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Philip J. Rappa: The House Always Wins


Philip J. Rappa*

I've been involved in the stock market for over twenty years. During that time I had several brokers. My philosophy toward investing has always been a work in progress, changing and adjusting to the marketplace and understanding its cyclical nature, as well as its gaming characteristics. As Kenny Rogers once sang, "You gotta know when to hold them and when to fold 'em".

There are no constants in life, no sure bets, no guarantees. The best you can possibly hope for is that you've been diligent in your research and hopefully, your information is sound. Last, but not least, in any measure, is your gut instinct. It is perhaps better than all of the above.

This truth applies not only to the stock market, but in business, or any venture one takes on. The better prepared and informed one is doesn't equate success, but certainly increases the odds in one's favor. After all is said and done, you step up to the counter, you puts your money down and hope for the best. Keeping one eye on the ticker tape, the other eye on the quarterly reports, one ear on world news, and the other on your heartbeat. Then it's let the games begin. Round and round she goes where she stops nobody knows.

The philosophy of long term investing is one way to secure a very nice nest egg. However, also, having owned options on stocks - and having experienced the adrenaline rush one gets, or at times the bile aftertaste of futures trading, I'm intimately familiar with the success and failure of being in the market.

I am neither a psychic from Jamaica, nor a soothsayer from Malaysia, but based on the performance of the market since March 2000, my gut tells me, 7K DOW by August, 5k DOW by Thanksgiving.

Why such petulance you may ask? Is it the seemingly new awareness of greed and cooked numbers, faulty corporate reports, accountants/consultants, questionable advise from advisors, or bankers doing what bankers do? Nay, I say, naivety is fools play: likened to the X-Files, "the truth has always been out there". Corporate, social, economic and environmental responsibility ceased to exist and found its demise in 1886 when the Supreme Court ruled corporations were to have a "personhood".

Basically interpreted, this decision was to turn on its head the insight and knowledge our forefather's had gained as they watched capital sucked out of the colonies for the sake and lone benefit of the monarchy in England. With foresight in the later part of the 1700's, each state that chartered corporations were of the belief that corporations were to be tools to serve the public interest. Again with foresight, disallowing them to spend money to influence elections, legislation or public opinion.

Well, that august Star Chamber in 1886, changed the rules and the playing field for the rest of us for the following 116 years. No longer were corporations accountable; they became entities onto themselves for generating wealth.

The vulgarity of wealth and influence makes movies like The Godfather pale by comparison. Yet, it makes a thinking individual wonder who taught whom what. As we relearned in the 90's, what is, is, but more succinctly, it's who's doing the defining.

The blatant arrogance of corporations today, corporations whose ads proudly state Made In America while moving offshore so not to pay taxes, while closing out businesses in America and opening sweatshops abroad, all the while touting free trade and globalization. Free trade, if honestly defined, means in corporate double speak, "we will lay off as many Americans as it takes for our bottom line".

It's been said, "A corporation has no soul to save, no ass to kick", these nonentity entities are as responsible as Budweiser and Corona at spring break. State budgets in default, housing, education, health care, our standard of living, compromised by a stock's price. It should go without saying, the news we hear, the legislation we receive, the choices available, the politicians politicking, the gas to run our cars, the food we eat, etc. etc. is brought to you by a non-person "personhood", probably incorporated or in the process of being incorporated offshore.

We are all adults - when you go to Vegas, you know going in the house wins. It's like a democracy, it's only as good as the citizens demand it to be.

© Philip J. Rappa 2002

Word Count: 726

- * Philip J. Rappa is an award winning writer, documentarian, filmmaker and gifted lecturer. To his credits are: a United Nations Award, 8 gubernatorial awards, and an Emmy nomination. His writings have appeared in numerous publications. Presently he is working on a television special in development, entitled: "Bar Stool View of America". Email: Web:

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