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This Is Why I Hate Wall Street People

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In the days before the First Amendment, when a guy wanted to get something off his chest but couldn't risk his own well-being saying anything too controversial, he wrote an anonymous letter and got it published. For Benjamin Franklin and numerous other revolutionaries, the medium was a perfect one. Today, the anonymous letter is back.

A few days ago, a nasty, unsigned letter surfaced on the blogs of Wall Street and quickly went viral. You should read the missive yourself, but essentially, some banker/trader/finance type took time of out his very busy day to warn Main Street of his imminent arrival into the ranks of the working class.

The letter cautioned that because of our unwarranted meddling in his industry, we're going to lose our cushy "$85k a year" jobs to him and all his financial friends. We'll lose our "4 month" vacation privileges, the superfluous bathroom breaks that we take, and our swollen, blue-collar benefit packages. Naturally, Wall Street folk don't require such frivolities, he says, but they'll gladly take them (or assist in their elimination) if they're forced to work our jobs.

In jest or not, if this tirade is at all representative of what bankers think of their fellow countrymen, it's quite clear why there is such a gaping intellectual divide between Wall Street and Main Street.

The individual who composed this letter had the good sense not to sign it. An ignorant, melodramatic diatribe like this one is precisely the type of rant that would get a person fired. I am typically not one to dignify this type this letter with a response of my own. But ... hey, an anonymous letter just showed up on my computer screen. I think I'll share it with you.

Dear Joe Wall Street:
Allow me to be the first person to welcome you to the Proletariat! Let me bring you up to speed.

To start, what planet do you come from? A job with an $85,000 salary and pension, four months of paid time off, and all the other blue-collar perks that you claim exist sounds great, but you're so far off from the life of the average American that I have to question your sobriety.

I know $85,000 doesn't sound like much to you. After all, last year, the average employee at Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS  ) pulled in over $235,000 a year, at JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) $380,000, and at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) more than $498,000. But the typical American family -- husband and wife combined -- actually survives on just $50,000, according to the most recent Census data. And that number hasn't changed much since 1999, even while average bonuses rose 10-fold between 1985 and 2006, according to the New York State Comptroller's Office. Lower pay is part of life in America these days -- for everyone except you, that is.

Next, do you really think we won't fight back when you try to take our jobs, as you suggest? Years of off-shoring has forced us to become quite accustomed to competition. Recent surveys suggest that between 10% and 20% of American workers maintain more than one job to pay the bills. Only two-thirds even take all of the paltry 10 work days of vacation allotted to them. Plus, down here, there's no expense account, corporate car, free meals, or slush funds to tap.

Next, you operate under the bizarre assumption that the normal world relies on your seven-figure "bonuses" to function normally. But just how many of our nation's "cushy middle-class jobs" do you think are dedicated toward popping the corks of your champagne bottles, sweeping the floors of your Hamptons estates, and holding the mirror while you gel your hair in the morning?

The reality is that no one here relies on your munificence. Our nation's stagnant per capita income and growing wealth divide should make that obvious. In fact, when this country's collective wealth was at its greatest, bankers had little more responsibility than to hold onto our money until we wanted it. Since then, you've grown like an aggressive cancer feeding off our prosperity. It's high time you realize that whether or not it hurts your feelings, you will no longer have that kind of unchecked autonomy.

Which leads me to my last point: What makes you think you could even survive in the real world? What exactly do you do well? Your own people acknowledge your uselessness. Jeremy Grantham believes that you "add nothing but costs." Paul Volcker believes that the best thing your business has produced in the last 25 years is the ATM machine. Jack Bogle ... well, you don't want to know what Jack Bogle thinks. Even in the best of times, 85% of professional money managers still can't beat a simple market index. Your business has a long and well-documented history of failing to provide value.

Honestly, I'm not sure I even want you doing something as complex as mowing my lawn. With the seemingly perverse attitude with which you view the world, I certainly don't want you within 500 yards of my kids' schools, let alone teaching at them. Your arrogance, your lack of a moral compass, and your incompetence spell out only one thing to me: You're unemployable.

Here's an idea to consider: Rather than infiltrate our lowly jobs, why don't you take that huge brain of yours and that renowned work ethic and become an engineer or a scientist or a doctor and actually create something of value? It would probably be more fun, potentially more lucrative, and you'd finally develop something that you could be proud of. We might even respect you for it.

In closing, I encourage you more than anything else to purchase some class with that swollen bank account of yours. I know you're feeling short in the wallet right now, but sheesh, this is embarrassing. Even your co-workers are pretending they don't know you.

Yours in jest,
Nick Kap--, er, Joe Fool

Fool Nick Kapur is having a spot of fun -- it's just an anonymous letter, after all. Nick is a fiscal conservative that is sure that Wall Street is in desperate need of reform. He owns no securities of the companies mentioned above. The Fool's disclosure policy is not anonymous.

Read/Post Comments (105) | Recommend This Article (288)

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  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 2:38 PM, mtghack wrote:

    How do you even know this anonymous letter comes from a Wall Streeter or from some troll trying to incite anger?

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 3:00 PM, djemonk wrote:

    Probably the best article that's ever going to come out of the pool of amazing TMF articles.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 5:29 PM, RobtAlan wrote:

    Maybe this comment is striking too close to home mtghack? I didn't have to read the original letter to know it was real. I know these people and culture as I went to school with many of them. I went to business school, but decided I would rather teach kids and maintain my self-respect. In case somebody wants to know, I invest only in no load mutual funds and I get my advice for free from Morningstar at the library.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 5:31 PM, gusset wrote:

    That so very much needed to be said, whether any of them read it or not. Thank you.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 5:34 PM, TMFDiogenes wrote:


    Good question. The letter was getting forwarded around Wall Street and trading desks before someone leaked it to the Financial Times.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 5:35 PM, chukarlady wrote:

    Why do so many people let Wall Street handle their money anyway? DIY!

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 5:49 PM, Martyhab wrote:

    Included in the diatribe was a reference to GS.

    (as in GAS)

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 5:52 PM, TMFDarwood11 wrote:

    I like the beginning of the letter:

    "We are Wall Street. It's our job to make money."

    Too bad it's at someone else's expense. I mean, whose "wealth" is being created here, and how is it created. I have read elsewhere that Wall Street doesn't create wealth; it simply re-distributes it.

    The recent past seems to confirm that.

    Good job MF!

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:04 PM, bubblehead709 wrote:

    I just want to say thanks Nick Kap--, er, Joe Fool! That was a great article!

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:07 PM, ilkbnd007 wrote:

    I guess this 'wall-streeter' got mugged on the way to work and sent out his anger to some blog. Of course, he probably didn't think so well with that bump on his head. ;)

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:24 PM, spengulick wrote:



  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:26 PM, idamoore wrote:

    A friend from Zurich told me last week that no

    banker can go to a restaurant because the patrons of any restaurant will not allow them in the same place where they are dining.


    That's an idea worth noting.

    But I would add golf courses, tennis courts, high

    end department stores, gyms, what have you.

