Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Understanding the Anti-War Sentiment

It is probably not a good idea for any American or ally of America to send any journalist to the Middle East or Africa for the foreseeable future. Sadly, another American, Steven Sotloff was shown to be killed by ISIS in a Internet video. His mother begged that he be released, but they killed him anyway. Her quoting the Koran did no good. It is my belief that he was killed on the same day that James Foley was killed. They probably killed both men that day and just held back the video on Steven Sotloff until they wanted to release it. God bless both men and their families.

You simply cannot ignore this type of terrorism. I do believe that ISIS/Al Qaeda or the current Jihad name for the day will attack us in America at some point. They will probably try car bombs and suicide bombers at first. Later they may become more brazen and do more targeted mass killings with a group of terrorists where a large gathering of people are formed. I hope it never happens, but hope is not a defensive strategy.

President Obama knows that most Americans are tired of war and want nothing to do with it. He knows this and feels that he is complying with the American people's wishes. However, this ISIS problem is too big to be ignored. It doesn't matter whether we want war or not. We got it. Like it or not. Just because the American people don't want war, doesn't mean a thing. Your evidence is James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

I like to watch documentaries on wars and look at how decisions were made and why one side or the other won or lost. I have studied World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Irag and Afghanistan wars through documentaries. In every case, the side that lost or surrendered finally were put in a position where they had no choice but to give up. In other words, they lost their will to continue.

I am not a military person, but I know that if you don't have the will of Harry Truman during war, then you will likely fail. Think about the will of Harry Truman and his decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If he didn't have the will to do that, then the war in the Pacific would have continued to go on throughout the islands of the Pacific at great cost to both sides. President Truman made a conscious decision to kill innocent civilians in exchange for ending the war. Japan didn't surrender after the first bomb. It took two bombs for Japan to surrender.

The greatest generation as they are known, the soldiers of World War II, fought for our country and many died for our country. Some of those also fought in World War I. This generation of Americans understood war and got behind the war effort. They were American heroes who understood the danger of doing nothing. They sacrificed their lives for our country.

The baby boomers however are a different story. They grew up in the sixties with the war in Vietnam which was started by John F. Kennedy, a Democrat. The Vietnam war continued under Lyndon Johnson, also a Democrat and dragged on until it was finally ended by Richard Nixon, a Republican. During the sixties and seventies, there were numerous protests against the Vietnam war. These protests were all over the television and they helped to shape the anti-war sentiment of the baby boomers. Soldiers coming back from Vietnam were not hailed as heroes like the greatest generation were when they came back from World War II. These soldiers who fought and died in great numbers were treated horribly by a large group of these protesting American people. Vietnam veterans never received the respect and admiration that they deserved.

Fast forward to today and you must understand that we are losing more and more of the greatest generation every day. The baby boomers are a large demographic and they grew up with the Vietnam war. Is it really any surprise that fifty years later they are still adamantly against war of any type? Not to me.

If you talk to the military leaders of Vietnam, they will tell you that America was winning the Vietnam war and would have won it, if not for the demands of the American people and the lack of will. This same demographic of American people, the old protesters from the sixties and seventies are the ones today who do not want us to do anything other than limited action in Iraq, Syria and Africa. Just fire a few drones and be done with it, they think. They do not want us sending any troops over there at all. Unfortunately, this is the kind of thinking that got millions of Jewish people killed during World War II. No one had the stomach for war at first in World War II, but when we got attacked at Pearl Harbor everything changed. What bothers me is that James Foley and Steven Sotloff were brutally executed and no one seems to care. They don't care about the 150 or so Syrian solders who were stripped down to their underwear and shot and killed in the desert. They don't care about the 20 civilians in the Gaza strip killed by Hamas, because they were thought to have collaborated with the Israeli's. They don't care about the Yazidi's in Iraq who were murdered. They don't care about the many Christians who were murdered in Iraq and Africa. They simple do not care, because they foolishly believe that it doesn't affect them.

I wonder about those protesters from the sixties and seventies who seem to have so much influence over President Obama. I wonder will their attitudes change when there is no doubt that ISIS has come to American shores and carried out their terrorist activities? For America's sake, I sure hope so. In my opinion, it is better to kill them in Iraq and Syria than to kill them in New York City or Washington, D.C.

God bless America.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Finally! A Market Dip!

Finally, we are seeing a little bit of a pull back in the domestic stock market. This is very healthy for the overall market to continue to grow. We were at a point from a chart perspective that showed a top compared to past markets. Generally, the market tends to turn south after it hits this area and that is precisely what has finally happened. Thank goodness, because this brings stock valuations down to more attractive levels, then in turn this further attracts investments.

Nothing to worry about as far as the stock market is concerned in an election year. Typically, election year stock market returns do well. In fact, we are on a pace for the best year since 1999 for both total and private job growth.You can see by this chart from www.CalculatedRiskBlog.com that we have come a long way back up since the recent bottom.

Year-over-year change employment 

State and local governments have turned the corner as it relates to jobs, too. They had declined for four years in a row, but have recently turned the corner and our climbing once again.

State and Local Government

Housing continues to rebound. Serious delinquencies continue to decline at a fast clip. We should be back at the historical serious delinquency rate of under 1% in 2015 or early 2016 according to Calculated Risk. We are not there year, but we are rapidly approaching that 1% level. This kind of proves the cold hard facts that it takes 7 to 10 years to fully recover from a market bubble. It started in 2007 and by the time we get to 2016, it will have been 9 years to recovery.

Fannie Freddie Seriously Delinquent Rate


We might have a flat quarter, or even down a little bit, but as we get closer to the election we should see people getting excited about their side winning. This typically helps the market go up. The point is that it is important to stay invested. It is not smart to get out of the market right now. The underlying economy is doing well. Stay the course.

