, it all just might work out like you hoped and you might hit it big too. You should understand though that your windfall didn't come as a result of investing but rather speculating, which is perfectly fine as long as you understand the risks and set some parameters for yourself. But you should also understand that the word (playing) correctly implies you're in a game, of sorts, and you just might lose - all of it.

So, to restate what we've said above more concisely, buying stock in a company like Gamestop, for the reasons that most people have been buying it in the last week or so, is not investing. It's playing and it's okay to do. Investing, on the other hand, is where the games stop.

Thing Two

Happy February 1st

(Note: Here's to good friends. I'm shouting out two in this second thing. I won't say their names, but they know who they are.)

"Seeing is believing". So goes the saying we've all heard. But a good friend and mentor of mine long ago reordered that sentence in a conversation we were having to read, "believing is seeing". The rephrasing prompted lots of thinking and personal belief challenging and eventually lead to some re-seeing.

The re-seeing that started all those years ago favorably influenced the way I received and reflected on the messages delivered in two videos another good friend shared with me recently that featured Larry Elder, who is an attorney, author, documentary filmmaker, and conservative talk show host. In the videos, Elder is highlighting two prominent black actors who are strongly pushing back against some common narratives and sacred cows.

In the first video, Denzel Washinton is asked, several times, what appear to be softball questions by different reporters hoping to get his endorsement of the idea that it is the "system" that is failing young black people - especially men. Washington, each time, thoughtfully and calmly rejects that notion and suggests, as Occams Razor does, that the solution is likely simpler. At one point, early on in the video, one reporter asks Washington for ideas on how to make headway with getting the system changed in terms of how it deals with the incarceration of young black men and Washington responds, "I think it's more important we make headway in our own house. By the time the system comes into play, the damage is done. They're not locking up 7-year-olds." Pretty simple, indeed. He goes on to make a few more great points in the nearly seven-minute video that are all worth the time.

In the second video, Morgan Freeman, who's played everything from Miss Daisy's chauffeur to God on the big screen is asked by Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes what he thinks about black history month to which Freeman replies, "I think it's ridiculous". A somewhat taken aback Wallace asks for clarification. Freeman responds, "You gonna relegate my history to a month? What do you do with yours? Which month is white history month?" Wallace tries to slide out of the racial corner he's backed himself into by saying he's Jewish. Freeman then asks, "Oh, do you want a Jewish history month?" Wallace quickly responds, no, to which Freeman, just as quickly, replies, "I don't either. I don't want a black history month. Black History is American History." Amen to that.

By the way, the rest of this video, which is about twice as long as the first one but still well worth watching, features Elder talking about the black history that isn't being taught but should be. I hope find it worth your time. I certainly did.

Thing Three

Just A Thought

"You're only a victim to the degree that your perception allows.”― Shannon L. Alder