Saturday, April 7, 2012

Observations... Insights... and just a few other thoughts...

A Trip to the Bank
Today was a wonderful day to take my children down to the bank for a financial lesson.  My wife went to great lengths this morning to explain to our eldest daughter that it is important to save money... that she should save a portion of gumball, birthday, etc. monies.

So we deposited money.  I introduced our children to the branch manager... and the fun began.  We asked what the bank was paying in interest.  The banker hesitated and said .01%.  So my oldest daughter would understand, I asked the bank how much interest $1,000.00 would earn over the course of a year.  "That would be $1.00 sir." Hallie and I agreed that we could do better than that on our own... 

Once we left the bank, Hallie wanted to know how we could make her money work harder for her... and I re-iterated the importance of investing in herself, a product, a service, and the market.  Her choice was to start a dividend re-investment plan with Dominion Natural Resources.  Currently, the company pays approximately 4% dividend, offer capital appreciation in stock price, and in my humble opinion offers a way to leverage the booming dry gas industry currently capping out at 2.0 per mcf.  This gas price will undoubtedly mean that dry gas will be a fuel source for years to come.  So she will now participate in an auto deduct program.

Utilities are boring, but the risk is relatively low, and it seems like a good avenue to invest.

The Value of a Family
The longer I live, the more I realize the importance of family.  Looking at my students every day, I have concluded that kids need three things.  Kids need love, morals, and a chance at a decent education.  If a kid has those three things they will probably turn out o.k..  The higher functioning student will tend of have a higher concentration of all three, and the lower functioning student will tend to have less.  

As a kid, it is easy to take family for granted.  More than likely kids don't know anything different than what they have been taught... and what they currently live.  My father who worked as a labor and delivery nurse always struggled when she took a baby and gave it back to a parent who would not provide a child with the essentials.  That, failure to provide a child with the essentials was a sure-fire way to raise an unwanted child.  

As a teacher, you can always tell the kids who enter the classroom from a decent home.  Two parent families... single parent families... kids will usually meet the expectations that are set for them.  And if the bar it set low enough, they will meed that expectation every time.  One thing is for certain, in our society there appears to be more concern over adopting pets and rescuing animals. It is my hope that leadership realizes that our government should not reward adults for the wrong types of anti-family behavior.  Kids need stability, love and attention... not neglect.

It appears that the stage is set for a showdown with Iran.  Consider the following points:
1.  Iran is inching closer to nuclear capabilities.
2.  Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran (nor should the rest of the world.)
3.  Hard-line Islamists currently rule Iran.
4.  While the Arab Spring appears to have brought enlightenment to the Middle East, it appears that Iran is continuing to repress its people... and this internal strife could be a way to get rid of the current government. And it could be the last peaceful way of letting Iran handle their own problems as opposed to heavy foreign involvement.

Israel is preparing for a military strike.  Air bases from inside Uzbekistan have already been secured.  Iraq could be the staging ground for another Iraq-Iran War should the right type of propaganda be promoted.  Syria, and its current leadership could be the wild card here.  If Assad stays in power it may take continue to take center-stage as an opening act.  But, make no doubt about it Iran will a point of conflict sooner than later.