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@theMarket: Bulls Batter the Bears
By Bill Schmick,
05:07PM / Friday, February 24, 2012
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Day after day, the markets climb higher. Recession in Europe, worries over China's growth, even the skyrocketing price of oil have no power over these markets. The bears are in full retreat and only sunny skies are allowed on Wall Street.

Despite an increasing number of predictions that the market has run too far, that stocks are heading for a correction, investors still use any minor dip in the markets as an opportunity to get in. On Friday we touched 12-month highs on the S&P 500 Index while the Dow flirted with the 13,000 mark for most of the week.

It seems to me that it is time for a little profit-taking, if you haven't already. My suggestion would be to pare back on your most

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The Independent Investor: Gas Prices Going Higher
By Bill Schmick,
04:07PM / Thursday, February 23, 2012
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Over the last week a flurry of price forecasts for gasoline have reverberated through Wall Street. Some experts are guessing that pump prices could easily top $4 a gallon and possibly higher by Memorial Day this year.

Their forecasts are being extrapolated from the present price of gasoline which averages $3.61 per gallon. That is high for this time of year, since February is usually a period of low gasoline demand. You might think that this year is a bit different since the mild winter and absence of snow throughout much of the country might bolster driving. But demand nationwide is down to 15-year lows.

What has propped up oil prices so far this year is continued instability

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The Independent Investor: Should College be Free, Part II
By Bill Schmick,
01:16PM / Friday, February 17, 2012
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My last column ended with two questions:

"Does a high school education prepare our youth to enter the work force, escape poverty and become productive citizen of the economy?"

The answer to that question is a resounding no, in my opinion, which creates a problem since the purpose of public education, according to our founding fathers, was the accomplishment of those goals. I believe there is a consensus among Americans that a college education has supplanted high school as a requirement in accomplishing the above goals. In which case, colleges should be tuition-free just like most high schools.

Whether college really does prepare our future generations for "living

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@theMarket: Profit Taking
By Bill Schmick,
07:53AM / Saturday, February 11, 2012
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It has been six weeks (29 consecutive trading days) since we have seen a 1 percent decline in the averages. Given that last year it was practically a daily occurrence, most investors are breathing a sigh of relief. That is starting to worry me.

As a born-again contrarian, I find when most people are leaning one way I tend to start leaning the other. If you have followed my advice and been invested in a dividend and income mostly portfolio, you should be up over 5 percent so far this year, and its only February.

Frankly, I thought the S&P 500 Index would peak out on a short-term basis at around 1,350-1,365 sometime in March of this year. Well folks, as of this week we actually came

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The Independent Investor: Should College Be Free?
By Bill Schmick,
04:18PM / Thursday, February 09, 2012
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It is a debate that has occupied this country for years. Should college be free to all Americans or should we continue to pay for it? Those in favor argue it is one of our inalienable rights. Those opposed say college is a privilege to be earned and paid for in order for it to have meaning and merit.

I  suspect the majority of Americans who are still paying off student loans, or are already paying for a college education (or soon will be) would vote for free tuition. Who can blame them?

My daughter was born in 1980 and graduated college in 2002. During that time period, the cost of a college education increased almost 400 percent. Looking at prices today, I would say I got off

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