My friend Bill

My friend Bill Sadler passed on August 5, 2020. He leaves behind the legacy of a magnificent wife of 52 years, amazing children, and grandchildren. He was a fortunate man.

Bill and Maureen Sadler

I first met Bill 24 years ago. We did not become friends until eight years later and we have become close over the years. Bill was a living example of the Dale Carnegie book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ When he and I were in private, he would never speak ill of someone. Even with certain people who he had a legitimate grievance, he would not attack them.

Bill was always busy. You could find him walking every day, working, volunteering, or spending time with his family. Bill always wanted to be a productive member of society, and he was.

Bill at Flashback Diner…at midnight.

Bill was part of my men’s breakfast “club”, which he attended more often than me. He was understated, though would always offer sage persuasions and great humor. He also took part in some of my other events, like my Midnight Dining Club. Friends would get together at midnight for dinner at either Howley’s in West Palm Beach or the Flashback Diner in Boca Raton.

A few of the misfits at the Men’s Breakfast Club, Bill among them.
Bill speaking at the Rotary Club in Boca.

At my urging, Bill gave a speech to one of the local Rotary Clubs about Libertarianism. Although he was nervous, he did swimmingly as I knew he would, even when faced with tough questions about legalizing drugs. Bill held various positions with our local Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County. Most recently, he was our Vice Chairman. He now joins other Florida freedom fighters who recently passed: former LP of Florida Chairman Char-Lez Braden and former LP of Florida Vice Chairman Thomas Regnier.

It was Bill’s understated and strong character that drew people to him. He always had a kind word to offer and was a pleasure to be around. It didn’t hurt that he had a lifetime of experiences to offer reasoned advice to others, never telling them what to do; always leaving them up to their own devices.

Bill with Shaklee Chairman, Roger Barnett

Bill offered me a tremendous friendship, great wisdom, and countless laughs. He made a difference in many people’s lives.

For an early Father’s Day gift, I gave him a bottle of Basil Hayden’s. I do not know if he enjoyed it or not, but like all things, he accepted the gift gracefully.

To you, Bill, we will miss you.

Penn Jillette: “Fuck You in the Neck” if You Say My Third-Party Vote is Wasted

Penn Jillette, Libertarian for Gary Johnson and the voice of world-famous magic duo Penn and Teller, has a message for people who want to tell you your third-party vote is wasted: “Fuck You in the Neck.” This week on Penn’s fantastic podcast, “Penn’s Sunday School,” he made this excellent point: When people say, “you’re wasting […]

Penn Jillette: “Fuck You in the Neck” if You Say My Third-Party Vote is Wasted

Libertarian Party nominates Jo Jorgensen for president during online nomination

Today, Saturday, May 23, 2020, the Libertarian Party held a bifurcated national convention online — the first-ever for any political party to . The Libertarian Party will hold an in-person convention in Orlando, Florida from July 9-12, 2020. The party’s national convention was originally scheduled for this weekend in Austin, Texas; however, due to the COVID-19 crisis, it necessitated these changes.

Jo Jorgensen, Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee 2020

Libertarian Party delegates elected Jo Jorgensen as their presidential nominee after a session lasting over twelve hours and four rounds of voting. Jorgensen is a lifetime Libertarian Party member and is well known in Libertarian circles; though time will tell if the general voting public in the United States will learn who Jorgensen is before the general election on November 3, 2020. Jorgensen is a candidate for those seeking a principled, freedom-based candidate who also happens to be a woman.

Today’s nomination process was challenging; however, Chair Nick Sarwark expertly threaded through the many interruptions (Robert’s Rules of Order) to get the hundreds of Libertarian delegates to vote for their nominee. Sarwark and all members of the Libertarian National Committee deserve a tremendous amount of gratitude from the delegates and the general membership of the Libertarian Party for handling the difficulties of putting on an online nominating convention. This weekend’s convention will continue tomorrow at 11 a.m. Eastern to nominate the party’s Vice-Presidential nominee. Although delegates will be participating on ZOOM, the public will be able to view tomorrow’s nomination via YouTube and other channels.

