Friday, October 7, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: My Take

I've been following the marches on Wall Street and other locations rather keenly the last few days and it's time for a blog about it.

First, let me tell what it's not about: it's not about politics as usual. Politics as usual are why we are in the mess to begin with. It's not about young lazy people who have nothing better to do than complain. I know this because I've seen many that do that. Some might even claim I'm that way. ;-)

These marches are happening because things aren't right with the world and no one in power seems to care. There aren't a lot of things to be happy about right now. I know, just being alive should be enough, but what kind of life are most of us living right now? Are we well-off? Is our future secure? No, we're struggling, fighting to come up for air because some person or entity is holding us back. Some say that builds character, but I say it breeds discontent, and people who are discontent are driving this 'revolution.'

Honestly, I don't know where it will go, or how long. I'd like to see real change happen out of it, mostly in the financial industry that helped cause the problems to start with. For instance, one of the drivers of the housing bubble collapse was the fact that mortgages can be bought and sold as commodities.

Think about that.

Really think about that. I'll wait.

If you haven't got it, let me tell you how I see that. I see someone's home being shopped around by someone who wants to make even more money than the interest and fees generate. And they generate a lot of money. Your home. Someone else's home. I've never owned a home before, so while this does not affect me directly, it sure had an impact on others, making them homeless in the process. The practice of selling mortgages as commodities needs to be banned.

The fact is a lot of people on Wall Street use other people's money and other assets to make money for themselves. I'm a fan of capitalism, believe it or not. I'd love to own my own business, but I have problems with the way stocks, bonds and other commodities are sold. No one is in it to lose money, but do you have to make other people suffer so you can make a few extra thousand dollars? When something is bought at a cheap price and then sold at a higher price, aren't you taking advantage of someone with less skill than you? Shame on you! This is the biggest problem with Wall Street: the lack of compassion. The pure greed that drives the markets into a frenzy.

So what to do about it? I think electronic stock trading needs tighter regulation. Things were bad enough in 1929, nowadays the greed is so rampant that investors are taking chances with other people's money just to stay competitive. And it's ALL other people's money. 401k plans, bonds, stock portfolios. It's like a lottery today, and they money isn't going to education! (I'll leave the state of education for another blog!)

As far as the marches go, I support them! I plan to go to an Occupy Raleigh rally on Sunday. If you ask me what I'm protesting I'll say 'The status quo!' Because my particular status quo is pretty bad.

Oh, and don't forget, if you'd really like to invest in America, and get the joy of giving in return, Project Five-Star is still active, even if it has received no donations thus far. You can donate, though by going to the link on the side of this blog, or I promise I won't take your money and run. I promise that the people trained by that project will come out of it well-armed to get the few jobs that are available. I promise I won't ignore the needs of the 99% to satisfy the greed of the 1%.