American Consequences - August 2017

And I could have done it if Mom had at least let me collect my savings-account interest payments. Furthermore, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Warren Buffett don’t seem to care about money as much as I do. Too much trouble counting it, probably. Warren Buffett lives very modestly and has promised to leave all his money to charity. I have more respect and affection for money than that... I care. Would you let somebody who didn’t care about kids take care of your kids? Allow them to jump off roofs, tease vicious dogs, and stick silverware into electric outlets? I rest my case. Fighting the Mutants Thankfully there are a couple of old school holdovers in the Top 12. ExxonMobil is standing by to wash your windshield and check your oil – or these days, to feed you fatty snacks at the gas-station convenience store. XOM’s P/E (see chart) is a non-insane 33.7 and its dividend yield is a fat 3.8%... Not bad for the middle of an oil bust. Oil prices may never again reach a peak like 1979 when the sweater-wearing peanut farmer with the thermostat set to 60 was in the Oval Office. Or a peak like 2008 when China’s tiger and India’s... sacred cow, I guess... were first unleashed. But given what a cost/benefit flop “alternative energy” has been, it will be a long time before Exxon gas

Maybe we were saving for my college education. But I was saving for a Wham-O slingshot.

stations are selling bottled water for more than unleaded premium. Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical, medical-device, and personal-care products company, seems fairly priced (see chart) at a P/E of 22.6 with a 2.5% dividend yield. That’s about where the current Dow Jones averages are – a P/E of 21 and average dividend yield of 2.5%. JNJ makes baby powder, Band-Aids, and Tylenol. People aren’t going to stop having kids. Kids aren’t going to stop having skinned knees. And there are going to be some big headaches if the most bizarre of the Mutants – Amazon, 192 P/E, 0% dividend yield – go the way of Godzilla in Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954). Spoiler alert: Dr. Serizawa’s Oxygen Destroyer. We’d better get Dr. Serizawa back to work. “Mutant Capitalism” is terrifying. But fortunately, what’s immutable is capital itself. Capital is the accumulation of wealth (of any kind, including skill and knowledge) to be used for producing more wealth. We don’t blow all our money, time, and smarts making whoopee. Instead, we deny ourselves a little bit of fun. We set aside (or we should set aside) some cash, some work hours, and some intelligence to

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