Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Everything Obama Knows About The Economy

"Man publishes book of 200 blank pages: ‘Everything Obama Knows About The Economy’

It didn’t take very long for Jimmy Moncrief to put together his new 200-page book, “Everything Obama Knows About The Economy.”

Every page of the book is blank.

The 30-year-old banker from Chattanooga, Tenn., told The Daily Caller in an interview that he’s sold hundreds of copies of his gag gift to Christmas shoppers since it was released several weeks ago."

Read more here.

Why didn't I think of this?

Speaking of books on economics, Cappy has a new one out: Worthless: The Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major (Volume 1) (and there's a Kindle version, too).

Saturday, December 03, 2011

WSJ: Customers to Banks: It's You, Not Me

"From stall tactics to unexpected fees and awkward conversations, other customers of big banks are running into similar snags when trying to move their money elsewhere.

This comes as bank customers are lashing out at large institutions in a way that hasn't been seen since the early days of the financial crisis. Fed up with rising fees, a flood of foreclosures and strict lending requirements, they are pulling money out of big banks and depositing it in community banks and credit unions.

Much of the recent anger stems from bank plans to charge customers a monthly fee for purchases made with a debit card. Although the banks have dropped those plans in the wake of public outrage, many customers are still seething."

Read the full article here.

I've had a recent experience with this, though not exactly as the above snippet describes.

When Bank of America announced their now rescinded debit card fee, like many folks I started hunting around for alternatives. I was barely using my BoA accounts anyway, so severing the final ties and moving on would have been pretty easy compared to what other BoA customers might have experienced.

Two things subsequently happened that canceled my plans. The first is that BoA gave up on the fee idea after facing a vigorous customer backlash. The second thing that happened is that one of my various present work activities puts cash in my hands almost daily, which I normally seek to promptly deposit (I hate carrying cash). My local BoA branch has one of those new ATM machines that can accept cash and checks without the need for envelopes. Just stick the money in, the machine counts it, it goes right into your account and you go on your way. The alternatives around here where I live, however, as of now their machines cannot do this. Those machines still require deposits be made with envelopes, and guess what the staff of those institutions frequently forget to stock...

Possibly the only thing in the universe with a gravitational pull greater than that of a black hole is convenience.

I'm sure that the alternatives around here will catch up eventually, but until then (or until BoA does something really messed up) I'm staying put. Since I mainly use banks like BoA only as physical gateways into cyberspace where most of my financial activities take place, it would probably take another ridiculous fee proposal to send me running for the exit, and that's probably true for most customers. Maybe by now though the people at the helm of BoA and similar institutions have figured this out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rumple Minze: The Captain Is Right

I've been a reader of Captain Capitalism's blog for a number of years now, but it took until today to try one of his frequent recommendations: Rumple Minze.

I used to think to myself, "peppermint schnapps? Pffffft. Crap." Wrong. I bought a mini bottle as a test. Now I understand. It's good. In fact, it's "I'll buy more of this when I run out" good.

You might want to fix your Rumpie donation link though, Cappy. I'm not sure where exactly it goes now (I didn't pay much attention when the result was something along the lines of "this is an error"), but I do know that it doesn't lead to you getting more Rumpie.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Only Known North Korean Prison Camp Escapee - No One Cares?

I saw this article this evening shared by a friend on Facebook. It's about Shin Dong-Hyuk, the only known escapee from a North Korean prison labor camp.

I got to page two, read this paragraph, and nearly spit my diet root beer all over my cat (she's laying on my desk in front of my keyboard; I don't chase my cats down to spit stuff at them):
Being the sole escapee in the capitalist South from the prison-camp horrors of the communist North has not made Shin a celebrity or afforded him much of a living. "Escape to the Outside World" has sold about 500 copies from its single Korean-language printing of 3,000. No edition in English is being undertaken, he said. [emphasis mine]

I have a hard time believing that this could be due to lack of interest. This must be a problem of a lack of exposure. This is way too important of a story for it to be languishing from people's indifference. I hope that's the case, anyway. The article is now 2.5 years old, and thus far it doesn't appear that this has happened.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where Were You When The Bacon Riots Began?

