Dear John: Take this bitcoin of advice By John CrudeleJuly 19, 2014 | 6:39pm JOHN CRUDELE
Dear John: Where can I go to learn about bitcoins? J.A.K.
Dear J.A.K. Even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you. I also wouldn’t tell you how to make bombs because, like bitcoins, you are probably going to hurt yourself.
Bitcoins are a fake currency that is nothing more than a confidence scheme. Their only value is that there are a few layers of gullible people who are willing to accept them as some form of payment.
Eventually this confidence game will end.
Go out and buy Beanie Babies instead. At least you can take them to bed at night.
Dear John: You recently wrote that the “rigged” stock market doesn’t seem to care about fundamentals like earnings and revenues. You gave us “permission to be a co-conspirator in the desecration of the free markets. Buy stocks. But don’t whine to me when it ends badly.”
Yes, to a certain extent the markets are rigged, but what are we to do? Bonds? CDs? This “rigging” reduces our long-term returns, but I don’t see many alternatives.
In my 401(k), I’m buying large-cap value funds. In your estimation, does this count towards buying stocks? In my personal savings, I’ve been adding real estate investment trusts and utility stocks. Does this count toward buying stocks? My portfolio has generally lagged the market over the last few years, but on a day like today when stocks are falling, I’m holding up pretty well.
I don’t want to be a “co-conspirator” (pretty strong word there), but I want better than 1 percent on a CD. At least dividend stocks can provide some income.
PS: If you know of any delicatessens that make old-fashioned potato salad (thin sliced, vinegar and mayonnaise base) let me know. No one makes it this way anymore. J.B.
Dear J.B. I understand your dilemma. Good potato salad is hard to come by.
On the other matter — stocks — all you can do is buy conservative companies, hope you get lucky and take your lumps like a man when the market dips.
Did you hear about the guy who recently raised money through crowdfunding because he wanted to make potato salad? Apparently he got $30,000 and counting. I mention this for two reasons — first, maybe it’s the kind you like, and second, it goes to show you how stupid people have become with their money. Good luck and happy dining.
Dear John: You highlight the low completion rate when Census workers take surveys. I wondered if you would participate in a survey and provide personal information.
I received several calls regarding health issues and I declined, since I am the only member of my household and did not feel the information would be safeguarded and kept confidential. There were several calls because procedures require repeated contact even if the person declines to participate.
With all the data the government receives through W-4s, insurance information and the National Security Administration, methodologies should be developed to extract information and replace surveys. J.D.
Dear J.D. I absolutely would not participate in any government survey. And I wonder why anyone would.
I know the argument that “it’s your duty as a citizen.” But in this day and age, the government has many other ways of obtaining information. Why is it still knocking on doors to get information from people, and even if they answer, they may or may not be truthful.
And as you know from my columns, Census workers who take the surveys were fabricating data. So, there should be no trust that either the giver or taker of information is honest.
Nope, count me out.
Dear John: I enjoy your Answer Man columns, which are always thought-provoking.
However, your answer in the July 6 column on New Jersey speeding tickets is unfortunately incorrect. The surcharge you mention is not given to the town.
The surcharge is the creation of our former great governor, Jim McGreevy. He fashioned it so that not only would the state receive the entire surcharge, but Trenton would avoid any cost in collecting it by imposing that job on the local municipal court.
As a 26-year veteran of the municipal court system, I assure you that the lion’s share of funds collected goes to the state of New Jersey and not the local town. E.B.
Dear E.B. Well, thank you for that clarification.
What the state of NJ does is, essentially, a good old-fashioned shakedown that would make Capone proud. The driver who is caught speeding is given a choice: Either pay the state a surcharge that essentially doubles the fine or your violation will be reported to your insurance company. Then the driver will pay higher rates for years.
Pay up and nobody will be the wiser. So, everyone pays the surcharge.
And the insurance company gets cheated. I’m not a really big fan of insurance companies, but I’m shocked they allow themselves to be cheated in this way.
On the state’s part, I guess it’s the least it can do, considering how many speed traps there are on local roads.
I’m not endorsing speeding or careless, reckless driving. But c’mon, you get blown off the road if you stick to the speed limit.