Seeking Alpha

Dialectical Materialist

Dialectical Materialist
Send Message
View as an RSS Feed
View Dialectical Materialist's Comments BY TICKER:
Latest  |  Highest rated
  • iPad Pre-Order Estimates: Apple Continues to Wow [View article]
    The limit of two per customer applied to 2 of each model. So conceivably (though not realistically) a single customer could get 12 iPads in one order (3 of each size of wi-fi and 3G).
    Mar 14, 2010. 05:58 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple: Hedge to Rising Interest Rates [View article]
    The number on yahoo finance is low and has been for some time. Apple says it has $40B in cash and short term assets.
    Mar 14, 2010. 03:15 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Hindenberg Omen - Twice Extended [View instapost]
    Mark, regarding access and ER's. The problem with using the Emergency Room for primary care because you don't have insurance is threefold. First of all it clogs the system and reduces the efficiency of emergency treatment. Secondly, it obviously costs more to have the ER docs look at a bronchitis than a normal doctor's office. So the bill that is born by "the rest of us" is higher than it would be if we just paid for the patient to go to a normal doc when not able to pay the bill. And thirdly it causes many (though not all) people to put off treatment till the last minute because they don't want to go to the ER (if for no other reason it can mean a very long wait when you have a non-emergency and are surrounded by others with non-emergencies). This delay can increase treatment costs if it means more aggressive medicine is needed or more extensive (and expensive) tests are needed. And of course the delay can take a toll in human suffering and even lead to unnecessary deaths.

    So when I talk of "access" I am glad that we have ER's that will see anyone and I think they do a great job of helping when called on, but I wish we would emphasize methods that would improve access to BASIC care. This could be cheaper than spreading the cost of an ER visit among society and could help catch more problems early, again resulting in savings. If we're going to absorb uninsured trips to the ER, why don't we say everyone gets two free primary care doctor visits a year? It would be expensive, but how expensive really, I wonder, when a $300 visit might replace a $3000 one?

    Just thinking out loud, here. I don't have a political platform worked out or anything. I just keep thinking that this nation has its priorities messed up. We wouldn't allow folks to clog 911 with parking ticket questions or expect them call the limo service because they can't afford a bus pass. So why do we accept that they go to a state of the art medical facility staffed with highly trained trauma surgeons to get a refill of their prescription inhaler? It just makes no sense. There has to be a more logical approach.
    Mar 14, 2010. 03:12 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • QUICK CHAT #27-Start Friday 3/12/10 [View instapost]
    And "This is not an axe. It is a sharpened blade affixed to a wooden handle. I call it a BEH (for Blade Extended by Handle). It's not an axe. I wouldn't use an axe... that would be illegal."
    Mar 13, 2010. 05:26 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Employment: The Older Worker Story [View article]
    An interesting feature of the chart is that it shows no countries which are higher than the European average (except Spain which is slightly higher). By definition, some of the omitted countries would have to have higher numbers since the countries shown have lower figures. I wonder what the UK number looks like. Or Germany.
    Mar 13, 2010. 01:55 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • How the iPad, Slates Will Evolve in the Next Two Years [View article]
    Snort: "...I wouldn't be surprised if Android monthly sales beat iPhone by December of 2011 (monthly basis) with the gap widening over time.
    A year from now we will start to hear about how Android has PC'd the iphone/iPad with its limited product line and single carrier dependence."

    Wow, one year? I would be stunned if this comes to pass. And monthly sales in Dec 2011 are hard to guess. But I'd be willing to bet that Android does not have a larger share of the smart phone market (currently iphone 25% and Android 7%). What you see as a detriment (limited product line -- whatever that is supposed to mean in this context -- and single carrier dependence) has actually proven to be a strength so far. Apple controls the quality of the end user experience by minimizing the variables and in so doing maintains higher margins. Higher margins lead to more profit which allows it to develop and sell new cutting edge products faster than competitors. It is an ingenious model and it has legs.
    Mar 13, 2010. 11:15 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • How the iPad, Slates Will Evolve in the Next Two Years [View article]
    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, xmichaelx. I think the notion that this is a desktop replacement is premature. But I think you understate the home use of this product substantially. In my house, the iPod touch is used as a mobile video device, but the screen size is a compromise. The larger screen of the iPad makes it an enticing product in this regard. Your assumption that the pocket size of the iPod Touch is its chief advantage is not true in all cases. It is conventiently sized, but there is a role for a "still small and handy, but larger than pocket sized" device.

