How to trade online, naps and all

Posted: Sunday, January 02, 2000

How would you like to make BIG MONEY while sitting at home in your bathrobe eating cake frosting straight from the can when ever you felt like it?

If this sounds like the ideal career to you, then you should get into ``online trading,'' which means getting rich by buying and selling stocks on the Internet, a worldwide network of computers operated by magic.

I assume you are on the Internet. If you are not, then pardon my French, but vous etes un big loser. Today EVERYBODY is on the Internet, including the primitive Mud People of the Amazon rain forest. In the old days, when the Mud People needed food, they had to manually throw spears at wild boars; whereas today they simply get on the Internet, go to www.spear-a-boar.com and click their mouse a few times (the Mud People use actual mice). Within three business days, a large box is delivered to them by a U.P.S. driver, whom they eat.

So you, too, need to get online, and it could not be easier! Signing up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) takes only a few minutes, after which you will immediately start enjoying all the benefits of having a fee charged to your credit card every month until the end of time. If you wish to cancel your account for any reason, such as your death, all you have to do is contact your ISP, fill out a simple form, then climb into a big tank and fight Rex, the Customer Service Death Squid.

But you won't have to worry about monthly fees once you're making ``big money'' as an online trader! Of course financial experts recommend that, before you make any investment decision, you should carefully read a ``Q&A''-type column written by a trained English major. Here it is:

Q. Are there any risks associated with online stock trading?

A. Yes. People do get hurt. To cite just one example: A man whom I will call Webster P. Horngasket II of 2038 Open Wound Lane, Eau Claire, Wis., who was unemployed and had a wife and five hungry children to support, took his last $17.40, which was supposed to be for little Jessica's insulin, and decided to ``play the market'' with it, despite having no previous experience. Two days later, his lifeless body was found crushed under an enormous pile of thousand-dollar bills that he had failed to stack properly.

Q. What a chilling cautionary tale.

A. His family had to go to Disney World without him.

Q. How should I choose an online brokerage?

A. You'll be trusting your brokerage with your financial future, so you should make absolutely sure that you pick one with a good TV commercial.

Q. What about the brokerage whose commercial for some reason consists entirely of people square-dancing?

A. That is an excellent firm, although every now and then the staff has to run out and assist in the birth of a heifer.

Q. OK, I've chosen an online brokerage! Now what do I do?

A. Step one in your investment program, according to the American Society of Financial Planners, is to quit your job. ``The best way,'' notes the Society, ``is to write a businesslike letter of resignation and staple it firmly to your immediate supervisor's forehead.'' Now you're ready to get rich by trading stocks!

Q. What, exactly, ARE stocks?

A. They are pieces of paper stating that you, personally, own a piece of a company. This means that if you own stock in, say, General Motors, any time you want, you may walk into a Chevrolet dealership and take a piece of a car.

Q. What if I own stock in NBC?

A. You may touch Jennifer Aniston's thighs.

Q. What is the best strategy for buying stocks?

A. Consider the story of two neighbors, ``Bob'' and ``Ted,'' who each have $5,000 to invest. ``Bob'' invests in a diversified portfolio of solid stocks with prospects for steady long-term growth; while ``Ted'' gambles it all on a single high-risk stock. After six months, during which the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen by 14.3 percent, ``Bob'' falls to his death while attempting to unclog his gutters, and ``Ted'' suddenly realizes that he does not have to return ``Bob's'' riding mower.

Q. So it's better to just let the gutters stay clogged?

A. That has always been our philosophy.

Q. What causes the Stock Market to go up and down?

A. A man named Alan Greenspan. If he's in a good mood, the market goes up; if he's in a bad mood, the market goes down.

Q. So you're saying I should put uppers in his Metamucil?

A. That is how Martha Stewart did it.

Q. Can you give me the name of a ``sleeper'' stock that you know, from ``inside'' information, is about to go through the roof?

A. Yes, and here it is, unless the newspaper editors decide to keep it to themselves.

The Dave Barry-for-President campaign needs you! Check out Dave's Web site at www.herald.com/davebarry for secret orders.

Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald.



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