Online Agriculture Career Preparation

Becoming a part of the agriculture industry is a process that requires students to complete schooling and meet specified qualifications. Students can enter a degree program online where they learn all of the integral parts of the field. Many colleges provide online education to help students prepare for a career.

The field breaks down essential key areas that need to be learned in connection with business principles. Students can prepare for a career by completing key steps.

Key Step One: Research the Career Possibilities

Students can enter many careers in agriculture. Before enrolling in an online program it’s recommended that students consider what area of agriculture they would like to work in, as this decision often dictates what educational level and concentration to pursue. Online information can be found on the various careers to help students pin point their preferred area of interest. Greenhouse manager, plant and soil technician, ranch manager, soil composition specialist, policymaker, and educator are a couple of career options students can pursue.

Each field has students conducting different tasks and overseeing multiple aspects of their area. For example, a greenhouse manager will oversee the support structures and operation of several greenhouses. This includes being responsible for the growing of plants and where they are sold, whether it’s locally or nationally. Another possibility is becoming a soil scientist. Professionals examine the chemical, physical, biological, and mineral makeup of soil in direct relation to plant and crop growth. Students can enter these careers after first completing education.

Key Step Two: Complete Education

Once students know which area of the industry is for them, they will be able to complete the correct level of education. Online accredited schools and colleges offer students programs from the associate’s to master’s degree level. Each level presents specific career related knowledge that allows students to step into the industry with confidence. Each educational program offers students the same general coursework. Specific courses will be taken according to the specialization that students have chosen. General courses may include:

  • Soil Fertility
  • Agribusiness Management
  • Horticulture
  • Livestock Science

Students can expect to study biology, the science of soil, plant cultivation, and how to operate farming equipment. Skills are adapted through online coursework that gives lessons through video and audio demonstrations.

Completing a degree program is the best way to enter the field. Students can enter a career in approximately two years when they earn their associate’s degree. Further study at the bachelor’s level, which is often required, takes four years. Students that pursue a master’s degree can expect to earn advanced training in a two-year program.

Begin preparing for a career in agriculture by learning about the career possibilities. Online education is a great way to learn and students can begin training by enrolling in an accredited program. Full accreditation is given to agriculture schools and colleges that offer the best quality education by agencies such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges ( http://www.accsc.org/ ).

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP.org.

Take a Stroll at Athens Greece

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A  city  that was built by gods for gods with a long glorious history, and a  city  that has been worshipped by its people is nothing less than  Athens , Greece.  Athens  is said to be the birthplace of democracy and civilization. The place where many great philosophers were born and where the culture began. In such a city you can wonder in its alleys and feel the ancient spirit. Did you know that Acropolis is considered to be one of the 7 wonders of the modern world? The better way to discover all secret paths of  Athens  is to take some  Athens  private tours and live this lifetime experience.

Whatever your taste is,  Athens , Greece has something special that will draw you back time and time again. When in  Athens  you have to do lots of activities such as visiting the archaeological monuments, the famous sites, and taking a stroll to Plaka, Monastiraki, Thisseion and Psyrri. Have the opportunity to admire the neoclassical buildings in the small alleys the well-preserved architecture in many beautiful buildings. Athens   city  truly has something for everyone.

Take a private walking tour around ancient sites of Acropolis museum, Plaka, Monastiraki and Philopappos hill. In  Athens   city , you will admire The Greek Parliament, the  Athens  Academy and University and so many interesting sites. Do not miss also visiting the museums which hosts unique treasures of greek cultural inheritance such as the Museum of Acropolis, the Archaeological Museum etc. The exhibits in greek museums are always interesting and have something to add to your knowledge. This information from the past may be sound strange but is the truth and the history of Greeks can’t be learn by once.

The sun in  Athens   city  is shining all year around so you don’t have to worry about the climate, which is considered one of the best in Europe. So, embark on a journey full of positive energy and joy for the upcoming sun and the very interesting thing you will see and visit. Ask locals for some traditional taverns with local folklore dancers and local wine.

Last but not least is  Athens  nightlife. Your choices here are innumerable as long as you want to entertain yourselves by numerous ways in this vibrant city. Bars, clubs, traditional taverns and the famous “bouzoukia” are always there to entertain you.

All in all,  Athens  is a divine  city  with lots of choices and places to have fun making your trip memorable.

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Starting Out in the Bu$ine$$ of Agriculture

There are five things to seriously consider when starting up a farm, no matter if you are pursuing an interest in crop farming, raising livestock like cattle or sheep, for instance, or growing fruit:

1) There’s tough, hard work involved

If you want to farm, it’s tough, hard work with little satisfaction in the end. It’s no wonder 90% or more of the young people that come off of farms don’t want to go back to it. No money in it, comprised mostly of blood, sweat and tears, with a little reward in the end. No benefits, no health coverage, no labour unions to say when you should start your day, have your lunch break and end it. That’s all for you to decide. And your hours in your day depend on the weather and how many things you have to have done in a day.

2) Start small (a must!!)

Never go off the deep end if you don’t know how to swim. You could drown in bankruptcy or personal injury if you have no idea what you are getting into. The thing that I have learned over the years and from talking to other veteran farmers is to start small. Especially if you have no prior experience. Unlike those farmer’s sons and daughters that want to continue to farm by taking over their parent’s operation and can go into or continue, a newbie needs to learn first either by working on an existing farm that has been operating for a number of years, or get a mentor, or both.

For example, if I want to get into cow-calf business, I have to do my research and asking questions first before I take the plunge and purchase some cows with calves. I do have previous farming experience which helps significantly, as well as capital to keep the newly founded herd on, so that is not as much of a problem as other folks do who are moving from the big city to the wide countryside.

3) Do your research: Popularity and Fabs aren’t Everything

Don’t give in easily to the fabs and the popular equipment or livestock out there. Often time those popular type of livestock or equipment will not work out for you and your plan of operation. For example, the Angus breed. Angus cattle are not really known for their docility, just the fact that they produce darn good beef off their carcass and are the most popular breed observed in the United States and Canada to date. Yes they are good for range cattle, yes they are good mothers, yes they have great calving ease (depending on selection), yes the A.A.A (American Angus Association) have a great marketing initiative to make them the highest selling breed on the market in competition with the other coloured breeds. But, is that what you want? Not too long ago a genetic disorder has cropped up in the Angus breed called Curly Calf Syndrome, a disorder that results in dead calves at birth from suspected linebreeding of cattle from similar lineages–which is often the case when you have millions of Angus cattle across the continent. Another concern is that the Angus breed is more for those who can handle potentially aggressive mothers and somewhat-nutty bulls, among other things. I could go on.

