That Post Independent columnist Mary Boland continues to be disenchanted by the major institutional infrastructure of our economy is no surprise. That she has crossed the line from economic opinion to investment advice in her Dec. 8 column is a surprise, particularly since it is such bad advice.
Ms. Boland would have us withdraw our money, our 401-K and the rest of our investments from “any large Wall Street bank” (I guess the small ones are OK?) and turn it over to a local credit union or bank.
Prior to doing that, investigate how local banks would invest your money. They will keep your money on deposit or sell you their CDs, but I doubt that you will be happy with the interest rates, which are currently below the rate of inflation. If you should ask them to invest some of your money in high quality private Australian bonds, currently yielding about 8 percent, they will likely look at you as if you had just asked them to buy kangaroo hide futures.
Point is, no local bank can offer the range of investment services and products, along with expert advice, that a major investment house can. Local banks, if they do offer extensive investment services, will still be using a major Wall Street trading house to obtain the investments they select. Finally, most local banks don’t even want your investments unless you can meet their considerable wealth thresholds, which are higher than many major brokerages.
You might also want to look at the reporting and tax services expected from a local bank. Do they send comprehensive monthly investment performance statements? And, at year end, can they download all your transactions into tax preparation software?
I am truly surprised at how seriously Ms. Boland has undervalued the benefits an individual can derive from a relationship with one of our major brokerages. Her advice might advance her personal agenda, but it is likely to be harmful to an individual’s financial outcome.
As I look back at the last 10 years, I find a very different type of American than I found prior. The new American is sick with fear.
I would suggest the majority of the fear is held over from 9/11, this initial kernel made to grow by news companies cramming “fear rhetoric” down our throats at every opportunity. This fear is then made to grow and sprout into every area of our lives.
Whether this fear stems from economic distress, political dissension and bickering, or merely from not being able to effect control over our own lives, the effect is the same. At this point we are so afraid of one another that we cannot seem to work together. The evidence is literally everywhere, and yet despite the obviousness of the problem, there has not of yet, to my knowledge, been a call to end this fear.
We have from our past examples to help guide us through these troubling times. The Greatest Generation, which earned its merit in the throes of the Great Depression and World War II, had to its advantage great leadership. President Roosevelt spoke in the face of those uncertain times to a population that was struggling, a group divided, a population crippled by fear.
And so he spoke words which may be truer today:
“This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
I am most certainly not on the level of FDR. However I would feel as though I had not performed my essential civic duty if I were not to implore America to shun this zombification of our great nation. I ask readers to reject our recent chicken-heartedness, to become informed, to say hello to people you pass on the street, to find some means by which to break the cycle we are otherwise stuck in.
I want to thank the members of the Roaring Fork School Board for establishing a thorough and balanced process for evaluating district leadership. Hiring, overseeing and evaluating the superintendent is one of the prime responsibilities of a school board. I appreciate that this current board is taking this responsibility seriously.
Since board members rarely spend much time in the classroom or at staff committee meetings, it’s critical that they get input from principals, teachers and other staff in order to get a full picture of the superintendent’s leadership skills. Teachers are the ones in the classroom every day experiencing how different policies and programs are directly impacting our children. Their input is essential.
If it’s true that our district does not actively encourage honest and open feedback from teachers and principals, then the only way to get reliable feedback is through the kind of confidential survey the board has established.
If, as others argue, the district’s existing feedback system is working fine – if there’s simply a small, loud minority of teachers who are complaining about a climate of fear, and a quiet majority of staff who think the superintendent has great leadership skills – then that information will be revealed through the survey as well.
I hope a comprehensive evaluation of the superintendent will become a regular practice in our district, as well as office hours for board members and their willingness to accept confidential feedback from staff and community members.
It is a positive move for the Roaring Fork School District to offer teachers, staff, parents and students an avenue to express themselves either by the evaluation or with the office hours. Ultimately I believe that we all have the same goal of making our schools happy, safe and successful places for our kids, and this is what the school board is striving for.
A recent report by IHS Global Insight stated that the oil and gas shale boom in the U.S. will produce “870,000 jobs and add $118 billion to economic growth in the next four years.” There are currently about 440,000 Americans working in this industry.
It will also contribute $933 billion to federal, state and local taxes over the next 25 years. Additionally, the contribution to U.S. GDP will triple to $231 billion over the same time frame. And lower natural gas prices will cut U.S. electricity costs by 10 percent and raise industrial production 4.7 percent.
On the same day this was released, President Obama said, “This isn’t another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class. At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.”
Yet he recently delayed approval of the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline expansion, which is estimated to create tens of thousands of high-paying union jobs.
Of course, oil production in the Gulf is still way below normal due to the shutdown of that industry last year. Approval of drilling applications has dropped to 35 percent. Each drilling rig provides 700 local jobs. These jobs are created the old-fashioned private investment way. It is not flushing taxpayer money down green toilets as in “Solyndra.”
We need jobs and oil, and yet the administration does everything it can to get in the way of progress in both areas. Heck, North Dakota just passed legislation and set aside money to sue the EPA if it tries to get in the way of oil production in that state. In other words, to the feds, “Stay out of our way.”
Gov. Christie of New Jersey recently said concerning Obama’s lack of involvement in the budget crisis, “What the heck are we paying you for?”
“The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a representative constitution, is a change of men.”
– Alexander Hamilton
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A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.