Alternate Investments in Light and in Spite of the Fiscal Cliff

Written by Dominique Feldman on . Posted in Staff Op-Eds

As the New Year looms before us, the entire nation, including those who spend a great deal of their time and money investing in one form of commodity or other, is doing a fair bit of nail biting over the menace of the Fiscal Cliff.  The prospect of those imminent tax increases and spending cuts has many an investor fearful of the possible recession that could result from them, and in response, markets have declined steadily for the last week.  The Dow closed Friday at 12938.11, down 1.21% for the day, even as the President and key members of Congress were working to find a solution to the impending problem.  Of course, the politicians more or less know where their paychecks are coming from for the next two years.  The rest of the country waits on tenterhooks to see if a deal can be struck and what it will be.

No matter what compromise, if any, is reached, some negative economic impact is likely to be felt.  In light of this, many interested persons, from large investors to small ones, are seeking safe alternate investments that are reliable and have durable value, even in uncertain economic times.

These alternate investments may seem only to be accessible and useful to those with a fairly large amount of capital on hand, but this is not the case.  Though some of the higher-end investments of ANY kind can be intimidating, with a little imagination, anyone can take advantage of remarkably durable opportunities.  These types of investments, and the people who take part in them, are good examples of thinking outside the ordinary markets and seeking reliable, strong sources of value in other places.

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'To Kill A Mockingbird' may actually be killed from high school curriculums

Written by Starla M. Brown on . Posted in Staff Op-Eds

According to a recent article in The Telegraph, high school curriculums are dropping classic, fictional books and replacing them with non-fiction to better prepare students for the workplace. (Read More…)


Two such classics reported to be on the cultural chopping block are The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird.  Perhaps I am being a little biased in my objection to this proposed policy, but these happen to be at the top of my reading list.


While I am certain I have never received employment from having read such classic books, and my love of Shakespeare never closed a deal, I do know that fiction sparked my creative mind.  An imagination, and an ability to become the "well-rounded person" is an important factor in preparing you for the workplace.


Having recently taken a barrage of assessment tests, I can assure you I was asked very little that would have been garnered by reading a technical manual.  Oh, I guess you could argue that some jobs need only technical skills.  If you are locked in a basement working alone from home with no human interaction, this just might be the case.  I have never held that particular job, so some skills I learned from reading classic literature have been important to my education.


When you read fiction it requires you to imagine the people and the places described by the author.  Most of us read books, take the black and white print and create from it a mental picture via our imagination.  An entire industry of movies and film is an outpouring of such a visualization when a book comes to life as a movie.  Without imagination I think most great ideas whether in life or business never happen.


And then there are the lessons we learn from books.  I grew up in the South in the 60's and 70's.  It was during my high school years that I read To Kill A Mockingbird.  I learned a great deal about acceptance, tolerance and the moral issues of racial inequality from reading just that one book.  


Many do not know that Harper Lee wrote the book based on an event that happened in 1936 near where she lived as a child.  While the Pulitzer Prize winning book is narrated through the eyes of a child, it is perhaps the father character, Atticus Finch whose well penned morals have been an inspiration to many for years.  I am certain perhaps a person or two may have been rightfully influenced in their beliefs or perhaps chosen the legal profession from this required reading.


While the article reports that a very interesting book on the Recommended Levels of Insulation by the EPA is a possible replacement, I am certain that would have never impacted or changed my life.  And, having read EPA recommendations as part of my career, I can say without hesitation my imagination was never once sparked.


I hope a balance will be found and the great novels are still read for generations, because the lessons learned remain important to us as a people.  Education is not simply about getting a job.

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Conservatives don't want to change their Political Shoes

Written by Starla M. Brown on . Posted in Staff Op-Eds

Often before writing on a subject I open the dictionary (these days the app on my iPhone) and I read the definition of a key word.  Not because I do not know the definition of the word, but because I want to see how a conceptual word or term has been standardized.  Words have a way of meaning different things to different people especially when our emotions and our politics are involved in defining a word.


I looked up conservative today, you know the noun that we use to define ourselves as in I am a Conservative, and here are some of the definitions I found:


1. a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas

2. resistant to change

3. unimaginatively conventional


I must admit at first I felt insulted by being defined this way.  I thought perhaps being conservative was dull and lacked vision.  Then I realized I use this term to define my concept of government and how I expect those in office to govern.  I am not unimaginative and conventional in every aspect of my life, that would be dull.  Reluctant to change, that I will accept because as conservatives we are reluctant to change.


We like things the way they are (were) because conservatives don't see an issue with limited government or a constitution that protects us from a change in how we as a people are governed.  Let me put this in women's terms (don't start the feminist stuff, remember I am resistant to new ideas).  A new style of shoes comes out, and while they look smart and savvy, they are uncomfortable and you can't wear them very long so essentially the new unconventional shoes do not serve the purpose.  Are you going to change?  I guess some will and endure the pain because it looks good, sounds good even though the shoes really do not work or serve their purpose well.


A conservative however, is not going to wear those new style shoes.  We have shoes that fit and work well, so why change styles?  We do acknowledge our friends who are not conservative may indeed find that change and a new style of shoes are perfect for their feet.  They will endure anything to create change, even standing for hours in line at the polls to vote with painful feet.


What we as conservatives need to send is a clear message about just how uncomfortable those new shoes will be on their feet.  Now remember those shoes look savvy and they appear to provide everything you want and need in a shoe.  So choose your message wisely when you try to stop your friends from buying into change.  They see a better choice, and you must be sure to engage them in why you choose not to change.  If your message is unreasonable and filled with insults, then you will probably not be effective.  You will get the boot and they still buy the shoes.


As conservatives we suffered great loss in the 2012 election cycle and how we work and message our politics in the future will need to be evaluated on every level.  I personally will work harder, not fight harder.  This is not a concession, but rather a strategy because I am not changing my principles or beliefs.  I am not changing what I think is best for our country, no not in the least.  I will however acknowledge we may be at a tipping point and the only way to overcome is to reverse the numbers.  How we message and how we learn to integrate those who differ in their beliefs will be a monumental task for conservatives.  It will require new ideas and some (ugh here it comes) change in how we get out the vote if we are to be effective.


Buckle up or lace up your shoes, we have a long walk ahead.

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Bethany's Picks

Written by Bethany Bowra on . Posted in Staff Op-Eds

Publisher's Note:  Bethany Bowra has made her selections in the different races and Amendments in Florida, and this is her list.  We don't necessarily agree or disagree with them, but we are very pleased to see her take the time to put this together.  Great job Bethany.

With the election a little less than two weeks away, here are my endorsements for Florida races and proposed amendments (and the national ticket).
President/Vice-President: Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan

Florida Senate: Connie Mack IV

FL-District 18: Allen West

FL-District 22: Adam Hasner

FL-District 6: Ron DeSantis

Click 'continue reading' for Amendment choices:  

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America, The True Story

Written by Bethany Bowra on . Posted in Staff Op-Eds

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." - John Adams

The true story of the beginning of our American system of government is a phenomenon that it seems people are failing to remember today.  The watered-down version that tells of American farmers and merchants fighting off the British and establishing an independent country does no justice to the real facts of what went on for years while the colonists fought the most powerful military of that time while at the same time toiling over the system of government they would establish in a free America.

The real version needs to be told; preserving the remarkable story and reality that is the United States depends on it.  This election is about the economy-- but the underlying theme beneath this and every other election is which candidate is taking us back to the principles of our incredible beginning.  This isn't to tell you which candidate I feel you should vote for; rather, this is simply a reminder of how amazing our beginning and how extraordinary America truly is. 

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