One of the basic rules of investing is “fundamentals not feelings.” Yes, every here and there investing in a gut-level “feeling” may make a decent return. But, for the long haul, disciplined investing based upon a sound strategy, sound principles, and buying on the dips is what makes for some very big returns.

But, an interpretive bulletin proposed by the Obama administration's Department of Labor (DOL) would change all of that by outlining new fiduciary rules for brokers. The rules cleverly politicize investment choices by encouraging pension fund managers to weigh environmental, social, and governance factors when selecting investment choices.

Yes, its true. When “all matters are equal,” the new rules would require brokers to weight environmental, social, and governance concerns greater than economic return.

In a Wall Street Journal article, Andy Kessler notes:

Environmental, social, and governance issues may have a direct relationship to the economic value of the plan’s investment. In these instances, such issues are not merely collateral considerations or tie-breakers, but rather are proper components of the fiduciary’s primary analysis of the economic merits of competing investment choices.
Among others, “vice” equities that would be weighted less include oil and tobacco stocks which historically have outperformed the S&P500. Yet, these investments have provided the kinds of yields that have enabled many middle-income, public service wage earners—whose pensions are overseen fund managers—to secure a comfortable retirement for their clients.
But, under the DOL’s proposed fiduciary rules, fund managers can be sued for selecting a “vice” stock—one yielding long-term growth and dividends—and not investing in a “green” stock—remember Solyndra—all other matters being equal.
Those who worship at the altar of environmentalism may rejoice at what they believe to be the DOL’s “enlightened” approach to weighting investment policy. After all, many of them believe the weight of the dangers associated with the legalized smoking of marijuana is zero when compared to the evils of smoking cigarettes or investing in marijuana producers. This despite the fact that those who worship at the altar of environmentalism would have the federal goverment outlaw big tobacco because of its hazards to both the environment and public health.

Furthermore, the folks those who worship at the altar of environmentalism are going to hurt the most aren’t those belonging to the so-called 1%. Nope...not at all. Those who will be most hurt will be the middle-class, public service wage earners. Their pension funds already have an accumulated deficit of $111B in Illinois and $236B in California.

That’s what The Motley Monk calls “enlightened” Democratic Party governance... based entirely upon “feelings not fundamentals.”

Let the discussion begin...

To read the DOL's proposed rules, click on the following link:

To read Andy Kessler's article in the Wall Street Journal, click on the following link:

With deer hunting season upon us, an important question needs to be asked:
If a hunter shoots a buck, but only has a doe tag, can that hunter claim the buck wasn't really a buck?

After all, the buck may have always wanted to be a doe, but with no choice of his own, was born with the physical attributes of a male.  And yet--on the inside--he'd always known he was truly a female.
Will the game warden will buy the hunter's argument?

After all, society and the Supreme Court already have.

Let the discussion begin...

*  "Tip of the Hat" to Q Mama and K Quispe for the heads up!
A Thanksgiving factoid care of The Motley Monk: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in six Americans (~48M) get ill from a foodborne illness annually. Overall, ~128k are hospitalized and ~3k die from the effects of food poisoning, namely, doubled-over cramping, vomiting and. bloody diarrhea.

Much of that illness and death is a result of poor culinary sanitation in home kitchens across the fruited plain on Thanksgiving.

So, The Motley Monk offers some tips for a healthy Thanksgiving this year:
  • never rinse the turkey;
  • do not allow the turkey to thaw out on the countertop;
  • do let the turkey thaw out in the refrigerator over the course of several days;
  • do allow the turkey to chill out in the sink for 1 or 2 hours on Thanksgiving morning.

What’s next?

Being a purist in this regard, The Motley Monk suggests buttering the turkey and rubbing in some spices, like salt, pepper, thyme, sage, and rosemary. Then, stuff the turkey with dressing (or not, as one might prefer).

Then, roast the turkey but never, ever less than 325⁰. The turkey is done when a thermometer—stuck into the thickest part of the breast meat—registers 165⁰. Remove the turkey from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil. The turkey will continue to cook to about 172⁰-175⁰ which is perfect for juicy, moist turkey meat.

