07-06-2017 Columns

What can investors learn from the All-Stars?

Next week, the 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be held in Marlins Park in Miami. If you’re a baseball fan, you may tune in to admire the skills and grace of the players. And if you’re an investor, you can learn some valuable lessons from the All-Stars, including these:

Alertness – Most of us can only dream of having the outstanding reflexes of major league ballplayers. But we can develop a similar trait: alertness. Just as a ballplayer who wants to steal a base needs to be alert to the pitcher’s delivery and the strength of the catcher’s throwing arm, you should be vigilant about investment opportunities and the potential need to make changes to your portfolio. For instance, you might realize that, over time, your portfolio has become too top-heavy with the same types of investments. Since these investments are likely to move in the same direction at the same time, you could take a big hit during a market downturn. Consequently, you may want to diversify among a wider range of vehicles, including stocks, bonds, government securities and others. While this type of diversification, by itself, can’t guarantee a profit or protect against all losses, it can help you reduce the effects of volatility on your portfolio. Patience – When you watch the best hitters – such as those appearing in the All-Star Game – you will notice that most of them are very patient, willing to wait for several pitches until they get the one they feel they can hit. As an investor, you, too, need patience. The investment world contains many myths, one of which is that it’s possible to get rich quick by finding “hot” stocks when they’re cheap and selling them after a meteoric rise. But these events are actually pretty rare. The most successful investors are typically the ones who invest steadily, through good markets and bad ones, and who follow a long-term strategy appropriate for their needs, goals and risk tolerance.

Preparation – During the All-Star Game – or, for that matter, during any game – the ballplayers will know exactly what to do in almost any given situation. To take one example, consider what happens when a runner is on first base and the batter hits a ground ball to the shortstop. Almost without thinking – because he’s already prepared for this very scenario – the shortstop will flip the ball to the second baseman, who is already standing on the bag, because he too is ready for this play. The second baseman completes the double play by immediately throwing to the first baseman, who is also in the right place, standing on first base.

When you invest, you also need to be prepared for certain situations and how you’ll respond. When your children head off to college, you should know if and how you’ll help them pay for it, maybe because you’ve prepared by saving in a 529 plan or another college-savings vehicle. When the day comes for you to retire, you should know how you’d like to tap into your retirement accounts, such as your 401(k) and IRA.

By being alert, showing patience and preparing for your goals, you can put some of the All-Stars’ skills to work when you invest — and by doing so, you might improve your personal “box score.”

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Good news for our farmers

Last week, after bipartisan calls from Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would withdraw its controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. This rule would have regulated ditches and standing water in farmers’ low-lying fields as federally regulated waterways, increasing burdens on our farmers here at home.

Southwest Michigan farmers are a vital part of not only our local economy, but also the country’s agricultural production. I regularly meet and visit with farmers all over Berrien, Van Buren, St. Joseph, Cass, Kalamazoo, and Allegan counties who have expressed the harmful impact this rule would’ve had on their farms. This is why I have stood against this rule on several different occasions. In 2015, I voted in favor of the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, which passed by a bipartisan vote of 261-155 to stop the WOTUS rule.

I am happy we could get this common sense legislation across the finish line and I want to applaud the EPA and the Trump Administration for ditching this harmful rule once and for all. As blueberry season is in full swing – requiring copious amounts of standing water for the plants – the news could not come at a better time.

To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Keeping kids safe this summer

Hot weather provides opportunities for kids to enjoy the outdoors. Take steps to keep them safe and healthy, both indoors and outdoors.

Master water safety

Swimming and other water activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life.

Parents and caregivers play a key role in protecting children from drowning. When kids are in or near water, closely supervise them at all times.

Help prevent recreational water illnesses, which is illness caused by germs and chemicals found in the water we swim in. Keep the pee, poop, sweat, and dirt out of the water. Take kids on bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area–not poolside–to keep germs away from the pool.

Stay safe while boating by wearing a life jacket. Properly fitted life jackets can prevent drowning and should be worn at all times by everyone on any boat.

Be sun smart

Just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Adults and children need protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they’re outdoors.

Seek shade when necessary. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent.

When possible, cover up with long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts to provide protection from UV rays.

Wear a hat that shades the face, scalp, ears, and neck. If your child chooses a baseball cap, be sure to protect exposed areas with sunscreen.

Use a sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 every time your child goes outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet.

Be safe at home, work, and play

Injuries are the leading cause of death in children aged 19 and younger, but most child injuries can be prevented.

Play it safe on the playground. Read playground signs and use playground equipment that is right for your child’s age. Look out for things in the play area that can trip your child, like tree stumps or rocks.

Awareness is key in stopping aquatic invasive species

Aquatic invasive species (AIS), such as Asian carp and zebra mussels, pose a real threat to the health of the Great Lakes and the livelihoods of thousands of Michigan families.

One of the most important steps we can take to protect our waters from AIS is to engage the public about the potential of these invaders to devastate our natural resources and economy.

That is why I recently co-sponsored a resolution declaring July 2-8 as Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week.

Senate Resolution 74 urges residents to increase their understanding and awareness of AIS and their ecological and economic impacts.

For example, boaters and anglers can take preventative measures to avoid accidentally spreading invasive species by washing boats and trailers before leaving the access area and drying boats and equipment for at least five days before launching into a different body of water.

The resolution builds on my efforts to stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.

The timing of this awareness week could not be more important, with the recent discovery of a 28-inch-long Asian carp less than 10 miles from Lake Michigan in the Chicago area. The Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee and the Army Corp of Engineers need to go back to the drawing board to find an appropriate solution if the electric barriers will not keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

The people are our first line of defense in preventing the accidental spreading of invasive species. As families head outdoors to enjoy a summer day boating or fishing, I want to remind everyone of the critical role they can play in the fight against aquatic invasive species.

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

The Executive Veto

Last Friday, Governor Rick Snyder vetoed Senate Bill 163 which would have put money into a fund that would support programs to encourage women to carry pregnancies to term and to fight suicide.

In order to raise money for this fund, the bill would have created a “Choose Life” license plate for motorists to voluntarily purchase at the DMV. At least 29 states currently allow for Choose Life specialty plates.

Although the governor himself opposes abortion, he said he believed this legislation had “the potential to bitterly divide millions of Michiganders,” and that, in his view, “was not appropriate for a state-issued license plate.”

We all learned about the ‘separation of powers’ in school, and while the outcome of this bill might cause frustration to some, it did serve as a reminder of the great checks and balances we have in our political system.

The governor was well within his power to veto legislation the legislature sent to him. Conversely, the legislature would be within their power to try and override his veto. To accomplish the latter is notoriously difficult though, as you need both chambers to approve it by a two-thirds vote.

Republicans currently hold a 27-11 majority in the Senate where this legislation passed by a 25-11 vote. Therefore, achieving the minimum 26 votes necessary here to override the governor could be possible.

In the House, however, Republicans have a 63-45 majority and would need to reach 72 votes for a veto override. The bill passed 65-43 in the House and would almost certainly be short of the two-thirds majority needed.

This leaves the option of reintroduction next term. And while the bill’s supporters, including Right to Life of Michigan, have already said they look forward to advocating for this legislation in the future, the real question is will Michigan’s next governor be willing to sign it? For that answer, we will have to just wait and see.