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A Lover's Quarrel with the World
Learning Together, in Fooldom
By David Gardner (MotleyFool)
ALEXANDRIA, VA (July 15, 1999) -- Do you know what line adorns the American poet Robert Frost's gravestone? I think we should all know it. In fact, I think we should live it.
"I had a lover's quarrel with the world," it reads.
Now, I'm no great student of 20th century poetry (feeling mostly as Frost did that poetry without rhyme is like tennis without a net), but that has to be one of the lovelier things penned by our poets.
It is out of this dissatisfaction that many a great enterprise has been started, whether you're surveying world history or just writing a $15 check to Share Our Strength.
The Motley Fool has grown out of this very sentiment; it shares and (I hope) exudes this sentiment every day. This is not sentimental, though. This is about being dissatisfied -- looking at the financial services world in its present incarnation and saying, "No. That's not good enough."
We continue to say that today. So many things still need to change to make the world of financial services serve YOU more effectively than it serves itself. That's where The Motley Fool steps in, relentlessly searching for better solutions for you, our fellow Fools. Heck, for ourselves, as well. We're all private investors hoping that company managers will be open with us, the general public. We're followers of the market who want to see prices in decimals, not fractions. We're all equally concerned with the wastefulness and frivolity of law firms that target any company whose stock price has been halved for a shareholder class-action lawsuit.
We're people who live in a society that too often abuses the least knowledgeable through the vehicle of state government (shockingly enough), fielding state lotteries that spout "You Could Be Next" or "You Have to Play to Win" in low-income areas. (Playing the lottery every day with the few bucks you have left over is one of the most statistically dependable ways to remain in poverty -- still haven't seen any ads from our benign state government with this truism.) Indeed, we also quarrel over these same state governments failing markedly to educate their students about finance, leading to a world of adults that feel disconnected from their money and wind up giving it over to a broker to manage -- someone paid based on how often he transacts the accounts he manages, not on how well they do.
We quarrel. We quarrel with the world, and we know you do too because we see it out on our message boards every day and hear your voices on The Motley Fool Radio Show each weekend.
And yet, we do so in Frost's terms, as "lovers." We regard life as supremely good, creation as we know it to be worthy. Ours is not cynicism. Ours is an essential call to action, a belief that not only can the world be improved dramatically, but that the best way to do so is to put aside what we're doing and start to change it right now, right here, ourselves. Love is not sedentary. Love is work. A loving quarrel is a tireless and benevolent effort.
So what's this Gardner guy going on about, tonight? You tapped into this space expecting maybe to find out why Amgen rose closer to its new all-time high, or why @Home and AOL continue to get whacked, or what Iomega's earnings (or lack thereof) were, announced after bell. (In its review, the company predicted net profit margins of mid-single digits for the second half of this year, a "return to sustainable profitability.")
I'm writing tonight about lovers' quarrels because we unveiled our mission statement for our message boards today. It's a simple statement of what we're all trying to achieve via our open discussion, readable in two minutes or less. It is right here, and if you are someone who reads or posts to our message boards at http://boards.fool.com, I hope you'll take those two minutes and read it. If you don't have time to, you'll see it later, as "Fool Mission: 'Learning Together'" now sits unobtrusively above every message board posting.
Our message boards receive literally thousands of postings every day, offering a melange of information, opinion, and advice. This runs the gamut from how to buy or maintain a car, to the future of broadband Internet access, to small-cap stock investing, to free computer help. Our message boards are frequently home to vigorous debate, particularly those dedicated to thousands of stocks A-Z. I believe every shareholder in America should have The Motley Fool message boards for his or her particular stocks listed as favorite message boards, following and learning along via My Fool.
Within this vigorous debate, any inveterate user of our message boards can quickly tell whether criticisms being made of a company or individual are lovers' quarrels or not. I deeply value criticism on our message boards, and that includes criticism of things I hold dear (as well as praise). But we feel very strongly that the mission statement of our message boards, "Learning Together," involves well-meaning critical thinking, even when that critical thinking is directed at something you or I really do not like. The lover's quarrel here is virtually synonymous with "constructive criticism," as opposed to invective, malevolent statements, or personal attack. The Motley Fool message boards will succeed to the point that our quarrels are lovers' quarrels.
It's true of our editorial, too. Even though we're short Trump stock, I hope we're giving the company credit where it's due. Faulty creatures that we are, we no doubt fail to live up to our ideals from time to time. But by stating them in our mission statement, I hope you'll keep us on track, as we shall do for you.
Our portfolio rose slightly today, undershooting the market's gains of three-quarters of a percent.
If you didn't take a moment earlier to click on the hyperlink that shows Frost's gravestone, do gander, right here. It's a wonderful image to leave you with tonight.
See you out on the boards.
-- David Gardner, July 15, 1999
Day Month Year History Annualized R-BREAKER +0.14% 5.41% 35.61% 1261.11 69.61% S&P: +0.82% 2.68% 15.25% 221.77% 26.68% NASDAQ: +0.76% 5.71% 29.49% 294.26% 32.00% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 8/5/94 2200 AmOnline 0.91 120.94 13206.65% 9/9/97 1320 Amazon.com 6.58 139.56 2021.25% 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 1.28 4.69 266.09% 12/16/98 580 Amgen 42.88 78.88 83.97% 12/4/98 900 Excite@Hom 28.04 47.56 69.62% 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* 8.47 5.31 37.27% 2/23/99 300 Caterpilla 46.96 59.50 26.69% 2/26/99 300 eBay 100.53 127.00 26.33% 2/20/98 260 DuPont 58.84 73.31 24.59% 2/23/99 180 Chevron 79.17 96.94 22.44% 2/23/99 290 Goodyear T 48.72 59.13 21.37% 7/2/98 470 Starbucks 27.95 25.84 -7.55% 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 25.67 16.63 -35.23% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 8/5/94 2200 AmOnline 1999.47 266062.50 $264063.03 9/9/97 1320 Amazon.com 8684.60 184222.50 $175537.90 12/16/98 580 Amgen 24867.50 45747.50 $20880.00 12/4/98 900 Excite@Hom 25236.13 42806.25 $17570.12 2/26/99 300 eBay 30158.00 38100.00 $7942.00 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 2509.60 9187.50 $6677.90 2/20/98 260 DuPont 15299.43 19061.25 $3761.82 2/23/99 300 Caterpilla 14089.25 17850.00 $3760.75 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* -9908.50 -6215.63 $3692.88 2/23/99 180 Chevron 14250.50 17448.75 $3198.25 2/23/99 290 Goodyear T 14127.38 17146.25 $3018.88 7/2/98 470 Starbucks 13138.63 12146.56 -$992.06 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 10908.63 7065.63 -$3843.00 CASH $9924.87 TOTAL $680553.93Note: The Rule Breaker Portfolio was launched on August 5, 1994, with $50,000. Additional cash is never added, all transactions are shared and explained publicly before being made, and returns are compared daily to the S&P 500 (including dividends in the yearly, historic and annualized returns). For a history of all transactions, please click here.
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