Jo Jorgensen will face the Republican Party and Democratic Party presidential nominees who are Donald Trump (incumbent) and Joe Biden, respectively. Jorgensen’s success in the 2020 general election will largely depend upon her ability to garner media exposure. Whether the mainstream media chooses to give Jorgensen equal or significant air time and print alongside Trump and Biden remains to be seen. Jorgensen also gives Republicans and Democrats a better option than the two other candidates who will likely be on the ballot in all 50 states.

The Libertarian Party is accustomed to making history, so today is not unusual. The party’s first presidential candidate was openly gay and had the first female to receive an electoral vote in the 1972 general election. The Libertarian Party was supportive of marijuana legalization decades before the rest of the nation came around to their way of thinking. The same can be said on a multitude of issues like asset forfeiture, same-sex marriage, foreign policy, etc. The Libertarian Party has been the most-advanced political party when it comes to maximizing the freedom of the individual.

Put your BUY orders in for Berkshire Hathaway

The material provided on this website should be used for informational purposes only and in no way should be relied upon for financial advice. Please be sure to consult your own financial advisor when making decisions regarding your financial management. I am not in any way a licensed anything and some people think I am a bit of a dolt.

—————————————————-

While there are numerous news headlines telling you that Warren Buffett has lost his touch and you should abandon Berkshire Hathaway (BRK), I feel investors should do the opposite.

This is the time to be buying BRK while it has been beaten down to the tune of around 17% over the last year and over 25% these past few months. It is a conglomerate worth owning that does not pay a dividend and has a proven positive track record lasting decades. Whether one has $1,000, $100,000 or $10,000,000 to invest, it should be directed to BRK over the next five months so long as one does not need a dividend and is seeking capital appreciation over the long term (ten or more years).

BRK comes in two versions; the “A” shares and the baby “B” shares and they mostly trade in concert with one another. Most Americans will buy the $170 +/- BRK.b shares which trade an average of eight million shares daily. But if you are able, purchase the BRK.a shares which are at around $250,000/share, and trade a little over 400 shares daily. This is a long-term stock, one to own for your retirement and potentially hand down to your beneficiaries when you pass.

It is my opinion, one should dollar-cost-average this stock over the next five months. So, as an example, if you plan to put $10,000 into BRK.b, buy either $2,000 worth each month or even better: buy around $500 each and every week for the next five months. Your future self will thank you.

BTW, here is a link to my most recent permanent portfolio update.

IMG_20200516_132433151-01-02-01
My COVID beard has gone a bit too far; time to get out the razor!

Remy: Surfin’ USA (Beach Boys Lockdown Parody)

 

Remy hangs ten but could be out in five with good behavior.
Remy discovers the dangers of exercising alone.
Written and performed by Remy. Music tracks, mastering, and background vocals by Ben Karlstrom.
Video produced by Meredith and Austin Bragg.
LYRICS: If you go out on the ocean Across the USA
And you’re wearing a swim shirt ‘Cuz of your scrawny weight (it’s for the sun, I swear) Well, uh, you just might notice
The police in your wake
Cuz it’s illegal to be surfing In the USA
They’re catching them out paddleboarding
Letting their children play
While they’re releasing this guy
A logical checkmate
You’re out in nature alone now
No one in six-foot range?
Well, it’s illegal to be surfing In the USA
If only you had flashed some children
It’d be your release date!
But you’re going to jail for surfing
In the USA You’ve been distancing for months now
To keep the spread rate down
The only places you’ve been going
Are where there are no crowds
You’re making sacrifices
For your community
Now put your hands on your head because you are surfing In the USA
He’s helping the flattening the curve now
He’s exercising alone
Rocking a super baggy swim shirt
To hide his muscle tone (I said it’s for the sun)
If only you had flashed some children
It’d be your release date!
But you’re going to jail for surfing In the USA

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom

Today is Mother’s Day for 2020 and many are celebrating their mothers….from a distance. Unfortunately, I am doing the same, as my mother is in a physical rehabilitation center two hours to my north.

I have been more fortunate than many in having such a loving mother over the years. She has truly been an amazing mother, and she is an amazing person for anyone who has been fortunate to meet her.

