San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Avoid Rocky Mountain National Park If You Love Freedom

I am posting this article to my blog today, rather than yesterday, because I spent yesterday afternoon in Rocky Mountain National Park.  It is the time of year when the aspens are changing color and I thought it would be fun for my wife and I to get out on an overnight to Winter Park.  Rather than taking the normal route over Berthoud pass I decided to mix things up and take her over Trail Ridge road in RMNP.  She had never been on the road before and I wanted her to see some of the incredible scenic vistas, especially of Longs Peak, to be found along the way.  So yesterday morning we threw some things in a bag and headed out to Estes Park, the eastern entrance to RMNP.
We like to get out and hike rather than just drive along the road when we are in scenic areas.  I had done some advanced scouting and discovered that Trail Ridge road runs along an alpine ridge that contains two official twelve thousand foot peaks.  A foot trail, named the Ute trail, runs along the crest of the ridge while the roadway snakes its way along several hundred feet below.  After looking at the topo maps of the area if seemed obvious that starting at the Alpine Visitor Center and accessing the Ute trail would allow us to hike to the top of those two summits.   The plan was set and we were on our way.
We made the easy drive to Estes Park and approached an entrance station to RMNP.  There were five lanes of traffic at the entrance and each of them was open.  Each lane had several cars waiting in line and a seemingly friendly ranger stood in the roadway moving his arms in such a way as to indicate which lane had the shortest wait time.  I followed his motioning and moved to the lane next to where he was standing.  As I approached him I rolled down my window and he immediately accosted me verbally.  He shouted "Slow Down!" even though I was barely doing 5 mph.  He then asked for my season pass.  I informed him that I did not have one and he told me that the lane he was motioning for me to enter was for season pass holders only.  With a disgusted look on his face he told me to get into another lane.  We got into another lane, paid the $20 trespass fee and were on our way.   That was my introduction to the government agents that work at RMNP.  They are just like any other agents of the government of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika in that they are surly, rude and see customers as a hindrance to their personal happiness.  I should have known what I was getting into but I proceeded blithely onward to my doom.
The park was crowded yesterday  but we did not mind.  Going more slowly on the road afforded us more opportunities to look around.  We drove through the lowlands and were soon rising sharply to Trail Ridge.  We breached timberline and were treated to some fantastic vistas of Longs Peak, the Mummy Range, the Never Summer Mountains and other peaks with which I am not familiar.  It was a perfect weather day and we were very much looking forward to our planned hike to the two twelve thousand foot peaks.  We could see the summits as we drove along below them.  Soon we were at the entrance to the Alpine Visitor Center, where would park and pick up the Ute trail back to the summits.
The first thing we noticed about the Alpine Visitor Center was the fact that it was way too small.  We had to circle the small lot twice just to get a parking spot.  Others were doing the same.  Parking was not permitted along the roadway and the lot was far too small to accommodate the demand for parking but the rangers did not seem to care.  After slamming several cups of coffee on the drive up we both needed to use the bathroom.  We found the bathroom on the far end of the parking lot and noticed a long line, stretching well into the parking lot, of folks waiting to relive themselves.  We passed on the opportunity to wait in line and made plans to take a nature break along the trail.  I could not help but think to myself that no profit seeking company would ever treat customers the way we were being treated.  Ease of parking and access to clean bathrooms is a must if one is going to make a profit.  But government does not make a profit and it does not care about the convenience or comfort of its customers.  All it does care about is dispensing propaganda about what a great thing it is and how nothing would exist in its absence.
After finding a place to park we got the packs out of the car and started looking for the junction with the Ute trail.  I could see the trail coming up from below and I could see it rising up the ridge and it appeared as if the junction with the parking lot was behind a large red sign informing us that the area we need to go into was closed.  I wandered over to the sign and had a look about, confirming my belief that it was in fact the trailhead for the Ute trail.  Not being able to access the trail there we hiked up the road a bit and looked for a place to head uphill to intersect the trail.  Unfortunately, every reasonable place where we could have done so had a sign informing us that the area was closed for "Tundra Repair."  I looked around at the many square miles of tundra surrounding us and saw precious little of it in need of repair but who was I to question my government superiors?  We returned to the parking lot.