Just some fun here, there have been no bacon riots... yet:

A crisis worth worrying about: Bacon prices are about to skyrocket

It’s because of our stupid energy policy. Seriously — we’re making ethanol out of corn, which drives up the price of corn, and everything that eats corn gets more expensive too. Pigs eat corn. People like Mitt Romney support ethanol subsidies. So under his policy of supporting ethanol subsidies, your bacon prices will necessarily skyrocket. It’s just math.
You can read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some Big Name Companies Refusing To Hire Smokers

This article contains a bit at its end about companies with names you'll recognize just flat out refusing to hire people who smoke:

Insurer Humana Inc. said this month it won't hire smokers in Arizona. And other companies, such as Macy's Inc. and Pepsico Inc., require those who smoke to pay more for their health insurance, according to a recent article in Businessweek. The story also said Union Pacific and Scotts Miracle-Gro will not hire people who smoke.
Follow this link if you would like to read the rest of the article, which is mainly about the new cancer and corpses labels that will be required to be on cigarette packs and advertisements soon. It says in the article that some tobacco companies are suing the government over this, which I'm glad to see. If the Feds want to piss away money putting up cancer and corpse posters, fine (though I'd like to see by what constitutional authority they could do even that), but compelling private companies to do so? What's next? Pictures of fat people on the sides of KFC chicken buckets?

I digress. This anti-smoker hiring trend, this seems a bit harsh to me, but I can't say I blame these companies given how insurers treat smokers. It all translates into higher costs in the end and that shows up in the premiums.

I do wonder though, would these employers react differently if smokers were in fact just using bionic cigs instead?

I certainly wouldn't mind that.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rapid Fire Marketing, Inc.: Prescription Bong Hits and eCigs - One Of My More Entertaining Pink Sheets Gambles

I spotted this company yesterday, Rapid Fire Marketing, Inc., took a little time to get to know what they're about, and this morning picked up a handful of shares inside of my speculation portfolio.

Business Summary

Rapid Fire Marketing, Inc. provides full service marketing, consulting, and management services for the medical cannabis in the United States. The company provides its marketing services related to the legal dispensing of medical marijuana. It also sells bionic cigarettes. The company was formerly known as N-Vision Technology and changed its name to Rapid Fire Marketing, Inc. in July 2007. Rapid Fire Marketing, Inc. was incorporated in 1989 and is based in Carson, Nevada. [emphasis mine]

The reason I went for it I've highlighted in bold. The medical marijuana thing, who knows? It seems like a growing trend (no pun intended) that by some accounts is severely underutilized by eligible patients in the United States. To what extent this firm will truly be able to capitalize on this, right now I just do not have a way to tell for certain (but that's what my speculation portfolio is for - just think of it as a collection of lottery tickets).

The electronic cigarettes business they're involved in, however, I think is more promising. There are several players in this market right now, but these guys in particular have secured some advertising at an event in which the attendees might not be allowed to get their nicotine fixes while on the grounds in traditional ways. That could get them thinking about trying Rapid Fire's products. Throw in the images of cancer and corpses soon to be slapped on the sides of cigarette packs here in the U.S. and the appeal of this product may grow even more. Finally, since these devices can impart the flavor of any number of pleasant things to the vapor they produce - things much more enjoyable than the taste of leaves burning at hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit - this may just be a long shot winner.

As always, do your own research before buying into something like this, or any investment for that matter. I'm not making a recommendation, just sharing my thoughts on one of my rolls of the dice.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oanda Gets Dumbed Down

I received this email from my Forex broker, Oanda, this afternoon:

Re: Important Notice on Gold and Silver Trading with OANDA.

Dear Paul E. Zimmerman,

As a result of the recently enacted Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, U.S.-based retail forex dealers such as OANDA are prohibited from offering leveraged trading in precious metals to retail clients after Friday, July 15, 2011.

As a client based in the U.S., you will not be able to trade our four precious metal pairs (XAU/USD, XAG/USD, XAU/JPY, XAG/JPY) on a leveraged basis, effective end of day July 15. Leveraged trading in other currency pairs will remain unaffected, with the same margin requirements.

You will still be able to trade precious metals, but only on a 1:1 non-leveraged basis (requiring substantially more margin). If you do not have sufficient margin to cover your open metal positions in full, you need to reduce your exposure to gold and silver pairs before end of day July 15, or risk a margin call of all your open positions when this change is implemented.

We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused by this change in legal requirements...

I sure am glad that Bawney Fwank and Chris Dudd came around to protect me from myself (and profits). I don't know what I would have done had they not forced me and tens of thousands of small retail traders to cough up ever-greater amounts of cash to use as margin for our trades. Someone had to stop this insane practice of accepting risk in pursuit of reward, especially inside of accounts like these Oanda accounts where losing trades will stop out before the account hits zero, meaning you can never lose more than you actually have and end up owing the broker. Good save, fellas!

