Minutiae
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The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
--Cornelius Tacitus (c. 116 A.D.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Anyone who's watched enough Cinemax knows how true this is. The part I like is that any of those summaries taken individually could be mistaken for something currently showing at the local theater.
My favorite:
"2PM -- Street Razorz (2001, 94 min)
When "Shred" Johnson (Ian Ziering) moves from New York City to Deacon's Crossing, Utah, he shakes up the town with his clothes, his attitude, and his flashy and ultra-cool Razor scooter. When he starts dating the uptight mayor's daughter (Soleil Moon Frye), the town fathers try to run him out. But when a dangerous scooter gang (Limp Bizkit) tries to take control of the town, the police are powerless to stop them. Only Shred can beat them - by besting their leader in a no-holds-barred scoot-off in the Tabernacle! It's time to scoot ... or die! With Robert Vaughn as Priest Aaron."

posted by Rachel 7/24/2002
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A lovely article detailing the sham that is high school economics education. I'd generalize that to include the economic education of say 70% of people who even think they care about the economy. I'd also generalize the substitution of ideology for substance to the majority of the high school social studies/ history experience.
A taste: "It's a challenge to reach teachers who are ideologically unprepared to appreciate the market. Teachers do not work in enterprises where it's necessary to satisfy the customer or go out of business. They belong to a powerful union, which sees for-profit as synonymous with for-evil. Every business is Enron. Like biblical literalists who want to teach creationism in biology class, liberal teachers want to teach social justice in lieu of supply and demand."

Now take that level of ignorance and combine it with people who make 40 thousand a year playing the market because, "gee you just can't lose in this market", and what do you get? Many, many, people losing money they can't afford to.
The stock market is a game for the wealthy. 'Don't invest what you can't afford to lose' is the best piece of investment advice most americans could get. For all its apparent rules the market is not clean and predictable. It doesn't follow models, no matter how complex and sophisticated you make them. Why? Because for all the statistics and arcane figures, the market is predicated on the behavior of human beings. Does any rational person think that any model will account for the behavior and interaction of a large group of people with disparate interests who span the globe? You can't. Ever seen cattle stampede? So success in the market requires exceptional judgement based on too many factors for most people to even have time to grasp, and a degree of luck. If anyone is willing to bet their future on that then they are a fool.

I have limited sympathy for all the people who are losing their shirts. Yes the 90s were a mass delusion. But the delusion was obvious if you cared to look. I told a friend of mine (Hi John) at the time that the market was artificially inflated. If I knew it in high school no one else has any excuse. Everyone wanted to get rich quick. If the promise of easy money isn't enough to head you off, you deserve what you get. And if you put your money in a mutual fund or an index fund or an IRA there's still no excuse. If you're too lazy to mind your own money, then you're too stupid to keep it. If your money was invested too heavily in techs, well that's your own damn fault. If your retirement was 50% stock in your own company, that's your fault too. And if you lost your retirement because of WorldCom then you clearly didn't even learn from Enron. Yes financial planners and brokers and all the other professionals screwed up, but ultimately you are responsible for your own life/future/money/safety. Do you think you can pay someone to care about it as much as you do? Don't invest what you can't afford to lose. There's no such thing as a sure thing. There's almost no such thing as easy or instant money. Don't ever assume that anyone knows what they're talking about.

Also, buy stock in strong companies now. Buy low sell high. Not buy high sell low. When everyone is selling you should be buying. When everyone is buying you should be selling. Duh.
Update: I posted this at 3:14 am before the market opened and the Dow jumped 400 points.
posted by Rachel 7/24/2002
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I'm never going swimming again.
posted by Rachel 7/24/2002
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