I noticed that a door to a room just a foot or two behind the "Area Closed" sign was open and there appeared to be several rangers milling about inside the room.  We decided to ask them for advice on how to access the Ute trail.  We took two steps beyond the "Area Closed" sign and I peered into the room where three lady rangers were standing.  One lady ranger saw me and practically screamed, "You are not allowed to be here!"  She quickly barked orders to a junior lady ranger telling her to shut the door post haste.  The junior lady ranger shut the door and stood outside with us.  I told her we were looking for access to the Ute trail and she informed us that the entire trail was closed for tundra repair, never to open again because of all the damage hikers like us had done to a minuscule percentage of the total tundra in Colorado.  I could see there was no point in talking to her as she was only interested in lecturing us about how man is evil and nature is good and government is god.  We walked away, back to our car, in disgust.
We threw our packs back in the car and finished the drive of Trail Ridge road.  It was a beautiful scenic drive and we took some time to savor the area when we finally got outside of the park at Grand Lake.  The moment we crossed the "Park Boundary" sign it felt as if a giant weight had been lifted from our bodies.  Government rules and regulations are powerfully oppressive.  The lack of freedom found within RMNP is oppressive.  That is why I am writing this blog post today.  If you love freedom, avoid RMNP like the plague.  I asked my wife as we left the park to shoot me if I ever say I want to go back again.  She promised to do so.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Governor Hickenlooper's Bike Path Plan

Last week the Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, announced that he wanted to make the Denver Metro area the most bike friendly spot in the world.  He proposed a $100 million dollar project, spread out over four years, to construct hundreds of miles of new bike paths.  The Colorado state budget for the current fiscal year is presently $220 million in the red.  Only a career politician seeking to create a legacy for himself would propose spending $100 million when the state he rules is already $220 million in the hole.  Just where is the money going to come from?  Why do career politicians insist upon spending money they do not have?  How am I supposed to have any respect for a man who is already horribly in debt yet promises to keep spending more money that he does not have on things that are clearly unnecessary?  Why has no one else brought up these questions?   Why does the electorate seem to be quite content when career politicians promise to spend money they don't have, forcing their jurisdictions into deeper and deeper debt?  I wish I had answers to these questions. 
The Denver area is already one of the most bike friendly places in the world.  There are hundreds of miles of bike paths throughout the entire front range, plus many more in the mountains, especially in the resort areas.  I find the Gov's proposal interesting as I am a heavy user of bike paths.  I would guess that I am in the top 1% of cyclists who have ridden the most total miles on the bike paths over the years.  I have been cutting back in recent years because some of my favorite paths have become overrun by Yuppies and government regulations.  One long path in particular, that follows the South Platte river, used to be a great place to ride.  Now it has a sign every mile or so warning me that I need to share the bike path with non-bikers.  I have never understood how it can be that a bike path belongs to walkers and runners.  It is called a "bike path" after all.  The walkers and runners are downright militant about their right to use the bike paths.  I remember, while riding a path in Aurora, two morbidly obese women walking Dachshunds who forced me to come to a complete stop while allowing them to pass before I could continue on my way.  The hate-stares that emanated from them as I waited for them to waddle (the women, not the dogs) by were terrifying.  To make matters worse the path soon came to an abrupt end (I was exploring a new path) and I had to return and repeat the procedure on the way back.  I was happy to get away with my life.
