We have a culture of blaming others for our problems and Main Street is now on a tear with this “Occupy Wall Street” movement that's gathering steam. The thesis is that financial institutions and anybody who has anything to deal with financial institutions are bad. The government and the media help fuel the fire against Wall Street and make them scapegoats for the economic decline. That way, they'll hopefully deflect the blame away from themselves.
One man from one Wall Street firm stood up and had enough. In 2010, he penned this letter below which started slowly circulating the web until it finally caught my eye. The letter is just as appropriate today as it was last year. He probably had nothing specifically to do with credit default swaps and other exotic instruments that helped cause our decline. “Wall Street” is a catch-all phrase that leads to a lot of unwarranted stereotypes.
Just because you work at Bank of America as a teller doesn't mean that you are to blame for Ken Lewis' empire building when he bought Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch for prices nobody in their right mind would pay, which is now leading to massive layoffs. Just because someone is a Latin America investment banker at Goldman Sachs doesn't mean they are responsible for you buying 3 condos with minimal money down in Florida to try and get rich. No, the guy buying the 3 condos is responsible………… or is he?
Just because you have massive student loans and can't find a job, that doesn't mean the US economist working at JP Morgan had anything to do with your situation. Maybe it's because you borrowed more than you could afford? Or maybe it's because you didn't do well enough in school or go to a better school for that matter. Why protest an irrelevant economist when you could protest right at your very own school!
If you are a raging populist, who is easily offended, and complains a lot, perhaps you shouldn't have a read. But, if you're a normal rational person who likes to see both viewpoints, take a look and let's discuss! Remember, this letter is a retort against the media and the protesters who've attacked him, his family and his industry for months.
“WE ARE WALL STREET” EMAIL
“We are Wall Street. It’s our job to make money. Whether it’s a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn’t matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn’t hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone’s 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to “Gamblers Anonymous” because they won too much in Vegas.
Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joe's are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.
Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. What’s going to happen when we can’t find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We’re going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We’re used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don’t take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don’t demand a union. We don’t retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we’ll eat that.
For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We’re going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I’ll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.
So now that we’re going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Main Street is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we’re going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren’t going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We’re going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.
The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it’s really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat a**es land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.
We aren’t dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Main Street our food supply…will he live and will Joe Main Street survive?”
Is there any truth to this letter? Should we blame financial institutions and people who work in financial institutions for our nation's economic woes? Or, should we blame people who borrowed more than they could afford and didn't uphold their promises to pay off their debts?
If we bring down Wall St., will the rest of society get better or worse? The one key point I disagree with in the letter is the author's jab against teachers. Teachers are woefully underpaid in my opinion, and have taken plenty of hits during this downturn as the government cuts back on educational funding.
Sometimes we just have to take a look in the mirror and accept responsibility for our own decisions. But sometimes, it's so fun to list out a bunch of random people and organizations to lay blame on!
“I blame you Mr. Barber for losing me money in the stock market!”
“I blame you Dr. Phil for me still being out of shape!”
“I blame you Lindsay Lohan for why I can't stop smoking these joints!
“I blame you Albert Einstein for not allowing me to get straight A's in school!”
“I blame you Market Zuckerberg for not being rich by age 25!”
“I blame you Tiger Woods for cheating on my wife 30 times and getting a divorce!”
“I blame you Pace University for forcing me to go into so much student debt!”
“I blame you President Obama for why I can't get a job!”
“I blame you Wall Street for everything that is wrong in my life!”
“I blame you readers for not making me a rich and famous personal finance blogger!”
Share your thoughts and more examples of blame, baby!
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