My mother provided a safe and nurturing environment for me and my siblings to live. She kept us constantly busy; cleaning the house, volunteering our time, giving us entrepreneurial direction, etc.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there!!!

jakkie-karl

Libertarian Party to hold “hybrid” convention

Yesterday, Saturday, May 9, 2020, the Libertarian Party National Committee (LNC) met online to decide how to go about their 2020 national convention due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous Saturday, the LNC met and canceled their contract with the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas. This is becoming a common scenario with political parties as they make changes in their conventions in light of personal distancing requirements as well as travel challenges.

The LNC has decided to choose our Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee on Memorial Day weekend, the original time of the Austin, Texas convention. This will likely happen via ZOOM and details will be forthcoming for delegates. The choices for presidential nominees are extensive and vary greatly. You can see a complete list here.

As for other business before the national Libertarian Party, there will be an in-person convention happening July 8-12 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida.  No charge for parking for convention attendees 🙂

Yesterday’s meeting got bogged down in a minutia of Roberts Rules of Order as well as an embarrassing amount of infighting. No wonder, current Chair Nicholas Sarwark is no longer seeking to be chair (at least as much as I’ve been told). He was obviously frustrated throughout the eight-hour-long meeting that went from public comments to the LNC meeting, to Executive Session, then back to the actual LNC meeting where the final decisions were made.

Today, the Bylaws and Convention Rules Committee will meet.

For those wishing to watch party business, you can subscribe to the Libertarian Party’s YouTube channel here. Under Sarwark’s leadership, the party has been very good with transparency. In addition, to yesterday’s meeting, you can watch past videos that are very informative and occasionally entertaining.

As a matter of public disclosure, I have been a member of the Libertarian Party since 1996 and have held various positions with the Libertarian Party of Florida and the Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County.

Coronavirus Humor, Part VII

International Liberty

For this seventh edition of coronavirus humor (previous versions here, here, here, here, here, and here), let’s start with a clever video from Reason.

There are many reasons why the Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves.

The coronavirus is merely the most-recent example.

While law-abiding people are worried about crime and societal breakdown, it appears that criminals also have something to worry about.

Meanwhile, the Babylon Beesatirizes vapid celebrities.

No matter how they expressed their emotions, everyone agreed that the scene off the Malibu coast Monday morning was exactly what America needed to get through this pandemic. Celebrities gathered their multi-million-dollar yachts on the waters of the Pacific Ocean and spelled out “WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.” “We’re just like you,” said Ellen DeGeneres on her Instagram as her servants sailed her yacht into position to form the apostrophe. …”Stay…

View original post 190 more words

Permanent Portfolio Update

I was not planning to do another update to my Permanent Portfolio until August 21, 2020, which would be the five year anniversary I made this portfolio public, but with all that is going on, I thought we’d do a quick check-in.

So, we have had one change regarding the CurrencyShares Singapore Dollar Trust. This is no longer on the exchange so hereon, I will use the actual currency exchange rate between the Singapore Dollar and the U.S. Dollar. It had almost no effect as the Trust never moved very much and you will see at 71SD to 1USD, it is precisely the same value it was in 2015.

Moving on to the portfolio as a whole, much to my surprise, it actually ticked up since the beginning of the year. It went up 1.3% YTD while the S&P and DOW have been down YTD. Perhaps the most disappointing so far this year has been Berkshire Hathaway, NVR, Vanguard’s Small Cap Index Fund, and Vanguard’s U.S. Real Estate Fund. These have taken a dive. It is for these reasons I strongly recommend dollar-cost-averaging so you are buying shares each month or each quarter – sometimes at a lower price and sometimes at a higher price. This portfolio; however, is designed to be static (no trading).

From August 21,2015 through May 1, 2020, the portfolio has returned a gain of 163% (exclusive of dividends) while the S&P has returned 43.7% and the DOW 44%. The portfolio has continued to outperform even in times of turmoil, which is how it was designed to perform.

The next update will happen on August 21, 2020.

What I have gotten right and what I have gotten wrong about SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19

We first started hearing about COVID-19 (the coronavirus”) seriously this past January 2020, and most of us didn’t think much of it. There was already a fissure forming between “the left” and “the right” as President Donald Trump shut down flights coming into the United States from China. Then, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi staged a press conference in San Francisco’s Chinatown in February, inviting tourists to visit the area. Also, President Trump formed the President’s Coronavirus Task Force to monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus, while ensuring that the American people have the most accurate and up-to-date health and travel information.