I don't blame Oanda for this at all, of course. It's the law now, they have to comply. No one should take my comments on this to mean that I'm lumping them in with these jackass politicians.

This does make me wonder, too, if precious metals prices are going to crash when these new regulations are in full effect. Some portion of the presently high prices these metals are commanding (historically speaking) is probably in part due to leveraged trading in them. Take that away and it could cause a bit of a collapse (or a lot of one). We'll see.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Carbonite Online Backup: Worth it!

I've had Carbonite for over a year now, getting close to two.

I decided to write a quick blurb about it because it just saved me again. The first time it came through for me was just 100 days after I became a subscriber and my hard drive died. I was up and running again in less than 24 hours.

Recently I had a problem with my OS, so I had to do a reinstall to get going again. Carbonite seems to be the perfect insurance plan for my old, POS computer - what my computer lacks in reliability, Carbonite makes up for in data durability.

Try it, seriously. I'm not being paid for this post, I just really appreciate what this service can do (and in my case, has done).


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Red Green: How To Kill Bees

I seem to be on a video kick lately (that's better than my bad habit of not posting though!).

I found this clip particularly funny because I work in pest control. This is definitely not the method I would use in this scenario, and I really don't think you should try this at home.

If the problem really is honey bees, I call a beekeeper to come and collect them. Most of the time my clients say "bee" generically and the pest is actually yellowjackets, hornets, paper wasps, etc., in which case I destroy the nest with an insecticide application (any stragglers that survive won't live long without the support of their hive).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Youtube: Ultimate Dog Tease

I saw this on Facebook last night. I can't honestly say why this makes me laugh when I watch it, but it does. The video was first posted to YouTube on May 1st; is has since logged over 28 million views. Apparently, I'm not alone!

Then I spotted this other video. It seems the Canadians have their own greeting beavers:

There's plenty more featured at the Talking Animals channel on YouTube. Have fun!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quicken 2008 is dead; time for something Gnu?

Over two years ago I wrote a post about a problem I had been having with Quicken 2008. That post, Quicken 2008 One Step Update Problem: Privoxy, Vidalia, Internet Explorer Link to OL Error Code Issues, continues to get a few dozen hits each day.

Quicken 2008's time has come and gone. Intuit, the makers of Quicken, have phased 2008 out by terminating its online support. You can no longer synch your accounts through automatic updates. This I can understand from the server-side, since Intuit is developing new products and does not want to continue to devote limited resources to older ones. What I cannot understand, and find extremely obnoxious, is that Intuit has apparently also killed off the ability of Quicken 2008 to process data downloaded manually from your financial institutions.

If you've come to my blog because of the 2008 fix post I wrote because you now find yourself with this problem, I'm sorry to say that it appears there is no fix this time. Intuit is attempting to force you to upgrade to the latest version of Quicken.

I'm not interested. The 2008 version of Quicken does everything I need it to, and could continue to do so without requiring the on-going support of Intuit if only they had not blocked my ability to import data that I download directly from my financial institutions' websites. That, I think, was an unnecessary, predatory move on Intuit's part.

That's why I am exploring alternatives. They exist, some, such as GnuCash, are free, and there's a good chance that they will perform just as well, maybe even better, than Quicken. Since Intuit is apparently set on periodically attempting to mug its customers, trying the alternatives is potentially a profitable move on your part.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kitsap Sun: Kitsap's 'Coupon Queens' have savings down to a science

This appeared in the most recent Sunday edition of my hometown newspaper, The Kitsap Sun, based in Bremerton, Washington.

Kitsap's 'Coupon Queens' have savings down to a science

JACKSON PARK — On Saturday at the Jackson Park community center, small children raced and squealed amid a group of 20 or so moms bent on saving a buck here, a few cents there.

The women perused a shelf of plastic tubs filled with coupons for snack food, cereal, laundry products and other sundries. They took any coupons they thought they could use and tossed coupons they'd clipped but didn't need into the pool...

