Dennis Gibbs wants young, desperate, unemployed people to know that he's been in their shoes -- or worse -- and prevailed

November 25, 2011 — 5:35 AM UTC by Dennis Gibb Guest Columnist

39 Comments

Brooke’s Note: Dennis Gibb is an advisor with Sweetwater Investments, based in Redmond, Wash., that manages about $400 million for high-net-worth clients and oversees another $1 billion for Indian tribes. Earlier this week, Gibb was one of the readers who expressed dismay over the OWS movement in our comments section — and didn’t much like my expressions of sympathy for them. The article appeared after Dina Hampton interviewed a number of Occupy Wall Street protestors and spectators in Zuccotti Park in New York City. See: RIABiz takes on Occupy Wall Street in New York and finds investors wanting answers. In communicating with me offline, Gibb let me know that he had spent time in Seattle talking to these OWS protestors and eventually composed a letter to the administrators of Occupy Seattle and Portland, Ore. Though it doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of RIABiz, Gibb’s letter does speak for many Americans and it also includes a great story of how he built his advisory practice under tough circumstances.

An Open Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Crowd:

I have been part of the Wall Street community for 40 years and my time is nearly run, but believe me when I tell you that I am as furious and frustrated as you that those who brought down Bear Stearns, where I once worked; and Lehman, with whom I did business; and AIG and Countrywide are not in jail. I deal everyday with people who have lost homes or have to extend retirement because of what happened. I hate what happened with a passion that matches yours.

The difference is that I know that in great turmoil there is great opportunity. The great fortunes of today were founded in the turmoil of the 1970s and the fortunes of the 2020s and beyond are being founded today. They are open to those who are willing to discover.

In April of 1972 I was wounded in action in Vietnam. I was returned to the U.S. where I was hospitalized off and on until I was discharged from the Army in late 1973. It was a rather terrible wound — the kind that makes women giggle nervously and men to cringe, and post discharge I still required medical treatment which I got from the VA system.

I had graduated college in 1968 but stayed for an extra semester so I could be awarded a degree in psychology to go with my degrees in history and sociology. In those days, there was a stark option for college graduates: Find a way to avoid the draft or get personal with rice paddies. When I got out of the service, I ran into some of the issues facing the OWS crowd today.

I was 18 in 1964 so I had been witness to the death of JFK and, a few years later, to RFK. I had witnessed the civil rights movement, and the death of Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, and the three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, in Mississippi. I watched from afar the beginning of the hippie counterculture. I worked in Chicago during the race riots and I, along with the whole world, watched the mayhem of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention. I was shocked by the Charles Manson killings.

I was infected with the radicalism of the time and was, for a brief moment, a member of Students for A Democratic Society (SDS), which started out peacefully but was hijacked by violent radicals like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn and eventually became the Weather Underground, which made its mark in acts of violent domestic terrorism. I watched the growing anti-war movement, Woodstock and the resignation of LBJ. As a young soldier, I was trained to be part of federal forces that might be called on to do riot duty.

When, post Army, I entered the civilian work force, I found that all my academic work was useless. We were in a recession that was termed the greatest since the Great Depression. Unemployment nationwide was above 12%, inflation was running in the teens, the nation was gripped in the chaos of racial hatred, antiwar fever, changing demographics and declining political fortunes. We had a succession of presidents who found themselves so tagged with the events of the day they could not lead and who could not solve the problems. The budget deficit was running wild and Congress was inactive and worse than dangerous. The Arabs and the Israelis fought two wars (1968 and 1973) and after the second one the Arabs tripled the price of oil, which had a crushing effect on the U.S. economy.

To a 26-year-old wounded vet the world seemed hopeless and the problems intractable. As Dickens said, “The worst of times.” Emile Durkheim had coined a term that applied to those times — and these — “anomie,” a feeling of aloneness and separation or not belonging and of giving up of hope.

With the degrees I had obtained I had two professional avenues: teach or research. I found, however, that both of those were closed to me unless I wanted to go back to school and get advanced degrees. With the effects of what later would come to be known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the concept of academic rigor was not one I wished to embrace. There were no jobs anywhere that paid secure wages and benefits even for those willing to relocate.

Many of my fellow veterans were in the same situation and, after all, the only marketable skill I possessed was being able to shoot field artillery and run around in a helicopter, hardly transferable to many places in the civilian world. I was faced with little hope, a damaged psyche and body, degrees that qualified me for nothing and an economy that was seemingly on the edge of collapse.