Okay, now it’s time to carve the turkey.

The folks over at offer some excellent lessons for practice. "Practice makes perfect" as long as the practice is correct.

Then, some tips following the feast:
  • refrigerate the pumpkin pies; and,
  • refrigerate the leftovers within 2 hours.

Follow these tips and have a very healthy and happy Thanksgiving!
The spiritual works of mercy are charitable actions by which people come to the aid of neighbors in the spiritual need. The spiritual works of mercy seek to alleviate human misery, a sign of human frailty and need for salvation as a consequence of original sin. Everyone is obliged to perform the spiritual works of mercy, according to one's ability and the need of one's neighbor.

Ordinary deeds done every day to relieve the spiritual needs of others are true works of mercy, when done in the name of Christ.

                    adapted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2443-2449)
The fourth spiritual work of mercy is "to comfort the sorrowful." Consider this example: 
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
                                                                                                  (John 1:5)
The following post appeared on The Motley Monk’s Facebook page the other day:
It’s not a new post. In fact, the idea behind it is at least 2 decades old. Namely, it is possible to become a “Master” of Education in just 1 year! Lots of institutions make this promise, not just those with online programs by the way.

Let’s consider this post (and trend) carefully for a moment.

First: What’s a profession? 

A profession isn’t comprised of a single individual or a group of like-minded individuals, each independently identifying what constitutes professional practice. Instead, a profession arises when any trade or occupation—like teaching—is transformed through “the development of formal qualifications based upon education, apprenticeship, and examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies with powers to admit and discipline members, and some degree of monopoly rights” (Bullock & Trombley, 1999: 689).

Armed with that definition, what “profession” advertises that it can churn out “professionals” who are able to empower others within 1 year? Would anyone seek the professional services provided by an MD, lawyer, or engineer whose training consisted of 1 year’s worth of “advanced knowledge, skills, and training”?

Second: What constitutes “professional practice”?

The answer goes back at least 2300 years to Aristotle. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle noted that what today is called a profession’s “practice” (or “knowledge of the practice”) is a mixture of two types of learning: theory (that “advanced knowledge”) and skills (that “training”). In one’s practice, as a professional brings theory and skills to bear, that individual must deliberate about what’s necessary and appropriate given the situation in which one finds oneself with its idiosyncratic circumstances. After all, not all patients, clients, terrain, or students are exactly the same.

To do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, to the right person (or group), and for the right reason is not only difficult, Aristotle noted, but laudable. Why? Mastery of a profession is the result of “advanced knowledge, skills, and training,” yes, but—it must not be overlooked—that have been tested, honed, and refined into expertise over years of practice.

Yes, imagine:
  • an individual with no experience earning a “Masters” degree in Education in 1 year;
  • an individual with 1 semester of student teaching experience earning a “Masters” degree in Education in 1 year;
  • an individual who has taught in real classrooms for 3+ years and earns a “Masters” degree in Education in 1 year.

Which individual would seem most likely to graduate as a "Master of Education" and able to “empower others through teaching”?

That’s a rhetorical question because the answer is obvious. For example, take Detroit or any other of the nation’s urban centers where these “Masters” practice their craft. 90%+ of public school eighth graders are not proficient in math and reading.

Here’s the dirty little secret:
  • Those “advanced” degrees allow colleges and schools of education to make a lot of $$$s by churning out “Masters” of Education as quickly and cheaply as they can.
  • Those “advanced” degrees allow Superintendents to promote the “quality” of the faculty staffing their schools, impressing Board members and parents.
  • Those “advanced” degrees allow faculty members to move up the “steps” to higher salaries, generating interest in such programs for more take-home pay.
  • Those “advanced” degrees cost taxpayer $$$s, increasing the cost of education to taxpayers.

Yet, study after study indicates that students are not learning more and, in some places, are learning less than was the case 50 years ago.

In the end, students aren’t learning and taxpayers are paying more for Master’s degree programs that promise to “empower others through teaching.”

Who’s the fool in this narrative?

