I Admit I Am Stumped. By Me.
Yesterday I posed a question to myself that I can't answer. This is dangerous territory. So I'm looking for thoughts from the Fool community before I go all unabomber.
But before I get to that, I haven't talked investing or econ lately, so let's do a little.
Rule Number One
My RL portfolio hasn't been very active lately. My 5 largest positions have remained unchanged since June: GLD (slight winner), MEA (winner), AMZN (winner), KWK (flat), and SD (flat). I'm just glad I don't have any losers in there. I had some big losers on a couple in 2009, so 2010 was a good year.
I don't remember who recommended MEA to me. I think it was TMFSinch, but it might have been one of his educated followers. Whoever it was, thank you. I purchased it in June at $4.17, promply watched it fall 25% or so, but it's now up over $6.
That's rule number one. Whatever stock I purchase in RL will immediately drop 20-25% in the first week. I suppose I should listen to the TA guys a little more. Instead, why don't we do this: when I make my next big purchase, you short it for a week, we'll split the profits, and then lather, rise, and repeat.
Why am I holding GLD? Well, I keep adding to it actually. I bought 150 shares over the last two weeks. I'm in flux right now. I wanted a bigger rainy day fund (more like a flood-of-biblical-proportions fund at this point), but I don't want cash and I don't feel like opening another account at say, goldmoney.com or something. I've heard good things about them, but now's not the time. I know all of the arguments for and against GLD, and I'm comfortable with my decision.
I really enjoyed TMFJake's interview with zzlangerhans. I'm reminded of a book called Outliers. The premise here is that to truly excel at a skill, to be among the best, a person has to dedicate 10,000 hours to the craft. This is why there are so few Leonardo Da Vinci's. Just mastering one skill takes tremendous dedication. With the amount of distractions available to modern man, it's a testament to human curiousity that we still find outliers in all walks of life. I don't know how many hours Zzlangerhans has spent studying biotech, but it appears to be a tremendous level of dedication.
Now try to imagine mastering several skills in a lifetime. You need both time and desire, even after reaching amazing heights already. It's no wonder so few people reach the same success in their second career as they did in their first. It's hard to find the desire when you've already had success. Certain people are special. They should be celebrated.
The Big Question
Ok, so we're shifting gears big time. And to a touchy subject that nobody wants to talk about. Sorry, but that's the way it goes.
I got into a lengthy discussion with awallejr the other day. It wasn't my usual "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong" debate, where it just devolves into a G.L.O.W. slap fight. Instead, we actually tried to thoughtfully probe each other's (insert dirty joke here) viewpoints.
I brought up the illegality of the Iraq War. Awallejr responded that the Iraq War was not illegal by Constitutional standards. I don't know that this is correct, but that's not my question.
My question is this, if the Iraq War is not illegal, whatever that term means in the Constitutional/Nation-State/Social Contract/We All Have to Live Together sense of the word, what exactly could the United States government do that is illegal?
Honestly, I can't answer this question. Since the legality will ultimately be arbitrated by the United States government, should it decide that whatever it is doing is legal, it appears that nothing would ever be illegal.
But even if we agree that the ultimate judge of legality on Earth is the citizenry, is there anything the United States government could do that they would consider illegal? (Assuming they feel Iraq wasn't illegal.)
In other words, I'm looking for a specific example, preferably involving aggressive foreign action, that you would definitely say that action was illegal. I could not come up with anything. Even using WMD or chemical weapons, which America has done before and I didn't hear of anyone going to jail.
Any thoughts here?
David in Qatar