    Your comment about watching Netflix on your PC so why would you want a smaller device is interesting in one key regard. It used to be people would say "why watch TV on my computer?" Do you see a trend here?

    But you're right that the iPad is not for everyone nor for every circumstance. I know several non mac users that say they want to check it out, though, so it has a wider appeal than you are assuming, I think.
    Mar 12, 2010. 02:53 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How the iPad, Slates Will Evolve in the Next Two Years [View article]
    I'm slightly confused about the concept of a "light crowd". Is it a crowd of people wanting to buy or at least see the product for themselves, or is it light ho-hum foot traffic that belies "nothing to see here"? Selling 3-5 million in the first year (something you say would not surprise you) requires the former, I think. And if this is the case, I don't think most people will think of the traffic as being "light". This will not be a line around the block, packed in like sardines, product launch, in part due to the gentle roll out including both pre-order and the first wave being wi-fi only. But the interest level at the Apple stores will be high, I suspect. "Light crowds" suggests disappointing turn out. I think it will be satisfying turn out.

    I am anxious to see the Microsoft "Courier". I don't think it will challenge the iPad, and it may even strengthen the iPad's market position as the go to tablet, but it will be interesting to see what it offers and which things it executes well. No device is perfect and each has strengths and weaknesses. It will be fun to compare when more of these new products come to market.
    Mar 12, 2010. 01:26 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Hindenberg Omen - Twice Extended [View instapost]
    Hey RBF:

    I agree. I hope my little tale of woe didn't sound like an endorsement of the current fix. There is a difference between identifying a problem (e.g. saying "It's cold in here") and endorsing potentially destructive solutions (e.g. set the couch on fire to raise the temperature in the room). You are right that we need to do better with this. In fact I think my example about employee hours shows that sometimes a half fix is no fix at all.

    By the way, the state of social security and my own lack of insurance are the two biggest factors that drove me to explore investing. I figured if I was going to be on the hook for these expenses (and whether it is insurance by myself or paying my own medical costs, either one is substantial) that I'd better start looking for a return on my savings. I am lucky that I am able to do that. Not everyone is, of course. But it is an example of the kind of thing I think a responsible person does to meet anticipated obligations. Find some money somewhere. Cut your expenses or grow your income or both. Faced with the troubles we are as a nation, we need to all be doing this individually and finding politicians who can help us do it as a nation. (And just "raising taxes" is not growing income. Raising tax receipts because the economy is booming is not the same as raising tax receipts by tax increases, of course.)

    We need to find ways to limit basic medical expenses and increase access to basic care. The fancy stuff can wait until we do these two fundamental things.
    Mar 11, 2010. 05:17 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Hindenberg Omen - Twice Extended [View instapost]
    My profile explains my position on financial literacy (we need more).