    I certainly don't want to pay a lot of money at a

    place like Le Bernadin and have to sit near one

    of these gambling with other people's money


    Let us start a Zurich option here.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:31 PM, MTweety wrote:

    From Dec 2009

    "...On the other hand, the report judged that waste-recycling workers generated £12 for every £1 spent on their wages. Childcare workers create between £7 and £9.50 of value for every £1 of pay and hospital cleaners create more than £10 in value for every £1 they receive in pay."

    Yup - not someone I'd hire!!

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:32 PM, keddie1 wrote:

    There is no way to know if the letter is real, reverse propaganda, or a prank.

    That being said, I am all for certain Wall Street types being regulated right into oblivion – Synthetics and Shadow Markets for example.

    Spreading risk is one thing – rigging the house so that only the house can win while the rest of us are held up at political gun point is quite another.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:35 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    I would say that I feel bad for taking so much enjoyment out of this excellent Wall Street smack down, but in all honesty, it feels great.

    I don't even feel bad about not feeling bad.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:38 PM, donnie24 wrote:

    Great article. Thanks!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:42 PM, rmsteere wrote:

    Why even answer such nonsense? This is the same tactic the Tea Party and other crazies use in an effort to be heard. This guy is clearly a nut case and responding gets him what he wants - attention.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 6:51 PM, 4558 wrote:


  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 7:14 PM, srorer wrote:

    I recall recently hearing the complaint of a California State employee on NPR. She was being furloughed a few days a month, as was her husband. She said their combined income was going to drop to $75,000 per year from $100,000. She was whining about making ends meet.

    I'm fairly levelheaded but at that point I almost vesuviated. I screamed "Auction one of your kidneys off, you spoiled pig!" Given my unsympathetic mood, I turned NPR off and did not call the station. I sincerely hope some displaced wall-streeter bumps her and her husband out of their jobs. It's time they learned to WORK FOR THEIR MONEY.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 7:25 PM, Gardnermiles wrote:

    Maintaining respect is No.1 on my list.RobtAlan has the right idea. I wonder how these high income persons can sleep at night knowing all the manipulations that are devised on Wall Street.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 7:31 PM, harrymax wrote:

    What comes to mind are Marie Antionette and's really sweet to have a good run.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 7:31 PM, Gardnermiles wrote:

    I feel so sorry for the 75,000 dollar couple. Try living on 1/3 that amount and we still don't. .whine. We are just careful not to indulge in extras,trips, or new cars or charge cards or anything we can't afford to pay for on the spot.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 7:41 PM, toshara wrote:

    Twenty years ago, I worked as the secretary/receptionist in a national bank's bond department. It was largely staffed by Harvard/Yale/Ivy League MBAs. It only took a week for me to realize that I had never met such a collection of self-imnportant, thoughtless, whiny, over-priviledged, under-achievers in my life.

    One had the nerve to lean on my desk while he complained to a friend that it was soooo hard to keep up with his athletic club membership, the payments on his mercedes, and the mortage on his 6000 sq ft house (unmarried, too) on just $250K a year. He also sent out a badly written note for a letter for a client to whom he was trying to sell a pricey bond, with bad grammar, incomplete sentences and miss-spelled words, and so convoluted that I couldn't begin to make sense out of it and had to send it back for clarification. In response I got a tirade about how important he was, how much money he made, and 'how dare some little office worker question him'! I suggested in that case, he should type the letter himself. Then this little office worker walked over to the office manager and quit. It wasn't worth the money to put up with idiots. If I wanted to work with jackasses, then I'd go back to training the real thing who will do almost anything you ask if you give them an apple.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 7:45 PM, Docdearth2 wrote:

    Good response. I saw that diatribe by this "horse's ass" and thought it was a hoax. However, if this nut-case turns out to be a real Wall Street "wise guy," then I think this article did a good job taking him (them) down a notch or two. Don't forget, that these morally corrupt thieves are doing "God's Work." Lloyd Blankfein's words, not mine.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 8:16 PM, TMFDarwood11 wrote:

    As for the CA couple, well, it is California. What would one expect??

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 9:04 PM, JustinSeine wrote:

    I think Joe Wall Street's head is so far up his butt that he cannot think clearly! Those pocket stuffing pigs won't go after our jobs because that would put them in a place where they would have to do honest work. Honest work to these clowns is completely unacceptable! "Why work when we can deceive, lie cheat and steal!" If anything, these displaced Wall Streeters will likely replace our current infestation of organized criminals! It would definitely be more to their liking and will not require them to acclimate!

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 9:15 PM, Notations wrote:


    Great rant, but really a waste of your good energy and intellect.

    Arrogant, pompous asses are a staple of Wall


  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 9:18 PM, JoeybBorn2X wrote:

    I think this is a stellar article! I can't tell you how many of these self important back slappers I know. I am a blue collar guy. My wife and I and our two teenagers live off of 90k per year. It's a decent living and by living within our means and following the advice of the "Fool Community since 2005, we have done pretty well for ourselves. I have a brother in law who works for a major brokerage firm. Every stock I own in those accounts came from the 'Fool". They have outperformed everything he has ever tried to sell me with those outrageous commissions. I finally got smart and invested for the very long term with him to keep commissions down. BRK.B, AKAM,YUM,TS . Thank you Fools!! No more paying his pymts. on his Beemers for me!

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 11:21 PM, martinedeboodt wrote:

    It is so hard for me, after all what is happening on Wall Street, to respect anyone working there. There are probably people over there who just follow orders for a less brilliant salary, so they are excluded from my comment. The other lot of lemmings however should be made clear that nobody really needs them and that most people want them to simply disappear.

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 11:33 PM, sshkop wrote:

    Hatred is just another side of the "irrational exuberance" and makes as much sense.

    Nick's outrage and snotty comments are understandable if you read "the missive" trying to ignore the rational and the true that is also present there. For that - one should see that blog through the prism of one's own prejudice. Apparently a lot of readers here are also willing to forego a nugget of the truth there.

    You may not like the style or agree with the arguments, but i don’t think anyone can argue with the truisms that the anonymous blogger mentioned. Among them are:

    - "We are Wall Street". This crisis touched all Americans, wall streeter's included.

    - people are only outraged by large losses, but don’t think twice about large gains. Just as expectations of perpetual mega returns are dumb, so are complaints about the Wall Street are greatly overdone and are thus irrational.

    - the feds and the "main street" are looking for scapegoats. Don’t think anyone can argue against this point. Its just a fact, that is plain to see and Wall Street is a convenient target. Rather than looking inward at our own stupid and irrational behavior - let's believe that we were all defrauded, duped or robbed or whatever...An irrational approach design to make ourselves feel better at the expense of someone/something else.

    - hurting wall street will hurt the main street. Another truism. Just ask Gov Paterson or Mayor Bloomberg about this point.

    - Most of Wall Street and related work is intense and demands long hours. A completely true statement. Skills and dedication needed to succeed there are personal traits that can be easily transferred to any human activity.

    - anyone seriously going to argue that excess and fat, corruption and graft and ever-present inefficiency have been part of the scene anywhere unions are present? C'mon...seriously...