Another example is rookie producer that has a small farm of 80 acres or less decides on going all out and purchasing large, brand-new machinery that is only suitable for farms with huge tracts of field-land to cover. A farm of only 80 acres maybe only devote half the acreage to the production of barley or corn; the other half would more likely go into living space, garden, and livestock areas. That’s only 40 acres of crop sown, and if that newbie goes out and spends all that money on that kind of machinery that is only going to be used once or twice a year, at the very least, he shouldn’t even be farming: he should be owning an equipment dealership instead. It sounds harsh, sure, but look at it this way: that machinery is probably worth more than the farm is. Depretiation, as well as the long run costs of maintaining this new-fangled equipment just isn’t necessary on a small farm. Either hiring custom outfits to till, sow, spray and harvest the crop for you or purchasing older, and much cheaper machinery from an auction is the best thing to go for. Personally, I’d have it custom done. Or convert it into hay or pasture…

4) Plan, plan, plan!

Planning is a huge deal in today’s world when one is starting a farm right from scratch. A farm is a business, no matter if it involves selling grain and livestock, or fruits and vegetables. A business plan, be it complex or simple, is the best thing to develop and have on hand when planning and implementing those plans to the farm. It also gives the bank an idea of what you want to do if you wish to take out a loan. Back in the old days, you could start farming without needing to form a plan, everything was simple and plain. Now, you have tons of options to choose from and just as much ways to sell your end product. Plan what to do and how to do it: it’s the key to success.

5) Location, location, location.

The most important factor that determines what kind and what size of farm to start up are the varied choices to consider in location, geography and climate. All of these have an influence in your choice to farm in that area and what crops and livestock are best to raise or grow. In the case of livestock, there are at least four factors to contend with that are totally out of your control when raising the critters: topography, climate, vegetation, and soil.

Case in point, look at the differences between that found in Alberta, Canada and in Florida, USA. Alberta has quite the variation in topography, from the rugged Rocky Mountains to the west, to prairie that stretches from the southern border all the way up to Lloydminster and west to the foothills, as well as a significant patch up in Grande Prairie and Peace River areas. We also have boreal forest that extends from south of Athabasca all the way to the northern border and beyond. Florida doesn’t have that much of variation in topography: grasslands and swamps as well as the ocean that surrounds much of its southern, western and eastern borders (note: there are also many swamps found up here in Alta, many of which have no bottom: those are considered “muskeg” or “bog”). Alberta has a drier climate that varies in rainfall: the prairies get less rainfall than the boreal forest. Florida is quite a moist area all around because of the influence of the ocean and its currents. Alberta has four defined seasons, one of which is more wickeder than the other three. Florida’s four seasons are very much less defined, with snow being rare around there.

Alberta has a very wide range of soil type, from rich, organic soil created from the grasses of the prairie, to acidic, sandy soil derived from the spruce and pine of the boreal forest. New soil is also found in various areas; clays are also found to the north, south of the boreal. Florida’s soil (forgive me if I get this wrong) ranges from loamy to sandy with not much between, depending on the topography.

Vegetation comes in wide varieties as well in Alberta, thanks to human intervention. We are able to grow C4 grasses (annuals like corn; other annuals that are not C4’s are most cereal crops like wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale) in the spring and summer months, only to have them die when the cold snows hit. Most of the native vegetation is adapted to withstand cold winters to regrow in the summer, therefore 98% of the grasses found in pasture and hayland are C3 grasses, grasses that start to grow in early April and last until June or July, already completing their life-cycle long before winter arrives. The trees and shrubs too are adapted to a colder, drier climate: our prime example are evergreens. Florida does not have to worry about extreme cold temperatures, thus the grasses that grow there are more commonly C4 grasses, those grasses that will grow later in the spring/summer and complete their life-cycle come fall. C3 grasses are also found there, but grow only during the “winter” months. The trees and shrubs there as well as adapted to a warm, humid climate and thrive as such. Similar differences are found in forbs grown in Alberta and Florida.

When you get these different climates even with cropping systems, this can limit you to what type of crop plants you can/should plant. Some areas of the USA and Canada can be too cold for one crop and too warm for another, or vice versa. Soil type is also very important, as well as topography. You can’t grow a field of wheat in the chaparral desert of Arizona, even if you tried! The mountainous terrain of the Cumberland hills in the Apalachain mountains, for instance, is not a wise place to plant corn. So topography, climate and soil type is critical in determining where to farm, how to farm and what to farm.

6) When you get down to it, it’s all up to you in the end.

There are more variables, such as personal choices and goals, that should also be taken into account when wanting to establish a farm, and this can be considered a sixth factor in choosing where/how to farm. Are you able to contend with Alberta’s cold winters, where the snow gets deep and feeding livestock can sometimes be a challenge, but the summers are warm however short, with beautiful fall days and summer storms to live with? Or would you rather like a warm humid climate where you are able to graze 365 days a year with hurricanes and swarms of bugs (i.e. chiggers, flies, mosquitoes) to contend with? And do you prefer to tinker with machinery and watch your crop grow, or would you rather be happy with looking after livestock, with fixing fence, looking after sick animals, planning pasture rotations, feed diets, breeding and birthing schedules, etc? Perhaps you may want to do both. And perhaps you may only want to have a few acres as a hobby farmer instead of going whole-hog and have a farm that is at least 100 acres in size?

It’s all up to you.

Making Investment Plans

Steps In Investing

Step 1: Meeting Investment Prerequisites-Before one even thinks of investing, they should make sure they have adequately provided for the necessities, like housing, food, transportation, clothing, etc. Also, there should be an additional amount of money that could be used as emergency cash, and protection against other various risks. This protection could be through life, health, property, and liability insurance.

Step 2: Establishing Investing Goals-Once the prerequisites are taken care of, an investor will then want to establish their investing goals, which is laying out financial objectives they wish to achieve. The goals chosen will determine what types of investments they will make. The most common investing goals are accumulating retirement funds, increasing current income, saving for major expenditures, and sheltering income from taxes.

Step 3: Adopting an Investment Plan-Once someone has their general goals, they will need to adopt an investment plan. This will include specifying a target date for achieving a goal and the amount of tolerable risk involved.

Step 4: Evaluating Investment Vehicles-Next up is evaluating investment vehicles by looking at each vehicle’s potential return and risk.

Step 5: Selecting Suitable Investments-With all the information gathered so far, a person will use it to select the investment vehicles that will compliment their goals the most. One should take into consideration expected return, risk, and tax considerations. Careful selection is important.

