I Was the One-Percent

By -

Well, my friends, I am chartless tonight. That is to say: the good folks at Ameritrade are doing some kind of scheduled upgrade, and thus all us ProphetCharts users are resigned to a chart-free evening. (Back in the day, when I ran Prophet.net, I did upgrades like this during the middle of the night on Saturday so I didn't impact people as severely…..but I digress).

It's no big deal in any case. My view on the market really hasn't changed at all, so I don't have much new to say (except to thank my lucky stars to have covered my CBOU short last Friday, for no particular reason; when I saw they decided to go private today, shooting the stock up over 30%, I was relieved to have no position at all).

I will, however, share a thought or two about something that's been on my mind. Over the past few days, I've been doing a bit of tax planning, since we're drawing near the end of the calender year. It struck me, quite frankly, what a small income I had this year. Now I am acutely aware of my finances; I have a family to support, and I am very much a self-employed person. But as I added the figures up, it dawned on me what a dramatic diminishment my own take-home income had been experiencing (suffice it to say, the latest proposal on raising taxes for those earning over $400,000/year doesn't have me concerned).

1217-biltmoreI vaguely recalled, during my days as a Senior VP at Investools (owned by Ameritrade) having a few years of being an honest-to-God executive, complete with year-end bonus. I grabbed a few file folders from years passed and looked at the year 2008 and was stunned to look at my old return. I had to ask myself: I made that much?

It struck me as odd. First off, I don't know where all that money managed to go. It's way, way, WAY more than I'm making now, but my lifestyle hasn't changed one iota (nor do I worry these days whether or not I'm going to write a check that's going to bounce). Second, I felt kind of proud for being perceived as worthy enough to be paid that well, but at the same time, I was shaken by the trajectory of my income over the past several years. At this rate, I should start hunting around for a good-looking shopping cart. Extrapolition can be a nasty thought-pattern!

But seriously, I live in a place that is simultaneously surrounded by wealth and hardship. In my social circles, I know people that rent, and I know people that live in twenty-million dollar mansions (the real deal; not McMansions; but the holy-crap-look-at-that-place kind of mansion). I know families in which both spouses work hard to make ends meet; and I know families that could have stopped working years ago, but choose to keep working full-blast, because they love what they do.

For myself, I'm neither rich nor poor, but I am, in my work, usually content. That has been, I feel sure, an expensive insistence on my part; that is, my personal requirement to love what I do has, I suppose, cost me a lot of cash over the years. If I were the sort that would be willing to travel constantly, manage a group, go to meetings, and do whatever else a given corporation insisted I do, perhaps I'd have more in the bank. (Or perhaps not; my bizarre fixation on charts compelled me to build, grow, and sell Prophet, so maybe that makes up for it).

So, as I said, I'm neither rich nor poor, and it's likely I'll never be either of those in my life. But I'm here because I want to be here. I do this blog because it gives me pleasure. I created the comments system because I love our community. I'm working on SocialTrade (and, believe me, you're not going to recognize it in a couple of months) because I take joy in the act of creation. All these things together pay me peanuts, but as long as I'm able to support my family, there's more to life than having the biggest bank account on the block.

So you're stuck with me. And maybe one day I'll somehow chance into another nice payday like I did with Prophet, although I'm not counting on it. But let me at least say – – once again – – how grateful I am that you are here, and how excited I am about what we're going to do with the world of Slope in 2013. Good night.