    Look at just several industries where unions are prevalent: govt jobs (all levels), auto industry and education: all are shining examples of inefficiency, lack of competitiveness, promotion by seniority, need to list all the "advantages". Anyone cares to defend American primary education? There is no meritocracy, no competition, no requirement to succeed or excel. Wall Street by contrast by and large is extremely efficient (therefore very profitable), is a meritocracy, agile and flexible - exactly what you would want from an industry.

    Anyone thinks differently?

  • Report this Comment On May 12, 2010, at 11:35 PM, madinga wrote:

    Sweet article...I like!

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 12:17 AM, bigengine1518 wrote:

    GOOD ONE AND OH SO TRUE!!!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 12:28 AM, pkluck wrote:

    Right on sshkop there is a certain amount of truth in the Wall Street rant. Teachers making $70,000 a year for working 9 months/year, 2 weeks winter vacation, spring break, MLK holiday etc. etc. A pension plan that basically pays you 80% of your salary if you work until 55 with yearly cost of living increases until you die, free health care. I worked in the finance industry the only retirement I have is money I invested into a 401k account, I have no pension, I don't get free health care. Enough is enough there is a lot of fat out there that needs to be trimmed and not just on Wall Street.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 12:29 AM, bigengine1518 wrote:

    This person obviously is well,STAR TREK TYPE..TWILIGHT ZONE OR just plain uneducated..This person, must have paid to have college exams to be passed........Fact is this person will never have a high paying job again,they will find out what real America is...YES!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 12:49 AM, mhonarvar wrote:

    this letter really shows the fact that it's a whole other world on wall st...

    what happens on wall st is anything but "productive"....the last 2 years have proven that over and over from the crash last year - to the 1000 drop last week...

    ...holding your pee during a position....moving a bunch of numbers around on a screen doen't "produce" anything other than profit for that individual

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 1:45 AM, happybeachbum wrote:

    This thread is a sad commentary on the moral state our country has evolved to. No matter if we are blue collar, white collar, union, non-union, professional, non professional, wellfare or working we seem to have to play the blame game where everyone is wrong except us.

    I have been in most of the groups I mention above, and I can guarantee that there are good people and bad ones in each group. My experience has been that the majority are good, moral, nice people even if some are a bit misguided. If one concentrates on living one's one life with compassion and dedication to making the present and the future better for everone, they will be much happier and more successful people.

    Let's try to do what Obama says we should do and not fall into the trap of doing exactly what he is doing as you have done here. Just because he is a hypocrite doesn't mean that the rest of us have to follow his lead.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 1:52 AM, CharlesAnderson1 wrote:

    rmsteere, why the dishonest slam against the Tea Partiers? They are honest people who can clearly see the deceit and destructive behaviour of the government, and are making an honest effort to stop it before the entire country is destroyed and handed over to "one-world governance." If that path is taken, no-one, not even you, will have any hope or control over their own lives. Do you get ALL of your opinions from the lame-stream media?

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 6:02 AM, McKoehn wrote:

    sshkop writes that wall street is extremely efficient... I think differently! Wall Street is a huge sales machine. I guess, in that regard, you can say it is efficient. It makes a lot of money for a few, but it doesn't serve it's customers very well. Selling a good product doesn't seem to be the goal, simply making commissions is. What a waste of time and energy on the part of all the workers. I would like to see them mow lawns for a while. I think it would do them good to "chop wood, carry water". Personal growth and self revelation would be the end result and we could all do with a few less arrogant you know whats in this county.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 6:21 AM, MrsCathyGF wrote:

    Well ! Told them. And we thought green eyed little monsters could not write to save their scaly

    little skins. Never mind that economic engines run

    on a banking industry. Biitter little minds apparently need also to start writing letters to get the booboos out of their souls. The rest of us will continue on living prosperous lives using a variety of abilities, in whatever WE choose to do with our lives, in whatever industry WE choose. And, as usual, the higher salaried will front 80% of all US income taxes. You are welcome.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 9:43 AM, SupBooks wrote:

    *slow clap*

    Bravo, sir

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 10:49 AM, LDSGJA wrote:

    Lol, I'm not sure the writer of this fool article even read the original letter. Your right, their is no Blue Collar job that pays $85,000 a year with a pension and 4 months of retirement - because the letter was talking about public school teachers.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 11:32 AM, ARJTurgot wrote:

    Uh, even given the possibility that the note is genuine, recent events have revealed that these guys aren't that good. Goldman had to stack the deck to make its numbers, and many of their competitors weren't even bright enough to do that. The perpetual move towards market efficiency is sort of like Zeno's paradox - you can move forever, but never quite get there, but markets ARE moving towards greater efficiency, and these guys AREN'T out performing, and that is becoming more and more obvious. The jobs that have disappeared in the financial industry aren't coming back. The money that has moved to Vanguard is not coming out. The government is going exercise greater oversight, and their pay is going to come down.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 11:32 AM, dedwaydt wrote:

    The fact that this letter is referring to public school teachers makes it even more of a joke. All of you idiots who condemn the profession should look a bit more into what goes into it before you write. But, of course, that would require work that you are unwililng to do because it's easier that way. Most teachers have no where close to 4 months off and the school year gets longer all the time. All the ones I know work 55-60hrs a week, pay for large portions of their own insurance and have many standards and assessments to meet. Of course, I'm sure that you are strenuously held accountable for your job. Believe me, I've worked in software development long enough to know that is not the case. I mean, some of you are posting in the middle of the workday. How accountable could you be? I'm not absolving myself here either, I am posting at 11:30 too.

    Not to mention the requirement to continue your education endlessly, most of the time paying for it yourself. There is no way that these low-lives on wall street are qualified to teach kids today. But, they could steal their lunch money.

    I know, I know. Your right and I'm wrong. Teachers make too much because you have to pay taxes to support the system. It's all about you and what you can have and what you can get. "I earn it, so I should get to keep it." Of course, teachers don't earn anything they make and what you do is much more important.

    I say you're right, let's completely discontinue the public school systems and make people pay tuition for their kids' education. I'm sure that will make everyone much happier. I know it will make the good teachers' day.

    THEY CHOSE THEIR JOB! Sure, they did. And the job they chose included a pension. I'm sure if you had one, you'd complain that it's not fair, readily give it back and admit that the job you do isn't worth anything.

    And as for schools failing. Match up any suburban schools with the ones in Japan and see how that works out. Do a little research and you'll find that Japanese school is only compensatory, that means you have to go, until 9th grade. Then, the laggards and special ed kids are booted. Still, they have special boot camp schools specifically design to improve standardized scores because they don't measure up. But, I'm sure you knew all of that.

    I am not a teacher, but I know a few. I'm sure that this will change noone's mind and frankly, I don't care. More theraputic for me than anything. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 12:34 PM, tpearse wrote:

    KUDOS!! Very well said! It is time to get these poisonous attitudes away from Wall Street and away from our money!

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 1:43 PM, ozzfan1317 wrote:

    Im a college student that only makes 12,000 a year and I approve of the Wall street bash as well when are we getting our pitch forks? ;)

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 1:58 PM, mtf00l wrote:

    Bottom line;

    "Evil flourishes when good people do nothing"

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 2:03 PM, djerkunica wrote:

    The first two sentences sum it up.

    "We are Wall Street. It's our job to make money."