The word “coronavirus” has been around for years, yet it wasn’t until January 2020 that the mainstream media seemed to pick up on it, and the conflict going on between “the right” and “the left”. In fact, now there are seven types of human coronaviruses and this one has been promoted heavily by the general media.

The media was slowly ramping up its coverage of COVID-19 throughout February 2020 and it became nearly non-stop news in March 2020 here in the United States. The media coverage has been the dominant story of our 24-hour news cycle here and throughout the world. Much like our government and health officials, they have been parroting false information that the public soaked up.

My opinion on the matter has remained consistent from the beginning of the year to today. I feel our government and media have over-hyped COVID-19 to the point of reducing any last shred of confidence the American citizenry had for the elected officials, some doctors, and scientists. Much like other disasters, natural or otherwise, it became clear over these many months that the federal government and state and local governments are incompetent. There are many examples, but one that has stuck in the craw of many Americans is why our medical professionals did not have enough N95 rated masks. After the H1N1 debacle regarding not having enough masks in 2009, the federal government seems to have a problem replenishing its stockpile and now the 2020 federal budget has allocated over $700 million to (hopefully) keep things up-to-date.

What I have found interesting about how best to deal with the issue has many people at odds with one another. Even in my Libertarian world, Libertarians are at odds with the best policy to follow. Libertarian Party National Chair Nicholas Sarwark wrote a comprehensive essay titled “A Libertarian Approach to COVID-19in mid-April 2020. While Sarwark’s article seemed a reasonable, well thought out statement, he was attacked on social media by not only Republicans and Democrats but Libertarians.

So, what did I get right and what did I get wrong...so far?

I have been correct in my stance that COVID-19 was over-hyped by the media and actions taken by various governments in the United States have been excessive. Based on the death numbers, especially here in Florida, this has proven to be correct. Whereas the economic impact has been devastating, worse is the psychological impact it has had and the negative health consequences unrelated to COVID-19. I will be eager to see the numbers as they come out throughout the year on government actions which have caused an increase in cancer and heart disease deaths as many Americans have been fearful to go to the doctor or the emergency room. As we sit here on May 1, 2020, I realize while we should have taken various voluntary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and other viral diseases, the actions taken by our governments have been excessive. I have been correct that the number of deaths in Florida would never exceed those of regular influenza that hit us every year. This year the predominant strain has been H1N1.

Here in Florida, here are the leading causes of death with the most definitive figures available. While as of this morning COVID-19 has killed 1,268 people in Florida, it still has not reached close to the levels seen in this chart. Influenza and pneumonia kill far more people each year in Florida than COVID-19; however, why don’t we shut down the economy each year from January through March to save 3,000-4,000 lives? We don’t because we have accepted those number of contagious disease deaths will happen each year and we go about our business as usual.

Why don’t we take more Draconian actions to prevent the large number of deaths due to heart disease and cancer? While they are not communicable diseases, we have definitive proof we could save tens of thousands of lives each year if we somehow magically banned the sale cancer-causing and heart-disease causing foods, drinks, and other substances. We don’t do those things because they are not popular politically, and frankly, it is an idea that would create an underground economy of banned goods. So, we accept that a certain number of people will die each year because of drinking alcohol, eating fried foods, consuming processed foods, and smoking.

Screenshot 2020-05-01 at 5.12.01 AM

I have been incorrect in forecasting the death rate (number of confirmed cases/deaths). We can explain part of this because the official numbers coming from various sources are dubious and I hope we have a better way to code deaths. Dr. Birx has said during one of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force press conferences that “We’ve taken a very liberal approach to mortality.” Someone can die of a heart attack and be asymptomatic with COVID-19 and they still record it is as a COVID-19 death.

Screenshot_20200501-143911.png

So the official figures, unfortunately, are heavily skewed. In Florida, we have had 4,000 people die of influenza (including 13 children) while 1,268 in Florida have died of COVID-19 including zero children. I was also incorrect in the number of Florida deaths as I never thought it would exceed 1,000 this season. While every death is tragic, with a population of 21.5 million people, Florida has been nowhere near as affected as what the “experts” had predicted.