Largely because of the presence of walkers, especially Yuppies with strollers or small children, many of the bike paths now have speed limits and cops with radar guns to enforce those speed limits.  I remember cruising along at 20 mph for miles on the South Platte pathway.  Now the speed limit is 15 mph and I receive hate-stares from little children as well as the cops who are just licking their chops at the possibility of writing a cyclist a ticket for speeding.  Still, there are some bike paths, the more remote ones, where I can go and enjoy a ride without being harassed by the local enforcers of the rules.  My point is, if anyone has an incentive to see more bike paths built along the Front Range, it is me.
The problem, if there is a problem, is that I am not a socialist.  I have no problem free-riding on things that have already been built with stolen taxpayer dollars but I would never support stealing additional money to build more stuff for free-riders like me.  I am therefore strongly opposed to using taxpayer funds to build additional bike paths.  Of course my opposition is irrelevant.  I don't voice my opposition anywhere but this infrequently read blog and I don't vote.  Nobody cares what I think about spending $100 million on new bike paths and that is just fine with me.  But lots of people do care about the Gov's proposal and they wrote letters to the editor of the Denver Post about the topic last week.  Let me share some of them with you today.
Michael Knorr is a committed socialist.  He never met a spending program he did not like.  Wealth transfer programs are his favorite programs and he believes local career politicians need to step up their commitment to socialism.  After the Gov made his comments Michael, or Mikey as I like to call him, wrote a letter to inform all of us that Minneapolis is the real bike friendly capital of the world.  Here, in part, is what Mikey wrote, "Minneapolis has built incredible bike routes.  The city is circumscribed with two-way bike trails and parallel pedestrian paths.  A dedicated bike freeway crosses the entire city, complete with on-off ramps and bike-friendly businesses along the way.  Every river and creek seems to have a well marked bike trail, including the mighty Mississippi."  Mikey wants Denver to spend, spend and spend some more so that it can be the "bike friendliest city in the country."
Terri Binder takes a more common sense approach to the Gov's proposal.  He/she realizes that it is a waste of money to spend $100 million to please and pander to a small percentage of the socialist population of the Denver Metro area.  He/she writes that we need to spend those dollars on road maintenance.  He/she wrote, "In the meantime we need to focus on maintaining what we already have and hopefully increase maintenance, capacity and safety improvements on our highways."  I wonder who the "we" is that Terri writes about.  I am certainly not a part of that "we."  I don't want any money spent on government highways.  I believe all roads and highways should be privately built and maintained.  Nevertheless, in the real world Terri's call makes the most socialistic sense.
The most amusing letter came from a retired US Air Force Major General.  As a career military man Anthony Przybyslawski, I will call him Tony, sees everything through the light of fighting wars against terrorism and expanding the imperial power of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika around the world.  As a Major General he knows how important it is to have a constant stream of canon-fodder enlisting for military service.  Without an ongoing supply of young men and women signing up to be killed fighting foreign wars of imperialistic expansion the SDA military would cease to function.  Tony wrote, "I was pleased to read about the governor's plan to improve biking and walking infrastructure, including for children going to school.  Increasing physical activity can help prevent obesity, which is the leading medical reason why 70 percent of young Coloradans are ineligible for military service."  You read that right.  What an warmonger Tony turns out to be.  How can anyone turn a discussion about bike paths into a military recruitment tool?
I don't know if the money will be appropriated or if the paths will be built.  I don't know, if the paths are built, if they will be free from oppressive regulations and militant Yuppie walkers.  All I do know is that the career politicians who rule over me should not be spending $100 million that they do not have.  That should be the end of the matter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Alleged Separation Of Church And State

How many times have you heard some God-hating pagan declare that the Constitution of the United States mandates a "strict separation between church and state?"  On the other hand, how many times have you heard some air-headed Evangelical declare that the founding fathers were all "Christians who founded a Christian state?"  Both parties are terribly wrong in their assessment of the history of this sad land.  Today I would like to focus upon the separation of church and state error.