    Respectfully, that is incorrect. It should state:

    "We are Wall Street. It's our job to make YOU money."

    And therein lies the problem...

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 2:13 PM, Enni1982 wrote:

    Well stated!

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 2:41 PM, noirblood wrote:
  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 2:43 PM, noirblood wrote:

    "Money is your means of survival. The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money? Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money? Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money--and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it."

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 3:15 PM, omahasandman wrote:

    well said... when are these guys going to realize that just because you can screw the other guy doesn't mean you should. I'm not in favor of government intervention in almost all cases, but when we (see U.S. taxpayers) have to get involved to save Wall Street's butts, it makes sense that we would want to see changes and an appropriate return on our investment. It's interesting how indignant these guys get when someone finally questions what they do, how they do it, and if it's worthwhile for our society.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 3:40 PM, thehynie wrote:

    I'm glad the best comment on this article came from a teacher--it means there's still hope for our kids! He made the point that everyone chooses their jobs. That's a strategic decision, and is right up there with choosing your mate. I actually went into Wall Street because I was poor and it looked like you could make a lot of money there. It also struck me that there was a lot of greed there and that maybe a straight shooter could actually help people. My ultimate goal was to start a mutual fund and see if I could help make other poor people rich. Hey, I was 20, and I had a dream.

    After a while, I learned that if people didn't save, they weren't gonna get rich no matter who managed their money. Still, I felt Wall Street could be improved, and I had the chance to make it betterI was a co-founder of a company that reduced commissions from 6-10 cents a share to 2 cents and eliminated dealer spreads on the business we did by electronic trade matching. I can tell you that the brokerage culture around us hated this approach.

    A few years later, I had the good fortune to be one of two portfolio managers to design the investment mechanics of the SPDR (SPY). Two decades later, Wall Street is finding ways to use the good name of the ETF to exploit customers once again--but only if the customers allow themselves to be exploited.

    I finally wound up running an investment management company catering to individual investors, and we grew the business from $5.5 billion in assets under management to $18 billion in 5 years. It dawned on me that better after-tax performance was as good for our fees and profits as it was for our customers.

    This brings me back to the teacher's comment about choosing your career. You also choose the way you interact with Wall Street. The whole idea of the Fool, it seems to me, is to take charge of that interaction, to make it strategic. One of the things I hated about the individual investment business is that so many of the customers just didn't get it. They just couldn't tell the difference between strategy and tactics, between the underlying economics of the investment process and and the slick marketing pitches of firms who, for example, do God's work. The results of the 2009 Dalbar study bear this out. This is a study which compares the results of mutual fund investors against the returns of the funds themselves. For the 20 years ended 2008, the SP500 was up 8.35%, while the fund investors were up 1.87%. Some of that is fees, but you get the picture. Bond funds? Index up 7.43%, investors up 0.77%. It's hard to help people who won't help themselves.

    Every day I read about people who are ticked off at Wall Street, and blaming it for a rigged game. Every morning I look in the mirror and remind myself that I am the guy who's responsible for my investment performance today. If any investor is not taking that responsibility and holding themselves accountable for them, they better hire someone who will help them lose less.

    I don't think the Wall Street guy who wrote that letter, if he's real, will go to work at Wal-Mart. When investors act so irrationally, how can anybody with talent not go to Wall Street and either try to help them or trade against them? And why should he compete against Main Street in their strengths.

    Once you're out of Wall Street, you can make your own choice. You don't have to take somebody's job that you don't want. You don't have to help poor people get rich, or rich people stay rich. You can just take their savings in the markets. Those "poisonous attitudes" don't go away when people regulate Wall Street, any more than fraud disappeared after Sarbanes-Oxley. Markets are competitive by nature. He who doesn't realize this is the fool at the card table.

    Kapur hates Wall Street people, but I love people who wste their time hating other market participants. I only wonder what they're thinking, if it's rational or not, and what that could mean for my portfolio. Whenever other participants are irrational, that usually means good things for my portfolio.

    So, investors, quit wasting your time ranting against others and blaming them for your poor results and start spending your time learning to be as good at the investing side of your life as you are at your day job.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 4:33 PM, brwn8484 wrote:

    While you are all sniping at Wall Street... let me remind you of one thing...... (And I am no fan of Wall Street - Let me make that very clear) ;

    Most of the world has been bashing middle class Americans for years. We have been maligned by most of the Washington crowd, we have been lied to by lobbyists and their friends both on Wall Street and in Washington. We have been called racists by those promoting their own political agenda... hate mongers and religious freaks by those promoting their own abnormal lifestyles. We have been called bigots and liars and arrogant by the people of the world. About the only thing we have not been called is upstanding.

    Furthermore, for the past 20 something years, our manufacturing and business environment has been attacked mercilessly by environmentalists, by the politicians, by wall street, by banks, by foreign countries through criminal trade practices. Currently our job market has declined so much that 1 in every 4 Americans can no longer find work. And those with the highest education are the most unemployable of all.

    One more derogatory letter about the working class people in this country leads me to one conclusion: Nothing in this country has changed. We are still being led by a corrupt group of politicians and business leaders who daily prostitute themselves to a wide variety of special interests including everyone and anyone except the hard working middle class. The Great American Dream is about dead. If we don't stop the current business leaders, bankers and politicians, within 10 years, America will be bankrupt and only a Third World country with little power and no money, will remain.

    "I like bats much better than bureaucrats. I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern."

    -C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, preface

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 4:47 PM, actuary99 wrote:

    This is why I hate you as a writer.

    You're as guilty the person you're responding to. Hypocrite.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 5:00 PM, yosemitebean wrote:

    Ditto what Nick said, "To start, what planet do you come from? A job with an $85,000 salary and pension, four months of paid time off, and all the other blue-collar perks that you claim exist sounds great, but you're so far off from the life of the average American that I have to question your sobriety." I could not agree with you more.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 6:40 PM, sesameball wrote:

    Nice article! Wonder where he learned to write like that...

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 8:05 PM, cheesepare wrote:

    I feel like I accidentally wandered into the Nation Magazine message board. There are (a lot) of jerks in every field. Wall St. is no worse in this regard. It's ridiculous that so many people could get worked up about an anonymous and possibly phony letter from one individual.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 9:22 PM, yosemitebean wrote:

    The higher up on the horse, the further one has to fall. I wonder what they will sound like when the money is no longer there for their taking. No doubt it will be a real life changer when that day comes.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 10:26 PM, nealonthenet wrote:

    Nick, isn't Wall Street near the intersection of Ponzi Place and Lehman Lane? I was there a few months ago and they were erecting a street sign that said "Dead End". Nice article. Well said. - Neal

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 10:50 PM, PeyDaFool wrote:


    Great article. However, there is no need to say "machine" after ATM, since ATM stands for "Automated Teller Machine." Adding "machine" to the end would make it "Automated Teller Machine Machine."

    But, thanks for the article article.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 10:58 PM, MyDonkey wrote:

    Both letters are impotent drivel but I think Nick's is the more whiny and childish of the two.

  • Report this Comment On May 13, 2010, at 11:04 PM, sarenjo wrote:

    Does this attitude on Wall Street make you want to stuff your money under a mattress?