Thanks to Calculated Risk Blog.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Genealogy Discoveries

In my spare time, I have been on a genealogical expedition in a quest for finding the first Allison male to come to America. I was born Richard Mark Allison and my name changed when I was 14 to Richard Allison Johnson. My biological father, Billy Joe Allison died when I was a senior in high school and there has always been this black hole in my life as a result. I have always wanted to know more about my Allison family, so I decided to begin an expedition to find out.

There are several sources on the Internet where you can get information, but most of them charge you money every month. Personally, I am not a big fan of paying for information when I might be able to find it for free. There are some free sites that I used to gather the information. One of them is www.familysearch.org and another is www.rootsweb.com which is the free side of www.ancestry.com. Yet another free site that was very helpful is www.findagrave.com.

With all of these sites, you have to keep in mind that some of these records can be a little inaccurate with misspellings of names. In addition, back in the days of when the census people came around and beat on the door, then took down what you told them and wrote it on a piece of paper. A lot of times, the people being questioned didn't want to give the government their full names, so they would just say R.M. Allison, instead of Richard Mark Allison, for example.

Also, on the Find a Grave site, there are these wonderful people who go through cemeteries and take pictures of the graves. Sometimes, they are family descendants and sometimes they are not. They may not know that another relative who died might be in a different cemetery and the link is missing from Find a Grave. I know in my own search, a lot of times the parents would be listed with some of their children, but not all of them. This could be because they are still alive, or it could be that the person who put the information on Find a Grave didn't know that there was more children.

Anyway, I was able to find the first Allison male to come to America who was born in 1675 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. After that, I was able to trace the family tree all the way down to me. It was an arduous task, but it has been well worth the effort. That black hole that I had is filled in a little bit now.

I discussed doing genealogical research in my book, Meet Wally Street. The Reason You're Stupid as being a good thing to do if you are retired and bored to tears. If you need any pointers or tips, then don't hesitate to ask me.

Friday, July 11, 2014

All Good Things Must Come to an End

This is an opinion blog and today I am giving my opinion based on my own experience of writing a book. When I wrote my book, Meet Wally Street, I did it with a company owned in some manner by Amazon. I wanted to be able to offer it both in print and as an eBook on the Kindle. At the time, I'll admit that I was a little green about self-publishing. Luckily however, I stumbled across the eBook publisher Smashwords. Smashwords is a company that promotes independent authors like me. They have eBook publishing relationships with Apple, Barnes & Noble and a host of other companies, in addition to selling eBooks themselves.

After I came across Smashwords, I realized what a great American business idea that Mark Coker, the founder had come up with. For someone relatively unknown as an author like myself, there is almost no possible way to get a large publishing house to agree to publish my book. Only the really famous authors get those opportunities. However, this exclusivity is now turning against these big publishing houses. They have a major and I do mean major problem. Authors like me and others want our books to be published and also we want to be able to set our own pricing. With the large publishing houses, this was not possible. Now, however it is thanks to Smashwords.

Smashwords has given me all the tools necessary to sell my book across multiple eBook retailers. They also make it easy to put my eBook on any computer, phone, tablet or other reading device. Mark Coker realized early on that by making arrangements with Apple, Barnes & Noble and others, he could help any and I do mean any author publish their eBook and have it for sale on the top eBook retailer sites. This was a brilliant decision.

Not long after I hit the button with Amazon, I discovered that Amazon wants to try and force you into exclusivity with only their firm and their Kindle Select program. As an author, I want to have my book on Apple iBooks or Barnes & Noble's Nook, too. Amazon however tries to get authors to agree to exclusivity. In fact, I agreed to it before I realized what a bad deal it was for me. I had to wait 60 days for that to expire, then I moved full bore with Smashwords. Now my eBook is pretty much available everywhere.

The large publishing houses would not allow me to give away my eBook for free if I wanted to, but Smashwords will. The large publishing houses will not let me offer discount coupons that can be tracked to specific sales, but Smashwords will. The large publishing houses are going to become much smaller and there will be a lot of consolidation, because they have failed to adapt to a changing marketplace. They are going to find it tough to survive.

This is the way these publishers work today. Suppose you are one of the lucky authors who has a large publisher agree to market your book nationwide at the major bookstores. You basically have two or three weeks in these bookstores to sell your new book. If it doesn't sell, then the bookstores can send them back to the publisher without having to pay anything for the books that didn't sell. As an author, even a well known author, you get two or three weeks. Further, if you as the author want your book to sell, then you have to make the rounds. Get on television, do radio interviews and be interviewed for print publications. All of this needs to happen fast and in concert with your book release. There is a lot of time commitment and cost to doing this without any guarantee of success.

With Smashwords, my book is available for as long as I want it to be for sale. Now from the author's point of view, which is better for the author? Do you see why these publishers are in trouble? That arrogant attitude of turning down author after author over the years is coming back to bite them. Oh don't get me wrong. You will still be able to buy hardcover and paperback books. It will just not be as large a market as eBooks. After all, you can keep a ton of eBooks on your iPad, Nook or Kindle as opposed to a book shelf in your house.

The eBook market is exploding with growth. As more and more authors use Smashwords, and trust me, they are spitting out a bunch of new eBooks everyday, then you will find that Smashwords is liable to be the dominant player in the eBook marketplace for authors. Their growth is astounding and I highly recommend them for any author, even the popular ones.

Pretty soon, you will see hardback books at the antique store instead of Barnes & Noble. Mark my word on it.

By the way, Meet Wally Street, The Reason You're Stupid is only available for FREE for about one more week. After that, I am jacking the price all the way up to $3.99. All good things must come to an end.