...Norris, estimates she routinely saves 60 percent on her purchases. Her secret is a systematic strategy for finding, filing and using coupons and discounts. She explained to the group how she keeps a binder categorized by store, product or service, and expiration date.
Very cool! I wonder if this is something that makes sense for a single person living alone, as I do. Whenever I glance over the coupons I receive in the mail, it's rare that I find anything that would represent much of a savings to me, if any at all. That is due in large part, I think, to my relatively low household consumption (since it's just me in here, versus say a family of four). What is the likelihood that a bulk purchase made to save on a per-unit basis will spoil before I can use it (depending on what the item is, of course), and the potential return on investment I could get investing the difference paid on a lesser number of units of something at full-price, rather than the discounted per-unit price on a higher transaction cost bulk purchase. Unless we're talking about toilet paper, most of the time it seems to me that I'd ultimately lose money by trying to save in this way.

Still though, I'm inspired to give it all another look.

HT: Jim W. Coleman, a long-time friend whose Facebook post on this article this morning brought it to my attention.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Star Scientific says 2 products outside tobacco law, shares rise

Very significant news out of my spec portfolio this morning about Star Scientific (CIGX):

(Reuters) - Star Scientific Inc said U.S. health regulators informed the company that two of its products do not come under a federal law that restricts the sale of tobacco products, clearing the way for Star to market them.

Star shares were up 5 percent at $3.83 in morning trade on Nasdaq. Earlier in the session, they rose as much as 16 percent to $4.19, their highest in nearly two years.

Star, which makes dissolvable tobacco products, said it plans to move forward with the marketing and distribution of the products, Ariva and Stonewall.

I'm wondering now if the reason there was a large amount of insider buying of CIGX shares earlier this month (click here to read my prior post on that) was that the folks at Star were advised earlier that their products fall outside of the scope of the regulations in question. I don't know what specific response deadlines would have been involved here, but I do know that the FDA must give responses to such things within stated time frames. It's entirely possible that all of that insider action was timed around both of these key pieces of information.

I was once part-owner of a nutrition supplement shop, and from that experience I know that such products that fall outside of FDA oversight need only avoid doing two things: 1) avoid making people ill, and 2) do not make specific claims of treating diseases or health-related conditions. Saying something on your label like "reduce tobacco cravings" and also stating "this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease" would be fine. This gives Star Scientific a lot of room to maneuver and market within.

I continue to look forward to the future of this stock. There's no guarantees of success down the road - there never is - but this is a promising development. Star Scientific already has moved to tap social media by utilizing a Facebook group to promote one of their products, CigRx; hopefully this is an early indication of a move toward smart, cost efficient and effective promotion.

As always, do your own due diligence before buying or selling this stock or any sort of investment. I'm not giving advice to do either, here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

NanoViricides Reports Treatment with its FluCide Drug Candidate Achieves Dramatic Full Survival in Recent H1N1 Influenza Lethality Study

I found this exciting piece of news about a company in my spec portfolio, NanoViricides, Inc., this morning:

NanoViricides, Inc. (OTC BB: NNVC.OB) (the "Company") reported dramatically improved antiviral efficacy with its optimized FluCide™ drug candidates in its most recent animal study. In the influenza mouse lethal infection model, animals treated with one of the optimized FluCide™ nanoviricide drug candidates survived beyond the stated full duration of study (21 days), and those treated with two additional drug candidates survived almost the full duration of the study. Animals in these three groups survived significantly longer (20.2 to 22.2 days) as compared to the animals treated with Oseltamivir (Tamiflu®; only 8.3 days).

The quick explanation of what NanoViricides is making: injectable cell decoys that trick viruses into attaching to them and destroying themselves as they would in the process of infecting living cells. To become resistant to such an attack, a virus would have to mutate in such a way that it could no longer infect living cells, an evolutionary dead end.

This study is purposefully designed to be 100% fatal within five days, and yet these mice survived the full three weeks of it. Just imagine what these drugs could potentially do for people and animals suffering from normal infections (or, better yet, how quickly outbreaks could be halted were these nanoparticles administered prophylactically).

As always, do your due diligence if this interests you. I'm long shares of NNVC and I am making no recommendation to buy nor to sell.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nuclear Terror In Japan: Building A Case For Thorium

One of the holdings in my spec portfolio is Lightbridge Corporation (LTBR), a U.S. company that is behind revolutionary nuclear power plant fuel rods that utilize thorium to generate power.

The emergency unfolding in Japan right now amongst that country's quake damaged nuclear power plants is basically due to the fuel they use, uranium.

