May 1999 - Volume 19, Number 5

Typical Knee-Jerk Reaction!

The mob is howling for blood! Anyone's!

Let's join the Chorus! The Littleton Shootings were a tragedy!

Now, let's analyze the reaction!

Politicians and liberals are calling for further restrictions on the liberty of every American. Educators are desirous of having armed policeman at every entrance to every school. Religious leaders are blaming permissive policies. Law enforcement officers are trying to find out if other persons were involved. Prosecutors are suggesting that we should hold the parents responsible for the actions of their children and charge them with felonies. Media critics, safe in their studios miles from the event, are criticizing the police for not being more aggressive in meeting the threat.

It is obvious that the public wants scapegoats so that their conscience can be calmed. People are trying to discover the reasons for why Littleton and others like it have occurred. No one want to admit that some things just happen! No rhyme, no reason, it's chance.

Maybe, you have forgotten that little tome - "When Bad Things Happen to Good People"!. If you have, I suggest you get a copy and read it! It just might make a lot more sense than our current media pundits!

So what is the answer?

I am sure that no one really knows but that there will be a tremendous amount of clamoring for laws to see that such a tragedy does not happen again. It always amazes me that politicians and the populace at large think that laws can solve anything! In the Littleton shootings, the existing laws were broken by the two young shooters many times.

Putting additional laws on the books never stops a criminal. It just makes more criminals! And gradually chips away at all of our freedoms!

Last month, I attended my 45th high school reunion. Some of my reflections for our class might be pertinent to the issue at hand. Whether you agree or disagree, it is food for thought from my generation.

Reflections - 45 years after graduating from High School!

(Written for my 45th High School Reunion held on April 16-18, 1999)

As we near our golden years (well, at least, that's what they are called), has it been almost 45 years since we walked up those stairs to get that all-important diploma?

Now, looking back, we must wonder what all the fuss was about!

We did not have to pass a TAAS test to graduate. We went to school at a time when they tried to teach you the subject matter of the course, not just how to pass a test. Of course, the final decision on whether you passed or failed was made by your teacher, not some computer down at DISD's main office on Ross Avenue. Be disruptive in class and you might find yourself in detention or seeing a paddle board from the wrong side.

If you took today's TAAS test, you would know how far our education system has deteriorated since we graduated. Questions that we would have answered easily in the 8th grade are now required for high school graduation. Is it any wonder that today's students can't do basic math without a computer? Let alone algebra! Or write a complete paragraph correctly! Heavens, even the teachers don't know how to diagram a sentence properly! But they are accredited. The scary part is that we are now into our second generation of accredited teachers and not only are test scores continuing to fall but our students are failing to keep pace with students in other countries. At the present rate of decline, over 50% of our population will be functional illiterates by the year 2010.

Since we graduated, our nation has undergone serious transformations in its basic beliefs. Ben Franklin once stated, "We have given you a republic, if you can keep it." Today, with less than 40% of the electorate voting in Presidential elections and even less in many state, and local elections, the nation is facing severe challenges.

Perhaps, we should seek a rule that says that no election is valid unless more than 50% of the population entitled to vote in that election does. Or have a box to check, "None of the above." Maybe, then we could get some interest in the voting process.

Take a good look around you as you walk the halls of HHS, remember how it was, and see how it is. The judicial and social upheaval that caused school busing, white flight, a huge increase in private schools, and a decline in responsibility and respect within the current generation is all around us as we return to Hillcrest some 45 years later.

When we graduated from Hillcrest, most of us went on to college. Today, although Hillcrest is one of the best schools in the DISD, less than 50% of its graduates go to college. In fact, less than 50% of all students in the DISD graduate from high school in 3 years. Part of this is the changing demographics of the city. Yet a large part can be laid at the feet of the drug and alternative cultures which pervade the inner cities today.

Too late we got smart!

Forty-five years ago, we thought we were invincible. Now, we know that the hourglass is probably less than half full. Many of us have had to deal with the problem of aging parents, nursing homes, terminal illnesses, hip replacements, and the HMO restructuring of the medical profession. Shortly, it may be our turn to become a patient in a nursing home.

If you have visited the Social Security Administration to determine your forthcoming benefit rate, you know that the rocking chair can't be too far away! Wasn't that fun standing in line waiting your turn to see that civil servant - what an oxymoron. At least, many of us might get some money back before the system goes bankrupt or they increase the retirement age to 75.

As our nation lurches into a Balkan war led by a man who was the second President impeached and the first one to be cited for Contempt, the very social fabric of our nation is being torn apart again and maybe forever. The standoff air war may keep casualties down but we are expending the country's arsenal with no cruise missile replacements on order or being produced. A further escalation to include the insertion of ground troops into this campaign will cause body bags to bring back the problems of Vietnam.

When we graduated from high school, our nation was the largest creditor nation on earth. Today, our country is the largest debtor nation. During that period of time, the Democratic party held sway in Congress for almost 40 years. Every spending bill starts in Congress. Today's dollar is only worth the paper it is written on whereas we could have redeemed our dollars in silver in 1954. Taxes consumed about 20% of each dollar and today taxes consume about 40% of each dollar.

Perhaps, we have already spent our children's inheritance. But hey, that's their problem.

The Golden Years may be behind us!

I believe that we have already lived through the Golden Years. What's ahead is the unknown but will be full of challenges and opportunities.

So, thank God for Microsoft, Intel, Cisco Systems, Dell, AT&T and its spin-offs including Lucent, Media One, Southwest Bell, U.S. West, TCI Cable, IBM, GE, Hewlett-Packard, and the Investor's Business Daily. For those of you who have made investments in Amazon, eBay, America Online, and other of the internet wonders, watch the ticker closely. It has been a great ride but nothing lasts forever including bull markets.

The 15th Anniversary of the Investor's Business Daily

Today, April 30, 1999 is the 15th Anniversary of the Investor's Business Daily. A friend asked me to select a portfolio for her. The family had $150,000 to invest aggressively. So here are my picks in order. The source for these selections is the 200 Best Stocks Today in the April 30, 1999 issue of the Investor's Business Daily, Page S6. Of course, their new broker is Charles Schwab!


Yes, I can add. All have EPS & RSI combined numbers above 190 except At Home & Microsoft. At Home has perhaps the largest growth potential in volume of any of the stocks in the list and the market guru's are focused on growth not earnings. It is the only pure guess in the list. Remember CAN SLIM and get rid of any stock that goes below 6% of your investment. You may note that my long-time favorite, Intel Corporation, is not on the list. Intel as of 4/30/1999 has a combined EPS & RSI of 174 and is rated a D in the Accumulate/Distribution category. For that reason, we have begun selling the stock and will not include it in any current new portfolios.

Use these selections at your own risk! Neither I or anyone at the Investor's Business Daily guarantees success! Do your homework and see if you can beat this portfolio over the next 6 months or a year! And watch out for the bubble in the Internet stocks to be pricked!

But then - 'Tis Only My Opinion!

Fred Richards
May 1999

This issue of 'Tis Only My Opinion was copyrighted by Adrich Corporation in May 1999.

It is intended to provoke thinking, then dialogue among its readers. Quotation with attribution is encouraged.


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