That the market rose this week didn’t surprise me. But, with the Bergman Buy Index up over 65% last week since we started in February, I sold off many positions because, well, it was up 65%. We are starting with a new hypothetical 100k and keeping the 61k in cash to buy hypothetical PPE for the new, albeit hypothetical, nation.
“June gloom” is indeed coming. If not in June, then in July or August, or September. But it will come long before a vaccine, the only development that would justify continuing this rally.
I picked a couple of gold plays last week, and I’m going to stick with them. I have added some equities in the index to replace those sold. (Charts and stocks below.)
Bergman Buy Index 1: Started Feb. 28 with $100k hypothetical capital
Ending Capital: $165,875.105
$100k back in Bergman Buy Index 2; $65.9k held in CASH.
Bergman Buy Index 2: 33 stocks as of June 2 (some from old index remain.)
Two-week performance: 4.77% increase. Restarting hypothetical capital of $100k.
The Bergman Buy Index is “independent,” and lacks outside influence. Just like the way the end of this paragraph lacks a smooth segue. To wit, speaking of “independence”….
Last week, I argued, in part, that the United States of America should have been reconstituted as a new Republic after the Civil War with the introduction of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution. A change in the legal name of the United States would surpass symbolic change; it would be the change of a "real" kind.
But now I do not think that's the way to go. Instead, it may be time for a new nation, with “liberty and justice for all—who wear a mask.”
Celebrate Good Times. Come On, That’s All it Need Be.
First, I typically celebrate July 4 the same way I do any holiday: I eat whatever it is that people eat (hot dogs, mostly), and I drink whatever it is people drink (beer, mostly). Hot dog stocks to buy are Nathan’s (Nasdaq: NATH) and Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN). The former has remained remarkably stable this year considering, while Tyson Foods, for all its trouble, has now traded sideways for months at around $60 per share, down from around $80 before the selloff. The company will see a drop in revenue this year due to plant closings, but as restaurants do pick up, so will this stock. The food industry is safe long term, and Tyson is a safe player within it.
Now, back to the Fourth. As I said, I just eat crap and drink. I do not, admittedly, recite “The Declaration of Independence,” nor do I reread David McCullough’s epic 1776 and revel at the courage of the upstart colonists who dared to challenge the mighty British Empire. Just as when I celebrate Cinco De Mayo, I do not delve deeply into the history of the Battle of Puebla and the Mexican victory over the French. (Sorry, cultural appropriation police, I just eat tacos and drink margaritas.)
Reducing a whole culture to a few food and drink items? Maybe. But how exactly am I supposed to celebrate these holidays if I am to celebrate them at all? Should I don a 19th-century Mexican military uniform, head to the French Embassy, and bayonet a diplomat? What about the Fourth? Should I put on a tricorn hat, grab a musket, and head to rural Pennsylvania to die of smallpox? Yes, smallpox. You see, anti-vaxxers, people used to die of smallpox before a vaccine was developed.
But this year, as I lock myself inside—and I hope my fellow Americans do, too—I just might use the time to reflect a little bit on what “independence” means today, and just what it is we are supposed to be celebrating.
Imagined Realities With Unimaginable Problems
In truth, we are celebrating nothing real whatsoever. Nation-states are nothing more than some legal entity bound by some documents created by lawyers (the good kind way back when). They are imagined realities that serve as a framework for the cooperation of millions of people. Sometimes a nation-state is additionally bound by the mostly homogenous ethnic or cultural heritage of its people, which is most evident in island nations like Japan, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to be bound by anything other than hastily drawn borders (think of the Middle Eastern countries being drawn up by empires in the early 20th century and the predictable conflict that ensued).
Remember when those cunning but unwise Neocons proclaimed that the Iraqi people will “treat us as liberators?” Well, which Iraqi people exactly? The Kurds? Yes. Some Shiites? Maybe. The Sunnis, whose grip on power was just violently stripped away? Probably not.
The U.S. thinks of itself as unique in that it is a nation founded on the ideal of freedom. Of course, that “freedom” didn’t trickle down to the slaves, for whom the new nation's subsequently ratified Constitution might as well have been the Magna Carta. Progress towards that ideal has been slow, and sometimes, we have even reversed course.
But we are still one republic, like it nor not, bound by the reality of the Rule of Law, however unreal it might be.
But should we be? Are we a “people,” as the colonists insisted in the first line of the greatest essay ever written?
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
Well, we were not one people then (again, slaves), nor are we one people now. And I am not talking about race. I am not talking (directly) about political parties. And I am not advocating for any of the multitude of state-focused successionist causes, which are more popular than you might think in places like Texas, Alaska, Vermont, Hawaii (native Hawaiians), and California.
Instead, I am talking about the 50% of people in this country who say that, even if offered, they will not volunteer for a proven vaccine against a virus that has killed over half a million people during the largest social distancing effort in history. With most of the political tribalism in this country reflected by geography, the anti-vaccine propagators span political and regional boundaries. They may wave different flags. They may shout different slogans. They may hold different values. They may have different views on the economy and political organization. But the one thing they do have in common is that they do not wear a mask. That is the common thread that binds them, whether they like it or not, together. And it says more about them as people than anything else.
