Saturday, May 09, 2015

As happens this time of year, publishers list their most important/influential/etc. youngsters.  As an example, the May issue of Wired has “20 Unsung Geniuses”.  We think mature adults deserve recognition just as much as 20-something billionaires.  Here is our Sixty Over Sixty list of the most influential, annoying, important or folks we just find interesting.  Here then, sorted by age, is The Sixty Most Important Leaders Over Sixty.

Henry Kissinger.  Still the U.S. best thinker on foreign policy and diplomacy. His recently published book (at age 91) World Order is not only a best seller, it is extraorinary.
Jimmy Carter.  Better as an ex-President than President.  His work for Habitat for Humanity is a lesson for all of us.
T. Boone Pickens.  Oilman, energy expert.  Creator of The Pickens Plan for energy independence.
Frank Gehry.  Showing the world what new materials and CAD design can do to architecture.
Warren Bufett. Best investor in history.  Becoming one of the best philanthropists in history.
Alan Simpson.  Former Senator who, along with Bowles (below) is trying to get U.S. to fiscal sanity.
Diane Feinstein.  Influential Sr. Senator from CA.
Jack Welch. Executive, author, educator
Carl Icahn.  Activist investor.
Anthony Kennedy.  Supreme Court Justice
Jack Nicholson.  Actor
Freeman Morgan.  Actor.  “Through the Wormhole” commentator.
Yvon Chouinard. Founder of Patagonia, environmental activist and enemy of dams.
Ralph Lauren.  Fashion industry titan.
Harry Reid.  Senate Minority Leader.
Toby Cosgrove.  MD and President of The Cleveland Clinic.
Nancy Pelosi.  House Minority Leader.
William Koch.  Billionaire businessman and Libertarian.
Roger Ailes.  Founder of Fox News.
Don Imus. Radio personality, philanthropist, professional curmudgeon.
Martha Stewart.  Fashion arbiter, CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia.
Michael Bloomberg.  Former Mayor of NYC; eponymous founder of Bloomberg.
Mitch McConnell.  Senate Majority Leader.
Aretha Franklin.  Soul and R&B singer.
Joe Biden.  VP of the U.S.
Jerry Bruckheimer.  Co-creator of CSI, Cold Case, many others.
Joyce Meyer. Evangelist and author.
George Lucas. Motion picture producer and director; world builder.
Larry Ellison.  Founder of Oracle.
Lorne Michaels.  Founder of Saturday Night Live.
Erskine Bowles.  Co-leader of Simpson Bowles Committee. Prophet.
Harold Hamm.  Founder & CEO of Continental Resources, shale/fracking leader.
Dolly Parton.  Singer, songwriter, entrepreneur
Roger Altman. Founder-Evercore. Democratic kingmaker.
Cher Sarkisian.  Singer and entertainer.
Janet Yellen.  President-Federal Reserve Bank; arguably the world’s most powerful woman.
Bill Clinton.  Former President.  Co-founder of Clinton Global Initiative.
Stephen Spielberg.  Motion picture producer and director.
Dick Wolfe.  Co-creator of Law & Order franchise.
James Rothman.  Yale Professor of Biomedical Science; Nobel Prize Winner.
Mike Krzyzewski. Aruguably the finest men’s college basketball coach ever.
Hillary Clinton.  Former Senator, former Secretary of State, Presidential candidate.
Dick Parsons. Former CEO of Citibank, former CEO of Time-Warner, advisor to Providence Equity.
Randy Schekman. California University Cell Biologist; Nobel Prize Winner.
David Rubenstein.  CEO of private equity firm Carlyle.
Bruce Springsteen.  Singer and songwriter.
Timothy Dolan.  Cardinal of NY.
Francis Collins.  Director, National Institute of Health.
Chuck Schumer.  Sr. Senator from NY.
Rush Limbaugh. Talk show host; most influential conservative.
Bob Iger.  Chairman & CEO: Disney.
John Noseworthy.  CEO of The Mayo Clinic.
Danielle Steele.  Top ten best-selling author of all time.
Maureen Dowd.  Influential NY Times editorialist.
Martin Dempsey.  General-U.S. Army. Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Bill Belichick. New England Patriots head coach. Probably the best pro football coach ever.
Howard Schultz.  Founder and CEO of Starbucks
John Mackey. Co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market
Oprah Winfrey. Talk show host and most powerful woman in media
Carly Fiorina. Presidential Candidate


There were many other excellent choices, and my selection is largely arbitrary.  But I welcome your suggestions for additions (please don’t bother with deletions) and will consider them for my next update.  Post your comment here, or email gene@jobsoverfifty.