It would behoove all of us if we had more accurate reporting of deaths and more availability of testing for COVID-19. It almost goes without saying that once a vaccine is created many will take it every year while others will not. We should also get better at forecasting as this time around, the forecasting has been highly inaccurate.

Lastly, we never should close our economy and have our governments spread out “helicopter money” onto the masses. The financial ramifications will be challenging as opposed to doing the alternative. There are no rosy scenarios when something this major comes our way, but there are better ways to be prepared and better ways to handle it. Had we been reducing our federal debt and our deficit spending over the last few decades, this last situation would have been more palpable, financially.

Coronavirus and Subsidized Unemployment

International Liberty

Remember the “jobless recovery” of the Obama years?

Part of the problem was that President Obama kept extending unemployment benefits, which subsidized joblessness, as even Paul Krugman and Larry Summers had warned.

The good news was that Congress eventually said no in 2014 (actually one of the three best things to happen that year).

After that happened, the labor market improved.

But politicians apparently didn’t learn anything. As part of emergency coronavirus legislation, they turbo-charged unemployment benefits.

The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial from yesterday has a good summary.

Much of the harm from the coronavirus is unavoidable, but it would be nice if politicians didn’t compound the damage by ignoring the laws of economics. The worst blunder so far on that score is the $600 increase in federal jobless benefits… Why would anyone take a pay cut to go back to work? …Employees say they’ll…

View original post 1,523 more words

The Minimum Wage Should Be Abolished, not Increased

International Liberty

As I discuss in this recent interview, a higher minimum wage is a terrible idea if we care about facts and evidence (and also want to help poor people).

In the interview, I mentioned that minimum wage mandates aren’t good news for workers who lose their jobs.

One of them, Simone Barron, wrote in the Wall Street Journal about her unfortunate experience after the minimum wage was increased in Seattle.

This city’s minimum wage is rising to $16.39 an hour on Jan. 1. Instead of receiving a bigger paycheck, I’m left without any pay at all… That’s because the restaurant where I’ve worked for six years is closing as a consequence of the city’s harmful minimum-wage experiment. …When rent is too high, labor costs too much, and customers don’t want to pay $40 for a roast-chicken entree, the only way for many operators to ease the pain is to…

View original post 905 more words

2019 update on my permanent portfolio

So, we close out 2019 with only a slight gain from 2018. Frankly, you would have been better off investing in a simple index fund than in my portfolio in 2019. That said, over the last four and a half years the portfolio has increased in value by just shy of 160% (159.5%) while the DOW increased 73% and the S&P increased 63.5% over the same period (8/21/2015-12/31/2019).

While the DOW increased by about 25% in 2019, my permanent portfolio only increased slightly due to the decrease in Bitcoin. As mentioned in a few prior posts, we would have likely sold off a lot of the Bitcoin during a once a year rebalancing of the portfolio; however, this portfolio is designed to be static (buy and hold). Nonetheless, the portfolio has seen gains over 2X the DOW and the S&P with near-zero tax consequences and little risk. The only tax consequences of this portfolio can be found in the mutual funds as the hard assets (gold, silver, etc.) and the three stocks do not throw off a dividend.

We’ll take another look at the portfolio on August 21, 2020, which will be 5 years the portfolio has been public.

Here is a link to the permanent portfolio page.

Does it still make sense to own a car? Let’s find out…

So, I was recently figuring out whether it still makes sense to own a car in South Florida in a world where Uber & Lyft are so quick to give us a ride?

SPOILER ALERT: If you drive less than 9,000 miles per year, then sell your car. If you drive between 9,000-10,000 miles per year, then it is a wash. If you drive more than 10,000 miles a year, then keep it and use Dave Ramsey’s free car for life method.

For many of us who work from home or many seniors who live in the South Florida area, we may not drive as much as others who are driving to and from work. Many South Floridians lease their vehicles or grossly underuse their personal car. With car ownership comes many expenses; loan payment, oil changes, insurance, parking, tolls, repairs, new tires, etc.

