Jasper M's  Instablog

Jasper M
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Retired, 48, been making my own financial decision since I was 17. Every day, for the rest of my life, I will be a recovering Merrill Lynch customer. Proudest Financial Moments: Personal Best return on equity: 20/1, Leap Puts on Citi & GE, closed in late 2008 Personal best adjusted for time:... More
  • The death of an enemy, and the turning of an Age 5 comments
    Aug 30, 2009 12:41 AM

        "De Morituri, nil nisi bonum"

    That's an old latin quote - means something like "of the dead, don't speak ill"
    And it is certainly unfashionable to speak ill of a fallen foe.
    But then, I never was especially sensitive to fashion.
    I certainly didn't get wealthy adhering to it.
    So I think that, as usual, I am just going to call 'em like I see 'em.

       I can think of no more poetic marker for the change that is about to occur, to pretty much every aspect of American culture, than the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. The proponents of his world-view have captured more power than they have had since the last depression, and have found their own 'high water mark', and are about to suffer the extreme misfortune of seeing the results of their theories being tried. When those who come after us look back at the silly turbulence of our age, I suspect they will view his death much as modern historians look upon the death of his brother John.
        And make no doubt about, we are very, very close to History, with a capital "H". And not in a good way.

        While I disagreed with the late Senator on pretty much everything except the utility of oxygen, in a way, I wish he had held on a little longer, for a reason that reminds me of my mother.
       My mother was a doctrinaire leftist, a crypto-marxist, actually, who believed there was nothing government couldn't do, if it only decided to. Create wealth from thin air? No problem - it's The Government! As corollaries of this, she believed that law had a moral authority all its own (once admitted to me that she would turn in Jews if they were being rounded up), and that the government could manage the economy well enough to ensure perpetual prosperity.
       Fortunately for me, she operated on this last belief in a period where it appeared to be true - from the late 70's, right up to 2006, it was, on balance, just fine to Buy and Hold. And I say "fortunate for me" because she died in 2006, right about at the top of, well, everything, giving me Just enough time to liquidate everything before the sky started to fall in. 
       I won't lie to you, I love having this money. I love not having to go to work. I love not having to get up early on any but the most critical market days. I love the way I can make more money out of it, enough to pay my bills and then some. I love being able to honestly answer public servants older than I am that "I . . . am retired!" And I love planning who I will share it out to, when I die. And I would not have it if she were still alive (and would have way less if she had lived only slightly longer). But in a way, I wish she was still around.
        Not because I had any great affection for her. My mother embraced pretty much every bad idea the 20th century had to offer, and her unrelenting hostility to everything good and beautiful and inspiring had long ago overwhelmed the natural tendency to love one's mother. By the time she died, we had been estranged for some time.
        No, the reason I wish she was still around, now and for a few more years to come, is I would have loved to see the look on her face. Her beliefs in socio-economic matters have been made into manifest policy, and I would have loved to see her reaction to their implementation in another two years.

       And so it is with Senator Kennedy. I wish he had lasted a few more years. Yes, it might have allowed to Democrats to push through a truly hellish medical 'reform' . . . but I think that would have killed itself pretty quickly. And it would have been more than worth it to see the late Senator counted amongst the other dumbfounded Big Government proponents.

        Am I being petty? Perhaps. But I like to believe there is another component to my wishes. When asked about the moral standing of his opponents, Michael Dukakis (another guy I don't agree with much) quipped, "I believe in the redemption of souls". And in a way, so do I: I believe if people live long enough to see their errors implemented, they have a Fine chance to see the error of those ways, and Change their Minds!

       That's all probably just a pipe dream - my mother was sufficiently disconnected from reality that she would probably just ignore the parts she didn't like, and I have no particular reason to suspect that Edward Kennedy was much different (certainly his voting record gives no reason to think it). He was a Bad Guy, and I and the world are well rid of him.

       So, as condolence prizes for not seeing my ideological enemies proved wrong in their own lifetimes, I shall just have to settle for a lifetime's worth of wealth, and toasts of "One Less!" with my friends. 
       It'll do. It'll do.

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Comments (5)
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  • Michael Clark
    , contributor
    Comments (11968) | Send Message
    I'm following you because you write so well. It's fun to read someone who cares about language the way you do.


    It's odd how the generational perspective shifts -- but without it the world would stop turning.


    Teddy was a bad guy in the sense that he abused his power personally. His legislative record will again some day be honored. Because the generational perspective shifts.


    I was born in 1950, was a radical leftist through my youth -- possibly like your mother -- I was a born-again 'rightist' in 1983, becoming a Reagan supporter and a Bush supporter -- and now find myself swinging back to the left again.


    The Middle Principle, the Soul (the Middle Class in an economic interpretation) sides with the rich and powerful to re-build the Earth and then sides with the poor and powerless to re-build the Heaven -- and this process, in large and smaller cycles, goes on for ever. This is the basis of the generational shift in perspective.


    I enjoyed your article.
    30 Aug 2009, 03:24 AM Reply Like
  • Jasper M
    , contributor
    Comments (1652) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Pretty good writing yourself, there, Michael.


    As for me, mother was an English teacher, so I am compelled to eloquence. Oh, the scar!
    30 Aug 2009, 06:36 PM Reply Like
  • Michael Clark
    , contributor
    Comments (11968) | Send Message
    Loving language is a curse, I agree. It's a lonely path. Read any books lately that you'd recommend, fiction or otherwise?
    31 Aug 2009, 02:56 AM Reply Like
  • Jasper M
    , contributor
    Comments (1652) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Michael,
    No. I find the format uncompetitive nowadays. I am planning to read "Recarving Rushmore", and some book about bomber-obsessed airforce generals.
    Back on topic:
    While I cannot dispute any notion of cyclicality in history, I would urge any such approach be tempered with what Robert Prechter calls the "Principle of Alternation" - each 'incarnation' of a cycle will be different enough to fool most participants.
    Also, I fail to see how difference of perspective informs one that it is possible to "rebuild heaven" by stealing, from your neighbors Or your grandchildren. Yes, Edward Kennedy's voting record will some day be honored again - I'd even venture to say within 20 years. But the same can probably be said for the actions of Stalin, and possibly even (*flinch*) Mao.
    Just as reality is not subject to plebiscite, morality is not a popularity contest. The predictability of the popularity of a terrible mistake does not make it any less of a mistake.
    (For my purposes, i am defining "morality'" as "codes of conduct based on what has been tested and found to be nearly universally bad" - Not "what Moses supposedly told some people")
    31 Aug 2009, 04:19 PM Reply Like
  • Lsente
    , contributor
    Comments (35) | Send Message
    Enjoyed your comment stream, couple of good laughs in there. Left Seeking Alpha community when the ultra, fundamental bears skewed me into pissing into this wind/rally. Now I think my long book is dead and I am just in currencies until we break. Thanks for the laughs and good trading brother (in the fiscal conservative sense).
    30 Sep 2009, 04:30 AM Reply Like
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