Step 6: Constructing a Diversified Portfolio-In order to achieve their investment goals, investors will need to pull together an investment portfolio of suitable investments. Investors should diversify their portfolio by including a number of different investment vehicles to earn higher returns and/or to be exposed to less risk as opposed to just limiting themselves to one or two investments. Investing in mutual funds can help achieve diversification and also have the benefit of it being professionally managed.

Step 7: Managing the Portfolio-Once a portfolio is put together, an investor should measure the behavior in relation to expected performance, and make adjustments as needed.

Considering Personal Taxes

Knowing current tax laws can help an investor reduce the taxes and increase the amount of after-tax dollars available for investing.

Basic Sources of Taxation-There are two main types of taxes to know about which are those levied by the federal government, and those levied by state and local governments. The federal income tax is the main form of personal taxation, while state and local taxes can vary from area to area. In addition to the income taxes, the state and local governments also receive revenue from sales and property taxes. These income taxes have the greatest impact on security investments, which the returns are in the form of dividends, interest, and increases in value. Property taxes can also have a significant impact on real estate and other forms of property investment.

Types of Income-Income for individuals can be classified into three basic categories:

1. Active Income-This can be made up of wages, salaries, bonuses, tips, pension, and alimony. It is made up of income earned on the job as well as through other forms of noninvestment income.

2. Portfolio Income-This income is from earnings produced from various investments which could be made up of savings accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, and futures, and consists of interest, dividends, and capital gains.

3. Passive Income-Income gained through real estate, limited partnerships, and other forms of tax-advantaged investments.

Investments and Taxes-Taking into tax laws is an important part of the investment process. Tax planning involves examining both current and projected earnings, and developing strategies to help defer and minimize the level of taxes. Planning for these taxes will help assist investment activities over time so that an investor can achieve maximum after-tax returns.

Tax-Advantaged Retirement Vehicles-Over the years the federal government has established several types of retirement vehicles. Employer-sponsored plans can include 401(k) plans, savings plans, and profit-sharing plans. These plans are usually voluntary and allow employees to increase the amount of money for retirement and tax advantage of tax-deferral benefits. Individuals can also setup tax-sheltered retirement programs like Keogh plans and SEP-IRAs for the self-employed. IRAs and Roth IRAs can be setup by almost anyone, subject to certain qualifications. These plans generally allow people to defer taxes on both the contributions and earnings until retirement.

Investing Over the Life Cycle

As investors age, their investment strategies tend to change as well. They tend to be more aggressive when they’re young and transition to more conservative investments as they grow older. Younger investors usually go for growth-oriented investments that focus on capital gains as opposed to current income. This is because they don’t usually have much for investable funds, so capital gains are often viewed as the quickest way to build up capital. These investments are usually through high-risk common stocks, options, and futures.

As the investors become more middle-aged, other things like educational expenses and retirement become more important. As this happens, the typical investor moves towards more higher quality securities which are low-risk growth and income stocks, high-grade bonds, preferred stocks, and mutual funds.

As the investors get closer to retirement, their focus is usually on the preservation of capital and income. Their investment portfolio is now usually very conservative at this point. It would typically consist of low-risk income stocks and mutual funds, high-yield government bonds, quality corporate bonds, CDs, and other short-term investment vehicles.

Investing In Different Economic Conditions

Even though the government has different tools or strategies for moderating economic swings, investors will still endure numerous changes in the economy while investing. An investment program must allow the investor to recognize and react to changing conditions in the economy. It is important to know where to put your money and when to make your moves.

Knowing where to put your money is the easiest part to deal with. This involves matching the risk and return objectives of an investor’s plan with the investment vehicles. For example, if there is an experienced investor that can tolerate more risk, then speculative stocks may be right for them. A novice investor that wants a decent return on their capital may decide to invest in a growth-oriented mutual fund. Although stocks and growth funds may do well in an expanding economy, they can turn out to be failures at other times. Because of this, it is important to know when to make your moves.

Knowing when to invest is difficult because it deals with market timing. Even most professional money managers, economists, and investors can’t consistently predict the market and economic movements. It’s easier to understand the current state of the market or economy. That is, knowing whether the market/economy is expanding or declining is easier to understand than trying to predict upcoming changes.

The market or economy can have three different conditions: (1) recovery or expansion, (2) decline or recession, (3) a change in the general direction of its movement. It’s fairly easy to observe when the economy is in a state of expansion or recession. The difficult part is knowing whether the existing state of the economy will continue on the course it’s on, or change direction. How an investor responds to these market conditions will depend on the types of investment vehicles they hold. No matter what the state of the economy is, an investor’s willingness to enter the capital market depends on a basic trust in fair and accurate financial reporting.

Stocks and the Business Cycle

Conditions in the economy are highly influential on common stocks and other equity-related securities. Economic conditions is also referred to as the business cycle. The business cycle mirrors the current status of a variety of economic variables which includes GDP, industrial production, personal disposable income, the unemployment rate, and more.

An expanding business cycle will be reflected in a strong economy. When business is thriving and profits are up, stock prices react by increasing in value and returns. Speculative and growth-oriented stocks tend to do especially well in strong markets. On the flip side, when economic activity is diminishing, the values and returns on common stocks tend to follow the same pattern.

Bonds and Interest Rates

Bonds and other forms of fixed-income securities are highly sensitive to movements in interest rates. The single most important variable that determines bond price behavior and returns is the interest rate. Bond prices and interest rates move in opposite directions. Lower interest rates are favorable for bonds for an investor. However, high interest rates increase the attractiveness of new bonds because they must offer high returns to attract investors.

Four Horsemen of the Cultural Apocalypse – Criminology, Psychology, Sociology and Theology

Historic attempts, feeble and selfish at best, the four horsemen of the cultural apocalypse long endeavored to establish their relevance for defining human nature. For the tip of psychic iceberg, the regression devolved from philosophical contemplation to pretentious claim of scientific validity. Behold, they came from the darkness of human intentions, to claim truths yet to be found in the shadowy mysteriousness of human intentions, motivations and eternal damnation. As to pundits, politicians, the public and the proselytes for each cause, or school of thought, or cult of confession, they fostered arrogance of speculation deemed “scientific”.

Of those not seriously qualifying as a science, as in astronomy, biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, by way of rigorous analytic contention, philosophical conjecture conspired to make its creations inventive nightmarish creatures. In the realms of academic, the path of least resistance, the trails the herd frequently travels and the walkways crowded with mass gullibility, sleight of hand mesmerized the many. As to the usual suspects, in the treachery of myth, magic and metaphor, the four collude their smug piety in egregious fallacies of inference. Of that, the wayward pretenses of magical thinking deludes the masses in simplistic thinking.