Oh, I forgot that in all of this there was an economic collapse. Yes there had been a great bull market from 1946 to the mid-1960’s but it had ended in the decision to finance both consumer consumption and the war (the famous butter or guns dilemma of basic economics). Wall Street had provided huge money for operators like James Ling of LTV to buy up other companies using worthless securities, the banks had run into financing real estate and were paying the price, there was a scandal involving salad oil that almost destroyed American Express. Over 75% of the brokerage firms in the nation went out of business and we had the failure of a major bank called Franklin National and there were failures of smaller banks all over the nation.

You might ask what has motivated me to tell these painful details of my life and take you on a tour of history. It is because the events of today are strikingly similar to those of 40 years ago. The only real differences are that 40 years ago the student loan program was virtually nonexistent so that most grads were not carrying tons of debt and that primary and secondary education in those days provided sufficient training to get a decent, if unexciting, job.

I did not come from a wealthy family. My father agreed to pay for two out of four years of undergraduate work and that was tuition only; I was on the hook for books, housing, food, and spending money. I worked as a dishwasher, as an underage bartender, a waiter, a floor proctor. I swept the floors of the basketball courts and cleaned the seats after games. There were no Mexican trips for spring break or European vacations in the summer. I worked as a postman at Christmas and filled in at retail stores and factories during breaks from college. If I had told my parents that I was taking a year off from college to “study in Europe” I am sure my father would have had my passport revoked after I got to whatever party I was going to in the Old World.

Despite all my hard work academically and physically, despite my near life sacrifice in service to my country, when I was ready for a job there were none. I had no money, I had no home other than my parents, I owned a rattletrap car but it was more trouble than it was worth and today would not have passed a safety inspection. It ended up that in all my job searching I was presented with three opportunities: I could fly helicopters to and from oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, I could sell insurance or I could sell stocks and bonds — that was it! I did have an offer to go back and work in a steel mill as an apprentice but even as stupid as I was then I knew that the steel industry was in a death spiral.

Stock brokerage, for all its image, is a sales business and if you had asked 100 people who knew me if I would make it as a salesman they would have told you that I couldn’t sell rice to the Chinese! (Still can’t by the way.) I hated telephones yet I was entering a profession where the major instrument of success was the phone. Not only was I going to a profession that required skills that I had not learned, I was going to be selling to a populace savaged by 10 years of bear market. It was a time when a dollar earned at the end of 1972 would only purchase 88 cents worth of goods a year later.

My first year selling (1974) my new wife and I made $11,000 total. The next year, now with a child, I made $9,000. You could not live on the San Francisco Peninsula then or now on $9,000 or even $11,000. My days were unvaried. Each morning I would make two sandwiches — one ham and cheese and one PBJ — and have a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice. At 6:30 a.m. I began calling investors on the East Coast where it was 9:30 and I followed the sun west. I knew no one, I had no family money, I had no connections I had ten fingers and a voice. If you are an introvert like me there is no greater terror than picking up the phone and cold calling someone. I forced myself to do it 35 times a day, five days a week. My first sandwich was my lunch and the second my dinner as I called people in Hawaii. I was typically in the office, on the phone, for 13 hours a day, five days a week or 65-hour weeks.

I DID THIS EVERY DAY FOR 5 YEARS!! Why work like that? What was so important that made me work those hours and take the abuse? What motivates someone to do that? There were three primary reasons and a host of secondary ones.

1. I had to eat — I had nothing to fall back on, no place to go, nowhere to run. If I did not work I did not eat. I guess I could have gone and gotten government support of some sort but that was morally objectionable to me. That was for people who were really in trouble. I could work at some job, and I could earn my way — why would I take a handout when I could do otherwise?

2. I had a family to support — The writer and futurist George Gilder once said that men come to civilization through a woman’s womb and boy is that true. Women, gentlemen, they knock off the rough edges and direct the natural male aggressiveness in other directions. A woman with children refocuses a man’s life to something beyond himself, to the protection of others who he loves and fathered. There was no way I was not going to do right by my family. They would be provided for, regardless of how many hours I had to work.

3. Personal Pride — There was a sense of accomplishment in working. There was pride in the job done. There was the sense of doing something. We had hard times but all of us suffered together and drew strength from each other’s disasters and successes. We formed bonds that have lasted four decades. I was not going to beg, nor was I going to become some creature manipulated by others with a political agenda of victimhood. I did not mistake something being hard with something not worth doing. I recognized and accepted that life was hard and that oftentimes people with the best of intentions did not succeed. But a man is never beaten until he starts to blame others.

