Archive for January 2015

SSDD In Texas

We have a new governor and new legislature here in Texas. Mostly Republican, largely Tea Party. The current group of wingnuts said the last group was not conservative enough. Granted, the last group said the group before them was not conservative enough.

I think a lot of conservatives are pathological. Nothing is ever conservative enough for them. News flash: If nothing is conservative enough, maybe the problem is you.

A few writers on the Texas Tribune Tribcast were wondering how much more conservative can some of the policies get, especially with abortion. I write this in jest, but it may come to pass: Perhaps there will be a menstruation fee, since that is a potential fetus leaving a woman’s body. If they are willing to lie about the timelines for fetal pain and fetal heartbeat, what would stop them from saying life begins at ovulation?

Governor Goodhair is leaving the scene. He was a state representative for six years, then Ag Commissioner from 1991 to 1999, Lt Gov for about a year, and was the longest-serving governor in Texas history for 14 years. What is it with conservatives who spend a long time in government, all the while saying government is the problem? (And Republicans think the answer to bad government by Republicans is to elect more Republicans.)

We might see less “crony capitalism” here in Texas. Perry started the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which seem to steer a lot of money towards Perry’s contributors. He also started the Texas Enterprise Fund, which unlike the other two does not have a reputation for being a slush fund for his friends, but does play a part in bringing business to Texas. All three have not always been closely monitored to ensure that companies were creating as many jobs as they claimed they would. Perry is one of those conservatives who think the government should stay out of the free market when it comes to clean air and water, but not when it comes to giving money to people and companies that do not really need it.

If Texas is such a great place to do business, why does the state have to bribe them to come here?

Perry is also famous (or infamous) for going to states with Democratic governors and telling companies based in those states to come to Texas. In all seriousness, why did he never go to states with Republican governors? If you really think that Texas has a better model that all 49 of the other states, then why not say so in all 49 of them? For one thing, you might inadvertently inspire companies in those blue states to look at other red states, and not come to Texas. And why is it that Perry would ask people from more educated states like California and Illinois to come to Texas, but he never went to Mississippi or Alabama? Does Perry want people from more educated states, or does he need them to come here? Whose model is really being validated here?

In other words, Perry is practicing corporate socialism: It works until other states run out of educated workers.

And then there is our new governor, Greg Abbott. Mr Stuff For Me, But None For Thee. He is in a wheelchair because a tree fell on him. He is rich because he sued the landowner and landscaping company and they paid him about $14,000 a month for several years. And he has been against accomadations for handicapped people at public facilities, and all for tort reform. I wonder what would have happened if Greg Abbott’s policies had been in place when the tree fell on him. But I am sure there is some convoluted legal argument about why it’s okay for him but not for you.

While he was still AG, his office ruled that chemical plants did not have to file reports about what compounds they had at their sites. The reasoning was that terrorists might use that information. But then Abbott said if anybody wanted that information they could just ask the chemical companies. If I can just ask for it, why can’t a terrorist just ask for it?

It is hard to believe that this is happening after the disaster in West, Texas. There is a town called Athens that almost had a similar disaster a few months ago (see here and here). Abbott said all you need to do as a homeowner is drive around your town to see if there are any potential risks.

This sounds like the typical conservative idea that companies need to be coddled and shielded from any liability or responsibility for their actions, and all the burden is on citizens. I think that companies should file that information with the government, and it should be available to citizens. If a company is putting people at risk, the burden should be on the company to tell people. Conservatives talk about responsibility, but they always seem to shift it to the people least able to bear it.

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

Thoughts On New York

This past Christmas I went out to New York to see my brother and his family. The live on Long Island. Two boroughs of NYC are on Long Island, but when people in the NY Metro area say “Long Island”, they mean the parts of LI that are not NYC.

He is very religious, a Roman Catholic, and we don’t always get along. (He is also a libertarian; how you can be both is frankly beyond me.)

We were not raised religious. Our parents are from Irish Catholic families. My mother went to Catholic school all the way through college. She went to Dominican University in River Forest. At the time it was called Rosary College. They had all three of us baptized, but they stopped going to church before I was born.

He has tried to convert all of us. He even tried to convert our mother, even though she has heard it all before. I don’t understand why religious people can’t get it in their heads that if something was not convincing the first 500 times, I won’t be convinced the 501st time.

Sometimes our phone conversations would degenerate into shouting matches. At one point I decided to limit them to five minutes. That worked a few times. Then once I hit the five minute mark, and I thought that things were going well so I would continue. Then it went south.

He and his wife have two kids. I did not go to the baptisms. I am not going a thousand miles out of my way to go to a church. But I can’t put this off forever, so in late November I called him up and asked if he was open to the idea of a visit. He said he was, so I went.

I drove out there just before the 24th, and I came back starting on the 28th. I really do not like flying. I finally got to Maryland, but only for 12 miles along Interstate 81. So I have now been in all states east of the Mississippi River outside of New England except Delaware. My mother thought I should fly because she was worried a long drive would be a lot of wear and tear on my car.

It was a lot of wear and tear on my car, but it was all in New York City and on Long Island. The roads are in really bad shape; they are very bumpy, there are a lot of potholes, and manhole covers don’t make for smooth driving either. I thought that roads in parts of Illinois were bad. It hurts my back just thinking about it. I know there is a high population density, but they really need to fix their roads. People in the rest of the country wonder why New Yorkers seem so rude. Probably because their brains are getting scrambled every time they drive. Yes, it would be difficult to change things. But in all seriousness, I cannot understand why they don’t do something about it.