Complicity is found in the ease by which degreed sanctification blusters in the hallowed sanctuaries of anecdotal regurgitation, flashbacks through history and bogus claims of research validity. Where the challenge comes in mathematical analytics, biologic physicality, subatomic microscopy, astronomical forensics, and proof of scientific validity, the horsemen excuse their shortcomings in appeals that hope springs eternal. Subjective validation supersedes facts. Their bafflegab trespasses upon many boundaries, as criminology, psychology, sociology and theology strike back with a vengeance. None dare disagree and breaks from the formation.

In the adventures of pseudosciences, anything is possible, and yet, the mere mention of the word should not engage fear, animosity or condemnation. Nothing about the term should invite excommunication, exorcism or execution, but instead encourage the intensity of continuous investigation. No silver bullets, holy water or laying on of hands should amass a counteroffensive against those who might question the scientific authenticity of myriad conjectures. Healthy skepticism in the pursuit of intellectual vitality, by insistence upon investigative scrutiny, questioning and doubting specious generalizations, is creative and productive.

Nonetheless, the mention of anything that might sound like, look like, or feel like a hint of something akin to “pseudoscience”, the emotional reactivity transmutes a seemingly normal looking individual into a venomous demonic entity. The question arises as what constitutes normal, or better yet, what is a “reasonable person”. Additionally, the query begs the timeline as to when it became acceptable to advance varying levels of stupidity or ignorance in terms of hunting down the truth and proving evidence to support any assertion. The negativity is nauseous.

As to that historic point of reference, in article of major online science journal, the writer ponders at what point in U.S. history it became part of the social mainstream to accept fiction over facts. Further, as one of the founding fathers claimed well-reasoned thinking processes, supported by scientific validation, and persistent testing and systematic study to prove or disprove, are essential to the revelations of truth beyond doubt. The hint is in the writings of historic scientific investigators and those who contributed to the Declaration of Independence.

While people have a right to their beliefs, at least to some degree in the West, knowledge advances wisdom which transforms civilization, not by mere conjecture based on opinion, but by intense study, rigorous testing and analysis, argument and dispute. Additionally, belief systems either transform over time, or remain static prone to stagnation. Regardless, continuous introspective assessment within each individual is essential.

Further, ongoing discourse is vital, as each ought to understand the other given their perspective, time and place, maturity, experience, innovation, growth and discovery. As most are where they are at a point in time, based on at least the forgoing, but also their selfless attention to rigorous analysis of their ideations that channel into propositional viewpoints. Disagreement is indispensable, while peer review is a fraud, unless the laboratory, or the crime lab, the microscope proves the assertion at hand by the physical nature of scientific validation. Alternative philosophical fascinations often remain fixated on unsubstantiated illusions.

Ideological claims are insufficient without the stringent testing of evidentiary authentication by the weight of physical realm provability. As to that, beliefs, especially those of an occultic, supernatural or cultic philosophical standpoint are immensely tainted by the bias of subjective validation. Key to the maturation of experienced real-world credibility includes the degree to which transformation has chosen a higher path of informed enlightenment. While everyone should labor to transcend their personal egoistic intentions, most will be unwilling to concede their self-interests. Unfortunately, arrogance contrives to make pseudoscience into a science.

For non-practitioners in the various schools of philosophy, particularly those who transferred from the classroom to the faculty room, and never set foot in the real world, the challenge of credible scientific validation remains daunting. So much so, that “field research” often passes on as anecdotal observations, interviews, surveys and speculations regarding other research. In the regurgitation of previous opinionated speculations, sometimes, a facade of “scientific” is attached to the inquiry. Sooner or later, others begin to accept the “scientific validation”.

The gamesmanship becomes even more pervasive as that public begins to accept ideological perspectives as “conclusive proof” of an unsubstantiated claim. While some investigators have tried to foster a round table discussion on issues of “real science” versus “pseudoscience”, as well as “peer review” versus critical analysis, the experience has been less than satisfactory. Particularly in the world of academia, where fantasy sometimes becomes a defensive theory, challenges to the pretentious allegory of fiction masquerading as fact, usually invites severe reaction.

To claim or otherwise perpetrate the illusion of a science, a particular school of thought, or ideology, etc., does little to promote problem solving in everyday matters of human behavior. While various doctrinal and dogmatic traditions assert a scientific basis, the reality is such that a claim of using “scientific methodology” is a shallow appeal the practicality. By the convolutions of magical thinking, it is a leap of faith from theory to evidentiary validation. And, in the 21st century, reflecting the words of one scientist, people may have forsaken the ability to distinguish between science and science fiction. Personal bias skews every point of view.

For the inclination to subjective validation, bias enters every query. Control of that predisposition by way of some effort at objectivity is vital to any investigation. Accordingly, this suggests the influence of the investigators personal beliefs. Attempts have been made to identify preconceived notions and their influence in relation to ideological partiality. Depending on the survey and the organization conducting the survey, results may vary to some degree. In this regard, one study of religious inclination by a major research agency, as pertains to a “belief in God”, suggested little of 80% of the participants believed in a “higher authority”.

That is to say, the majority claimed a belief in a divine being or supernatural entity that influences their lives. On an education basis, those with graduate degrees were reported to have a believability range of about 70%. Of course, the temptation here is to speculate on the influence of belief systems and the claim of “scientific methodology” among the pseudosciences. Where two thirds of educated persons believe in the supernatural, how does that impact objectivity?

The illusionary intricacy assumes many parts of the whole. Taking belief systems from “cultic”, or dogmatic sources, the comingling of presumptive errors compound the mythic proportions by which fallacies of inference transition to accepted hastily drawn conclusion. In collusion with multiple facetious claims, unsubstantiated by the organic rigors of physical evidence, whether microscopic or cosmic, viewpoints, opinions and gossipy flirtations mutate into grotesque forms of imaginative superstitions. In most controversies of argumentation and debate, as regards human behavior from a mental analysis, interactivity of interpersonal exchange should be cautiously anticipated.

One or more participants may not have achieved sufficient maturation.
To confront or otherwise interact in more profanely productive ways, a certain degree individualization is necessary. Bias, prejudice, immaturity, inexperience, lack of close contact with reality, and so on, stifle energetic intensity for enlightened liberation. As suggested in the forgoing, dogmatic and doctrinaire beliefs constrict visionary processes. This suggests probable generational rift, as younger generations may not have arrived at levels of competency strengthened by years of experience, education and personal transformation. Mature, adult, grownup and wiser insightfulness requires extraordinary investment of well-differentiated selflessness.

An example of the youthful indifference to adventurous discovery outside the monogamous constrictions of institutional conformity, comes in the form of limited and defensive perspectives. One aspect is easily attacking alternative points of views, such as the ease by which schools of thought in psychology quickly condescend the medical specialty of psychiatry. That is fascinating intrigue of extraordinary bias, especially considering the roots of psychology. Opinions are not evidence of extraordinary discovery for the complete explanation of human nature.

But of course, in mainstream American society, any conjecture can be accepted without question as scientific efficacy. Of which, the frauds perpetrate the worst afflictions over a weakened society. In a dumbed down culture, self-imposed of course, anything is believable. Plus, bias reflects the academic arrogance of fearful, self-absorbed, child-like infantile narcissism. In this, as for example within the collegiate communities, academia perpetrates the fantasy as fact, absent materiality of scientific proof. And yet, the hypocrisy runs rampant.

On the offensive, in a celebrity worship culture, any actor of famous characterization can pontificate on any social issues and be accepted as authorities. While free speech is one thing, and an opinion is good anyone else’s, expertise is quite an exception. Opinions, gossip and rumors are not evidence. To use one’s wealth, status and influence is not equitable.

Where bias clouds conjecture and otherwise influences conclusions, observational misinterpretation hazes over the reliability of personal perspective. All utterances should be suspected of cognitive bias, as eyewitness testimony is subjected to cross-examination. Yet, frequently, to leverage one’s apparent status of supposedly famous stature and notoriety, to espouse an opinion as though fact or scientific validation, is to use the force and effect of egoistic intimidation. It is insulting and abusive to presuppose one’s socio-economic political status is more relevant than some else. Power and privilege do not infer intelligence.

Such arrogant notions, as for example a Hollywood actor, blabbering about guns and school violence are essentially private opinions. Often such blathering are superficial for fame and personal promotion, and avoid any semblance of scientific or evidentiary authentication. Unsubstantiated speculations do more harm than good and serve to mislead others. In the use of wealth, pretense of authority, and presumed reputation, many frauds are perpetrated.

Given the nature of egregious fallacies of inference, public policy can be adversely affects, as politicians tend to be easy targets of pseudoscience. Such exhibitions of notoriety use the unfair advantage of material success to promote a particular economic or political agenda. Often the result is further erosion of any aspect of intellectual discourse to serve the greater good, or protect the general welfare of the republic. Too frequently, stupidity advances instead of wisdom. When the four horsemen enter the scene of societal interactivity, pseudoscience quickly becomes the imposter impersonating the reality of scientific validity. Fiction replaces fact.

A very quick admonition is to exercise a sense of healthy skepticism by common sense application of cynical analysis. People say and do what people say do because it’s what they desire to do. Claims, assertions and studies of any kind are to be carefully investigated by testing the data, insisting upon replication and ensuring scientific efficacy. At one of the inquiry is the immediate understanding that correlation cannot be confused with causation. Regardless, the intentional collusion is committed every day in the not so hallowed halls of academia.

In the non-science realm of philosophical speculation, anything is possible. Pseudoscience can easily concoct an explanation and assert a correlation as a causation. While comparing an apple and orange side by side, one can infer the relationship as examples of fruit. In terms of a distinctive differentiation, a dissimilar nature emerges. Nonetheless, many can easily conjure along a simplistic continuum claim a specificity of correlation to causation generalities. No matter what the facts may show, some will insist every apple is actually an orange.

Since the comparison of the fruit was conducted over a bushel or a basket or two, the observational bias, and the resulting survey assessment, extrapolate a very broad generalization. Given the fruit’s family tree, seasonal abnormalities, and agricultural inequities, it is easy to infer that all apples and oranges are exactly the same. In other words, one template fits all. After labeling one or more as “bad apples”, or “rotten oranges”, the diagnosis, or cultivation, transitions to a “cure”, which typically means a drug therapy, or pesticide to kill off the psychic contagion.

In the end, a question lingers in the haze of magical thinking, regardless of protestations and threats of retaliation for political correctness violations, and that is what does the scientific evidence show? Followed up by, what does the blood test, x-ray, ultra sound or other lab test reveal? Offenses are easily taken when serious speculation challenges viewpoints. However, when consensus, or by majority vote, a theoretical construct becomes a “diagnosis”, skepticism ought to fill the void in the empty spaces around the special conjecture.

The insightful inquisitor chases every element of claims said to be true to the exclusion of every other possibility. Unfortunately, in a devolving society, facts are easily circumvented for the satiation of the most convenient and simplistic explanation. Of which, conjecture is not really an explanation at all. Speculation as to the superficiality of an alleged “mental illness” issue is an opinion based on a theory. It is centuries old dogma exorcizing demons, or fortune telling masquerading as “criminal profiling”, or pseudoscience pretending to be science.

Doctrines of the supernatural are schemes of myth, magic and metaphysical suppositions, for which something called faith accepts undefinable phenomena. Faithfulness to an ideology does not insist upon the rigors of scientific validation. Meanwhile, in the hypocrisy of belief, if 80% of the population, including adherents of certain schools of “social studies”, believe in things supernatural, bias of speculation has been influenced before the fact.

So, bias influences conclusions about one thing or another, while observations of the biased inquirer has preconceived notions as to subsequent observations. In conjunction, designing a form of investigation, or model to be tested, in conjunction with predisposition aforethought, influences the outcome determined in the results. To this primordial mix, throw in “scientific sounding” jargon and anecdotal references similarly supportive, and a whole scheme of conjecture becomes believable. Now add a spiritual dimension, or occult symbolism, or doctrinaire admonition, and eventually the unsubstantiated claims will be accepted. By politicians, pundits and the public. Willful acceptance follows the easy path of simplistic acquiescence.

Easy trouble free receptivity does not provide the motivational basis of in-depth inquiry. To say that “it turns out that”, “it has been reported that”, or “it is assumed that”, and so on, does not substantiate anything. In fact, to the contrary, immediate challenge should be issued. Any and all claims are to be vigorously tested, debated and questioned. Alleged data ought to receive critical analysis, while opinion, rumor and gossip are never to be accepted without thorough investigation. Likewise, jargon, labeling, and so-called diagnoses from a philosophical viewpoint are to be questioned without hesitance. Included in this inquisition is any pretentiousness relative to anecdotal claims of supposed credibility. Similarly, faith proves nothing.

Motive, means and opportunity is an illusion. This typical “crime solving” rubric sounds nice in a movie or television drama. The public finds this sort of simplicity easy to digest. However, it is misleading. At best, a starting point. Nonetheless, such a perspective can be misleading and counterproductive. In a classical criminological spectrum, such admonitions by an inquirer are meaningless unless evidentiary substantiation suffices the authenticity of scientific validation. Every critical analysis invites the provocation as to whether or not an issue can be elevated to a scientific sufficiency by matters of reliable proof of technical authentication.

Absent serious evidentiary verification, credible legitimacy and substantive multifaceted verification, supposition based on opinion remains insufficient. As research comes in many forms, and data often manipulated to ensure subjective validation, intense scrutiny of any claim is essential. Otherwise, conjecture, assumption, inference, and so forth, are speculative points of interests that demand deeper investigation. To the reference of motive, means and opportunity, yes, fiction writers are fond of any phrase redundantly torturing one cliché after another.

Outside the hardcore sciences of forensic analysis, the “soft sciences”, “social studies, or more adversely the pseudosciences, perpetuate grievous fallacies of inference that render an assortment of hasty generalizations. Especially in detective fiction, movies, television, etc., the repetitive nature of fallacies of inference unfortunately carry over into the real world. Unfortunately, people will believe anything. Faulty conclusions, lazily drawn through the zeal of immediate gratification for a definitive “singular theory”, erroneously pontificated upon cognitive bias, results in unsubstantiated conjecture. This sets the stage of divisive social policy and hastens the eventual demise of the human species. That point relates to the regressive inclinations of human devolution. In a world losing the imaginative edge of innovation, the decay of analytic insight, and the loss of rational methodology, self-serving infantilism invites a dystopic set of consequences.

Observing post-election vehemence in the grotesque rhetoric of condescension is but one example of a regressively adversarial trend in the American society. An entitled sense of retaliation for perceived claim of “victimization”, irrationally justifies a “get even” mentality. Selfishness, the grand scheme of personal enrichment, easily allows the seduction to any mythic or supernatural means to exert power, control and domination over others. From the standpoint of personal belief systems, influenced by ideological extremes of one form or another, the baseless claims of over-simplification justifies egregious fallacies of inference clinging to hasty generalizations.

Lacking the backbone, expressing cowardice in avoiding courageous actions toward wiser ascension, and degrading the freedom of individuality, the social mainstream exhibits an illicit collective consensus that conspires to stifle mature growth. In the process of perpetual putdowns toward another perspective because they disagree, expresses the erosion of the free exercise of competitive ideations. Maturation to higher states of mental and physical individuality demands fortitude beyond the normal routine of daily interactivity.

In addition, such evolving transformation bears the signpost of pointing in the direction of an attendant possibility toward a more probable outcome of higher self-realization. Across the superficiality of social media and “opinionated” news reporting, the shallowness of bloated “mindless” conceit wallows in the shortsighted inebriation of degrading arrogance. As such, anti-thinking pervades the array of communal connections with a range of nonsensical notions for the sake of emotional reactivity. In support of the status quo consensus of myriad small-minded illusions, meaningful levels of rational understanding stifle the elevation of society.

As alleged in one major publication, representing one of the four horsemen (criminology, psychology, sociology and theology), an author for the “psyche” realm accuses religion as being representative of faulty reasoning that leads to magical thinking. In so doing, the claimant suggests gross errors of “cognitive bias” in the spheres of religiosity and the paranormal. The argument proposed is that such things are the result of wishful thinking not scientific validation.

Such is a fascinating notion emanating from field closely allied to the psychological aspects within the arena of “social studies”. But wait, one could offer by contrast that the “four horsemen” are very closely related in that real science is not a strong element in their entrenched domains. All such accusations, claims and ideological perspectives devolve to speculations based on philosophical biases. Hope springs eternal in the non-reality of subjective validation and ensuring consistent patterns of simplistic conjecture. As such, the status quo remains secure.

Investing Money in 2014 and 2015 for Retirement – An Old Pro’s Viewpoint

In 2014 and maybe 2015 and beyond, investing money will be tougher and putting together the best investment portfolio might mean investing money for safety vs. higher investment returns. The best investment ideas are slim pickings. There is very little that is normal in today’s world of finance. My reasoning and background follows.

In 1971 I had my Masters in Business (finance) and knew nothing about the investment world or investing money. Actually, I found it quite embarrassing, because adults that I would meet in the business world thought that I might have the best investment ideas in my pocket – due to my education. The years that followed were not the best investment environment, and I became a stock broker in Columbus, Ohio in 1972. I learned real quick what my job was really all about: selling investment ideas… SELL the sizzle NOT the steak… I was informed by my sales manager.

Forty years later, investing money is a game that I find has changed little. It’s all but impossible to find the best investment, and the world of investing money is primarily a sales game aimed at uninformed investors (more than 90% of the investing public). I once read that NOW is always the hardest time to invest money. I’ve seen difficult times in the markets for over 40 years and I’ve NEVER repeated that phrase until now.

At this time, I am afraid that it is really true. Allison and I have three children, who are all basically 30-something and trying to make it in a difficult world. Investing money for retirement is not an option for them. It is an absolute necessity if they don’t want to work for the rest of their life. Many folks my age are covered by pension funds plus other entitlements, but that’s not the norm for 2014 and beyond. Now, let’s get down to business and talk about investing money in 2014 and beyond; and the best investment ideas I can muster as an older (but still on top of my game) retired financial planner.

If you have a 401k at work participate in it, and take maximum advantage of your employer’s matching contribution if your company offers this feature (it’s free money). Investing money here is automatic and almost painless. This is one of the best investment ideas available for accumulating a nest egg for retirement. Plus, the tax advantages will put a smile on your face each year at income-tax time.

Open a Roth IRA with a major NO-LOAD mutual fund family and start investing money each month through their automatic investment plan. Enter “no-load funds” into a search engine and you’ll see some of the biggest and best fund companies at the top of the page, names like Vanguard, Fidelity and T Rowe Price. Give them a toll-free call if you have questions – like do you qualify, how much can you invest a year, and will they send you free literature. A Roth IRA (or Roth 401k if available) is one of the very best investment ideas for accumulating money for retirement. A Roth account (IRA or 401k) is TAX FREE investing, as long as you follow the rules. Tax free is as good as it gets and difficult to find.

Mutual funds are the average investor’s best investment vehicle because they offer both professional management and instant diversification in the form of a managed portfolio of stocks, bonds, and money market securities. When you invest money in a fund, you own a very small part of (own shares in) a very large investment portfolio. There is always a cost for investing money in funds. All funds charge for yearly expenses. This can amount to less than 1% a year in NO-LOAD FUNDS, with no sales charges when you invest money and no extra ongoing management fees. Or, you can pay 5% in sales charges off the top when you invest money, 2% or more for yearly expenses and 1% to 2% in additional management fees if you work through a sales rep (financial planner, adviser, or whatever).