I am telling you all this because I am close to being a one percenter, as you say, and guess what? I am not ashamed, worried, hurt, scared or even concerned that you might hate or dislike me. I earned what I have. I have built my business and my life around a concept of morality that might be foreign to you but it bears hearing (it is shared by more people than you know — even the one percenters): First, do unto other as you would have them do to you; Second, because others are being immoral doesn’t mean you have to be; Third, if you work hard and go the extra mile you will find that there are few others on the road with you; Fourth, believe in yourself and not any other outside force; Fifth, I have been alive for 65 years and I cannot think of one thing or problem I ever had that any government ever fixed and neither can you.

Finally, let me say this. If you got a degree in history, or sociology, or urban studies, or transgender LGBT studies or whatever seemed trendy and fun, and now you find job prospects limited, guess who is to blame — you and only you. Man- or woman-up and accept it. What did you expect? The purpose of education is this: In primary education you learn methods and facts like adding, subtraction and writing; in secondary you learn to use those skills to accomplish tasks; in college you learn to think. Think, think, think.

There are jobs out there that will fulfill you beyond anything you can imagine, but no one is going to give them to you because they mostly don’t exist; they are in your minds and in your thoughts. I found out that even though my academic preparation was inadequate that I had skills and gifts. People trusted me; they respected my wiliness to work hard, my introversion made me more intuitive than I would have ever guessed, which allowed me to work with people. I discovered a quick wit and the ability to retain massive amounts of information and to put it together into a skein that made sense.

In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare has Brutus say:

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Are you going to miss your tide squatting in some tent in a park, for a protest that no one will remember in 20 years? Are you going to lose your chance at life because you are making yourself the tool of the very forces you say you hate? Are you going to let yourself be made a tool of hate, just like the German people were used by the Nazis by scapegoating a class of people? If you are then you will be victimized all your lives and you deserve your fate.

Unlike the soccer games of your youth, in life they keep score and there are winners and losers. Self esteem comes with accomplishment but the accomplishment must come first. Sorry that is the way life is and always will be. If you succeed in taking all I have earned and leave me penniless on the curb at 65 I will tell you this. By age 70 I will have it all back and you will still be demanding more assistance.

Wallow in the shallows if you wish, but at 65 I will be out there helping people to take advantage of your silliness.

Brooke’s final note: I interviewed Gibb in 2006 for InvestmentNews. Here is the link to that article.


Mentioned in this article:

Sweetwater Investments, Inc
RIA Welcoming Breakaways
Top Executive: Dennis Gibb



Share your thoughts and opinions with the author or other readers.

Gravatar

Roger Hewins said:

November 25, 2011 — 5:09 PM UTC

Well said.

Gravatar

Rleegarcia said:

November 25, 2011 — 5:17 PM UTC

Generally well spoken. A little bit of arrogance toward the end took away from the main points. Being in my early 50’s I also lived most of what he described. The major differences between now and then, is that he and I still had role models who believed in the hard work=reward theory. A lot of the GenX and Gen Y folks didn’t/don’t have those models.

Another major difference is that in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s most people starting out didn’t have access to credit as we do today. Having a credit line take a little of the edge off.

We are also a much more complex and interconnected society today than even 15 years ago. I marvel at who rapidly the news ccycle moves now. It has had the deleterious effect of holding us captive to the sound bite and for almost all things of importance ahs eliminted any ability to truly deiscuss and debate our differences. Our answers are always geared to the symptoms not the source of our issues.

Gravatar

O.V. Davi said:

November 25, 2011 — 5:40 PM UTC

Brilliant.

Gravatar

Chris Casey said:

November 25, 2011 — 5:51 PM UTC

There are still some unique challenges today which the graduates of the past didn’t have to worry about.

Students have it constantly drilled into their heads that they MUST go to college, which means for most of them that they MUST incur a large student loan debt, just so they don’t have to work at McDonald’s all their life, which has been characterized to most kids as Hell on earth where nobody with any dignity would ever set foot. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. It has become common wisdom that high school educations are woefully inadequate and only in college can a person become worthy of a good job.

Also, the people who are supposed to be creating jobs aren’t creating enough of them to cover the surplus labor force created by the latest economic contraction. there were six unemployed people for every public job opening in 2010. Even McD’s isn’t hiring. They’re full of recent grads who are happy to be making barely enough to cover their student loan and credit card debts.

Easy credit, also known as “predatory credit lending,” is another problem. People have been enticed with the “spend now, pay later” paradigm, and some of their greatest prey are kids who haven’t learned the hard lesson of carrying a constant debt.

Then there’s the simple fact that the wage of a worker in America, in real dollars, has stayed perfectly flat for over 50 years while CEO salaries have increased tremendously. The folks who drove the banks onto a sandbar universally left their companies with multi-million-dollar golden parachutes while millions of people lost their homes. The rich are very, very, very rich these days, which the common American is doing pretty much as it always did. They’re kind of getting tired of that, and wouldn’t mind seeing a little of the supposed economic growth we’ve had in America since 1940.

Gravatar

Kevin said:

November 25, 2011 — 7:11 PM UTC

Well done and very true. It’s interesting that we had a discussion about the 1% movement with our two sons who are attending college as we speak. We were discussing majors and how things were going at school this year and the one thing we all agreed on is they are accountible and responsible for the decisions they make around their education and getting a job after college. They cannot depend on other’s or the gov’t to assist them. I came from a similar backround as the gentlemen in this article and while I’m able to pay for my kids college they know my story clearly and understand how fortunate they are to heve this benefit. I tell them don’t screw it up!! We cannot continue to make decisions for our children and shelter them from reality otherwise they will nver grow up and be able to stand on their own. That’s our responsibility as parents!!

Gravatar

RK said:

November 25, 2011 — 7:41 PM UTC

I’m not quite a 1 percenter, probably more like a 1.5 percenter, which is to say I’m very well off compared with most people, so I share much in terms of biography and outlook with the author. However, I think he completely misses the main point of OWS: That the system itself has been corrupted to the point that even those willing to “work hard and play by the rules” are getting screwed while the crooks who put us into this mess not only get away with it, but take for themselves enormous taxpayer funded bonuses.

Gravatar

Robert said:

November 25, 2011 — 9:17 PM UTC

Dennis, I enjoyed your letter, you made great points. Maybe I liked it because our stories are very similar. USAF from 67-72, Vietnam 68-69 (thankfully, no purple heart) started my business career in the Bay Area in 72 moved to Seattle in 95.

Along the way I ended up starting and selling two businesses. The latest was a mutual fund company. When I was starting out there were times when I could make the payroll for everyone except me. There were always the challenges of long days, long weeks, missed family events, lawsuits and increasing regulations. In my mind the 99%ers don’t get it. It is the thrill of overcoming the challenges that makes life exciting and fulfilling. The challenges facing young adults today may be different, but are they any more difficult? When you are in the middle of the challenges they always seem overwhelming.

Success is not a zero sum gain. My success and I’m sure yours was not at the expense of someone else. Because some CEO is successful doesn’t make it more difficult for me to be successful or anyone in the OWS crowd to be successful.

Again, great letter and thanks for your service to our country.

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

November 25, 2011 — 10:35 PM UTC

Patronizing, preachy and self-congratulatory prose is not going to convince anyone, who doesn’t already agree, nor help engage anyone in dialog. Producing a sales pitch for one’s personal ideology and life is off-putting and missing basic human compassion and empathy and just egocentric. Selfishness is one of the main complaints of OWS.

Imagine this approach and tone of voice being used with clients who have these same concerns — which many clients do.

Not once does it mention any data or evidence or even entertain different legitimate points of view. It is all ad hominem. It simplifies very complex social, economic and political questions of fairness and social responsibilities into one person’s story. There is no objective, detached or professional assessment of these serious matters.

The Tea Party started using the “shouting” self-righteous, venting media tactics and rallies and demonizing the government/taxes/non-evangelical Christians/etc. or anything else in the way of their perceived self-interests — and still are. They painted rifle scope targets on elected officials, etc.

OWS is merely borrowing a page form the TP folks. All extremists are best to do this. However, the discussion on both sides seems to be mainly crackpot rhetoric.

Emotional venting and anecdotes/story-telling hinder problem identification and problem solving. Also, this he said-she said journalism is popular but disingenuous.

In the interest of fairness let’s now get some OWS folks tough love letter to financial advisors. Reality based advisors will want to hear those concerns and ideas — since many of them either will be or effect their clients.

BTW, it always helps to have someone read any article you write. Editing exists for a reason.

Gravatar

roger hewins said:

November 25, 2011 — 11:00 PM UTC

I have to disagree, hard work, responsibility and persistence still pay. It is a shame these virtues are not taught as much as they used to be. And it is a shame that we have the political and business corruption we have, although those things are neither new nor impossible to overcome.

It is also a shame that people no longer seem capable of critical thinking. To equate the tea party, intelligent, hard working and well mannered people who did not so much as leave a candy wrapper on the ground, with this extremist mob – OWS – is just odd. You have to get our of your parent’s basement a little more often.

Gravatar

Sandip Dev said:

November 25, 2011 — 11:10 PM UTC

Very well written. I am an Indian and 25 and I have been following OWS closely. I cannot really sympathize with most of them. They tend to think that having a degree means they SHOULD get a job but in most cases those degrees are from lesser known universities and in such subjects as English, history etc. In India, most humanities grads know very well that they would either be unemployed or get some really underpaid jobs (most of these humanities ppl end up in the call centres). No one whines here although things are far worse. We Indians do not consider ourselves 'entitled’ to anything. We survive in spite of the govt. Which is why I find it comic when these youngster, most of my own age, whine about not getting a job or student debt (I am under $25,000 of student debt and I will be able to pay it back in less than 2 yrs) or those grown ups whining how they have huge credit card debt or mortgage debt. Seriously, why do you own that many credit cards and who asked you to spend that much? Mortgage, I can still understand. I always saw Americans as go getters, very entrepreneurial people who show the rest of the world how to do things. But I guess that generation and those ethos are over. What I see now are people who want to blame others for each and every misfortune (how is insider trading going to affect the guy on the street.Sure it’s wrong but it ain’t really affecting you), want to have everything served to them on a platter.

Also the whole tirade against Ivy league students baffled me. There is a general assumption among this OWS crowd that the only reason they arent in a Harvard or MIT or UC Berkeley is because their parents aren’t rich enough. Thats just BS. If you smart you could have made it; my friends are studying there and their parents dont have money to pay a month fees let alone the whole degree. They made it because these guys worked their asses off. So my message to OWS, stop whining start doing.

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

November 25, 2011 — 11:20 PM UTC

Hmm, guess making personal insults against people with different ideas is a professional advisor’s style of dialog. Clever.

In fact, there is no scientific evidence for any of those things claimed and evidence that success is largely chance, e.g., right parents, inheriting good genes/money/educated family, early childhood support and nurturance. Glad to provide the citations.

The claim of such however, is the “winner take all” and “I’ve got mine – devil take the hindmost” attitude that most Americans reject as a social theory or style of government.

What corruption? Corruption is always claimed by extremist/fringe self-interested groups with no proof.

Whether is TP folks or OWS, “crying wolf” is no basis for problem-solving.

BTW, would those be the same TP folks who brandished firearms at political rallies, don’t want to pay taxes, want to install a Christian evangelical theocracy and dissolve courts that disagree with them, call Social Security a “criminal enterprise”, place rifle scope sights on elected officials online, etc. Those folks? Well-mannered? Intelligent?

Gravatar

Larry Steinberg said:

November 26, 2011 — 12:40 AM UTC

Elmer, it is a little late to come out against personal insults after using the term, “tea bagger”, which I truly believe you didn’t know was a sexual act, in prior threads. My opinion is that coddling the followers of OWS will not work. They have been coddled their whole lives and it is about time they got some straight talk. Them more stories they hear of people persevering and succeeding, the better. Maybe if inundated with the real stories of the people they hate in the 1%, they will learn the truth and instead of expending their energy whining and frankly embarrassing themselves, they will turn the energy to constructive means.

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

November 26, 2011 — 12:45 AM UTC

If you think OWS is not a mass movement and is going to blow-over, be careful. It may have learned some media tactics from the Tea Party but will probably be around longer and be more powerful in voting. Seems to be gaining momentum:

“Unions join Occupy activists in mass protest marches across America
By Lesley Clark and Gianna Palmer | McClatchy Newspapers
NEW YORK — The Occupy Wall Street movement — looking to show staying power after losing prime real estate in various cities — got a boost of support across the country Thursday from labor and progressive organizations in what union organizers said is the most visible sign that they’re working with the activists to press for change.

“This is our way to join with the occupiers, the rest of the labor movement, community allies to declare a state of economic emergency in this country,” said Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union, which earlier this week endorsed Obama for re-election. “The confluence of building this jobs movement with what the Occupy movement is doing is a huge bonus to both efforts.”

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/11/17/130656/unions-join-occupy-activists-in.html#ixzz1elZb04ts”

Here is another story about American healing itself:
“Highest income-inequality tract in America is gentrifying”
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/11/21/130921/highest-income-inequality-tract.html

You do also not want to bad mouth OWS with clients and share Tea Party allegiances professionally. It can be alienating and clients or their children/relatives may have sympathies not like yours.

As always, best to avoid politics, religion and sex in professional conversations.

BTW, you folks have also got to learn what ad hominem arguments are and why they are logically false. Try this:

“Abusive ad hominem (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one’s opponent in order to attack his claim or invalidate his argument, but can also involve pointing out factual but apparent character flaws or actions that are irrelevant to the opponent’s argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and negative facts about the opponent’s personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent’s arguments or assertions.

Examples:
“You can’t believe John when he says the proposed policy would help the economy. He doesn’t even have a job.”
“Candidate Jane’s proposal about zoning is ridiculous. She was caught cheating on her taxes in 2003.”
“What would Mary know about fixing cars? She is a woman.” (an example of Ad feminam)

An abusive ad hominem can apply to a judgment of works or efforts based on the behavior or unconventional political beliefs of an artist, author, or musician, or the taste of an infamous person who loved a certain work.”

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 12:52 AM UTC

Thousands of peaceful OWS protesters pepper sprayed and arrested, not one Wall St. exec or banker held accountable for the financial crisis. Hmmmm…

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

November 26, 2011 — 12:54 AM UTC

Where were 000’s pepper sprayed? Did we miss that?

Gravatar

Larry Steinberg said:

November 26, 2011 — 1:16 AM UTC

I try to keep politics out of business. My clients span the political spectrum, but I don’t shy away when asked about where my opinions lie. I think the only thing worse than being inflammatory is being dishonest. That said, I don’t expect my clients to be reading these types of forums, but wouldn’t be upset if they did and posed questions to me about my opinions.

As for OWS, I do not believe it will just blow over and I do believe it is a direct assault on my profession. Thus, to shy away from taking it on is a mistake. That is why when people like RK spread disinformation, distortions, and just plain lies, I don’t just leave it alone. In fact, I would draw a direct link between the people opposed to DC plans and OWS. Getting rid of Wall Street gets rid of DC plans. DB plans are easily co-opted by the government and thus the move to end 401(k) plans is in my view part and parcel with the OWS movement.

That is not to say their are not genuine complaints among the OWS crowd, but they are the same complaints the tea party has made for two years, just with a totally different set of proposed solutions. Those solutions will just make things for everybody worse, and put all of us financial advisers out of business.

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 1:17 AM UTC

http://www.alternet.org/story/153134/caught_on_camera:_10_shockingly_violent_police_assaults_on_occupy_protesters/?page=entire

Gravatar

Larry Steinberg said:

November 26, 2011 — 1:32 AM UTC

RK, I know the OWS crowd is desperate for a Kent State moment, but people breaking the law getting pepper sprayed for failing to obey the lawful commands of law enforcement is not peaceful protesters being violently attacked.

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 2:01 AM UTC

Larry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AbYHRg3qlw

Refusal to obey a command of law enforcement while passively resisting is part and parcel of civil disobedience. You may think given your political views that they had it coming and got what they deserved, but case law refutes that assertion.

Specifically, using pepper spray against peaceful protestors has been determined by the courts to be an unconstitutional use of excessive force (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1332957.html)

Gravatar

Larry Steinberg said:

November 26, 2011 — 5:43 PM UTC

Trespassing is illegal and calling it civil disobedience doesn’t change that fact. Pepper spray is a minor use of force, the students were warned and chose to be pepper sprayed. Trying to use case law to say the police can’t use force to remove trespassers is non-sensical. It is not my political views that mater, it is the law.

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 5:48 PM UTC

“Trying to use to case law to say the police can’t use force to remove trespassers is non-sensical.”

Yes, trespassing is against the law, as is using excessive force AS DEFINED BY THE COURTS NOT LARRY STEINBERG to remove them.

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 6:12 PM UTC

Let’s apply logic to this argument, shall we Larry?

Suppose we have an analogous situation. You’re carrying a firearm at a Tea Party rally. A cop comes up and says, “Guns are not permitted in this trailer park, I’m taking your firearm.” You refuse. The cop says, “If you do not turn over your weapon, I will shoot you.” Invoking your rights under the Second Amendment, you state that you are entitled to keep your firearm and are willing to be arrested. The cop shoots you. According to your theory, the cop’s action was justified. After all, you were warned.

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 6:13 PM UTC

Let’s apply logic to this argument, shall we Larry?

Suppose we have an analogous situation. You’re carrying a firearm at a Tea Party rally. A cop comes up and says, “Guns are not permitted in this trailer park, I’m taking your firearm.” You refuse. The cop says, “If you do not turn over your weapon, I will shoot you.” Invoking your rights under the Second Amendment, you state that you are entitled to keep your firearm and are willing to be arrested. The cop shoots you. According to your theory, the cop’s action was justified. After all, weapons were not allowed in the trailer park and you were warned.

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 6:13 PM UTC

Let’s apply logic to this argument, shall we Larry?

Suppose we have an analogous situation. You’re carrying a firearm at a Tea Party rally. A cop comes up and says, “Guns are not permitted in this trailer park, I’m taking your firearm.” You refuse. The cop says, “If you do not turn over your weapon, I will shoot you.” Invoking your rights under the Second Amendment, you state that you are entitled to keep your firearm and are willing to be arrested. The cop shoots you. According to your theory, the cop’s action was justified. After all, weapons are not allowed in the trailer park and you were warned.

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 6:14 PM UTC

Sorry for the multiple posts.

Gravatar

Larry Steinberg said:

November 26, 2011 — 6:48 PM UTC

RK, your argument is devoid of any logic because tea party members only carry gun when legally permitted to do so complying with whatever the currently enforced laws are. Pepper spray is not excessive force. If it was, the police wouldn’t be allowed to carry it.

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 7:48 PM UTC

“Pepper spray is not excessive force. If it was, the police wouldn’t be allowed to carry it.”

C’mon Larry, even you can do better than that.

Guns, batons, fists, dogs, and pepper spray are legal for police to use, but if used inappropriately can become instruments in a display of excessive force.

Force is deemed to be excessive when it exceeds the minimum amount of force needed to arrest and detain a subject. Guidelines about when and how and to what degree police can use force are strict, as are laws protecting the rights of you and your fellow citizens not to be subject to unnecessary violence at the hands of law enforcement.

Gravatar

RK said:

November 26, 2011 — 7:50 PM UTC

But hey, don’t take my word for it. Read http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1332957.html

It is settled law. Case closed.

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

November 26, 2011 — 10:04 PM UTC

If Americans, or any other democracy, has to debate what levels of violence against political demonstrations is acceptable — that’s a BAD thing. By definition.

Indeed, you walk around brandishing a gun, you are going to get shot by the police. So the TP’s should be given special treatment? Why?

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

November 27, 2011 — 3:05 AM UTC

And another thing — democracy is just messy and drives most people a bit nuts. But societies have tried kings, tyrants and fascism (that was a big failure), nobles-warlords, hunter-gather societies and communes. Great ideas — bad on execution.

“All ideas are good ideas, not all good ideas work.” The country, getting a lot more diverse and just bigger. The global economy seems to be changing at a exponential rate. All of this is impossible to even describe, let alone comprehend, let alone effect.

The most vulnerable and emotionally “sensitive” are going to react with fear and aggressiveness first — whether Tea Party or OWS.

No need to let the “loudest voices” have any say in anything. The world is not coming to an end — again. We’ll survive. Actually we predict America will thrive.

For example, OWS cries for bankers to be arrested — what about the folks who lied on mortgage applications. Half the country would be in jail. lol

Gravatar

Larry Steinberg said:

November 28, 2011 — 1:11 AM UTC

Pepper spray is the least amount of force. What is more benign than something that hurts like hell, but does no real, long term damage and renders the subject powerless? They were warned by the vastly outnumbered police and then sprayed. Come on, use common sense.

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

November 28, 2011 — 6:26 PM UTC

Here’s what we are up against as well — human nature. (well actually animal nature.)

Neither side can or wants to hear reason or facts. Of course, every advisor knows this is what clients do as well. So apparently our minds “off-load” difficult subjects to our government and likely advisors as well. Detaching from the exact problems they should be most engaged with. Big problem.

“Ignorance Is Bliss When It Comes To Challenging Social Issues
According to new research published by the American Psychological Association
• The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed
• the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware

“These studies were designed to help understand the so-called 'ignorance is bliss’ approach to social issues.”

In one study, participants who felt most affected by the economic recession avoided information challenging the government’s ability to manage the economy. However, they did not avoid positive information

To test the links among dependence, trust and avoidance, researchers provided either a complex or simple description of the economy to a group. The participants who received the complex description indicated:

• Higher levels of perceived helplessness in getting through the economic downturn
• More dependence on and trust in the government to manage the economy
• Less desire to learn more about the issue.

“This is despite the fact that, all else equal, one should have less trust in someone to effectively manage something that is more complex. Instead, people tend to respond by psychologically 'outsourcing’ the issue to the government, which in turn causes them to trust and feel more dependent on the government. Ultimately, they avoid learning about the issue because that could shatter their faith in the government.”

Participants who felt unknowledgeable about oil supplies not only avoided negative information about the issue, they became even more reluctant to know more when the issue was urgent, as in an imminent oil shortage in the United States, according the authors.

“Beyond just downplaying the catastrophic, doomsday aspects to their messages, educators may want to consider explaining issues in ways that make them easily digestible and understandable, with a clear emphasis on local, individual-level causes”

Another two studies found that participants who received complex information about energy sources trusted the government more than those who received simple information. “

Gravatar

Vince said:

November 29, 2011 — 6:11 PM UTC

Great story; shows the old formula of hard work, sacrifice, and persistence still hold true. The problem is the expectation of instant gratification, started with the baby boom generation and is getting progressively worse. It really is unfortunate because we are in dire need of reform, however, the current situation turned into a bug light for losers.

Gravatar

MadRhino said:

November 29, 2011 — 7:48 PM UTC

You made 35 dials per day and it took 13 hours? Let’s hope that is a typo and that you really meant 350 dials per day. Regardless…interesting viewpoint.

Gravatar

Larry Steinberg said:

November 30, 2011 — 12:22 AM UTC

If anyone wants the real story of what happened and is happening at UC Davis, here is an article that will interest you

http://www.aim.org/aim-column/meals-toilets-and-marx-for-uc-davis-protesters/

Gravatar

JN said:

December 4, 2011 — 7:20 AM UTC

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/hedge-fund-insider-explains-why-retail-investors-should-flee-stock-market

here is an alternative view….

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

December 4, 2011 — 2:53 PM UTC

If we really believe in free speech and openness and transparency we should seek out a non-financial services set of views.

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

December 4, 2011 — 5:35 PM UTC

Here’s what those “evil”, misguided, uninformed UC Berkeley OWS kids are doing. The Tea Party is shivering in its slippers and bathrobes. “News Dispatch, dateline, UC Berkeley: What’s really going on. (Video)” Pretty typical young person stuff. Ho hum.

http://neurologicalcorrelates.com/wordpress/2011/11/14/news-dispatch-dateline-uc-berkeley-whats-really-going-on-video/#comment-43276

Gravatar

Elmer Rich III said:

December 12, 2011 — 5:11 PM UTC

“We are easily convinced by data.” There are interesting articles attached to this original post: http://reason.com/blog/2011/12/12/biggest-handouts-to-1-percent-are-social

“Biggest Handouts to 1 Percent Are Social Security and Medicare
Nick Gillespie | December 12, 2011

John Merline of Investors Business Daily has published a fascinating analysis of $10 billion the government annually gives to the dreaded 1 percent:

Using IRS data, IBD found that the top 1% of income earners claimed approximately $7 billion in Social Security benefits in 2009. That year, the program paid super-rich seniors — those with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $10 million — an average of $33,000 each.

Medicare, meanwhile, paid roughly $2.6 billion in health care subsidies for the richest 1% of enrollees, based on calculations using Medicare enrollment, overall Medicare spending and premium data. (Medicare does not track spending by enrollee income.) And if you consider that 5% of Medicare enrollees have more than $1 million in savings, the amount taxpayers spend to subsidize retiree health benefits skyrockets.

It gets worse from almost any conceivable perspective short of a French aristocrat before the Revolution:

The richest 1%, for example, claimed a total of about $400 million in jobless benefits in 2009. The reason for these billions in payments to the wealthy is that many federal transfer programs don’t have income limits on benefits.

“This is not an accidental loophole in the law,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., noted. “To the contrary, this reverse Robin Hood-style of wealth distribution is an intentional effort to get all Americans bought into a system where everyone appears to benefit.” In November, Coburn issued a report focused on federal subsidies going to millionaires.

In addition to direct payments, the top 1% claimed about $31 million in tax credits for buying electric cars, $469 million in home energy credits, and $111 million in child care credits, according to IBD’s analysis of IRS tax return data….

“Shifts in the distribution of government transfer payments (since 1979) contributed to the increase in after-tax income inequality,” according to a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office. The rapid growth in Medicare, for example, “tended to shift more transfer income to middle- and upper-income households.”

The CBO also found that while the poorest fifth of households got 54% of federal transfer payments in 1979, they received just 36% in 2007. Several political leaders and policy groups have proposed changes to reduce federal payments to the super rich.

As you begin pondering the coming generational war and think about ways to create a safety net that isn’t just one entitlement program to folks who should be paying their own freight more fully, read the whole thing here.

And read this whole post from a month ago to get your Irish up on a chilly (in D.C. anyway) December Monday morn:

For centuries, wealth flowed from the old and relatively rich to the young and relatively poor. Nowadays, the direction has been reversed. Via FICA taxes, the young and relatively poor give money to the old and relatively wealthy (you not only make more money when you’re older, you’re sitting on all sorts of assets accrued over time). Every study of Medicare and other entitlements that are not particularly means-tested shows that we can’t have both a safety net and an entitlement system that sucks in huge amounts of cash and then gives it to people regardless of need. I think it would be a better world and a fairer world – and a richer world – if the government took in enough money to help the poor and indigent (whatever their age) and let the rest of us keep more of our money and make more of our choices for our futures.”


Submit your comments: