I know it’s fall, but no where NEAR Christmas, so why all the ornaments on the rescue package? I mean I thought we were in a sub-prime mortgage clean-up and a solidifying the financial liquidity mode here so that Americans could continue to borrow money to keep their budgets or businesses afloat?

So to hear that the “new” package being voted upon in the Senate as we speak holds provisions for wooden arrow manufacturers in Oregon and tax breaks for Nascar race track builders and Virgin Island Rum Makers and research tax credits for Harley Davidson and subsidies for General Electric is stomach turning sick! I mean isn’t Warren Buffet’s 3 billion dollar investment in GE subsidy enough? Tax credits for film makers to shoot in the US? Without homes and jobs, there’ll be little demand for films…sorry! And while most people won’t be able to afford cars or the gas they guzzle, we’ll be reduced to bicycles NOT Harleys!

All the ornaments—that are supposedly “making it more palatable for more Republicans”–add up to over $112 billion dollars MORE than the unthinkably large $700 billion dollars floated over the past week. What are the senators, not to mention each of our Presidential candidates thinking? Especially after both McCain and Palin are out fist pounding for “no more pork sausages”! Then, what exactly WILL they call this?

Ok…so perhaps each Senator (or House member for that matter) hasn’t read every word of the over 500 page new missive, yet to capitulate to these lobbyists in this manner, to subjugate real credit pain of average Americans to the special interests of a few companies or industries that are, may I emphatically state here, totally fringe to the day-to-day survival of most Americans, and superfluous to them “making it” is more than irresponsible, it’s outright enraging!

The defeat of the first bill was unexpected, yet most, including me, argued that to have extra time to thoughtfully consider the ramifications and to educate those who didn’t understand the inextricable connection between Wall Street and Main Street could turn out to be an unexpected blessing. As it turns out, all it bought time for apparently was every last lobbyist to cram back into the halls of Washington to concoct their wildest, most harebrained pet projects and somehow, interject them into this otherwise serious bill.

I never want to harangue without dispensing some good news, or giving some good advice, and believe me, it’s taken me some time to come up with any, yet here it is. If we all carve out more time to become involved in our nation’s politics, perhaps we can preclude future debacles such as this. The phone campaigns in the past week have been remarkably popular and effective. What’s to stop us then from regularly writing or phoning our Congress people or House Representatives and making our voices/values known? It’s worth the expenditure of time, believe me. We need to get involved, and not just in the 11th hour.

Finally, if we all take a smart approach to investing, and instead of “betting” on individual companies; i.e., investing in individual stocks, we were to invest our money in no load diversified mutual funds or Exchange Traded Funds, then we’ll never be subjected to the single-stock risk that has been so stinging to those who have “lost fortunes”. I understand investing in the companies in which we work, especially through our 401(k)s and retirement plans. However, we must diversify our overall investment portfolios and focus on investing in no-load, low-cost index funds or Exchange Traded Funds in order to capture a decent return without the risks of concentrated positions in any one or two companies. (My guidelines have always been that I want an investor to have at least $250,000 in mutual funds, before they buy even one stock.)

I’ve heard hundreds of people exclaim, “that couldn’t happen to MY stock” only to watch Lucent, Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers (and others I’m forgetting) all bite the dust. It CAN happen to “once good” companies, so why try to guess which ones will be next? If Warren Buffett and Peter Lynch–two of the most talented stock pickers of our time–BOTH recommend against buying individual stocks, and instead recommend that investors buy index mutual funds, who are you to not heed their advice?

For those stocks you’ve inherited, consider the tax ramifications of selling them—either for gains or losses. Finally, should (after careful analysis) you end up choosing to keep some of those stocks, at least protect yourself on the downside by buying an insurance policy on the stock, otherwise referred to as buying a Put, at a particular price, which will be a good step towards potentially limiting a lot of downside risk. However, my best advice here is to invest in no load index mutual funds—stocks, bonds, and money markets—thus diversifying your risk.

Smart money is always medium-to-long money…hang in there!