Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Learning to ignore the Dow

BY Laura Pulfer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        I was losing money last Friday, but I was too ignorant to know it. So I went out to a movie over the weekend and bought a hideously expensive tub of popcorn, spitting in the eye of Wall Street.

        I wasn't rich enough to suffer.

        Not like Bill Gates, who lost more than a billion dollars last week. Or John Pepper, Procter & Gamble's popular former CEO, who lost $23 million on paper when the company's stock plummeted March 7.

        Now everybody is moaning about the Dow (which apparently is big, fat, old companies shoveling money into people's retirement funds) and the Nasdaq (which is lean, upstart companies throwing even more money into people's retirement funds.)

        Eventually, I guess nobody would be working. Just their money. Even I have a 401(k) account, which I was hoping some day would finance a cubicle in a classy retirement home. And it occurred to me that I had the opportunity to act just like people with actual fortunes.


        I called my financial adviser.

The bad guys
        Nathan Bachrach, who heads up the Pulfer Retirement Empire and in his spare time is CEO of Financial Network Group, says I did not lose as much as Bill Gates or John Pepper. Furthermore, he says I am “rich in soul, rich in spirit, rich in fellowship, rich in intellectual property.”

        Uh-oh. This must be worse than I thought.

        “Well, two trillion dollars was vaporized in a day,” he said. “It hasn't hit people yet, but this is real money.”

        So, what should I do?

        “Nothing,” he said. “Remember, we never planned to make you rich. We just wanted to keep ahead of the bad guys.”

        The bad guys?

        “Taxes and inflation.”

        Of course, he is right. But getting rich sure would have been fun. Particularly if you could do it without Regis. I am wondering whether I should get another opinion. My hairdresser lent me a CD of a motivational seminar, The Business of Living by Jack Freeman.

The loser network
        “Associate yourself with people who make you look successful,” a mellow voice advises. “Hang out with losers.”

        For those with an entrepreneurial bent, Mr. Freeman has advice on how to hold yard sales and make money on road kill by selling the carcases. He has ideas on how to make “thousands if not hundreds of dollars.”

        Testimonials include one from Howard Kelsey of Toledo, who says, “Jack showed me how to acquire property with no money at all, exercising a little-known law called Squatter's Rights.”

        Jack is the creation of Drew Hastings, a former Cincinnatian who went to Los Angeles to make his fortune as a comic. I don't know whether he has made a fortune yet, but he says he smokes imported cigarettes and has nearly $350 in his pocket.

        Yard sales. Road kill. Get-rich-quick schemes where money comes tumbling out of mysterious companies doing business with a dot in their name.

        Drew Hastings/Jack Freeman says, “Each of us is just a little two-legged business doing business with other two-legged businesses.”

        Nathan Bachrach says to kiss my granddaughter and notice that I can go out again next weekend and buy another tub of popcorn. Rich. I am rich.

        E-mail Laura at lpulfer@enquirer.com or call (513) 768-8393. Author of I Beg to Differ, she appears regularly on WVXU radio, National Public Radio's Morning Edition and Insight's Northern Kentucky Magazine.


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