Donna Orlandi of Arvada, Colorado, wrote a letter to the editor of the Denver Post last week in which she weighed in with her opinion on the Kim Davis affair.  Allow me to quote Donna in full, "I couldn't agree more with your editorial.  The US Constitution clearly states separation of church and state.  You can believe anything you want, but that belief cannot nullify the Constitution.  If you hold a government position, you are hired to do a job for the government.  You have no business bringing religion into your job.  The Bible ("Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's") and the Constitution both state that church and state shall be separate.  If anyone holding a government position cannot do this, they need to find employment elsewhere, preferably in a religious institution."  Let's consider Donna's ignorant and hateful comments for a while today.
Donna is dead wrong about the Constitution.  Nowhere in the document are the words "separation of church and state" to be found, despite her adamant assertion that the Constitution "clearly states" it.  Bethany Blankley of writes, "Contrary to popular belief, the phrase 'separation of church and state' is not in the U.S. Constitution. In fact, not one of the ninety Founding Fathers stated, argued for or against, or even referred to such a phrase when they debated for months about the specific words to use when writing the First Amendment. Congressional Records from June 7 to September 25, 1789 reveal that none of these men, including Thomas Jefferson, ever used the phrase, 'separation of church and state.' One advocacy group claims, 'courts have said that church-state separation IS found in the U.S. Constitution, and what the Declaration of Independence says or doesn't say is irrelevant to legal discussions because it's not a governance document.'  Two of the three parts of this claim are false. The phrase, 'separation of church and state' is not written in either the First of the Fourteenth Amendment.    Rather, these Amendments explicitly state that the U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from nationalizing any religion, from creating a national church, and from favoring one religion over another.  Two clauses comprise the Religious Clause of the First Amendment:
  • The Establishment Clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . ." and,
  • The Free Exercise Clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…"
The U.S. Supreme Court first cited the phrase, 'wall of separation between church and state,' in 1947 (Everson v. Board of Educ. of Ewing, 330 U.S. 1, 15-16) from a well-known concept expressed by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.  While the Supreme Court did rule that a 'wall of separation between church and state' exists, they did so based upon seven words from one personal letter rather than from the Constitution. As a result, the Supreme Court created an erroneous precedent, ruling that law could be created from a personal letter instead of the Constitution."
I find it amusing that although everyone is happy to use the phrase, nobody ever defines the concept of a wall of separation between church and state.  The phrase is not intuitively obvious.  It is clearly a metaphor.  What does it really mean?  God-haters use it to defend their infantile view that God has no opinion about what the law of the land should be.  They want men to be free to create their own laws.  They want men to be able to call evil good, as they have done in the case of the Supreme Court of Joker's decision to bless homosexual behavior.  Most importantly, they want God to be kept out of the public square.  In doing so they are behaving consistently with their God-hating natures so they should be commended for their consistency.  Their consistency, however, will not keep them out of the Lake of Fire.
Even when Jefferson used the phrase he rather obviously did it simply to support the two clauses of the First Amendment cited above.  Jefferson, along with the great majority of the signers of the Constitution, did not want a state sponsored Church nor did he want to prohibit the practice of various religious groups.  As he once famously said, as long as a religious group did not "pick my pocket or break my leg" they should be "free to believe in 20 gods if they want to."   Most of the founding fathers were Deists and they wanted to keep the government from creating a State Church that would run about persecuting nonbelievers, including themselves.  It was never their intention to declare that no person is permitted to speak in the public square if the message being spoken is motivated by closely held beliefs that can be described as being "religious."