    Hi, I'm conducting research of how the stock market's volatility has impacted the asset mix of household investment portfolios over the past two years. The link below will take you to a brief survey. Once you have completed the survey, you will see a graphic of the average investor allocation at 3/31/2010.

    Thanks to the 160+ respondents that have completed the survey so far. Some interesting tidbits...

    1. A plurality of respondents report having an above average willingness to take investment risk.

    2. Less than half of respondents were net purchasers of equity over the past year.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 12:16 AM, KKS53 wrote:

    Wow. It's amazing how much people just love piling onto the "let's bash wall street" bandwagon. It's easy and frankly trendy these days to blame Wall Street for all the woes that plague our economy these days. Everyone on wall street makes 6 or wait...7 digits according to most "main street" people. The Fools on this thread bashing wall street and lumping anyone who happens to work for a Wall Street institution are as ignorant and arguably naive as the supposed Wall Streeter who penned the rant that prompted Mr. Kapur's equally idiotic response.

    I work for a major Wall Street firm and can tell that the "cowboy upstart premadonnas" that were responsible for creating the opaque products that have recently been in the news make up only a tiny, tiny fraction of Wall Street is about. The vast majority (99%+) of people employed on Wall Street work on real products that we can all relate to because they make our way of life possible and provide the fuel that makes the economy run - capital. Providing advise to firms - small, medium and large - and helping these hundreds if not thousands of companies raise capital via equity and debt markets is what Wall Street is about. Providing capital to companies that provide financing to consumers buying cars, student loans to individuals looking to get a college degree or moms using plastic to buy merchandise for their kids are all possible only because of Wall Street.

    Assuming the letter that sparked this thread was in fact penned by a finance type, shame on that person. I am personally skeptical because I havent heard a peep about this. It is entirely possible that Mr. Kapur himself fabricated the letter.

    There are hundreds of thousands of people employed at the financial institutions that make up wall street. Most of these people make 5 digit incomes annually. The job losses that the recent crisis resulted in hit Wall Street itself harder than any it her single industry in percentage terms. 95% of the people that worked in my group in the fall of 2007 lost their jobs over the ensuing 18 months.

    Pound for pound, I am not aware of any other profession that is as taxing - physically, mentally and emotionally - than the typical Wall Street banker's job. I can speak for myself. Almost everyone I associate with outside work don't work on Wall Street and a question many of these people can't stop asking me is how I able to live a life week after week, month after month working the hours I

    do. It is a very tough existence and the quality of life is not something most people on this thread would be willing to tolerate assuming that could even pull it off.

    While I don't agree with most of what the Wall Streeter espoused in his letter, I do fully empathize with and share his frustration with the characterization of all of Wall Street as the pariah that is the single root cause that is responsible for the economic hardship that all of us have endured since mid-2007.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 3:58 AM, Peshorper wrote:

    I have nothing more to add accept totally agree with Nick Kap.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 4:40 AM, whel wrote:

    KKS53 is right "Pound for pound, I am not aware of any other profession that is as taxing - physically, mentally and emotionally - than the typical Wall Street banker's job".

    Certainly not the job of a soldier fighting for in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. I mean, come on, the threat of being blown up or shot any second cannot be that taxing mentally or physically, can it? Are you likely to come back missing a limb or maimed because you worked on Wall Street?

    Or the job of a firefighter who risks their lives when they run into a burning building (remember, they were the ones who pulled the survivors out of the carnage of 9/11). That Wall Street job has got to be tougher than that, huh? Or the jobs of the police who risk their lives doing the dirty work of trying to keep people safe and risk being killed in the line of duty?

    How about the families of these people who don't have a job that is as taxing physically, mentally or emotionally as yours? I mean your family might get some nice gifts or a holiday from that bonus. Sure, you miss birthdays, and weddings, and other such things. But the families of soldiers, police, firemen and emergency service workers? Well they NEVER miss anything, do they? And for the families there is no stress in waiting to hear whether their loved ones have been killed performing an inherently dangerous job.

    How about medical services workers? Remember those people? They treated the wounds of Wall Street workers after 9/11. They don't make much money, but I seem to remember them having tough taxing jobs. I am only guessing, but having the injured and sick passing through your life and maybe dying in front of you might by a little emotionally taxing.

    Go on KKS53. Tell us what a hero you are in greater detail. Tell us more about how you are so much better and so much more entitled than everyone else because you work on Wall Street, and because you all work so much harder, and have to give up so much more. It's your inflated sense of ego and entitlement that probably has people lining up to spit at people like you.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 5:16 AM, LatifK wrote:

    Darwood11 is correct.

    The market does not create wealth, it simply redistributes it. It moves "dumb money" to the "smart money". HFT is a excellent example. Its nothing more then a tax on anyone that does not have access to all the major markets directly. HFT based funds will be quick to say it simply exploits market inefficiencies, which is an argument that falls flat on its face when you replace "inefficiencies" with the lack of access to different markets.

    To sum it up, the market is a zero sum game. If I make a dollar, someone has to lose a dollar or a new dollar has to be introduced into the system. Its as simple as that. If thats not redistribution then I don't know what is.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 6:14 AM, city2ville wrote:

    I am a mechanical engineer in New Jersey who designs consumer products. I know quite a few engineers in the area having gone to school here, and I can tell you this. We have all discussed it, and we don't want them either. We don't want them giving us a bad name...

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 6:37 AM, rudyy wrote:

    So if i get it from everyone's comment is that you could all land a wall street job that pays 6 figures, but you choose not to?

    The fact is, it is a competitive environment and very few are lucky to make it. I am not arguing whether it is right or wrong to work with people's money, but as the letter says, nobody complained when the money was coming in and the economy growing. I'm sure any one here would jump at the opportunity if they had the chance to get a wall street job.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 7:08 AM, grho1234 wrote:

    Not discounting the arrogant/smug comments of the author, I can't help but think that the high salaries being referred to do contribute positively to the economy. Federal and state govts actually tax income in the U.S where as corporations enjoy a wealth of tax breaks (thanks George) and dividend distributions are largely tax free.

    The fact is that high wall street salaries generate A LOT of tax dollars at the state and federal level. We're not just talking about the (proportionately few) local outlets that benefit by providing products and services on the net take home salary.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 8:52 AM, gt1135 wrote:

    Haha, it felt good reading that. I only wish the anonymous rant lasted longer. I was truly enjoying the read.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 8:56 AM, Superdrol wrote:

    Lol, pure populism article. So shameless.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 9:01 AM, TicoHombre wrote:


    I'm no fan of the corrupt and greedy vein running through Wall Street. It is a selfish finance machine that will enrich itself at the expense of it's clients.

    On the other hand, the American consumer is equally to blame for buying houses they couldn't afford. Signing loan documents they didn't read. Using their houses as ATM's so they could live beyond their means. Failing to save because there was nothing left after they consumed, consumed and consumed some more.

    The blame for the state of our economy is to be shared by those who baked the cake and those who blithely ate it.

    The biggest question: Have we learned anything yet???

    Answer: As long as we keep blaming others, we will never assume responsibility for the part we personally played in the debacle.