Without getting into the step-by-step specifics of the reaction chain, here's the critical difference to understand about a uranium fuel versus a thorium fuel: the uranium reaction is self-perpetuating (which is why there's so much concern about coolants to prevent a meltdown), but the thorium reaction is not self-sustaining and will fizzle out on its own if it is not deliberately sustained.

My guess here is that come Monday, LTBR shares will experience a panic dump because of today's events. I'm going to keep my eye on it and maybe add to my position.

As always, do your due diligence and make up your own mind about this stock. I'm not making a recommendation about what you should do one way or another.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Corrected: Star Scientific CEO And Others Put $9 Million Into Company

**I got someone's attention on the Yahoo Finance message board attached to CIGX and this post was linked there twice. Through one of the threads, I learned that I misread the summary 8K discussed here. $9 million was put into Star Scientific, but $1 million is the sum total that came from the CEO, Jonnie Williams. This doesn't change my conclusion as to the significance of the action, however. Added/altered text is in bold, retractions are struck out.

On Friday Star Scientific, Inc. (CIGX) filed an 8-K with the SEC detailing a very interesting insider transaction: the CEO, Jonnie R. Williams and others together purchased $9 million worth of company stock and warrants.

What's the significance? On the Yahoo Finance message boards for CIGX, there's been some back and forth on that. Some are calling this a desperate last resort financing tactic for a company out of gas, on the brink and unable to find a lender anywhere else. Others think this is a sign that good things are on the horizon.

Who to believe? I decided to do some research on Mr. Williams to try and figure that out. It turns out that Williams has been involved in very successful laser vision correction companies in the past. What does this have to do with Star Scientific? Nothing directly, obviously. (Vision correction and tobacco? What could possibly be the link?) It does suggest, however, that Williams successfully identified and backed a big winner in the past.

It's been in the news recently that a nicotine derived creation of Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Star Scientific, will be tested by the Roskamp Institute in a three month trial to study its usefulness in combating inflammation, and in particular Alzheimer's disease. But there's also older news out there about Star Scientific's efforts to get approval from the FDA to market its dissolvable tobacco products as being less harmful than other tobacco products on the market. Could those efforts be coming close to fruition?

It seems to me that there are several good things lining up for Star Scientific right now. The timing of all of these events together suggests to me that Williams and the other parties to this transaction didn't buy more company stock because Star Scientific had no other options. Mr. William's salary as the CEO of Star Scientific is reported to be slightly more than $1 million annually (as of 2009, by this source). If the company was doing poorly, it would make zero sense for Williams to put nine times his annual salary into it (not to mention the other parties, who contributed the other $8 million together). If Star Scientific were to become a buyout target, Williams would do much better owning more stock in the company than he would otherwise (especially if a buyout were to also end his $1 million annual compensation!). It certainly seems possible to me that such a thing could come to pass. If you were a giant tobacco company and a tiny rival managed to get the FDA to allow it to advertise its product as being less harmful than yours, how quickly would you move to acquire the rights to the process that creates that product and how much would you have to pay to outbid your rivals? Could be quite a bit!

I'm long CIGX in my speculation portfolio and plan to stay that way. I'm not recommending that you buy or sell CIGX. Do your due diligence and make up your own mind as to whether or not this investment makes sense for you.

Further reading, the full 8-K filing: http://yahoo.brand.edgar-online.com/DisplayFiling.aspx?dcn=0000950123-11-022263

The other three parties to this transaction do not appear to be direct holders, which would further undermine the "CEO as lender of last resort" speculation since these are outside parties not drawing regular compensation from the company (not to mention the basic fact here, that the presence of the other three parties in the transaction makes that claim nonsensical). It cannot be the case that they're funneling money into the operation in a desperate move to keep their own meal ticket going.

Mr. William's personal participation in this particular transaction is vastly less than I mistakenly thought it to be initially, but his aggregate purchases of company stock over the last couple of years are greater than this transaction alone, and my thoughts on the question remain the same: unless good things are on the horizon, why keep buying in? Why would you put your entire annual salary back into the company you draw it from if things are bad when the company can attract $8 million of investment from others? Unless something good is coming, it wouldn't make any sense.

Friday, March 04, 2011

More Spec Portfolio News: EastBridge Investment Group Announces Stock Dividend of Alpha Lujo Stock

I'm a bit behind the ball on this one. It escaped my attention for a few days because I normally rely on Yahoo Finance to track my portfolios, but there's some confusion about this stock, EastBridge Investment Group, over there right now. Due to the last of their market makers moving to OTC Markets, Yahoo Finance is treating this as an "abandoned stock", relegating it to the pink sheets there. Not so, this is a misunderstanding created by a software glitch; EastBridge is still a full-reporting company.

