Occupy Personal Finance

Personal finance

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A Commentary

If you follow the news, it seems like you can’t avoid the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Is it mob behavior, or merely an expression of freedom of speech?  The truth of course is probably somewhere in the vast middle.  What upsets me about the movement, however, is the Robin Hood Fallacy that it is right and proper to “take from the rich and give to the poor.”  These are simply my own views and not those of the owner of this site or anyone else, but I think that a society that rewards mediocrity  will never thrive.  And isn’t that why we’re in the current state of affairs in the first place?  Let me put it another way: Freud once said that the two basic desires behind almost everything men or women do are to:

1) Have sex.  (of course, this is Freud after all).

2) To be important.

So should we now stop rewarding hard work, ingenuity, and the other intangibles that make one rich and/or successful?  That make one important?

If we do, then what is left for the masses to strive for?

Now let’s take a step back for a moment.  I understand that some people genuinely need assistance.  I am not saying we should all rely upon a complete 100% Darwin survival of the fittest capitalist society.  Things happen in life, and there are illnesses, children that are orphaned, and untreatable mental issues, to name a few circumstances, where the greater assistance of society–whether it be governmental or charitable is required.

Nor am I saying that all “rich people” have earned their position.  Some people have received their money through ill-gotten gains.  Others have been the benefactors of generational wealth being passed down, like how an ocean flows through tributaries and deposits salt on distant creeks and lakes.

But what could be potentially dangerous about a movement of the “99% v. the 1%” is the belief that we cannot take accountability for our own stations in life.  It’s a slippery slope to travel once the “rich” are vilified, because most of the “rich” have obtained their success–despite popular perception–from hard work, creativity, and the taking of risks.

You can spend your free time hating such people, but I suggest you are better served trying to emulate them.

By now some of you are probably thinking that I was born with a silver spoon, and maybe even that this silver spoon should be shoved up my ass.  I cannot deny that I have had opportunities not available to everyone in the world.  But I did grow up in a lower middle class “blue collar family.”  And I did have to work for what little I have in this world.  And I will continue to work and to do everything I can to better position life for me, my wife, and my own children and grandchildren that hopefully will follow.  To me, if I cannot do these things, then I wonder what’s the point in living?

I have six figure student loan debt from college and graduate school.  Few would stand to benefit more than I if “all debts were to be forgiven.”  But I made those choices, and so long as I have my health and mind, I will do everything I have to in order to repay my debts, just as I have been doing for several years now.  And when the job market got bleak, I set out to start my own company.  And in my free time I do freelance writing work to put food on the table.  And I scrimp and save every dollar that I can to meet my obligations.

Now I’m beginning to worry that I sound like I’m up on a soapbox.  I understand that people are suffering right now, and I’m not saying it’s their fault.  But I do think we have been raised to look to the government–or our parents–or just about anything outside ourselves for sustenance when things get difficult.  And just like a domesticated animal, something is lost in that process.  And part of that something is freedom.




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