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Tuesday notes

Oct 22, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Snowy fall

Three weeks of autumn, three snowstorms. There's a seasonal scorecard we usually don't see this time of year, when we often are experiencing some of our most mild, stable weather of the year.

Better news: The weather for Thursday night's suddenly important Riverton-Lander football game at Bill Bush Memorial Stadium in Lander is, by all accounts, going to be beautiful. Take a jacket, not a parka.

And, while there is another storm coming, it looks as if it might hold off until ... next week. Perhaps we can get a break from the storm-a-week pattern that has roughed us up so far this fall.

Not for other people

Yes, the new health care law is intended to be used by you -- meaning it wasn't hammered out with great difficulty over a period of years so that "someone else" would use it. The bad performance of the government website has been getting all the attention this month, but we hope you read, or can re-read, reporter Eric Blom's stories over the weekend that gave some initial information on how it is supposed to work locally, including details on the trained facilitators who can help walk us through the process. Use them if you need to.

There is too much at stake for the website problem not to be fixed. Meanwhile, the more important thing is the law itself and its objective of getting more people covered by health insurance. As Blom's story pointed out, you can sign up by telephone or through regular mail too. We plan to keep reporting on the nuts and bolts of the new law and its processes for local readers.

Five in the 500

Friday's editorial touched on the very real but somewhat intangible impact on many Americans of the bruising political warfare that led to the government shutdown in terms of public morale and the truly terrible example being set by the men and women who try to lay claim to being our highest-level group of public servants.

Here's an effect that's considerably more concrete. Consider our "Five in the 500" investment experiment. The 16-day government shutdown battered the stock markets as investors and managers worried, justifiably, about whether the United States might default on its debts and about how long government services would be interrupted. Remember, too, that 800,000 Americans were out of work during the shutdown.

Had the default actually occurred, it would have been an economic disaster around the world. Even the threat of it a few years ago led to to the downgrade of America's credit rating worldwide.

But since the shutdown ended and the debt default was averted -- even for just a couple of months -- markets have rebounded well. Nowhere is that more evident than in our Five in the 500 test. On presidential inauguration day in January, we imagined a $500, one-time investment in an "index fund" that simply watches the daily rise and fall of the Standard & Poors 500 index. Forget about the performance of the individual stocks in the S&P 500, or the market conditions that affect them. You don't even have to know the names of any of the companies. Simply, did the index rise or fall today?

Well, it rose to a record high almost immediately after the shutdown/default agreement was announced last week. As of Tuesday morning, your initial $500 investment, has you simply left it alone for nine months, would have grown to be worth $623.23

See, Congress members? Americans like you so much better when you do good things. Why not try it more often?

Play ball

Get ready for an old-fashioned World Series. Two of the grand old teams in baseball -- the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals -- take the field Wednesday night for game one at Fenway Park in Boston. Listen carefully and you might still hear the echoes of fans of yore cheering for Babe Ruth and Cy Young, Ted Williams and Stan Musial, for Lou Brock and Carl Yaztrzemski, Bob Gibson and Luis Tiant, for Mark McGuire and Nomar Garciaparra amid the new din for Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran, for Big Papi and Jacoby Ellsbury, and all their teammates.

It shapes up as a great series between two teams that always seem to get the big hit when they need it, and who played each other just a few years back in the Fall Classic (Boston won that one).

Our pick at the start of the playoffs was the Dodgers, who played a great semifinal series with the Cards, so for the series we'll go with the team that sent the Dodgers packing. Cardinals in six or seven games, in a series that will, barring bad weather, end in October -- just as it ought to.

Here's to a good week.

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MAIL SUBSCRIBERS: Friday's edition of The Ranger was delivered to the Riverton post office at 3:28 p.m., in time to meet the postal deadline for next-day mail delivery.

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