    ...Written by your friendly neighborhood janitor.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 9:03 AM, TicoHombre wrote:

    Sorry. Meant to write "its clients" not "it's."

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 9:08 AM, Superdrol wrote:

    I have never heard a single person say anything about their own personal responsibility for their finances. Wall Street is to blame for everyone's woes, not the fact that the people who chose to take excessive debt and mortages. Until 'Average Joe' starts taking responsibility for their own actions there's no pity for them either. I don't feel sorry for Wall Street or Average Joe. No one should.

    People should take responsibility for their own actions and live with the consequences good or bad.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 11:05 AM, dimfil wrote:

    You know what communists did first when they took power in Russia in 1917? They executed bankers. Then priests.

    You guys are on the right track with your hate of Wall Street.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 5:31 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @ sshkop - you said: "Anyone thinks differently?"

    Yes. For example, most of America.

    But let's run through your list.

    People are outraged by large losses, but not by large gains - FALSE. In fact, a great many of us are most upset by the massive gains Wall Street earned at our expense.

    Main Street and the Feds are looking for scapegoats - TRUE. I do agree with you here. It is human nature to assign blame, which can be unfortunate and taken to extremes. On the other hand, by identifying the problem, we have the chance to prevent a recurrence. This is what happened after the Depression, when Wall Street speculation crunched the real economy and caused... wait, why does this sound familiar?

    Hurting Wall Street will hurt Main Street - TRUE, unfortunately. Hence the bailout. Regulating Wall Street, however, will not hurt Main Street - particularly in the long term. Compare the advent of post-Depression regulation and the New Deal with post-deregulation America. Post-Depression America represented the single most prosperous continuous time frame in the history of the planet, across the board (unions played a role here, too, though I doubt you'll admit it). De-regulation? Concentrated wealth and crash after crash. Coincidence? I think not.

    Most of Wall Street is intense and the work is long - PARTIALLY TRUE. Having served in the Army, I think I can safely say that the work may be long and hard, but it is not THAT long or THAT hard. And it's rather less likely to kill you. As for relative compensation - did you know that the E-1 pay grade is barely above poverty level? Actually, even better - contrast the most highly paid General with the most highly paid Wall Street trader.

    On the other hand, both the Army and Wall Street have a fair tradition of bringing nations to their knees.... the Army just saves its fire for the bad guys.

    Your attempt to shift the conversation to attacking unions and school teachers is particularly sad. "You're all attacking X, but look, Y is bad! Let's attack Y!" Is that a very strong argument? The efficicacy of unions has zero bearing on Wall Street's excesses. And attacking our public education system smacks of somebody who never had to utilize it (I hate to borrow the old elitism trope, but...). Some of the most impressive schools on the planet arose from our public educational system, from primary clear on up to post-graduate levels. All of which has nothing to do with Wall Street's excesses. This is an argument technique called a "red herring," and its use typically indicates that the user is attempting to hide a flawed argument.

    Finally, you equate Wall Street's profitability with efficiency. Very well. Successfully obbing banks is also very profitable; by your reasoning, it is also very efficient (indeed, a 'meritocracty'). And that's not all that robbing banks has in common with Wall Street.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 5:33 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @ Superdrol - Actually, I think almost everyone on this site is doing just fine, financially. We are not trying to pin the blame for personal troubles on Wall Street, but rather take into account the damage their travails have brought down on this nation.

    Out of curiousity, do you think that completely unregulated, privately traded credit default swaps have a beneficial effect on the ability of the market to distribute money in an efficient and rational manner?

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 5:37 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @ dimfil - Actually, the world could probably do with fewer bankers and priests. I'm absolutely opposed to violence, so don't misrepresent what I'm saying - I'm not calling for killing anybody. But encouraging people to avoid making a career of day trading and shameless modern shamanism certainly seems admirable to me.

    In the interest of historical accuracy, by the by, that isn't at all the first thing the Soviets did when they took over, since they still had to contend with settling World War I at Brest-Litovsk and cleaning up the White opposition to their Red army. It wasn't until autocratic Stalin seized control that the purges really took off, and that was several years after the revolution. But your point is taken.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 5:41 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @ whel - You pretty much nailed this precisely right.

    However, I will say that KKS53 does have a valid point in that we tend to use "Wall Street" as a catch all when there most certainly are honourable and productive workers in the finance business. And that is worth considering. Fair point.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 10:10 PM, sapereaude1 wrote:

    Only a fool would let his children serve in uniform to protect those who treat him like a serf.

  • Report this Comment On May 14, 2010, at 11:43 PM, KKS53 wrote:


    You must not be very bright. Did I say I was a hero? Did I say working on Wall Street is the most honorable profession an individual could pursue? You missed the point of my post and are way off base but my guess is you've had a rough go of it and needed a self-absorbed wall street banker to vent against. I'm glad I was able to assist.

    Back to your response though. Soldiers, doctors, teachers....medical workers and countless other professions that you didn't mention. I'm not here to debate the merits of any one of these professions versus what I do for a living. We all chose to pursue a profession that presumably gives us some satisfaction and provides most of us with a means to live. Some professions are more cut-throat and competitive than others - Wall Street is as crazy as it gets (spare me the rant on our soldiers or doctors...the majority of my family is army and my father has spent his entire career in civil service for his country). You live day-to-day on Wall Street and are competing against the brightest and best. It is cut-throat and no matter how smart you think you are, the guy next to you in a meeting is more than likely smarter.

    To say the financial crisis we just experienced was caused by a group of individuals in a single industry is naive and flat out ridiculous. It is convenient and politically popular to blame it on the "phat kat" bankers but who were those people signing up for 100% LTV loans in the hey day of the housing bubble? Let's not kid ourselves seriously...

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2010, at 12:16 AM, quantum8858 wrote:

    The email that has been going around is just another manipulation which these "bad apples of Wall Street" are good at. These bad guys know how to manipulate the "market" for their own sake. Is that what these prestigious business schools teach them is to succeed by "manipulation?" I still believe on Wall Street but if these "legalized gambling" practices continue it will be the beginning of the end for our country. A lot of more people will suffer in the future. May God Bless us all who have still souls.

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2010, at 11:26 AM, TimelessOne wrote:

    Quantum8858, manipulation is revered as strategy and marketing by the gamers who populate too many positions in the business niche.

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2010, at 11:39 AM, TimelessOne wrote:

    Perhaps we should give the letter's author a chance to have the Main Street experience on Wall Street by using the common compensation model for service staff: Brokers should generate their income through gratuities from their clients.

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2010, at 1:32 PM, TimelessOne wrote:

    The best-&-brightest myth keeps circulating like a collective self-delusion. I would appreciate some analytical support for that conjecture that goes beyond the situational "well they are in that position" or the "well, they talked themselves into overcompensation so they must be that good", preferably something verfiable.

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2010, at 2:52 PM, ET69 wrote:

    Dimfil complains that when the communists took power in Russia the first thing they did was shoot the bankers and priests......hmmmmm I knew there was something about them I liked!

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2010, at 5:23 PM, exeter17 wrote:

    I call BS on the plutocrats tipping 35%. The more people make the less they tip.

    And us working class people don't make $85K a year either.