Donna, and all of the others who use the phrase "separation of church and state," do so while suppressing the truth that they have a religion of their own.  If Donna was consistent on this point she would forbid herself to speak in the public square as well.  Donna is adamant that "you have no business bringing religion into your job" but she has a religion that she brings to her job everyday.  It is not a question as to whether or not people will be influenced by their religious beliefs.  The question is really about the content of those religious beliefs.  Donna, and all others like her, worships the State.  She practices the sacrament of voting and she calls for the State to bless her marital unions.  She prays to the State when she writes her Congressmen and she rejoices with great joy when the State creates laws that give her what she wants, especially when what she wants consists of the money of the evil "rich" people who populate the top 49% of the income population.  Make no mistake, Donna is highly religious and her religious views are the source of all of her comments.  Donna wants to keep the Christian Church out of her government god's domain because they are diametrically opposed.  The God of the Bible hates the government of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika and worshipers of the SDA government hate the God of the Bible.  Donna may try and pretend that she is morally neutral, and, sadly, many Evangelicals will grant her that position, but there is no neutrality in the war for the public square.  Everyone either loves God or hates God.  Conversely, everyone either loves the State or hates the State.  There is no middle ground.  As a side note...I don't think it is necessary to point out that there is really no war going on.  The government worshipers have won the war.  They won it long ago.  The SDA is a post-Christian country. 
Donna concludes her diatribe against the God of the Bible by pretending to be a theologian herself.  Like all arm-chair theologians she is utterly clueless as she makes proudly confident pronouncements about what God allegedly believes about her and civil government.  Donna believes that the Bible says that civil government and the Church must be separate.  In support of her position she quotes the oft-abused verse where Jesus informs the disciples that they should "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's."  If she had spent any time examining the context of that passage she would have discovered that Jesus was not discussing the doctrine of the separation of Church and State at all.  Jesus had been asked if it was lawful, according to biblical law, to pay a particular tax to Rome.  Jewish zealots wanted Him to deny the lawfulness of the tax and thereby trap Him in an alleged infraction against Rome.  Once He could be accused of a crime against Rome they could have Him executed, or at least that was their hope.  Jesus miraculously paid the tax (by withdrawing a coin from the mouth of a fish) and then informed His disciples that both civil government and the Church have a right to tax their subjects.  Both institutions have a right to 10% of the income of their members.  What Jesus declared in that one simple sentence was the propriety of civil taxation, the immorality of civil taxation in excess of 10%, the moral necessity of the tithe and the sinfulness of not tithing.  As is always the case, those lessons are lost on Donna and all others who love to quote Jesus in ignorance.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Froma Harrop Is One Of My Favorite Socialists

Froma Harrop is an air-headed socialist female who writes a column for Creators Syndicate which often shows up in my Denver Post.  I have commented on Froma's absurd doctrines before here, here, and here .  Go read those posts if you want a good laugh, or maybe a good cry.  It never ceases to amaze me how someone can be totally ignorant about a topic and still have a nationwide audience when writing about that topic.  I guess it just goes to show that intellectual credibility no longer matters.  All that matters these days is the ability to turn a beautiful, envy-filled, socialistic phrase.  When it comes to that, Froma is a master.
Last week's column was entitled "The Danger of Remote Bosses."  It was not immediately apparent to me what her column was about from the title so I actually read the entire thing.  Here are some of the choicest excerpts from her latest call for government mandated wealth redistribution:
  • "Could there be a reason for the widening pay gap that is not exactly economic?  There could be....Bosses and their investors are grabbing most of the profits.  That is not just because they can but because there is no longer much of a social cost for not sharing.  Technology and globalization have created a thick buffer between the top earners and public opinion."
  • "If the hourly pay of typical Amerikan workers had kept pace with productivity growth since the 1970s, then there would have been no rise in income inequality during that period.  There could be several reasons for this.  One must be employers' becoming ever more remote from their employees (hence the title of the column, ed).  That has turned working people from being their teammates to being mere economic inputs, alongside the cost of energy, raw materials and borrowing."
  • "Wal Mart's decision last year to start raising its infamously low wages came out of world headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.  Wolfe Research had downgraded Walmart stock because the chain's overworked staff was unable to keep the shelves stocked.  The stores were looking shabby because of Walmart's relentless focus on costs.  So the pay raise-- still well below the $15/hour level being legislated in some states and cities -- was not motivated to win the affections of the 500,000 workers."