Let the discussion begin…

To read about the miserable education young people are receiving in Detroit, click on the following link: 
Perhaps a glimpse into an accident free future...
Only one potential problem: An EMP would render the vehicle--like most of this generation's computerized vehicles--useless.

It may well be that an EMP will ante-date the reality of self-driving vehicles en masse.

Let the discussion begin...
With the Christmas holidays quickly approaching, perhaps it’s time for Catholics to turn the time they will be spending in the marketplace by making the conscious choice to exercise greater stewardship this year by becoming “faith-driven consumers.”

How’s one to do that? Engage in the marketplace by coming together with 41M other Americans who spend $2T+ annually to buy and sell brands that positively impact the nation’s culture by honoring Catholic values.

A “missionary in the marketplace” is a light to the nation by consulting the Faith Equality Index (FEI) which scores 330+ major brands on a 100-point scale and provides the information that’s needed to actuate Catholic values when making decisions about purchases made in the marketplace. FEI is available on the Apple and Android platforms to empower faith-driven consumers to participate in the #ChristmasBUYcott campaign and channel $30B in spending toward the most faith-compatible brands.

Note: A high FEI score isn’t an endorsement of a brand, just an indication of the degree to which the brand adheres to Christian values. FEI’s four categories of criteria specify important values:
  • using the word “Christmas” when advertising;
  • promoting religious liberty;
  • corporate conduct upholds important social issues like life, family, and biblical marriage; and,
  • how brands acknowledge, respect, welcome, and celebrate faith-driven consumers and employees.

When a score reflects greater faith friendliness of one brand over another within the same category, it’s time for Catholics to make an informed decision about how they will spend the hard-earned dollars God has entrusted to them. This is how to be a missionary in the marketplace.

Choices matter and, like all Christians, God calls Catholics to be good stewards of their time, talent, and treasure. FEI provides the opportunity for Catholics to direct their treasure in the marketplace to those brands that support the culture of life.

Which brands rise to the top and which ones have the most work to do to earn business from Catholics? Check out the FEI to discover which brands align most and least with Catholic values. Also discover how each brand stacks up against its competitors in 25 important categories.

When it comes to good stewardship, every choice matters. The Motley Monk recommends using the FEI to make more informed decisions as faith-driven consumers this Christmas season. Also, share it with family and friends!

Let the discussion begin…

To learn more about being a faith-driven consumer and missionary in the marketplace, click on the following link: 
This video offers a wonderful lesson in authentic civic engagement.
Wonderful as this project is--and it is wonderful--how much more powerful would it be if it were a lesson in faith engagement. 

As St. Paul wrote to the Colossians:

That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me. (1:29)
Social work is a wonderful profession within a civil society. Serving others because they are children of God is a wonderful personal vocation within the Kingdom of God.

In many ways, that link--profession and personal vocation--is broken today. All of the talents one possesses have been breathed into people by the Creator for a divine purpose, that is, to build the Kingdom of God.

As Pope Francis tweeted earlier this year:
"A credible witness to truth and to the values of the Gospel is urgently needed."
study of working adults adds to the body of data indicating that, three years into Obamacare, the cost of healthcare is not only rising but also becoming increasingly unaffordable.

To measure healthcare costs, the Commonwealth Fund study utilized a three-option menu:
The study's findings of all privately insured adults:
  • 25% find it difficult or impossible to afford their premium costs;
  • 43% find it difficult or impossible to afford their deductible;
  • 29% were billed by a provider for the difference between what the plan paid and what the provider charged;
  • 40% of adults with high deductibles relative to their incomes delayed or avoided needed healthcare because of the cost of the deductible; and,
  • 37% are unaware their health plans fully cover preventative care services.

More importantly--after all, Obamacare is supposed to provide quality patient healthcare for the poor--are the study's findings concerning low-income, privately insured adults:
  • 53% have healthcare costs that are unaffordable;
  • 34% have the greatest difficulty affording their copays and coinsurance; and,
  • 39% delayed or avoided getting care because of their copays or coinsurance.

The "take away"? Three years into the era of Obamacare, many working-class Americans avoid seeking healthcare when they're sick because their health insurance costs are too high.