Gene Morphis

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Is Retirement Over?

Has the concept of retirement come to an end?

Background
Retirement, in human terms, is a new concept.  Until the industrial age and the massive shift from farms to factories, there really wasn’t retirement.  One worked the family farm or ranch until unable to work.  At that point one hoped that his children would take care of him during his short remaining life.  Industrialization changed much of that.  While manual farm work was back-breaking labor (and, even with today’s highly mechanized farms, remains so), coal miners, steel-mill-hands, textile plant employees, slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant workers and millions of others had it even tougher, with serious workplace injuries and fatalities common.

Bismarck is credited with the first old-age pension in 1889. The industrial age was dawning, and Germany needed an incentive to convince young workers to leave the farm for factory jobs in the cities.  This was a part of that plan. It became widely copied in form and substance.  It is generally agreed that the qualifying age of 70 was set above the average lifespan at the time, making it more of a lottery than a retirement guarantee.  When the Roosevelt administration came up with Federal Insurance Contributions Act - e.g. Social Security – in 1935, it too set the retirement age above the average lifespan at 65.  At that point in time, the expected lifespan was 61.7 years.

Living to 80 and Beyond
Today, life expectancy in the U.S. is pushing 80.  I would project that to climb steeply and remarkably.  While there are a couple of negative factors for longevity in the U.S. , e.g.- obesity and an increasing number of antibiotic-resistant infections- there are far more positives: a general awareness of the benefits of exercise, a decline in smoking, a variety of engineering improvements in cars (air bags, seat restraints, crumple zones) and roads (replacement of anchored light posts and highway signs with breakaway posts; light reflectors), statin drugs, widespread availability of food for even the most indigent, hip replacement surgery, cancer treatments, stents, pacemakers and much more.

Dr. Aubrey de Grey believes aging is a disease and can be treated as such.  Resulting in lives that are really long.  Really, really long.  If he’s correct, some readers of this might live far beyond 100.  If there is a return to the Biblical age of Methuselah, you are going to work for a long time.  Very, very long.

Equally important, much of the most physically destructive work has been eliminated by automation and engineering changes.  Fewer bodies are being worn out by  lifetimes of strenuous labor compared to seventy-five years ago.

Household Net Worth
As someone who has been let go after a business sale, fired after a hostile takeover, and fired in a restructuring, I understand the difficulty in accumulating sufficient financial assets for a comfortable retirement.  Having said that, I’m appalled at just how little many of my generation have saved.  According to the analysis of household wealth in the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report, the median household financial assets for 55-64 year olds is a meager $41,000, a long way from funding a comfortable retirement.  Some of those households of course have traditional corporate pension plans, and others may have military or government pensions, making retirement much more attractive. And that report was prepared shortly after the recession reduced the value of most financial assets including balances in 401(k)s.  It is reasonable to assume that the long market rally would have increased these values.  Nonetheless, for many that is a bleak outlook.  But only if they stop working.

U. S. Fiscal Challenges
With the accumulated debt of the U.S. approaching $18 trillion, and ongoing budget deficits, the key social safety net programs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will remain under pressure.  It is very unlikely that benefits will become richer in the future. 

Concluding Thoughts
At Jobs Over Fifty, we’ve been recommending that everyone develop a plan for the “2nd 50”, that is, a plan that assumes that individuals turning fifty today have a real probability of living to 100.  Given that, we suggest that the retirement that most envisioned in the 1960’s and 1970’s is unlikely to materialize.  Instead, we predict that many, if not most, will work into their seventies (given that some of that  might be part-time).  The evidence is strong that the most important determinant of whether or not one outlives savings is how long one works.

www.jobsoverfifty.com supports experienced workers seeking new employment or ideas to assist in maintaining their current employment.

For action-oriented ideas to achieve and maintain work performance at a peak level so that employers beg you to not retire, may we recommend Survive And Prosper, Fifty Steps to Job And Career Security?