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2010, at 8:45 PM, trainwreck2000 wrote:

    "why don't you take that huge brain of yours and that renowned work ethic and become an engineer or a scientist or a doctor and actually create something of value?"

    If these "huge brains" are not capable of beating a monkey throwing darts (i.e., beat the average stock market index), why do you think they can become an engineer or scientists or doctor. We don't want them here either - A scientist.

  • Report this Comment On May 15, 2010, at 8:48 PM, joej1210 wrote:

    Great Article and spot on 100% correct in your response. I would add:

    Mr. Wallstreet,

    I welcome you to try to take anything of mine or attempt to take anything off my families plate and the only thing you will be eating is your teeth. And as for you tipping 35%, I have worked in the service industry and your kind are reviled as you come in with your $400 suits and we are lucky if we get 10% out of you after being run around like your own personal servants. The only time you leave a 35% tip might be at the skin bar you drag one of your degenerate marks you are trying to con in to purchasing one of your overvalued commodities.

    In closing, I advise you to go cry in someone else's beer because if you ever bring your wining behind into my bar I guarantee you will be crying a lot harder but for a completely different reason.


    Average Joe

  • Report this Comment On May 16, 2010, at 2:01 AM, pjr79 wrote:


  • Report this Comment On May 16, 2010, at 2:11 AM, Phil8192 wrote:

    Good posting, Nick. However, I'd like to point out that the banking/investment business did NOT produce the ATM. That work was done by anonymous, uncredited engineers and scientists whose shoes most of the denizens of Wall Street couldn't fill.

    Also, I think more of us should take the words of Catherine Austin Fitts ( to heart: "Don't send your money to Wall Street." Invest locally; you'll get better returns and your community will thrive.

  • Report this Comment On May 16, 2010, at 7:45 AM, blackswede wrote:


    You might know Wall Street, but your writing and grammar is very bad. Don't they have copy editors anymore?

    Jerry Harris

    San Francisco

  • Report this Comment On May 16, 2010, at 12:31 PM, cognitdiss wrote:

    This letter is pathetically stupid, leading me to doubt it's veracity. It is unlikely this person is making a sizable salary or bonus with such an outdated (not to mention pompous) outlook.

  • Report this Comment On May 16, 2010, at 1:33 PM, TimelessOne wrote:

    If these herd creatures are the best-&-brightest our biz-skools, the financial training programs, and the banking practices can provide, we need to look back some years to former Martin Marietta CEO Norma Augstine: "A hungry dog hunts best. A hungrier dog hunts even better." Perhaps these events will help us find those even hungrier so we can hire even-better-&-brighter.

    As part of that selection upgrade, it would be prudent to filter for real wisdom rather than the cunning for maximizing short-term returns in self-interest. Warren Buffet's perspective is sound in all areas (waist staff, executives, aides and assistants, the military, child care providers, ...): "In looking for someone to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. But the most important is integrity, because if they don't have that, the other two qualities, intelligence and energy, are going to kill you." We have seen the results of violating this concept too often.

    It is sad to have met people who would have authored such a letter. If nothing else, the compensation practices could be changed to leaner standards with methods that would more accurately reflect broader economic wisdom and insight, along with the appreciation clients have for the services provided. Help them work both harder and smarter, without allowing them to forget they are part of the society they affect as will be all the generations of their progeny who must subsequently try to survive in the legacy. Business will still need financial technicians, but the leadership positions at most levels should be filled with responsible leaders: In politics this would be a call for Statesmen rather than politicians, what linguistic distinctions here and how to develop the people?

  • Report this Comment On May 16, 2010, at 1:46 PM, awakeinSC wrote:

    A response from "the poor":

    America is controlled by money; this nation's Darwinian economy dictates that if your personal skills can make you more money than your neighbor you may have a chance to "climb the ladder of success", ambiguously defined from those perched at the top. The rule seems to be "survival of the most fit" in the land of opportunity. Furthermore, it seems apparent that this system is designed to support intellectual labor rather than physical labor. The working poor trapped in this system almost always work harder physically than those who reap the most rewards. Those in the top 1% claim that their success is due to working harder AND smarter, but it is apparent that THEIR system is gamed toward THEIR success. The only opportunity the chronically poor are given to enter the ruling class is through educational achievement. And now, though the ruling elite continue to forge their gilded age, the rest of us find that our educational opportunities are being limited as well. We can't even afford to run our schools anymore.

    The self-evident truth we find is this: that this nation is run by large corporations and the influence their money buys, and that these corporations run a casino called Wall Street, and that casino dictates the policy of OUR nation.

    Therefore, in order to redress our grievances we hold the following: our children must be educated; putting education on the top of society's priority list is the only method YOUR establishment gives us to achieve financial success; the government of my state refuses to fund our educational system, claiming to be too poor to do so; numerous entities do have the money, but they have no allegiance to my state or its people but only hold love for mammon, and they are unwilling to share; therefore, we will take what our children need.

    We call for a windfall profits tax. We will tax these corporations to pay for teacher positions and to provide decent, healthy food for our children while they are in school. We will take what we need, and only what we need, to provide real opportunity for our children, but make no mistake - sooner or later, we WILL take what we need. The poor, who have nothing, have nothing to lose, but we will not lose our children to you. We are many; you are few. Consider yourselves informed and govern yourselves accordingly, but hear this: We are fit. We will survive.

    A turtle named "Mack"

  • Report this Comment On May 16, 2010, at 1:52 PM, Bigdan83864 wrote:

    I am interested in Joe Fool's response to the Wall Street writers obvious issue with the teachers union and for that matter unions period. As things get worse they unions only seem to want more. With this President, the paybacks to the unions just seem to have no end. I'm no Wall Street-er but I can sympathize with the original letter. We all want to blame someone else for our refusal to be responsible. The new poster boy, our President, seems to think everything is someone elses fault so why can't we blame wall street for our own greed.

    We choose to invest or gamble our money on Wall Street out of a sense of personal greed yet when it goes bad, well, it can't be my fault for not educating myself on the risks or letting my greed get me involved in risky investments. Sure there are some bad players on Wall Street, just as there are bad players in every industry but we choose to play with our money there so stop blaming them and look inward. Lets face it, this type of personality is who you want investing our money, again if you choose to play in this arena. You don't want someone who doesn't understand hard work and has an overall sense of entitlement. And for the record, my wife is a teacher and we both feel that to start this country in a new direction will require an elimination of the Teachers Union, they have run off the tracks at the expense of our children's education.

    At least with Wall Street we have a choice with our money. The Federal government takes money from us every year with even worse returns, where is the outrage over taxes and ridiculous government spending.

  • Report this Comment On May 16, 2010, at 3:49 PM, fourthreethree wrote:

    I'd love to be a spectator at the coliseum in which i once worked -- i wouldn't give Joe Wall Street a life expectancy of more than 15 minutes! I imagine they had no need to hang "Safety First" posters in the halls where Mr. Street labored, but i recall one such poster's literal message flying high at my place: "A Closed Mouth Gathers No Fist." No kidding. If we had had an operable drinking fountain we would have welcomed your company, for fiove minutes maybe? Instead of weaving the Emperor's next set of invisible clothes maybe Street should try his hand at actually producing something in the reality dimension. Great article, by the way!

