MarketInsight | Amendments, we can agree on
There is a popular meme flying around the internet that says, “Given a choice between ice cream and a kick in the head, Florida would vote 50.5 to 49.5.” We laugh because it’s true; at least it seems true at times. Florida has been the sight of lots of nail-biting elections. Anyone remember Bush v. Gore in 2000? In this last election, three statewide races went to a recount. As I write this, I do not know how those elections will come out. What I do know is that we have a hard time choosing between Republicans and Democrats and that both parties have fervent followers.
However, when we were faced with choices that did not have a D or an R after them, we were remarkably unified. There were 12 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot this cycle and we passed 11 of them, most by a pretty wide margin. It turns out that while we cannot agree on who should be the governor, almost 70 percent of us are against offshore oil drilling and vaping indoors, the same percent that dislike greyhound racing. Eighty percent of us oppose lobbying and abuse of office. I guess that is not a big surprise.
The other thing that is shocking is that the electorate did not seem to be overly affected by advertising. The vaping amendment passed by a huge margin with very little financial support. The founder of Broadcom, Disney, and the Seminole Tribe spent more than $90 million to pass Amendments 3 and 6. Those did not pass by as wide a margin. Kelsey Grammer practically lived on our TV screens and we barely passed his amendment.
I imagine that if all ballot questions were presented in the same manner, without party reference, that we would all agree a lot more than we do. Who isn’t in favor of better schools? Or higher property values? I am sure we would vote for clean water and a lot of other things as long as we did not see them as partisan issues.
If they put an Amendment on the ballot calling for higher stock market values, would you vote for it? Most of us would, I think. The good news is that we do not need an Amendment for that. It turns out that the stock market pretty much always goes higher. Since 1980, the value of the S&P 500 has increased about 2,500 percent, since 1950 about 14,000 percent. Of course, it is important to remember that the market’s rise is never a straight line! The stock market advance is often more like a drunk stumbling down the sidewalk. Stocks can and do go down, but over the long run they have provided substantial returns for wise investors.
Scott A. Grant is President of Standfast Asset Management in Ponte Vedra Beach. He welcomes your comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.