Thursday, March 05, 2015

Amazon vs. Wal-Mart - My Annual Comparison

Here is a high-level comparison of Amazon to Wal-Mart. Note that Amazon uses a calendar year, while Wal-Mart uses a traditional retail fiscal calendar ending January 31st. I’ve compiled some numbers and ratios from each company for their respective fiscal year periods that include most or all of 2014. Therefore this comparison is slightly off. However, the comparison does include the traditional peak seasons of back-to-school and Christmas in both.
To make my job easier, I’m listing Wal-Mart first each time in the following comparisons.

Revenue: (in billions)
Absolute:  $485.6 vs. $89.0
Revenue Growth $:  $9.4 vs. $14.5
Revenue Growth %:  2.0% vs. 19.5%

There is no question that the clear growth winner is Amazon – adding $5.1 bil more in revenue in the last twelve months despite Wal-Mart’s base size advantage.  And the rate of growth is indeed impressive at almost 10X Wal-Mart’s.

Operating income: (in billions)
Absolute: $27.1 vs. $0.2
Operating income growth $: 0.3 vs. $(0.5)
Operating income growth %: 1.0% vs. negative
Operating income as a percentage of total revenue:  5.6% vs. 0.2%

While Amazon exceeded Wal-Mart’s revenue growth, Amazon managed to add $14.5 billion in revenue and not have any of that flow to operating income.

Net income: (in billions)
Absolute: $16.4 vs. $(0.2)
Net income growth $: $0.3 vs. $(0.5)
Net income growth %: 2.1% vs. negative
Net income as a percentage of sales: 3.4% vs. (0.3)%

Amazon has no income.

Cash Flow: (in billions)
Note: cash flow as presented here is: cash flow provided by (used in) operating activities. That is, net income plus depreciation, amortization and stock comp plus changes in working capital. These are taken directly from the financial statements filed with the SEC for Amazon and the earnings release for Wal-Mart.

Absolute: WMT $24.4 vs.  AMZN$ 6.8
Cash flow as a percentage of revenue: WMT 5.2% vs. AMZN 7.7%

I’ll admit that I found this percentage was particularly surprising. Given that Wal-Mart starts with a 3.7 percentage point advantage from net income, how does Amazon end up with a higher percentage?  The details point to two factors: depreciation and amortization (non-cash) account for a far larger share of revenue for Amazon [5.33%  than for Wal-Mart [1.88%] and stock compensation (again non-cash) is a much larger percentage of revenue for AMZN than WMT. (Note that Wal-Mart did not show stock comp as a separate component in its earnings release. Therefore I’m concluding that it is less material. WMT certainly has stock comp expense. I may find time to update this when it files its 10K). Given the physical store presence of WMT, AMZN’s higher depreciation and amortization is also somewhat surprising. Does AMZN have a more conservative depreciation policy?

Returns
ROIC: WMT 13.3% vs. AMZN (0.7)%
ROE: WMT 19.6% vs. AMZN  (2.4)%

ROIC defined as net income plus tax-affected interest expense divided by equity capital plus interest bearing debt. Equity plus interest bearing debt is calculated with a two point average of beginning and ending balances.

ROE is a simple net income divided by a two point average of beginning and ending equity.

Valuation
Price to sales: WMT 54.9%; AMZN 200%
Price to book: WMT 3.1X; AMZN 16.6X
Enterprise value to EBITDA: WMT: 8.7; AMZN: 38.

Disclosures
I own $WMT. I’ve owned it for a very long time. I don’t own AMZN. 
I shop both regularly, particularly the Sam’s Club division of WMT for numerous products, and principally books and music from AMZN.  I’m a loyal customer of each. I’m also a published author on Amazon Kindle. Two titles: Jobs Over Fifty: The Guide to Finding New Employment for The Experienced Worker and Survive And Prosper Fifty Steps to Job And Career Security.

Observations
Clearly holders of Amazon are being rewarded for stellar revenue growth and industry disruption.  And one could argue that those factors require some non-traditional valuation techniques.  I would argue to the counter: Amazon is no longer a new business; it has been around now for a generation.   I assume that there is little further efficiency gain for Amazon–i t operates highly efficiently today–or that any productivity gains it achieves are likely to be matched by similar gains by Wal-Mart. Therefore, it is difficult to see how Amazon produces an attractive return on capital without price increases-which would, in turn, reduce its advantage.