This is another one I keep in my speculation portfolio, which is a collection of rolls of the dice that I like to make (the portfolio gets just 20% of my cash available for investing, not betting the farm here!).

EastBridge basically helps companies, most of them in Asia, get listed on U.S. exchanges, amongst other services. In exchange, EastBridge receives cash and stock compensation. They then turn around and spin off portions of their equity holdings to EastBridge shareholders. It's a stock that one can buy and eventually end up owning shares in a number of companies, by design.

The latest news is that one of these spin off events is on the horizon:

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwire - March 1, 2011) - EastBridge Investment Group (EBIG) (OTCBB: EBIG) (OTCQB: EBIG) today announced that it has scheduled to distribute 1,000,000 shares of its US stock ownership in Alpha Lujo, Inc. ("ALEV") to its shareholders for no consideration. All shareholders of EBIG stock on the closing date of March 31, 2011, will receive on a pro rata basis, their allocated shares of Alpha Lujo stock after this dividend registration is filed and approved by the SEC. The size of this dividend represents about 5% of Alpha Lujo, Inc.'s capital stock equity as of today.

Mr. William Tien, CEO of Alpha Lujo, commented, "We see a lot of opportunities in the electrical vehicles business in China, Australia and the USA. We are accelerating our pace to capture the opportunities in the electrical vehicles and advanced batteries businesses. We are in the process of completing the merger of the electrical vehicle entities and Alpha Lujo."
This is but one of several spin offs I'm now in line for as a holder of EBIG shares. Will any of these companies ever amount to anything, or will EastBridge for that matter? I have no idea. Like I said, this is in my spec portfolio. (In this case, it really doesn't matter to me because I recovered my initial capital from this position a long time ago. The last time it spiked around 400% over my cost basis I sold just enough shares to get my initial purchase amount back out - I'm playing with the house's money here). I'm not making a recommendation to buy or to not buy EBIG. Do your homework, make up your own mind about it.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Spec Portfolio Addition: Star Scientific, Inc.

This one, Star Scientific (CIGX), caught my eye recently. I sold off a small position I had in Telecom Italia for a tidy little gain and picked up some shares here.

The story on CIGX that caught my eye was this: Star Scientific Just Announced They Cured Alzheimer's Disease and Nobody Cares. A wing of CIGX isolated a compound from nicotine called anatabine that shows promise as a super anti-inflammatory, so they say...

The rest of the company is pretty interesting, too. Imagine a tobacco product producer that operates on the premise that their product does cause harm to its consumers, and thus they are out to reduce or eliminate the harm. Now that's different! This has led them to develop tobacco curing processes that inhibit the formation of certain toxic compounds in the finished products, dissolvable smokeless products, etc.

People love tobacco and they want it, no doubt about it. Smokers are harassed in numerous ways these days, but world-wide consumption is rising, not falling (that's one of the trends in developing economies - more disposable income means people tend to want more recreational drugs). If tomorrow someone came up with a cure for all smoking-related diseases, no doubt people would rush out and start up a new habit. That's tackling the issue from the "back end," so to speak; this company's approach is starting from the other end. Perhaps the two will meet somewhere in the middle?

I'm not recommending anyone buy this stock. There's a reason it's in my speculation portfolio! Do your due diligence and make up your own mind about it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Professor Steve Horwitz: Are the poor getting poorer?

Just spotted this on Facebook, rather timely given what I've been blogging about today.

People often say that "the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer." Economics professor Steve Horwitz explains why in the United States, this characterization is largely a myth.

Real income levels of the poorest 20 percent of Americans have actually risen over time. Further, the individual households that comprise the bottom income bracket do not stay the same. The majority of Americans in the poorest 20 percent become wealthier over the course of their lives.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Ben Franklin on Welfare Policy

The Cablenator left a comment on my post from Friday about a recent WSJ article on the use of food stamps in the United States. His comment, in part, reads:
Food stamps offer little in the way of incentive to break free from the welfare system if they facilitate other areas of spending that are clearly non-necessities. Plain nutrition-cakes are entirely humane and discourage dependency.
I agree. This brought to mind something that Benjamin Franklin once said, one of my favorite quotes of his:
I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.

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