    Just one example of how our aid causes problems that we might want to look at is when folks get punished for working more hours. This happens in disability, social security, medicaid, and many other situations. As a small employer I can not afford to offer health insurance to my employees (nor do I carry it myself). I wish I could but the economics just don't work. We do have insurance for poor folks in my state, though. Just not "almost poor". So I have some part time employees that would like to work more but if they do they lose their health insurance -- insurance some of them need to deal with serious medical issues. The smart financial move for them is to work less and get insurance rather than work more and lose it. This causes them (and me) other problems. I wish I could get them insurance so they could work as much as they want to work and better their lives, but I can't swing it either. This picture is broken. I could offer insurance to all my full timers, but the costs would put me out of business and if I tried to pass them on to my clients, I would lose out to my competition and again be out of business. So all of these folks would go from having insurance to being unemployed. But the point is the system of aid in my state punishes people who work "too much" and creates an odd disincentive for what the state SHOULD want -- more people working more hours and PAYING income taxes, not skirting below the line while not paying anything. My example is not unique to my business nor my state.
    Mar 11, 2010. 01:45 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Hindenberg Omen - Twice Extended [View instapost]
    I agree (and I've read about some of your helpful acts for those going through tough times). I think we need a focus on education, to be sure, but also on things that help sustain family stability. I know childcare is a big expense for those trying to find work. I'd rather have a $7,000 refund going toward education and childcare credits than just a check you can spend on McDonalds and a new video game console. Making it easier for folks to take the steps that improve their lives (going to school or going to work or both) has to be the focus of any aid to the poor that has a chance of lifting them up from poverty. Help for folks in ways that requires a level of commitment and effort from the recipient is also more popular among those who have to pay for this aid -- the middle class taxpayer. It's the difference between giving someone a couple bucks for the bus so they can go to a job interview and giving them a couple bucks no questions asked. One makes sense, the other is just a black hole.
    Mar 11, 2010. 11:06 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Hindenberg Omen - Twice Extended [View instapost]
    I believe Jimmy Carter signed a law when he was Governor that made it so that dead people could not vote. Before that, Ga. law was that a surviving spouse could vote for the recently deceased because "they were likely to know how they would have voted". This sort of frontier democracy may have had its place a 150 years ago, but obviously doesn't belong in our modern society. So there was a great joke that "dead people could no longer vote" in Georgia, but it came from something folks thought made sense at the time.

    As for illegal aliens voting or receiving tax refunds, that's clearly wrong and should be stopped. Our immigration policy is a mess, which is a surprise to no one.

    I can't even comment on the family of four making $20,000 because there are so many things wrong with that. Poor people need help, but they mostly need help in not being poor. That is a tricky one, made trickier when such a large percentage of their income gets spent (by my observation) on beer, cigarettes, lottery tickets, and drugs. Don't get me wrong, I understand the impetus to get a short term fix to relieve the pressures of life (and of poverty), but I see so many folks who could be relieving their stress in the long run by saving money spend it instead on useless escapism. There are very real challenges being poor (I know, because I have been poor), but these are not made easier when money is spent on beer. And a tax refund that can be spent on anything is not the best way to target aid to the poor... see I knew I didn't want to get started with this. Try summarizing this issue in a few sentences and you either sound like a flaming liberal or a heartless bastard. It's tough. It sucks being poor. We should help people not be poor, not help them stay alive poor.
    Mar 11, 2010. 04:00 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • QUICK CHAT #26-Start Sunday 3/7/10 [View instapost]
    Must mean we're all better now. Phew, I was getting worried.
    Mar 10, 2010. 04:57 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Hindenberg Omen - Twice Extended [View instapost]
    Voters have short memories, RBF. I agree with you about the tone, but one happy party gift or apologetic bouquet of flowers can sway many voters. They are angry, but 7 months is a long time to stay angry. I am hopeful for change, but then hoping for change is what got us into some of these problems, so I'd like a better phrase. How about ticked off but dubious that improvements will be made...?
    Mar 8, 2010. 03:26 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is Apple Really the Fourth Most Valuable Company in the U.S.? [View article]
    I agree entirely that there are better growth stories out there. Many stocks will double and triple in the time it takes Apple to add another 20%. But one of the reasons I like AAPL and have a decent chunk of my portfolio tied up in it is that it presents a growth story on top of stability. Even when they were falling like a rock (along with everyone else last year) I wasn't worried because they have a rock solid balance sheet and great revenue. It is precisely the $40B in cash they are holding that helps me feel this company is stable. At some point they will need to start spending (big acquisition, buyback, dividend or whatever) because they keep adding billions each quarter and it will be $50, $75, and $100 Billion if they don't take action. At some point that money needs to be spent. But for now with the economy the way it is and everything else in the company on track, I have no concerns about this money. My suspicion is that it will be used for dividends when their growth starts to slow (which is has yet to shows signs of doing). Or if Jobs were to become incapacitated and the stock started to fall, it could be used for buybacks and help retain the value for the shareholders.

    You're right that big companies grow more slowly, but this company's more slowly is faster than other companies its size and that is to me a very pleasing balance between growth and stability. I have money in other stocks that may double, but some of that money will be lost as some of the companies I have chosen will no doubt not succeed. With Apple you get to buy into a successful story that is still being written.
    Mar 7, 2010. 06:14 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment