1984 And The New Financial Analyst

Apparently, many college graduates are gravitating back to dot.com types of businesses and are shying away from Wall Street.  Many are still dismayed by what they perceive as the failings of Wall Street, and are still enamored by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. I’m still not quite sure what OWS is or was meant to be, other than a group of wannabes who were trying to imitate my generation’s Vietnam War demonstrations and Woodstock. No Crosby Stills and Nash, Joplin or Jimi Hendrix coming out of the OWS movement.

Apparently, what is coming out of the movement is a failure of smart people interested in jobs in the financial markets.  Recent reports by some financial institutions claim that an average of 40% of their new employees fail the licensing exams.  That’s deeply troubling to people like me who are retired and rely on their investment income or 401’s to survive.  Do I want one of the four in ten managing my account?  I think not.

There is no question that the business sector – a collusion of banks, real estate professionals, appraisers, investment bankers, insurance companies, etc. – came close to tanking the economy worldwide with the ill conceived subprime mortgage fiasco.  But I fear what they didn’t achieve will be finished by the “C” students who are getting the financial jobs.  I want the “A” students managing my assets, and I want them doing it intelligently, creatively, and ethically.

I also think that there needs to be a greater emphasis on capitalism generally.  Today we hear more and more about the need for the rich to pay their share.  The results of this rhetoric is twofold: first, there is no incentive to become wealthy if the government at every level is going to take the money you make.  I have a friend in Florida whose son is a radiologist in Michigan.  His told me that 75% of the income his son earns over $300,000 goes to taxes, so he’s structured his work life to stop at $300k.  Now that sounds like a lot of money, but remember the first $300,00 is taxed at close to 50%, he gave up years of his life to become a radiologist, has school loans out the kazoo, a mortgage, kids in school and on and on.  It reminds me of my early business trips to the former Soviet Union in 1990, when a person I met said to me, “if I make one car, I get 100 rubles a week; if I make 10 cars, I get 100 rubles a week.  Why make 10 cars?”

Secondly, the idea that the rich aren’t paying their share is just plain wrong.  When people make this misguided argument, they refer to Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, or Michael Bloomberg, all of whom gleefully tell the world they are happy to pay more in taxes.  Guess what?  I’m not.  I don’t have their wealth, and neither do most people who are the so-called rich who aren’t paying enough.

We are beginning to live in some kind or Orwellian world where doublespeak is creating major divisions between groups, and resulting in an untrue belief system.  Somehow, being angry and blaming others is replacing personal accountability.


© 2103 James Stuckey

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