There are claims that Amazon’s real value lies in its cash flow. And clearly it is higher as a percentage of revenue.  But WMT’s absolute cash flow dwarfs AMZN, albeit that much of that is consumed by dividends which AMZN doesn’t pay.

WMT’s ROE benefits nicely from years of stock buybacks thinning the equity as well as a decent level of leverage.  The resultant ROE (using an average of beginning and ending equity) is a very respectable  19.6% and ROIC, helped by very low interest rates, is a little better than average at 13.3%.  Conversely, I would argue that, while Wal-Mart can clearly handle its debt load, the amount of leverage may be hurting the share price some.

Finally, the returns on capital speak for themselves. If you have essentially no income, you have no return to capital.  If shareholders never demand a return of their capital, then I suppose there is no reason to provide a return.  A unique business model indeed.

My Position

I’ll continue to hold Wal-Mart, collect my increasingly rich dividend, and shop at both.  I predict that Amazon’s share price will come to earth at some point, but I don’t have a sufficient conviction to short it – and shorting against a billionaire CEO is too risky a strategy for me.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: The Second Machine Age Work Progress And Prosperity In A Time Of Brilliant Technologies

From time to time one reads a book that is important. The Second Machine Age Work Progress And Prosperity In A Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee is important. In the authors’ view, the confluence of falling technology costs, increased computer processing power, cheap sensors and the quality and ubiquity of networks, are ushering in a revolution equally as potent and far-reaching as the Industrial Revolution.
Drawing parallels to the effect on civilization of the Industrial evolution, and how long its subsequent impact has continued, they see brilliant technologies in the early stage of changing about everything. They provide a historical context on the growth in living standards, starting with the domestication of the horse, development of agriculture, which led to cities, afforded great armies and so on.  Things really didn’t advance much from there until the steam engine was perfected, which created factories, mass transit, electrification and essentially modern life.
They support the case that while innovation drives productivity, it takes time for innovation to be adopted, widespread and then subsequent advancements to leverage combinations of innovations.
The authors identify how those new combinations are occurring. The new revolution starts with the difference in digital goods to traditional goods.  Digital goods can be endlessly copied at a cost that is nearly zero. And falling costs combined with improving power is enabling machines to do things now that researchers weren’t projecting to happen until far into the future – e.g.-Watson beating anyone at chess; driverless cars and Siri. 
And like the Industrial Revolution, there will be sharp winners and losers. Just as motorized looms destroyed jobs in textiles; robots, speech-activated call processing, and tax software replace factory and warehouse workers, call center agents and accountants. Digital downloads replace the CD and reduce musicians income. The authors are concerned that the job loss affect may be longer lasting and more far reaching with this revolution than the Industrial. In the Industrial Revolution, farmworkers displaced by tractors, threshers and combines found work in factories. They make an interesting argument that digitalization makes it possible for everyone to have the best. An example they use is that if one bricklayer can lay X bricks per hour, that doesn’t mean that someone won’t hire the second best bricklayer who can only achieve .9X; perhaps at a slightly lower wage. In the world of digital goods, in some fields everyone worldwide has access to the single best, eliminating work for second and third place. Expanding that argument, in many fields one only had access to providers in one’s area-town, city etc., but in the digital realm one has instant global access. While they foresee a variety of new jobs being created, they find it difficult to envision where an equivalent number of jobs will be created.  Indeed, they pin some of the failure of total employment to return to pre-2008 levels on the widespread adoption of technology reducing staffing requirements.
They cover the types of jobs they see at most and least risk in the race against the machine. More importantly they cover skills and education needed to compete in the future. I hesitate to call out any chapter as particularly informative or intellectually challenging; they are all impressive.  The authors conclude with policy recommendations. Part of the discussion made me nervous; I feared they were heading for a policy recommendation of guaranteed income, or extremely high tax rates on the successful. Instead, they rallied to a defense of work and its importance [They provide a good example of two communities, one where employment was high even if wages were low vs. same income levels from welfare-type programs but low employment. The latter area was blighted].
They conclude with a series of policy recommendations and, as they label it, wild idea s. One is a national mutual fund to make sure everyone has, as one of my bosses used to say, a piece of the rock.  Let me provide my twist to their national mutual fund wild idea. The U.S. needs to invest the funds that come into Social Security. Now, before someone’s hair catches on fire, I didn’t say “privatize”.  (I agree in some small way with Presidential candidate Al Gore’s “lock box” hypothesis). Many states have excellently run pension funds for state employees. (Some of those pension funds may be underfunded, but that isn’t the managers’ fault). Leading examples include Calpers in CA, Wisconsin Teachers and Texas Teachers. What I am talking about is funding Social Security, not privatizing it. It will take a very long term view – fifty or more years. If two percent of the incoming funds into Social Security were invested in the first year, and then increased by an additional two percent each subsequent year, in fifty years the trust would be backed by actual assets.
As with any investment program, diversification would be important.  Our funds should go in to timberland, oil and gas, stocks, bonds, apartment houses, raw land, shopping centers and the like. At that point, every American would be a capitalist, and an owner of the capital deployed in these new technologies.
This is an important book, highlighting topics that affect business, government, education, labor, and personal skills development.

Highly recommended.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Four Reasons to Be Optimistic About Medicare

The most recent trustees’ report forecasts that the Medicare trust fund will be exhausted in 2030. While that is a financially frightening prospect, there was good news buried in the report: the previous forecast indicated the funds would be gone in 2026.
I believe there are reasons to be far more optimistic. Here’s why:
1.       There are cheaper medical services on the way. Theranos has a totally new approach to blood analysis as an example. Founded by Elizabeth Holmes, and backed by a who’s who, Theranos has micro labs that can be installed anywhere and only require a few drops of blood. Millions of us troop to a Quest Diagnostics center, or one of its competitors, to have our blood chemistry tested for any of thousands of things like cholesterol levels, hepatitis presence, insulin and blood sugar and so on. Quest, of course, bills the patient, and/or the patient’s insurer, including Medicare. Theranos is an example of a better, cheaper, faster option. While its new process must make it through the FDA approval minefield, I expect it will eventually become a real alternative, certainly before 2030. And, due to FDA leadership, the Obama administration or both, the FDA has actually shown some needed speed and flexibility recently.
2.       There are new ways to clean hospital rooms. There are a number of life-threatening illnesses that, from a practical point of view, can only be caught in a hospital or a nursing home. Nasty strains of pneumonia. The debilitating clostrium difficile. In its April 2013 report, Antibiotic Resistant Threats in the United States, the CDC estimates 23,000 Americans die each year from microbes that are resistant to current treatments. It states “The estimates are based on conservative assumptions and are likely minimum estimates”.  Many, if not most, of these deaths are a result of infections acquired in a hospital. Patients are treated with a series of more and more toxic (and expensive) antibiotics in hopes of curing the infection. Xenex Healthcare now provides robots that disinfect hospital rooms with high-intensity bursts of light. Savings to patients (copays and out-of-pockets), insurers and underwriters including Medicare should run into the billions.
3.       There are new antibiotics on the way. Again, treatment of patients infected with superbugs is expensive. Patients may be in high-cost intensive care units. Better antibiotics can prevent or reduce most of those costs. Most pharmaceutical companies have walked away from antibiotic research. From an investment viewpoint, that decision makes a lot of sense. FDA approval is gigantically expensive. If approved, an antibiotic may only be used for a few doses. And if patients are sickened, have reactions or die as a result of an antibiotic treatment, lawsuits are certain to follow. Therefore pharma has moved research to the treatment of chronic illnesses like diabetes, where they may have a customer for twenty years, thirty or even longer. But there are some firms that are investing in antibiotics. Northeastern University, in conjunction with NovoBiotic, have announced isolating Teixobactin, a soil-dwelling bacteria that doesn’t get along with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), one of the most evil superbugs. Testing so far indicates that Teixobactin is well-tolerated in mice and kills a variety of bad actors.
4.       Eventually, we hope that auditing will catch up with the bad guys. Years ago, some Medicare official stated that as much as ten percent of Medicare billings are fraudulent. Apparently that was based on pretty flimsy analysis. However, there is at least anecdotal reason to believe it could be more than ten percent – actually a lot more. Some future Congress and Administration will likely chose to apply the same data techniques that Visa, Mastercard and American Express apply to spot fraudulent card activity in seconds. That alone might be enough to add several more years of life to the trust fund.

While I’ve shown four reasons, in reality they boil down to fewer. Science and technology underlie all. That makes me optimistic that people will live longer and healthier, and Medicare won’t run out of money as fast as feared.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Review of The Peripheral by William Gibson

If you are a William Gibson fan, you’ll likely be excited to learn that he has returned to his particular flavor of science fiction. He has detoured into more conventional (but no less enjoyable) fiction recently, exploring conflicts among ad agency/security firms, investment denim creators, spying drones controlled by smart phones, etc, but returns to the scifi genre in The Peripheral. For folks who’ve never read his work, his prose is exactly right-not unnecessarily long, not too spare. Just right.
 He is the guru of the near-future; one reads about things in his work that you are certain don’t exist, and then observes them in a few years. This novel however reaches a little farther into time than his previous work. It presumes that multiple presents and futures exist-that is the multiverse or quantum universe hypothesis.
Within that framework, he shows his craftsmanship in creating characters that the reader immediately envisions, easily finds believable and become interested in.
In the book, the U.S. has been economically devastated by an event only hinted at. Our protagonist Flynne is an expert gamer and the sister of a former highly skilled military veteran. (Gibson seems partial to heroines).  At his request, she substitutes for her brother in what she believes to be testing an online shooter game, only to observe a death that she finds uncomfortably realistic. Her observation of the event set the plot in motion, and the book proceeds along two dimensions, one in the not-to-distant future U.S.; the other farther into a future. And the folks in the more distant future have learned how to get messages to the past/other parts of the multiverse. And some of them are out to make sure that no one in their future finds out what Flynne saw.
These messages flow in both directions and enable Flynne and others to experience the alternate universe via realtime communications. Going much further into that will give too much away.
While it is science fiction in its roots, Gibson has always been equal parts scenes, characters, mystery and action, with the future tech and science fiction in supporting roles. The action proceeds quickly in The Peripheral, locking the reader in. We become quickly attached to the no-nonsense, quick-thinking Flynne, her professional warrior brother Burton, and his ex-military buddies. We are suspicious of Inspector Ainsley Lowbeer who is investigating certain event in the future, and curious how she seems to know so much. We are unsure of who are the good guys and bad guys within the large cast of characters in the alternate universe.
Like a few other celebrated authors, Gibson creates words when he feels it necessary (do any reviews fail to mention he invented the term cyberspace?). A few new ones crop up here; we’ll see which join the dictionary.
I’ve stated before that I have one huge problem with Gibson. Apparently I can read his books far faster than he can write them. I did my best to stretch this one out- limiting the number of chapters to burn through at each sitting. Fighting the urge for an all-night reading session. But inevitably I finished and I eagerly await his next.

This is William Gibson at his best: a skillful professional story teller. An intriguing page-turner. Highly recommended not only to Gibson fans like me but to anyone who cares for science fiction.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Connectioning Three Seemingly Disparate Pieces of Data


  1. Dr. Amy Reed, an anesthesiologist from Boston, has advanced cancer, possibly spread by a device called a morcellator.
  2. According to highly –esteemed analyst Stephanie Pomboy of Macro Mavens, as quoted in Barron’s July 12th 2014 edition, there are three million four hundred thousand (3,400,000) fewer fulltime workers now than before the Great Recession.
  3. The FDA is proposing regulation of cigar manufacturers and a stunning tax on cigars.

How are these three things connected?

Before we get into that, let us thank Dr. Amy Reed, who is battling Stage Four cancer, for raising the issue of the risks that may be associated with using the morbidly named “morcellator” in association with hysterectomies.  More on that here.  Dr. Reed is doing all women a big favor.  And thanks should also go to USA Today, and more particularly to America’s sole remaining conservative newspaper The Wall St. Journal for raising awareness sufficiently that the FDA had to look into it.  This is the basis of the connections, i.e., until the doctor and her husband, also a doctor, made a cause out of it the FDA wasn’t aware of it.

Now, why hasn’t the FDA looked into this before now?  Apparently because they have diverted their resources into issuing rules and regulations over the cigar industry.  Their proposed tax on cigars would likely wipe out most of the independent mom and pop cigar stores throughout the U.S.  Even though we know that cigar smokers rarely smoke with the frequency of cigarette smokers, generally don’t inhale and as a result are less likely to get cancer than cigarette smokers, the FDA is hell-bent to put the local cigar shops out of business.  I guess they haven’t noticed- or don’t care-that there are 3.4 million fewer fulltime workers than before the recession and closing mom and pop cigar stores will add to the number.

If you enjoy an occasional cigar, you might want to stock up now.

Say a prayer for Dr. Reed.