  • "We can accuse these employers of greed until we are blue in the face but shaming is a dull weapon against weakened social restraints.  The very rich are more and more separated from everyone else.  In their circles, net wealth is often regarded as the supreme mark of personal excellence.  The workers, as the conservative movement tells them, should be grateful they even have a job."
There are so many juicy tidbits of economic ignorance in the above bullet points I believe I will take each one in order and create a bullet point of my own proving that Froma Harrop really is an economic ignoramus.  Consider the following:
  • Froma laments that "bosses and their investors are grabbing most of the profits."  Quick, contact a career politician and demand a new wealth transfer scam to correct this injustice!  Imagine the audacity of this situation.  The people who create the businesses that are successful and the investors who put up the money for the entrepreneurs to create their successful businesses believe they have a right to most of the profits.  What is wrong with those people?  Don't they understand that it is their moral duty to produce jobs, create income and work hard so as to have a large percentage of their wealth taken from them and given to the people they employ?  Don't they understand that it is their job to work for their employees and not the other way around?  They should never be rewarded for taking risks, putting their own financial well being on the line and, worst of all, giving the consumers exactly what they want for a price they are willing to pay.  Shame on them for greedily believing that what they create belongs to them.  Froma believes that people who make more than her have a moral duty to "share," whatever that means.  She also believes that people who make more than her no longer share like they did in the good old days because "technology and globalization" have somehow conspired to shield them from the social pressures that made them share before.  Froma, do me a favor, will you?  Please look at this post.  I am one of those greedy entrepreneurs who created his own business and employs people for a wage rate they agree to work for and that the market commands.  I am also one of those greedy business owners who believes that the profits generated by my business belong to me, not my employees.  Don't worry Froma.  The feds have already heard your cry.  They take a good chunk of my income away and give it to the people you are weeping for.  They will be alright so relax and go give some of your money away to your local Wal-Mart employees, won't you?
  • I don't know what universe Froma lived in in the past but the employees of a company have never been "teammates" with the owners and entrepreneurs who started and ran the company.  Maybe she is thinking of the good old days when the laws of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika gave unions the power to force employers to pay above market wages.  I am sure the union bosses told their members that they were teammates.  What I find strange is that those teammates are not being held responsible for what they did to their companies.  Anyone who believes that employees are teammates should pay a visit to Detroit.  There you will witness firsthand the end result of believing that employees are more than another cost of doing business.  There you will discover precisely what happens when employers are forced to pay more than the market wage for labor.  When the employees become the reason for the business to exist the business does not have long to live.  I wonder how all of those employee-teammates,  now unemployed, feel today?  Do you think they have figured out that it is the consumer that must be served if profits are to be realized?  I rather doubt it.
  • Being a socialist Froma cannot resist the urge to take a shot at the profit-seeking corporation Wal-Mart.  I don't know if what she says about Wal-Mart raising its hourly wage in order to improve conditions in its stores is true or not.  I will assume that it is.  And if it is true it is a very good example of the free market doing what it does best.  When Wal-Mart realized that it was not serving its customers to the best of its ability it did what it had to do to fix the situation.  Paying its existing employees a higher wage as an incentive to get them to work harder and improve store conditions is precisely what should have been done.  I will assume that things worked out the way Wal-Mart envisioned.  By that I mean the stores are now fully stocked, clean and well staffed with employees who are willing to serve the consuming public.  Why does Froma insist that Wal-Mart must have some emotional component to its decision?  Why must a profit-seeking corporation feel "affection" for its employees?  I can't recall ever hearing employees commanded to have affection for their employers.  Indeed, just the opposite always seems to be the case.  What happened to "teammates?"  The employees at Wal-Mart are earning more because the market demands they earn more.  Good for them.  Affection, or any other judgement-clouding emotion, should have nothing to do with a straight business decision.
