ALEXANDRIA, VA (Dec. 1, 1997) --
Commerce, which has enriched the citizens of England,
has helped make them free, and this freedom has in turn
extended commerce; hence the greatness of the state.
I've always liked Voltaire, and his endearing ironic wit. Here was a fellow who, as a friend at court to Frederick the Great of Prussia, distinguished himself through his frequent correcting of the monarch's attempts at French poetry. Foolish, no? That's "telling the King the truth"! Although the only full work of Voltaire's that I have so far read was Candide, I've appreciated many other snatches of the fellow's stuff that I've encountered. The guy is eminently quotable. "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," has always been my favorite. How Foolish, and how really American, in fact.
One of the best features of our new Web message boards is that you can click on any poster's name and read more about him or her: favorite stocks, favorite book and sport and music, quotations, etc. (If you haven't already been to the boards and created your profile, do so!) Today's quotation came to me direct from the Foolish profile of a fellow named Eric Hines, and I'm quite grateful for it. Although it was written more than 200 years ago, you can recognize within it the essential dynamic that has been in place in the United States and many of the world's other great countries for most of the past two centuries. When you look at a graph of the U.S. stock market over the past 70 years, it's no surprise which direction it goes, is it?
Consider further that the most populous nation in the world, China, remains today anything but free. And the present Asian financial crisis has come about for similar reasons -- in this case, a lack of faith in free markets. You can therefore see once again why the U.S. (and many European) markets have been dependable long-term performers.
Indeed, here we were once again today, up another two percentage points.
It's been a fine one-year run.
It's been a great 3-year run.
Yep, it's been a superb 15-year run.
Heck, it's been a fantastic 30-year run.
Son of a gun, it's been a stupendous 60-year run.
In fact, ever since the Dow Jones industrial average was created at the end of last century, it's been a copacetic 100-year run.
Tom and I spent this weekend guest-hosting a top national radio show about money, and we spoke to many of you, and heard from many, many more via e-mail. (Thanks so much for writing!) Taking calls for three hours on back-to-back days, what I learned best of all is that the average person is still not taking a sufficiently long-term view of investing. Many people were asking what we think will happen to their favorite stock this month, or what 1998's hot industry will be, or whether mutual funds are in for a bear market through 1999.
While we may have opinions on each of these, and they're perfectly good questions for a radio show, they do miss the point somewhat. Commerce begets freedom which protects the growth of more commerce which demands more freedom which produces even more commerce. Voltaire foresaw this. And the widespread lack of freedom that still exists throughout the world today keeps me very bullish on our stock market's future. Long-term investing will continue to be so successful that it's really not worth considering anything else.
Even if the Fool Portfolio was outperformed today!
Yes, the Fool rose 1.52%, lagging the S&P 500's 2.03% (man, it's been strong lately) and the Nasdaq's gain of 1.88%. There was no meaningful news on our companies, which is why I wanted to take the opportunity tonight to reflect, rather than report.
I wish to close today by thanking the many people who've already contributed to our Fool Charity Fund. The amount given per person so far is astounding. What we want to see over the next two weeks is much broader participation across all Fooldom. As we espouse, it is not so much HOW MUCH you give -- it is THAT you give. Even if you just click the link above and commit to a single dollar (you can donate online safely and securely with a few clicks -- how easy is that?), that is a valued contribution. If we could get everyone who comes to Fooldom this month to give even just one dollar, our charitable efforts in partnership with Share Our Strength (SOS) will be off to a fantastic start.
And if you can encourage your offline friends to contribute as well, together we shall change the world even more dramatically.
Ahead of many charitable organizations in this respect, SOS and the Fool Charity Fund will be reporting directly back via our Website about the partnership's efforts and accomplishments. Which means that this is a "living" gift whose fruits you will be able to watch over time, and contribute to in the form of your ideas, time, and additional monies, if so motivated. As we embark upon December, at whose end our charity drive ends, I ask you to catch the fever and give. It is as a fellow Fool named Koiboy writes in our Ring of Honor, "Every Fool should contribute something. Have you?"
And as a fellow Fool named Francois Marie Arouet suggested a few hundred years ago (his pen name was Voltaire), in creating freedom from hunger for others, we shall even again increase commerce.
OK, I'll be back with a closer look at Iomega on Wednesday.
-- David Gardner, December 1, 1997
Today's FoolWatch: all the latest in Fooldom.
Day Month Year History FOOL +1.52% 1.52% 25.97% 236.18% S&P: +2.03% 2.03% 31.59% 112.65% NASDAQ: +1.88% 1.88% 26.31% 126.43% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 5/17/95 980 Iomega Cor 2.52 32.88 1204.56% 8/5/94 355 AmOnline 7.27 77.00 958.73% 10/1/96 42 LucentTech 47.62 82.63 73.52% 8/11/95 125 Chevron 50.28 79.63 58.35% 8/12/96 110 Minn M&M 65.68 98.63 50.17% 8/12/96 130 AT&T 39.58 56.69 43.23% 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 38.22 51.13 33.76% 8/12/96 280 Gen'l Moto 51.97 61.75 18.81% 4/30/97 -1170 *Trump* 8.47 8.56 -1.11% 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 44.71 39.56 -11.52% 6/26/97 325 Innovex 27.71 23.50 -15.19% 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 46.86 38.31 -18.24% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 5/17/95 980 Iomega Cor 2509.60 32217.50 $29707.90 8/5/94 355 AmOnline 2581.87 27335.00 $24753.13 9/9/97 290 Amazon.com 11084.24 14826.25 $3742.01 8/11/95 125 Chevron 6285.61 9953.13 $3667.52 8/12/96 110 Minn M&M 7224.44 10848.75 $3624.31 8/12/96 280 Gen'l Moto 14552.49 17290.00 $2737.51 8/12/96 130 AT&T 5145.11 7369.38 $2224.27 10/1/96 42 LucentTech 1999.88 3470.25 $1470.37 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* -9908.50 -10018.13 -$109.63 8/24/95 130 KLA-Tencor 5812.49 5143.13 -$669.37 6/26/97 325 Innovex 9005.62 7637.50 -$1368.12 8/13/96 250 3Com Corp. 11714.99 9578.13 -$2136.87 CASH $32438.81 TOTAL $168089.69