One of the best investment ideas for 2014, 2015 and beyond: keep your cost of investing money as low as possible. This could make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars over the long term. A dollar saved is a dollar earned.

Do all that you can to learn about investing money; and especially learn about stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Once you understand stocks and bonds, getting a handle on mutual funds is a piece of cake. What are the investment options inside your employer’s 401k plan? The vast majority of them are likely mutual funds – mostly stock funds, bond funds, and/or balanced funds (that invest in both stocks and bonds). There will likely also be one or two safe investment options that pay interest: a money market funds and/or a stable account.

Investing money successfully in 2014 and beyond could be very difficult due to today’s investment environment. First, record low interest rates mean that safe investments that pay interest are paying close to nothing. Second, bonds and bond funds pay more interest, but when interest rates go back up to normal levels they WILL LOSE money; that’s the way bonds and bond funds work. Third, stocks and stock funds are pricy, having gone up in value and price well over 100% since 2009. In other words, best investment ideas are few and far between.

Here’s the best investment strategy in 2014 and beyond for beginners who want to start investing money for retirement and keep it simple. In a 401k and/or Roth IRA account invest (monthly or each payday) equal amounts into a stock fund, bond fund, and money market fund. If your 401k has a stable account option use this instead of the money market fund if it pays more interest.

Mutual funds are always one of the best investment ideas for most investors – if you invest money in low-cost no-load funds. (Your 401k plan should have no loads, sales charges). When investing money for retirement in 2014 and 2015 keep three factors in mind. Two of these always apply: keep costs low and invest money across the board in all three fund types listed above. Your third factor is to give money market funds equal weight in 2014 and beyond for added safety. Normally, you would give them less weighting.

Different Types of Farm And Agricultural Machinery

As the population of the country grows the demand for food and organic products also increases. The farmers and farm land owners have to work hard to produce more products so that they meet the increased demands. In recent times technology has led the way and transformed the way agricultural activities are performed. There are different types of farm and agricultural machines which can now be used by farmers. Although they are expensive, they can really help a lot in improving efficiencies and increasing produce. Some of the different types of machines are described below.

Tractor

This is the most commonly used equipment in the farm. A tractor pulls heavy objects and supplies needed in the production. It has two large wheels at the back and two small wheels in front. Today tractors are more modernized. They have comfortable seats, durable wheels and body and temperature control.

Cultivator

Before planting, the soil should be cultivated by stirring and pulverizing. This is to aerate the soil. Like the tractor, this machine also has two big wheels at the back and two small wheels in front. It also has shanks or teeth which will cultivate the soil once the machine is operational.

Broadcast seeder

It is a machine that is attached to the tractor so that the seed will be distributed all over the land. The seeds are located in a hopper which has multiple blades inside. Rotating disks are also located so that you can spread the seeds in different patterns.

Harvester

When the plants are already ready to be harvested, a harvester is used. All kinds of grains can be collected by a harvester. It performs three different roles. It can chop the plants, remove the finished product and clean the debris from the product.

Sprayer

Plants are prone to pest infestation. You need to protect them by regularly applying pesticides. You can only do this when you have a sprayer. It facilitates the work especially if your land is wide. You can also use the self- propelled row-crop sprayer which has four wheels. The sprayer is usually found at the back of this equipment.

With these different types of farm and agricultural machinery, farmers have been able to produce a higher quantity of products at a lesser cost. They have proved to be a boon to the farmers. In some locations, farmers may also be able to secure bank loans to purchase such equipment.

What Is an Investment?

One of the reasons many people fail, even very woefully, in the game of investing is that they play it without understanding the rules that regulate it. It is an obvious truth that you cannot win a game if you violate its rules. However, you must know the rules before you will be able to avoid violating them. Another reason people fail in investing is that they play the game without understanding what it is all about. This is why it is important to unmask the meaning of the term, ‘investment’. What is an investment? An investment is an income-generating valuable. It is very important that you take note of every word in the definition because they are important in understanding the real meaning of investment.

From the definition above, there are two key features of an investment. Every possession, belonging or property (of yours) must satisfy both conditions before it can qualify to become (or be called) an investment. Otherwise, it will be something other than an investment. The first feature of an investment is that it is a valuable – something that is very useful or important. Hence, any possession, belonging or property (of yours) that has no value is not, and cannot be, an investment. By the standard of this definition, a worthless, useless or insignificant possession, belonging or property is not an investment. Every investment has value that can be quantified monetarily. In other words, every investment has a monetary worth.

The second feature of an investment is that, in addition to being a valuable, it must be income-generating. This means that it must be able to make money for the owner, or at least, help the owner in the money-making process. Every investment has wealth-creating capacity, obligation, responsibility and function. This is an inalienable feature of an investment. Any possession, belonging or property that cannot generate income for the owner, or at least help the owner in generating income, is not, and cannot be, an investment, irrespective of how valuable or precious it may be. In addition, any belonging that cannot play any of these financial roles is not an investment, irrespective of how expensive or costly it may be.

There is another feature of an investment that is very closely related to the second feature described above which you should be very mindful of. This will also help you realise if a valuable is an investment or not. An investment that does not generate money in the strict sense, or help in generating income, saves money. Such an investment saves the owner from some expenses he would have been making in its absence, though it may lack the capacity to attract some money to the pocket of the investor. By so doing, the investment generates money for the owner, though not in the strict sense. In other words, the investment still performs a wealth-creating function for the owner/investor.

As a rule, every valuable, in addition to being something that is very useful and important, must have the capacity to generate income for the owner, or save money for him, before it can qualify to be called an investment. It is very important to emphasize the second feature of an investment (i.e. an investment as being income-generating). The reason for this claim is that most people consider only the first feature in their judgments on what constitutes an investment. They understand an investment simply as a valuable, even if the valuable is income-devouring. Such a misconception usually has serious long-term financial consequences. Such people often make costly financial mistakes that cost them fortunes in life.

Perhaps, one of the causes of this misconception is that it is acceptable in the academic world. In financial studies in conventional educational institutions and academic publications, investments – otherwise called assets – refer to valuables or properties. This is why business organisations regard all their valuables and properties as their assets, even if they do not generate any income for them. This notion of investment is unacceptable among financially literate people because it is not only incorrect, but also misleading and deceptive. This is why some organisations ignorantly consider their liabilities as their assets. This is also why some people also consider their liabilities as their assets/investments.

It is a pity that many people, especially financially ignorant people, consider valuables that consume their incomes, but do not generate any income for them, as investments. Such people record their income-consuming valuables on the list of their investments. People who do so are financial illiterates. This is why they have no future in their finances. What financially literate people describe as income-consuming valuables are considered as investments by financial illiterates. This shows a difference in perception, reasoning and mindset between financially literate people and financially illiterate and ignorant people. This is why financially literate people have future in their finances while financial illiterates do not.

