The simple fix to stop Wall Street from endangering our livelihoods

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In a news article last week, JP Morgan Chase was reported to have hit another low that scares me, because they own many of our retirement accounts. JP Morgan Chase just paid a huge fine to the feds and admitted that they sold off their investments with Bernie Madoff when they suspected he had a Ponzi scheme going, but they continued to buy these investments for their customers. No jail time was given.

If companies are individuals and can give campaign contributions, then a person or persons at the bank should be held responsible for this and serve jail time, don’t you think? Regardless, I’m glad to see the feds step in and get the billion dollar fine and are going to get it to the people who lost all their money buying these investments. The problem is, what will the bank do to help absorb the cost of the fine? Raise our fees, adjust salaries to the detriment of the workers.

Jail is a better deterrent of corporate wrongdoing.

I have no problem with business, in fact, I think trade and business is what has got us here today, the best time for the average human being around the world, in the history of the world. What I have a problem with is a business that is shielded from responsibility or government leaders who accept their money in exchange for favors. Why not let us change our leadership? Maybe vote for someone without the word “Democrat” or “Republican” after their name?

Why protest when we can simply vote?

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The Occupy Wall Street protests and fear

The protests that began several week ago have spread from NYC to several cities across the nation. I was thinking about why people are protesting now, but not before the market crashed in 2008.  As I puzzled over it, a friend answered my questions simply: “Fear. They’re afraid now.”

We are driven by confidence

For at least the last 10 years, people bought homes and invested in housing loans, because they had confidence that home values would go up. In fact, there was so much confidence, that three things happened:

  1. There were loans that shouldn’t have been taken or given
  2. A lot of investments were bets (derivatives) that home values would increase. Investment banks bet so much, in fact, that they went into debt!
  3. And lastly, but maybe most importantly, investment banks started cheating. They combined the risky derivatives, called subprime, with the more stable derivatives, called AAA, and called them all AAA.

Fear is useful

Everyone bet on house loans because there was no fear, because there were no negative consequences to our actions. The banks didn’t care when someone couldn’t pay their home loan, because the value of homes was always going up.  If someone walked away from the loan, the bank took over an investment that was increasing in value.  Still, bank debt continued to grow, and fear set in that banks didn’t have enough money to pay their account holders. Fear is useful to balance out the belief that we cannot fail. In fact, failure is good.

Failure is a learning opportunity, not a time for retribution

Occupy Wall Street has an opportunity to recognize the failure of the US: Of our government in promoting irresponsible housing loans. Of the banks that chose to go into debt so they could continue giving out housing loans, good loans or bad. Of the people who accepted loans but couldn’t really pay them. Of the people who allowed their banker  to bet their money in the housing market without knowing how they were going into debt?

Occupy Wall Street is not a time for class warfare

Occupy Wall Street needs to show us that our failure is a chance for hope. Hope that we can hold people accountable: The people in government, the people in the corporations, and people like you and me. The protest is a call to take responsibility. To realize that we have the power. The power to do the right thing. When the government or corporation has become too big for us to control, it’s time for us to reign them back to represent our interests. Not the interests of money, but the interests of people.

How do you think the Occupy Wall Street protests can bring about this change?