On top of that, Long Island roads are not in a grid. It’s like they were planned out by a blind man with no arms. On the way there I got off of one expressway onto another, and I went around 180 degrees, and the street names for the exit were the same but in reverse order. So they seem to have two expressways that cover the same territory. I just want to get from Point A to Point B. If I want scenic, I will walk. I don’t like a layout that forces me to think about things I should not have to think about.

My brother got married on Long Island. Our family came in from all over. Just about all of her family was from there and living there. Long Island seems like a black hole. People go there, or they are born there, and they never leave. My sister-in-law went to college in upstate New York, and that was a big deal. At one point I overheard a women go on about how blessed they were to live on Long Island, in New York and near the ocean. First off: If you like the ocean, fine. Don’t complain the next time there is a hurricane. Secondly: I was a bit irritated that I drove over a thousand miles and I hear the same mentality I hear all the time in Texas.

I also had to pay four tolls for New York City. One to get in and one to get out each way. It would be nice if there was a way to go from the mainland to Long Island without paying a fee. I know Bloomberg did it to end congestion, but if you are just passing through are you really adding to the congestion as much as people who are going to stop in the city?

I made a comment to my brother that people seemed to wait a long time at red lights. A lot longer they need to. I thought that New Yorkers did not seem as intense as their reputation. My brother agreed. He has been told by new Yorkers that he is abrasive and that he talks quickly.

My brother named his son after our great-great grandfather. I knew that our great grandfather had been born in Ireland. I thought that he came over as a young child with his parents, but apparently he only came over with his mother. His father died in Ireland. His daughter is named after our great grandmother. She was born in Ireland and came over with her parents when she was young. She died when we were young.

My nephew is the spit-up king. Fear him.

For the most part there was not a lot of religion. My sister-in-law told me that my brother discourages their daughter from using her left hand for things. Most of our ancestors were from Ireland. Some were from the Scottish Highlands. At one point my brother said he hoped that our Scottish ancestors were not Presbyterian. I don’t know if they were, and there is not much we could do about it if they did.

I did tell them about dividend growth stocks. When I was an indexer, I sent him some books (a few mentioned here). But when I explained the concept of dividend growth investing. It’s like compound interest with an increasing interest rate. He seemed interested. I will see if I can find a few good books to send him. I might send him some links to a few good sites.

Climate change data point: I drove from Chicago to Long Island in 2007 for my brother’s wedding. There was a lot of snow in Pennsylvania on the way back. I took a different route this time, but there was no snow at all.

I might go again in July for the first birthday of The Spit Up King.

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

2014-12 Dividend Income Report

Here is the dividend income report for December, 2014.

The monthly dividend income came out to $909.86. The yearly income total for 2014 through the end of the month was $4,438.02. As with every December, RLI paid both a regular dividend ($0.18/year this quarter) and a special dividend ($3.00/share this year). Even without the special dividend, the total for the month was $570.45, and the yearly total was $4,098.61. The special dividend came out to $339.41. The special dividend alone was more than the total for most months. Still, 2014 was a better year than 2013.

The income for December, 2013 was $594.59, and the yearly income total up through that month was $3,406.20.

The three-month moving average for December, 2014 was 481.67, and the twelve-month moving average was $369.80. For December, 2013 those numbers were $344.05 for the 3MMVA, and $283.85 for the 12MMVA. All these averages include the special annual dividends from RLI.

The year that I made the most dividend income was in 2007. I had my money in my 401(k) through my then-employer, and it was all in mutual funds. Most of them were index funds. I do not know if the international fund was an index fund. The total that year was $6,575.54. For 2008 the income was $5,420.86. I honestly sometimes wonder if this dividend strategy will work. Sometimes I think that the way to investing success is to have a plan and stick to it. But do I have a good plan? I am thinking about subscribing to The ETF Guide’s Profit Strategy Newsletter. The host of The Index Investing Show runs it and he talks about it a lot. He said they use some ETFs and covered calls to generate up from $500 to $2,000 a month on a portfolio of $100,000. It would be neat if that could fund my IRA.

In some ways 2013 and 2014 were mirror opposites in terms of the arrangement of stocks in my portfolio. In 2013, I did not buy any new stocks, I sold several (CAT, FDR, MO, PNR, as well as spin-offs) and I only increased my holdings in one stock to get it up to around 100 shares (COP). In 2014 I started a position in one (K), I only sold one stock (INTC, more if you include spin-offs), and I increased my holdings in several to get them to around 100 shares (AFL, BMS, CB, COP, T, XOM).

Sometimes I think that if I keep doing what I am doing things will work out alright.

Here are the stocks and the income amounts for December, 2014:

  • AFLAC Inc: $40.68
  • American States Water Co: $23.42
  • Black Hills Corp: $13.69
  • Bemis Co Inc: $27.28
  • ConocoPhillips: $78.32
  • Vectren Corp: $21.69
  • Questar Corp: $10.46
  • Johnson & Johnson: $23.94
  • Chevron: $24.45
  • Emerson Electric Co: $25.37
  • Sonoco Products Co: $21.44
  • Exxon Mobil Corp: $76.06
  • Archer-Daniels-Midland Co: $15.49
  • Walgreen Co: $19.23
  • Dover Corp: $9.08
  • Consolidated Edison Inc: $18.85
  • Kellogg Company: $49.71
  • Coca-Cola Co: $33.47
  • Valspar Corp: $17.46
  • RLI Corp: $20.36
  • RLI Corp: $339.41

Image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.

This site has a disclaimer.