But what if you ditched your car and put that money to work in the stock market or into a savings account which you used to pay for your Uber/Lyft rides? And once a month rent a car for a long weekend for your longer excursions.

So, let’s break it down. Keep in mind, these are general figures as sometimes traffic will be heavier or lighter, car prices are different for all and gas prices change often.

COSTS OF A LYFT AND CAR RENTAL

A rider in a Lyft going from Delray Beach to Fort Lauderdale Airport will pay around $40, including tip, for a regular Lyft ride (you can save more by choosing a “shared” ride). This comes to about 83 cents per mile for a 45-minute ride. The fare is heavily weighted toward the number of miles in a trip and the time is a small portion of the fare (about 26 cents a minute). There are potential other fees (platform fee, tolls, service fee, minimum fees, etc.) so, whereas the cost per mile and the time portion add up to about $1.09 per mile, the real figure will come in at around $1.14 per mile. At $1.14 per mile and driving of the course of a year to the tune of 9,000 miles, the total cost comes in at $10,260/year for your Lyft rides. Then, let’s say you want to travel once a month out of the area, so you want to rent a car. That will come in at around $120/month or $1,440/year. When added to your Lyft rides we come in at $11,700 total ground transportation costs. This is a high figure because if you are smart, you will use rewards programs offered by credit cards and internal company rewards; you will not pay as much because you will be getting dozens of free Lyft rides as well as several free days of car rentals. But that is a blog post for another day as I am a rewards junkie for which rehab is not needed.

So, how much does it cost to own and operate an average car in South Florida and is it less than the $11,700/year we found using Lyft and occasional car rentals?

COSTS OF OWNING AND OPERATING A CAR

As of this writing, the average cost per gallon of regular gas is $2.54. The average car gets 23.6 miles per gallon these days. The average car purchase would come in at around $30,000 and after 5 years will be worth approximately $20,000 ($167/month depreciation) — if you are fortunate. According to NerdWallet.com, the average person is spending $500/month on car loan payments. This seems excessive and in my example, I would say the monthly car payment would be around $350/month. Since we are assuming this is a new car, maintenance will be minimal for the first few years and will escalate over time; but let’s average it down to about $34/month over the full five years. Insurance in South Florida runs about $1,185 per year.

Many of these expenses can be mitigated or exaggerated depending upon one’s own personal circumstances. For example, one could buy a new Tesla and while the maintenance costs would be near zero and have no expense for gas and oil, it would have much higher acquisition costs. On the other side, one could buy a used car for $20,000, escaping some of the depreciation costs, but they will tend to have higher maintenance and fuel costs — especially if they purchase an SUV or truck. One may have perfect credit while another will have poor credit, greatly affecting their acquisition costs and insurance costs. The point of this exercise is to average things out.

The fuel costs come in at a little more than 39 cents per mile and over 9,000 miles during the year amounts to $3,543. Now we add in the monthly costs above (maintenance, depreciation, insurance, parking, tolls, cost of purchase, etc.) and we come to a final total of $11,340 per year.

CONCLUSION

If one is driving less than 9,000 miles per year, ditch the car, use Uber/Lyft and seek out the wide array of rewards programs available to drive down your costs even more. If you drive between 9,000-10,000 miles it is pretty much a wash financially. If you drive over 10,000 each year, then get a quality used fuel efficient, low maintenance car and pocket the savings over owning a gas guzzling, high maintenance truck. Use this link to get a free Lyft ride on me!

The question an ultra-low mileage per year car owner needs to ask themselves is do I want to get rid of the convenience and freedom car ownership provides by ditching the car to save money? Those savings could be put into an interest-bearing account or growing in a brokerage account, increasing one’s net worth while not having to deal with the hassles of car ownership. With a Lyft or Uber usually less than 5 minutes away, perhaps it may be a good idea to ditch the car or at least get rid of a second car which is being underutilized.

It’s still a tough decision as most of us saw buying our first car as a right of passage and gave us a strong sense of freedom. It may be hard emotionally to go without a car, but for many, it may be a great idea. If you are going to keep your car or are thinking of buying a new car, I strongly urge you to use Dave Ramsey’s free car for life method of car ownership.