The Battle To Save America's Brains
Heading to India
The Mail Bag
Three months ago a reader wrote: "Timothy, I look forward to your writings everyday. You are definitely doing your part in the BATTLE TO SAVE AMERICA'S BRAINS!" I responded by saying I liked the phrase and might borrow it. But I've never found quite the right place to use it. It's a bit grand. All I'm trying to do is communicate some intelligent thoughts, get you to think a little, and maybe subscribe to some of our investment advice. But I pass the phrase on to you in the slim hope that it will find a little traction, because every one of us has a brain, and if we would all just use them a little better, our country would be better off for it.
I did read an interesting book in the last year by Dr. Daniel Amen called "Making a Good Brain Great." Dr. Amen has analyzed thousands of brain scans and learned to correlate healthy and unhealthy brains with various behaviors. I recommend it. Or, just read my quick list.
Don't smoke cigarettes. They put carbon monoxide in the brain.
Avoid toxic environments. Illicit drugs--especially painkillers--are bad, but even alcohol and caffeine impair brain function.
Don't eat highly processed foods. They don't feed the brain as well as real foods.
Avoid head impacts. Boxing is an obvious no-no, but football, hockey and even soccer carry substantial risks.
Avoid dumb TV shows and violent video games.
Use your brain in challenging activities, if not in your regular job then in outside activities. I'm a puzzle addict--crosswords, Sudoku, etc.
Do something different. New activities force the brain to build new connections.
Exercise. It puts more blood in your brain.
Practice sports that use different muscles and different motor skills. It helps build new connections.
Listen to different music. It helps build new connections. Even better, learn to play a musical instrument. Sing.
Find reasons to laugh. It reduces stress.
Finally, get enough sleep.
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Speaking of trying new things, I love traveling to new places. As you're reading this, I'm vacationing in India ... my first time here. I've spent months reading guide books, putting together the perfect itinerary for my wife and me. And now the adventure is on. So instead of writing, I'm reprinting some of the more notable responses I've received from readers in recent months, first about healthcare and then government in general.
"I work in the health care trenches--behind the bench of a pharmacy every day. I totally agree the system is broken. On one hand we have the prevailing mindset of the consumer that their insurance should be providing them with prescriptions at little or no cost. On the other we have a system that prints money for those at the top but fails to equitably distribute enough money to allow fair profits at the bottom. Our health care system is a deliberately complex cash distribution scheme that will trade a person's health for a percent point gain in an actuarial equation. Health care will never be properly priced or distributed until it is treated as the utility that it is and Americans will never change their poor health habits until it starts to hit them in the wallet."
"To achieve maximum health, emphasis on different approaches is needed. The medical-pharma system we have is a wasteful failure in every respect. Most of all it overlooks the simple fact that a healthier lifestyle is by far the most cost-efficient and successful approach. The AMA convinced a generation of fools that all they had to do was rely on the M.D. and his pills and hospitals. The second problem is that natural substances that work cannot be patented and therefore turned into great profit, so they are ignored. This is where the market approach really fails. We are being sold a bill of goods, one that is often deadly. A new paradigm is desperately needed."
J. R. from Illinois
"I'm a new reader, 63 yrs old. My wife is 65. I've run my own business as an importer and designer of lighting fixtures from China, and I'm currently GM of a major plumbing company and owner of a software development company for hard goods distribution (this was to be my retirement job).
"My mom passed away a short time ago at 88. She had a small VA pension from my Dad, a WWII vet. The VA has been paying for four months AFTER her death.
"Just who will the government get to run the new bailout operations?? VA cast-offs?
"God save the Republic."
"Why is Congress praised for passing bills? Better to undo some bills, starting with the Jones act. How about, for every one they pass, they kill one? For every department they create, they kill one?"
"The problem is that as soon as a politician is elected to federal office he learns that he can steal from us. The longer they are in office the better they get at stealing. I think the founding fathers had this in mind when they set the term for members of the House at two years. We need to start a ground swell among voters to NOT vote for any incumbent in federal elections. This is where all the spending bills originate and the new people should be aware that if they don't stop spending they will be turned out in two years. This hits them where it really hurts because they don't care about us. All they care about is getting reelected."
J.K. from Tennessee
Moving on to investments, and sticking with the health care theme, I want to remind you of Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST), a stock last mentioned here on October 2. Back then it was selling at a little over 21. Now it's north of 25.
Cubist has earned a spot in Cabot Top Ten Report four times since September. In last week's issue, here's what editor Michael Cintolo wrote.
"Despite the numerous advances made in medicine in recent decades, the basic science of infection control remains a challenge. We all know that one of the risks of entering a hospital is acquiring an infection. And one of the most common challenges is fighting infections of the skin and bloodstream. Addressing this challenge, and making money while doing it, is the focus of Cubist, which until recently received all its revenues from CUBICIN, a once-daily IV bacterial antibiotic approved for treatment of skin, skin structure and bloodstream infections, including infective endocarditis. Its second product is MERREM, used for difficult skin infections, which began contributing to revenues in July. Cubist is also working on products that target infection in the liver, in the gastrointestinal tract and during on-pump cardiothoracic surgery. Third quarter earnings, released three weeks ago, were terrific, and led to increases in analysts' estimates. We like the growth, we like the healthy margins and we like the still-reasonable valuation."
Cubist is one of the very few stocks today that is truly acting well. In short, institutions that are getting to know the stocks are steadily climbing on board, reasoning that future earnings growth in this mass-market industry will be very rewarding.
The broad market is still not in a bullish phase; buying anything still brings plenty of risk. But if you've got an itchy trigger finger, CBST is worth considering.
Yours in pursuit of wisdom and wealth,
Cabot Wealth Advisory
Editor's Note: Each week in Cabot Top Ten Report, no matter the market environment, our proprietary OptiMo stock screening software uncovers the stocks that are under the most accumulation. The result: You get 10 stocks each week, along with reasons why the smart-money crowd is buying up the stocks. And you also get suggested buy ranges and follow-up for every name, as well as the ability to email your questions directly to the editor. If you want to be assured of knowing all the leaders of the next advance, you owe it to yourself to give Cabot Top Ten Report a try.