Does it Pay to be Mean?

Update: On this Good Friday, I’m repeating this blog entry originally posted on December 16, 2011, written the day after ranting a bit about Dennis Gartman and receiving more hits than for any previous blog. Fast forward 4 months and history repeated itself in terms of hits when I carried on about Rakesh Agrawal’s disclosure about having purchased puts on his raison d’etre, Groupon.

I need to grow up, but I do need to face up to the fact that my raison d’etre is getting those hits..

Probably from even before the time that ancient cave dwellers were able to make wall drawings people have been asking the question.

“Why does it seem that the evil among us thrive?”

The corollary, “Why do bad things happen to good people” is frequently asked and was the topic of a very popular book in the early 1980’s.

That particular book may in fact be the last one that I’ve read, but I’m not certain if there’s a connection.

Newt GingrichWhatever version you take or don’t take your Ten Commandments, it’s clear that good behavior has to be spelled out as do the choices that should be made.

Don’t kill.

Oh. Don’t. Don’t kill. My bad.

I’m not a particularly deep or profound thinker although I took many more than my fair share of philosophy and theology classes in college. In all likelihood I owe my inability to recall any discussions of good versus evil due to an everpresent fog.

Watching episodes of COPS week in and out over the past quarter century it’s clear that the likelihood or high probability of reward is not what drives people to do evil things.

In those cases it’s probably stupidity mixed in equal parts with alcohol that’s responsible for the repeated journeys down the wrong path.

Sometimes it’s profit motive.

Somewhere along the line I’m certain that the expression “the meek shall inherit the earth” was highlighted as an answer to those wondering about the inequity in the world we happen to live in.

Presumably the meek are the 99%. Wherever the other 1% goes it certainly going to appear much more spacious in comparison.

Since human nature is increasingly defined in our fast food world of instant gratification by “I want it now.” the lure of getting a reward in some other as yet unproven world is getting increasingly elusive.

That makes it much easier to rationalize evil deeds. The reward, if any, is now. Let the meek wait in the wings.

When it comes to mentioning people by name, especially in this blog, I tend to do so only when I have something good to say. Something positive. Something laudatory.

The case of Dick Bove is an obvious example of me doing precisely the opposite.

The reality is that the people that I say positive things about don’t need my approval. It’s easy to recognize those that provide added value to the world.

Occasionally, I’ll use someone by name to illustrate what I think will be a funny stream of thought and in those cases it’s not typically in a positive light..

I’m usually wrong about that, as I don’t read people very well, but I least I think the contexts are funny.

Interestingly, on the topic of the Ten Commandments  I did have an opportunity to chat with Newt Gingrich the other day and wanted to get his take on some of the more timely commandments.

His take on adultery was interesting, as he believed that adulterers were essentially a “made up people,” exisiting only as a result of marriage.

His reasoning made a lot of sense, but then you also have to take into consideration the existence of that hot babe in the cave next door.

But see, I used Gingrich, as an example and used his name.

I don’t typically do that, other than in a joking way.

Evil? I don’t think so. I think it’s a good natured way to point out the ridiculousness of things. In this case, all things Gingrich.

Up until the other day my single most popular blog posting, based on the number of hits in a day, was about Herb Greenberg. In that piece I tied my contrarian perspective to measuring how his increasing Twitter popularity was likely related to an upcomiong bullish trend in the markets.

That was an easy piece to write as I greatly respect Herb Greenberg and the role that he plays in ferreting out what many may consider to be “evils” in the marketplace. I think that I’m able to segregate the part of me that may recoil at the mention of a stock that I own from the part of me that respects the objective and probing analyses.

But yesterday I took a decidedly different approach, reminiscent of the “Angry Man in the Street” character of the old, the very old, Steve Allen Show.

You can read it for yourself. Not only did I right a rant, even though I benefitted from what I perceived to be unethical behavior, but I Tweeted incessantly about Dennis Gartman’s decision to publicly disclose that he had liquidated his gold positions, while his clients could not do so.

I may be very wrong in this regard, but it seems as if his clients would be potentially hurt by Gartman’s very public comments and actions.

Had I not known better, but on the basis of the number of Tweets that I had written, I’d have thought that I’d become some single issue lunatic living with 80 feral cats in the basement of my parent’s home.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, in terms of hits onto the blog, bad outswamped good.

Sorry Herb, but flinging arrows seems to be the way to fame.

Now, being one who lives entirely off of the stroke of an ego that comes from a mouse click, that has to get my attention.

It’s the proverbial battle of good versus evil.

Since I’m into corollaries and asking unanswerable questions, that further raises the concept of “is it acceptable to fight evil with evil?”

Sadly, there’s an incredible amount of positive feedback that comes along with successfully getting away with evil acts.

To some degree I wonder if selling call options is an evil act in and of itself.

Not that I’m likely to change my ways, at least not as long as it keeps being rewarding, but doing so exploits others.

Those others are the ones purchasing the call contracts.

You know who they are. They’re the ones that want to generate greatly leveraged returns to satisfy their avarice for riches, although I’ll just conveniently ignore those doing so to protect their portfolios.

Should I feel badly about capitalizing on someone else’s greed? After all, look at all of the evil conferred on society by leverage gone wild.

Boy, now we’re getting into the realm of the “Seven Deadly Sins.”

I suppose that I can take some solace if I sit and realize that there’s a good chance that someone will be purchasing some of my ProShares UltrsShort Silver ETF shares for $12, as it currently sits at about $15.

Now that’s really mean.

But it does pay. And in this case for some unknown call options purchaser, very handsomely at that.

By the same token however, I’m not being hurt too much. After all, I bought that batch of shares for $12.01 about 9 days ago and received $0.64/share premium. Even after expenses that will work out to a 5% ROI.


So here’s to a world where we can take turns at being evil.

I’m good now, so I guess it’s your turn next, Dennis