The “Unmasked” are indeed a distinct people, just as we, the “Masked” are a distinct people in our own right.
Therefore, on this Independence Day, we must “dissolve the political bands which have connected them [us] together.”
One Nation, Divisible
I call today for the creation of a new nation: The Multistate Association of Sane Kinfolk (M.A.S.K.).
And so, it is with “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” that we, the Masked, should, “declare the causes which impel them [us] to the separation.”
Now let us articulate the many “injuries and usurpations” of the Unmasked, for it is high time that we “let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
Because this is a financial column, I will use bullet points:
· They refused to Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. (Haircuts do not count as a public good, however terrible your hairstyle may be.)
· They have led and continue to lead the charge in the denigration of expertise in science, medicine, and other disciplines.
· They have put our children in danger, susceptible to once eradicated diseases like the measles. This happened in Marin County, California, of all places; so-called progressives are some of the biggest supporters of the anti-vaccination movement. (This is what happens when you get your medical science from Playboy Playmates rather than physicians.)
· They have repeatedly forwarded “articles” on Facebook which claim that The Gates Foundation, long involved in the effort to eradicate polio in India, “tested an oral polio vax in India between 2000 & 2017 and paralyzed 496,000 children.” (The WHO says that 17 children were paralyzed due to the vaccine. The agency estimates that 1 in 2.7 million oral doses results in vaccine-associated paralytic polio). “But of course,” the Unmasked may retort, “the WHO is corrupt and is run secretly by Bill and Melinda Gates who, rather than sail around in a yacht forever, have decided to spend their billions giving Indian children polio because that’s what rich people do.”
· The Unmasked (the liberal faction) have been inconsistent with their public health positions, making no mention of the even potential public health fallout from widespread protests.
· They [the Unmasked] are guilty of “depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.” They prefer the media and the comment section on YouTube videos to assume that role instead.
· And finally, the leader of the Unmasked (Sorry, unmasked liberals, Trumpis with you on this nonsense) has “excited domestic insurrections amongst us.”
It is due to the aforementioned grievances above that, “We [the Masked] must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them [the Unmasked], as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends”
And "for the support of this Declaration," I pledge, “My Life, my Bergman Buy Index, and my sacred Honor."
We could go that route, in some form, anyhow. Talk of a civil war is no longer hyperbole.
Or, we could try to find a way to keep the nation together. That is, until we all grow up and end the nation-state as a political entity once and for all. Interconnectedness, not independence, should be the goal of the human experiment.
The Beginning of the End of the End of History?
In the history of humanity, we have gone from hiding in caves from storms to literally making it rain—or trying to, with cloud seeding.
And forget Covid-19, for the better part of human history, a common cold was not an uncommon way to die. We have gone to the moon and back and back again. We have decided that, for the most part, maybe ritualized human sacrifice is a bad idea. But some things have not really changed, just modified.
We went from small tribes fighting with other tribes to nation-states fighting with nation-states to alliances of nation-states fighting with other alliances of nation-states.
Then, after the defeat of communism and fascism in their purest political forms, there was talk of globalization and the “end of the history” in what now seems like a naïve 1990s fairy tale as a nationalist wave rips through the West.
Precipitated by static wages, a rising cost of living, inequality, celebrity-worship, reality TV, police incompetence and violence, increased racial awareness, immigration, terrorism, trade deficits, unequal NATO contributions, loneliness, rising illiberal free-market states like China remaking capitalism and, of course, Covid-19, nation-states are once again the primary political actors.
With supply chains so fragile and interdependent, globalization has shown its weaknesses, giving fodder to ideas like “America first.” Independence, whether for energy sources or mask production, has taken on new urgency in the minds of national leaders and their citizens in every region across the globe.
But this current moment, this rising tide of nationalism, if we take the long view of human history, will pass. It will end either in the fog of nuclear war or in a peaceful return to the path of globalization. A path to bring the world closer together politically, economically, philosophically. Because if, when you close your eyes and think of the world in 1000 years, it is populated by imaginary things called nation-states, you seriously lack imagination.
That reminds me. For the new nation, the Multistate Association of Sane Kinfolk (M.A.S.K.) let us set an example by saying “Hello” to John Lennon, and “Goodbye” to Francis Scott Key.
If we are not quite ready for that, let’s at least stop flying jets over sporting events so as to avoid unnecessary confusion and anger over symbols. Because when Kaepernick is kneeling to the anthem as F-16s scrape the sky above, he is not saying anything about your brother, his service, or the plane he flew that was shot down over Hanoi.
With all that said, have a good and safe and physically distanced Fourth of July. And remember, since it means nothing really, we might as well enjoy it together.
Better to celebrate anything (or nothing) six feet from one another than remain miles apart.
The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the position of CapitalWatch or its journalists. The analyst has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. Information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute financial, legal, or investment advice.