From the definition above, the first thing you should consider in investing is, “How valuable is what you want to acquire with your money as an investment?” The higher the value, all things being equal, the better the investment (though the higher the cost of the acquisition will likely be). The second factor is, “How much can it generate for you?” If it is a valuable but non income-generating, then it is not (and cannot be) an investment, needless to say that it cannot be income-generating if it is not a valuable. Hence, if you cannot answer both questions in the affirmative, then what you are doing cannot be investing and what you are acquiring cannot be an investment. At best, you may be acquiring a liability.

Working In Agriculture

A wide variety of agriculture jobs exist, ranging from hands-on field work to complex positions in agricultural engineering. Specific job categories include agribusiness, agricultural inspection, agriscience, and farm work. Some positions are learned on the job, while others will require a college degree and specialized training.

Agriculture jobs in the business sector involve working with companies that grow and sell crops and livestock. The distribution, buying, and trading of produce may be supervised. The work typically includes marketing, price analysis, drafting contracts, and farm management. Most of these positions will require a four-year degree or higher, as well as good communication and people skills.

Agricultural inspectors often work for government offices that establish and enforce health and safety regulations regarding the food supply. These inspectors make sure that farms and processing plants are following the proper procedures where food safety is concerned. This usually involves testing livestock for harmful diseases and inspecting food for dangerous microbes and other contaminants.

An agricultural scientist works to improve the quality and safety of both farm animals and crops. These positions are often found in universities and research labs. The agricultural jobs may include improving farm equipment technology to increase the quantity and quality of goods, finding cures for diseases that affect livestock and crops, and discovering more effective methods of pest control. A strong background in science, math, and engineering is necessary for this position.

Farming was likely the very first agriculture job; in addition to crops and livestock, it may also involve specialized animal breeding. To ensure healthy crops, the art of plowing, planting, and fertilization must be learned for each crop type. The responsible use of pesticides is also important, as well as the routine maintenance of facilities and equipment. A production manager may be employed to oversee progress, while also finding ways to increase production using less time and money. Many farm positions are seasonal, employing extra workers during certain months to pick fruits and vegetables.

Animal breeders must be well educated in animal health and genetics. They must know the proper foods to feed an animal for ensuring healthy offspring, and will study the various traits of different animals to determine the best breeding specimens. Breeders will often use artificial insemination and must therefore understand how the procedure works.

Best Investment Ideas and Best Safe Investments for 2012

Here we list some of the best investment ideas and tackle the challenge of finding the best safe investments for 2012. What might appear to be one of the best investment ideas to the uninformed could turn out to be one of the worst.

Looking at the big picture for investment ideas in 2012, moderation in asset allocation and a balanced investment portfolio will be the most basic key to success. There are 4 asset classes, and average investors need to spread their money across at least the first three to keep their overall portfolio risk moderate. The 4 categories in asset allocation are: safe investments, bonds, stocks and alternative investments like gold and real estate (optional). Asset allocation can be simplified, because there are mutual funds available to average investors that represent each of the 4 asset classes. Now let’s get more specific about the best investment ideas for 2012 starting with safe investments.

Safe investments earn interest and do not fluctuate in price. You will need to look outside of mutual funds in 2012 to find the best safe investments because record low interest rates have taken yields on money market securities (and hence money market funds) down to just about zero. One of the best investment ideas if you have an account with a discount broker or major mutual fund company is to shop for one-year CDs paying higher rates if you can’t get competitive rates from your local bank. Do not tie your money up for longer periods just to earn a little more interest. One of these days interest rates will go back up and you will be locked in at a lower rate and face penalty charges if you cash in early.

Finding the best safe investments will be truly challenging in 2012, but here are some more investment ideas. If you are in a retirement plan like a 401k that has a fixed or stable account option do not overlook it. You can often get a much higher interest rate there (maybe 4% to 5%) than anywhere else outside of your retirement plan. If you own an older retirement annuity or universal life insurance policy, it might have a fixed account you can add money to that is guaranteed to never pay less than 3% or 4%. Remember, truly safe investments like U.S. Treasury bills and bank money market and savings accounts are paying WAY LESS than 1%!

Over the past 30 years bonds and bond funds have become a favorite with investors because they have been consistent performers and returned on average about 10% per year… basically about equal to what stocks have returned, but with considerably less risk. Many investors have fallen in love with their bonds funds and consider them to be among the world’s best safe investments. Bond funds are NOT safe investments. They have performed well since 1981 (when interest rates and inflation were at record highs) for one primary reason. Both inflation and interest rates have been falling for 30 years, which has sent bond prices higher. Loading up on bond funds now is NOT one of the best investment ideas for 2012. In fact, it is one of the worst investment ideas.

When interest rates and/or inflation turn around and head upward bond funds, especially those that hold long-term bond issues, will be losers. That’s how bonds work. One of the very best investment ideas for 2012 is to sell your long-term bond funds if you own any, and switch to funds holding bonds with average maturities of about five years. These are called intermediate-term bond funds; and average investors should have some money invested here as part of their asset allocation strategy to add balance to their investment portfolio. These are not truly safe investments, but they are much safer than long-term funds.

My best investment ideas in the stock department focus on stock funds. Do not go heavily into the more aggressive funds that invest primarily in growth and/or small company stocks. These pay little if anything in dividend income and tend to be more risky and volatile than the average stock fund. Go with funds that invest in high quality large-company stocks with excellent dividend paying histories. Look for funds that are paying 2% or more in dividends. One of the best investment ideas for 2012 and beyond: invest in no-load funds with low yearly expenses. No-load means no sales charges, and low expenses mean higher net returns to the investor.

Alternative investments include the likes of real estate, gold and other precious metals, natural resources, commodities, foreign investments and so on. One of the best investment ideas for managing a truly balanced investment portfolio is to include this fourth asset class as well. The simplest way for the average investor to add these alternatives to their portfolio is with mutual funds that specialize in these areas or sectors. My best investment ideas here: don’t go heavily into any one area, and don’t chase after a sector (like gold) just because it’s hot. Real estate and natural resources funds would be my picks as two of the best investment ideas in the alternative investments asset class.

Moderation and diversification across the asset classes will be the key to asset allocation in 2012. I have also listed some specific best investment ideas for keeping the average investor in the game and out of serious trouble should the investment scene turn ugly. Above all else memorize this: long-term bond funds are not among the best safe investments for 2012. They are not safe investments, period.