  • If employers are greedy because they want to keep what is theirs, what does that make employees who want to take what is not theirs?  Froma never answers that question.  My mom taught me that it was not an act of greediness for wanting to keep what was mine.  She also taught me that greedy people try to take what belongs to others.  I think mom was right and Froma is wrong.  Froma speaks confidently of what things are like in the "circles" of the "wealthy."  I wonder how she knows?  Is she one of them, hiding among us and writing nasty things about them because of something they did to her years ago?  The handful of wealthy people I know are not separated from anyone and they believe that they have made their wealth because they have served consumers better than others.  What is wrong with that Froma?  No wealthy person I know has every told another human being that he should be grateful for having a job.  They are too busy creating jobs to do that.  What has Froma done for job creation?  Not much I would suspect.  What Froma does do is tell us how evil rich people are and then call them names because she believes they do not live among the rest of us as she believes they should.  Why, Froma, do you want people you despise so much to be your neighbors?
After reading Froma's column one more time I still have no idea what she is writing about.  I don't understand how technology has created separation between rich people and the rest of us and I certainly don't understand why, if that is true, it is such a horrible state of affairs.  Shouldn't people be free to do what they want, associate with whomever they want and be free to be left alone?  Apparently Froma does not think so.  She believes people should be forced to associate with each other, even if they hate each other.  That sounds like another brilliant idea from the pen of Froma Harrop.

What Is A Safe Withdrawal Rate?

Financial advisers fall into one of two classes:  idiots or lemmings.  The idiot class of financial adviser consists of those fools who believe it is possible to predict the future and thereby believe they can predict what the stock market is going to do tomorrow.  They will make moves in and out of the market, costing their clients significant amounts of money, all in the name of "asset management."  Many of them will throw some options or leverage into their trading scams which causes clients to lose even more money.  For the privilege of garnering inferior returns for their clients these folks have the audacity to charge 1-2 percent of the value of their portfolio per year for their management services. I have written about the lunacy of attempting to predict the future direction of the stock market before so today I want to tell you about the lemming class of financial adviser.
Lemmings follow each other off the edge of a cliff. The key to being a good lemming is to never do anything different from the other lemmings.  Financial advisers of this class earn their reputations because they follow all of the official rules for financial advising, no matter how stupid they might be.  For example, lemming class financial advisers always advise their clients to have a six month's income "emergency reserve fund," whether it makes sense for that particular individual or not.  Lemming financial advisers also always recommend a portfolio that consists of a mix of stocks and bonds based upon their client's age.  If a person is 50 years of age the lemming adviser will recommend 50% stock and 50% bonds in that person's portfolio.  More important than anything, including decent returns on investment, is the ability to claim that under the advice of the lemming adviser a client did not experience as much of a loss in a market downturn as the market itself experienced.
There is a magazine and a website dedicated to financial advisers.  In fact, there are many such websites but one caught my eye last week.  The content found on this website is a perfect example of lemming adviser counsel.  Go here for the article that I quote from below.  The most important question for anyone approaching retirement is how much money do I need to provide the monthly income stream I desire in my retirement years?  Two factors come into consideration to answer that question.  What should the gross value of my portfolio be and what rate of withdrawal may I take funds from it?  The second question has generally been answered by lemming advisers as 4-5% of the value of the portfolio annually as the maximum safe rate of withdrawal.  In other words, if you have a one million dollar portfolio the maximum safe withdrawal rate is $40,000- $50,000/year.   "Safe" is defined as the ability to make the anticipated withdrawals and not experience any loss of principle in the portfolio value, generally after also adjusting for inflation, over the length of your retirement period.  Here is the current lemming adviser opinion on the maximum safe rate of withdrawal:
"Concern about outliving one’s wealth is a major fear in the minds of Americans over 50 years old. Most retirees cannot re-enter the labor force under the same terms that they exited it, so their assets must constitute their lifetime income stream. And if they suffer poor returns early in their retirement, it means that their sustainable withdrawal rate will likely be sharply lower. Their standard of living will be more vulnerable to market volatility, and extra caution is warranted.  New research shows that Americans retiring in 2015 need to be far more conservative in their withdrawal rates during retirement. The historic 4% annual withdrawal rate is over two times the level that Americans can safely withdraw without expecting to outlive their assets. The real safe withdrawal rate, accounting for fees and today’s stock and bond market levels, is under 2% per year."
So there you have it.  The maximum safe withdrawal percentage is now declared to be 2%.  That opinion is based upon the belief that today's "stock market level" is too high, whatever that means.  At that rate of withdrawal nobody will ever lose money over the long term and lemming financial advisers will be able to inform prospective new clients that no one under his counsel has ever lost money.  Sadly, it will also be the case that no one under his counsel will ever make money either.  And most folks will never be able to retire as well.
The time period which most advisers use to calculate the ideal withdrawal rate is 30 years.  In other words, if you retire at 60 most advisers will assume you will live to 90 years of age and base their recommended rate of withdrawal upon that age.  I find that to be a reasonable assumption and will use it myself in this blog post.  In fact, it is almost 30 years to the day since I made my first stock mutual fund investment.  I can speak from experience when I talk about long term rates of return and reasonable rates of withdrawal during retirement.  In fact, let me tell you about my experience in the stock market today.
I do not follow the lemming financial adviser plan.  By that I mean I never hold any money in bonds.  I have remained fully invested in stocks and stock mutual funds my entire investing career.  I will never move out of the stock market, even if it drops 57% as it did in 2008-2009, and I will stay fully invested in stock funds throughout my future retirement as well.  So how have I done the past 30 years?  Let me tell you.
My investing career can be nicely divided into three periods.  The early 1980s through about 1990 saw me realize an average annual rate of return around 12%/year.  The 1990s through March of 2000 saw me realize right around 20%/year in my portfolio.  From 2000 to the present I have averaged 7%/year.  My average annual rate of total return for the entire 30 year period is 13%.
Now let me ask you a simple question.  If I had a million dollars 30 years ago and I decided to retire on that date, how much money could I have safely  withdrawn from my portfolio the last 30 years?  Since 1985 inflation has averaged right at 3%/year.  If I received 13%/year and inflation robbed me of 3% that means I realized a real average annual rate of return of 10%/year.  That is true despite the fact I went through a 20.5% drop in value in one day in October of 1987.  That is true despite the fact that I went through a 49% drop in value during the bear market of 2000-2002. That is true despite the fact that I went through a 57% drop during the Great Recession.  So why, in light of historic reality, would financial advisers recommend a 4% rate of withdrawal as the maximum safe rate?  Clearly I could have withdrawn 10% of the value of my portfolio annually and I would still have a real million dollars (plus a 3% nominal annual increase to adjust for inflation) in my portfolio today.  Why, I ask you, would lemming financial advisers tell us now that 2% is the only real safe withdrawal rate?
The answer to that question is advisers, either of the lemming or the idiot type, ever recommend that their clients remain 100% in stock funds 100% of the time.  The reason they fail to make that recommendation is fear of down markets and that fear is downright stupid.  Time is the great equalizer in the stock market.  If you stay in it, you will do well.  If you jump in and out of it, you will do poorly.  If you never get in it at all, you will draw 2% from your retirement portfolio when  you retire.  Financial advisers who have a brain, like Warren Buffet and Jack Bogel, have taught me what I have written here.  They are not afraid of the stock market because they are neither idiots nor lemmings.  They control their emotions and invest when others are afraid.  By following their advice I can conclude that 8% is the maximum safe withdrawal rate for a retiree.  That is two to four times more than the idiots and the lemmings.  There is a price to be paid for being an idiot or a lemming.