Consider what's happening in Springfield, MA:

Unfortunately, too many gullible folks believed the promises touted from the rostrums to pass Obamacare. Today, those folks are having to deal with the reality they helped to create. And this is only the third year!

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for October 2015 confirms that healthcare prices are rising faster than the prices for all other goods and services. Overall CPI increased 0.2% for the month and also 0.2%, year-on-year. But, healthcare prices increased 0.7% for the month and 3.0%, year-on-year. The fastest growing price? Hospitalization at 5.3%.

Let the discussion begin...

To read the Commonwealth Fund study, click on teh following link:

From the beginning, The Motley Monk feared that it was likely only a matter of time before the powers that be at the University of Notre Dame (UND) and the Congregation of the Holy Cross (CSC) aimed the 16-inch Howitzers of intolerance directly at the Reverend Wilson D. Miscamble, CSC.

As The Motley Monk posted on November 10, hope was on the horizon. Fr. Miscamble had actually done something to assist UND students to be able to select courses that would maximize their opportunity to receive an authentic Catholic education at UND.

What was that? Fr. Miscamble spearheaded the effort to create, a website that identifies faculty and describes courses aimed at advancing students in their quest for a distinctively Catholic education at UND.
The Reverend Wilson D. Miscamble, CSC
One week later, all of that hope dissipated very quickly and surreptitiously behind a cone of silence.

According to a post by the Sycamore Trust--a UND alumni/ae group dedicated to making UND a place where young men and women can be inspired through teachers steeped in the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition--Fr. Miscamble can longer be involved with
Nevertheless, two days after the inauguration of the website Father sent us this message: "I regret that I can say only that I am required to end my involvement with the NDCatholic site and am not at liberty to say why."
Reading further along in the post, here's what transpired:
  • The day after the launch of, Father Miscamble advised the Chairman of Sycamore Trust, Bill Dempsey, that he had been directed to disassociate himself from the website.
  • Demsey emailed Miscamble the next day expressing his "surprise and deep disappointment" and concern that this would "reflect adversely on the university" in the absence of a persuasive explanation. Dempsey asked "What reason we should assign?"
  • Miscamble responded: "Dear Bill, I regret that I can say only that I am required to end my involvement with the NDCatholic site and am not at liberty to say why.

Well, it doesn't take a neurosurgeon the likes of Dr. Ben Carson to figure out what transpired within the cone of silence:
  • UND administrators and CSC superiors determined that Fr. Miscamble was engendering dissension within the UND and CSC communities by agitating for a more demostrably Catholic UND.
  • His most recent effort, NDCatholic.comwas the "straw that finally broke the camel's back."

Most likely, here's how those events unfolded within that cone of silence:
  • UND administrators and CSC superiors had meetings to address the trajectory of events, with the outcome being that Fr. Miscamble's superiors issued a "cease and desist" order.
  • The implication was that, if he did not cease and disist, Fr. Miscamble's presence at UND might very well be jeopardized. He could always be transferred to the University of Portlandia, for example.
  • Being a loyal CSC, Fr. Miscamble deferred to his superiors' will.

Not wanting Fr. Miscamble to be a "voice crying out in the desert," what those UND administrators and CSC superiors did was to take a page from the Dominican playbook--remember they ran the Inquisition to rout the heretics--and silenced a loyal CSC priest-professor who cared deeply about the vitality of the Catholic intellectual tradition at UND.

Put less elegantly, UND's administrators and CSC superiors lowered the 16-inch Howitzers of intolerance and aimed directly at Fr. Miscamble, offering him what's otherwise euphemistically called the "deal of a lifetime."

So, what's this mean for UND?

Forget Catholic and even catholic as in "universal." Silencing Fr. Miscamble indicates there is no First Amendment right to free speech or association. It also indicates there is no academic freedom to pursue the truth freely and in an unfettered way...wherever the facts may lead.

At UND, it's pretty clear that diversity and inclusion mean "Just shut up, Father...or else!"

Let the discussion begin...

To read the Sycamore Trust post, click on the following link:

To visit the website, click on the following link: