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6.23.2017 - Free Newsletter Bookmark

Animal Farm
 
Remember Animal Farm?  It caused quite the stir so many years ago when it was published.  By definition, it was a satirical Novella. Let’s look:
 
(1945) is a satirical novella (which can also be understood as a modern fable or allegory) by George Orwell, ostensibly about a group of animals who oust the humans from the farm on which they live. They run the farm themselves, only to have it degenerate into a brutal tyranny of its own.

 
As the story line goes on, there soon becomes a division between the farm animals. It started out where everyone was equal, and everyone would work the same and get the same amount of food, etc. (communist heaven)  But as time went on, the animals soon discovered that some of them, ( the pigs) were being thought of as more important than the others.  The excuse given was that “someone” had to do the higher level work of running the farm, and they would have higher level responsibilities and therefore should get a “little more” than everyone else.

Obviously based upon the goings on in the Soviet Union at the time, where the average person in the communist state was barely getting by, however they noticed that the “higher ups” in the politburo were living like kings.  Probably the most poignant “stab” at that situation, was where in the book there were some animals noticing how the pigs were living better than the rest, and on the board where there was seven rules posted for the Farm... a new one appeared.  It read:
 
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.
 
Okay Bob, so what the hell brought this up?  Well, on Tuesday when that storm was brewing in the Gulf, which did turn into TS Cynthia, I was struggling with two topics. One, since the storm was in process;  I wanted to put out the blurb about preparing for one of these monsters, but there was something else that had ticked me off big time. Well, I went with the storm and held this one for the weekend.
 
On June 18th, the New York Post ran a story about one of the “almost victims” of the Washington shooting.  Let’s lift a few lines out of that article:
 
WASHINGTON - A Republican congressman who survived the horrific baseball shooting will offer legislation this week to allow lawmakers to carry guns throughout the nation’s capital.
 
“I’m going to be introducing legislation this week ... to allow congressmen to carry a sidearm, should they so desire,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
 
Members of Congress are “high-profile targets, but we have absolutely no way to defend ourselves because of Washington, DC’s rather restrictive gun laws.”
 
Brooks said the legislation would allow members of Congress to be armed in places throughout Washington where average citizens typically cannot carry guns.
 
“I want congressmen to be treated as if they were law enforcement,” Brooks said, “given that we are high-profile targets for the bad guys, the lone wolves, the terrorists.”
 
I would bet that a lot of people read that and said, “okay, what’s the problem?”  Read this line again...

Members of Congress are “high-profile targets, but we have absolutely no way to defend ourselves because of Washington, DC’s rather restrictive gun laws.”
 
There it is. Animal Farm. ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS. 
 
Boiled down to its reality, what this man is saying is that “because we’re important and we’re in high level jobs, we should be able to carry weapons, while the average Washington DC schmuck can’t.  
 
Listen up Congressman. I feel for you. What you went through was horrid and I’m glad you were spared. But, It is BECAUSE of the people in Congress, and the POLITICIANS in State houses,  that the “average” person is not able to carry a weapon for self defense.  Don’t tell me about ‘high profile”. Self defense should be a right given to everyone, automatically, unless they’re mentally incompetent or have been proven criminals.
 
I would bet some of you are going to roll your eyes and snicker, saying something like: “Bob’s talking guns again, because he’s partner in a weapons training company!”   Of course that’s part of it. But there’s another part... I haven’t told this story in many years, but it’s apropos: 
 
I started life as a jeweler. After going to school for watchmaking, clocks, and jewelry design/repair, I came back to my Parents’ home in NJ and landed a job with a local jeweler. After a year of working for him, I decided that I was producing more repair revenue for him, than I was getting paid, and I went off on my own.
 
I opened a small repair shop and for about 5 years I did contract repair work for some 18 jewelry stores. Finally, it was time to open my own full service store. So, I found a good location and opened a full retail store, with watches, engagement rings, chains, the whole bit.
 
Once a week I had to go to 47th street in New York and buy my inventory. I’d hit the diamond merchants I had relationships with, I’d hit the gold suppliers, etc. This was always a “big trip” because it was a little over an hour and fifteen minutes just to GET to NY, then a hike uptown from the Port Authority, and hours getting my stuff and then of course the return trip to my store.

One day, as I was walking back to my car ( from the diamond dealers) I felt this unease that yeah...I was being watched. I looked around and saw a guy smoking a cigarette about 4 cars over. Hmmm. I must be dreaming things. So I start to wind my way out of NY and to the NJ Turnpike. That’s when I noticed the car. It was the same one that cigarette man was getting into.
 
It’s like 45 miles to my store. That car followed me from the minute I left NY, to the PARKING lot of the retail strip mall I was based in. Then it branched off. Well this was in about 1986, well before cell phones, etc. But I was shaken. “Someone” knew I carried precious metals and stones, and now they knew exactly where I go each time.
 
I talked to the local police, two of which suggested it’s time to get a carry permit. So I tried. Boy did I try. And the end result was NO. A few years before this incident NJ started a policy where virtually the only folks that got a carry license were ex-law enforcement or judges.   I remember the Judge saying the denial was because there’s too much senseless killing in our state. I remember telling him “yeah, and I’m going to get killed”.
 
That was a long time ago, but the principle still applies. Don’t give me the high profile baloney. The equation is really simple. If bad guys have guns ( they often do) and I don’t have a gun, bad guy can do any damned thing he wants to me, my wife, kids, the whole bit. And I’m powerless.
 
So while I feel for what you went through Mr. Congressman, grow a pair and suggest that ALL law abiding citizens with clean mental histories have the ability to carry a weapon if they chose. Don’t believe the absolute BS that we’ll turn into the Wild West with shootouts every day, because you know what? In Chicago, where gun ownership was regulated to the nth degree, we’re already up to 1300 shooting victims. Check it:

Since January 1, 2017, there have been 233 murders and more than 1,300 shooting victims in Chicago. - ABC, June 1, 2017
 
Meanwhile in New Hampshire, a state where you don’t even need a permit to carry your weapon anymore, guess how many homicides they had last year?   16. Yes, a place where folks can carry a weapon on them at any time, had 16 homicides, while  Chicago’s had 1300 shootings and at least 233 murders. ( in 6 months) 
 
No more Animal Farm. You Congress people have no more right to self defense than we do. I hope you get your bill passed. I hope you obtain the ability to carry a weapon. But I also hope you remember the “little animals” and push DC ( and all states) to adopt rules that allow folks to become legally armed.  You aren’t special. You’re no more human than the next guy. You’ve just discovered however that bad guys with guns win when there’s no good guys with guns around.  Don’t forget the people. 
 
The Market....
 
Because I joined my wife on a Business trip, I didn’t get to see the market action on Friday. However up until then, this this had been an interestingly odd week. After the huge gap and run day on Monday, we spent the next three sessions fading back down and giving back just about all of those gains.
 
Volumes were horrid to day the least, with Thursday printing just 34 million shares of the SPY traded. I believe that was the lowest volume day of the year.
 
Friday afternoon was the once yearly “Russell” rebalance, and history shows that to be a time of unusually high volumes, with some interesting pops and drops.
 
Despite the blather from Wall Street, this market is desperate for the correction that never comes. People have now been trained to buy every dip, no matter what, simply because the Central banks will make sure it doesn’t crash. Forget risk, forget history, just buy stocks is the mantra.  What a dangerous thing.
 
But then again, it’s been going on so much longer than most people could believe, why can’t it keep going for more? That’s the issue. I’ve said it too many times, this market will keep rising until either a black swan event happens ( think shooting down a Russian jet over Syria, which starts a hot war)  or “they” pull the plug by ending all QE globally.
 
Just remember that I’m saying they won’t allow a crash to happen until they want it to. But a 5% drop or even a 10% drop is always at least possible. The problem being that 10% in a 21K market... can cause a lot of pain.  That’s why we can’t simply throw caution to the wind.
 
This coming Friday will be end of month and end of quarter trading. That’s going to lead to more volatility for a while.  Then it will be straight into earnings.
 
Let’s see how they deal with the upcoming earnings season. Yes folks, it’s going to be earnings season again soon. Some will be good, some are going to face plant. But if the bulk of them don’t make it.... That could trigger our first real correction in many months.   Stay tuned!

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