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2010, at 7:07 AM, whel wrote:

    KKS53 - love your response. It's a great fallback for Wall Street to say to tell people they are stupid when they undermine the "we work harder and suffer more than others" mantra. How many times have we heard now that us poor Joe's just "don't understand it"?

    If you are the best and brightest, why did the industry need to be bailed out? If they guy next to your is smarter, then you did not really need that bail out package, did you?

    Don't move away from the argument. Engage it. Show some courage.

  • Report this Comment On May 18, 2010, at 1:35 PM, Newmanium79 wrote:

    <---grabs his popcorn for the entertaining banter....

  • Report this Comment On May 18, 2010, at 4:19 PM, sshkop wrote:

    @DJDynamicNC - read you loud and clear.

    As one great president once said "the problem with them (libs) is not even that they are ignorant. Its that so much of what they know just isn't so".

    I do not attack teachers or fire fighters or anyone else. My point is that all unionized labor is inefficient and could be organized better as freelancers and highly mobile and efficient force that nobody controls. See the difference? Teachers, car assembly men and service employees are not evil. Their unions are. These organizations (all of them) are corrupt by definition, because their central idea is political and therefore corrupt. Bringing such a structure into the workplace will always promote corruption, stagnation, inefficiency and eventually bankruptcy of the "victim".

    - post depression regulation? You mean in the 30s? The moronic series of convulsions of the Federal government at trying to regulate the economy directly via price controls, mass unionization and central planning for the sake of copying the USSR's perceived "success" at industrialization? 90% of those experiments ended in miserable failures: shortages, high unemployment (14% on average) for the whole Roosevelt administration time in office, debt and social programs that still threaten the United States today. You mean those reforms?

    - Unions played a role - agreed. The United States prospered despite, not because of them. Unions themselves as an economic factor are not just irrelevant (they do not add any value to the economic cycle - they are counterproductive as a framework. If you are suspicious of monopolies (of any sort), then you must be suspicious of unions. Unions monopolize labor, which is a vital factor in an economy. Unions have purely political and corruptive role, but as economic factors they are meaningless at best. They impede labor mobility, promote stagnation and corruption. A healthy and dynamic economy does not need them.

    - prolonged post-depression prosperity? the clue is in the question: start at the bottom (after 15 or so years there) and a devastating world war, where you are the only country still standing (to any serious economic degree) and you have nowhere to go but up. not a valid argument.

    - regulation is always an impediment to progress or prosperity - period. Its always done for some reason, other than increased optimization of the market place. Some examples are fairness, equality of outcome or some other such "greater good". none of these have anything to do with factors that will trigger prosperity or economic well being. All of them always come at real economic costs: Soc. Sec -> unaffordable debt, Medicaid/Care - debt, fairness in mortgage lending -> our current predicament, socialized anything - less of it at worse quality if at all available and at higher price for society overall.

    - When someone proposes this idea that regulation is always better than leaving it to the market, i always think about my local bureaucrat: a post office clerk, a DMV staff member, a Social Security officer, an INS officer, etc.... this is the typical bureaucrat /government employee - safe behind the glass, not a care in the world about a customer, open at 9, close at 5 no matter what.. In my experience more often than not, these people are not inspiring to do anything more with their lives or benefit anyone. I have yet to find one person that possesses an intellect, a curiosity about the world, a great degree of sensitivity or any sign of wide-breadth knowledge...what you are saying is that we are all collectively better off giving away our responsibilities as citizens and consumers to this grey mass of humanity with no soul or identity. These are the people that you hope will see and understand everything in an economy or an industry: every process, every cause and effect, every variable in an endless chain of variables.

    To me - this is foolish or worse - insane.

    - who says that Army Privates or Generals are being paid a fair amount? I'd gladly vote for doubling Pentagon's budget at the expense of the Labor Dept, Educational Dept, etc, if all that money could be paid to each and every volunteer regardless of rank. Yes they all deserve to start with a $100K salary floor as far as i am concerned and they deserve a lot more than what we give them. You are absolutely correct - if you put your life on the line for me - i must be able to afford you living in a decent housing with decent benefits for life. Same goes for policemen and firefighters btw. The army however is a direct and constitutionally-mandated responsibility of the Fed Gov, while the economy and its participants are not. Who in Congress or the white house is ready to double or triple a General's pay?

    The answer to fair pay is not to reduce someone else’s pay, but to increase those that you think should be getting more. I am sure you'd agree with

    There is no red herring....Perhaps you don’t see the connection.

    Unifying arguments here are:

    - market is good (always right)

    - govt intervention in the markets are always bad if judged by outcomes not intentions or rhetoric.

    - govt is a necessary evil that must be limited to only several functions AND NOTHING MORE. (Agree with the founding fathers here)

    - sense of entitlement is destructive and a corrupting influence on society and the economy and an extension of that society. Unions, govt, regulation, fake "outrage" campaigns in the press by politicians of all levels - all advance that sense of entitlement and are all elements of moral, societal and economic stagnation.

    - wall street as an institution is efficient in what it does and is thus hugely profitable. Its function is to provide mechanisms to finance everything that a human mind can come up with: seed money for business, ipos, directing huge flows between economies and within them, credit, equities, trading and market-making. All of these are necessary components for a healthy economy. Its ok not to know all of that, but not ok to dismiss everything on the basis of your 401k going down in value more than you like. Must keep the bigger picture in mind.

    Without banks and financial institutions, your 401k would not just go down in value - it would not exist at all. These are all products of the Wall Street. Throwing the baby with the bathwater is again foolish or insane.

    P.S. your reference to Russian history in another post or curious, but is also wrong. October revolution of 1917 was financed by Germany (via Lenin and Co.). this is already proven via Tsarist archives. One of the conditions was Russia's pullout from the WW1. Lenin did what he promised after taking power. Brest-Litovsk was a pre-arranged deal with Russia giving up large swaths of land and population in return as well. There was nothing to "deal with" since Lenin was dealing with allies there.

    As Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, they first executed the nobility (specifically military nobility and officers) to gain control of the army and the navy, then they also started to exterminate churches and all related "classes". At the same time being an agrarian empire, Lenin needed to rule the countryside. Artificially induced famines followed all over the empire between 1918 and 1924 (till Lenin's death). In fact the term Concentration Camp was invented by Dzerzhinsky (CHEKA head) during Lenin's time and with his expressed support. All of this is known in history as "Red Terror". Stalin was nothing more than a diligent student of Lenin. But that's another discussion.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2010, at 7:51 AM, kdeken wrote:

    Agree, one of the best articles ever to come out of the Fool pages! Enough of this "financial engineering is at the heart of our prosperity." Let's see some real work.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2010, at 12:45 PM, law683 wrote:

    I thought moving the same money <hypothetical or not> was real work.....He's right, its there job to make money, but the work duties don't include creating actual value.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2010, at 3:19 AM, hartree1976 wrote:

    I work on Wall Street. And I also know that the general population, which constitutes a significant pool of investment money, is pissed right now at our profession.

    Whether we are responsible for this popular backlash or not is an interesting question, but as a client oriented person, I think that we, wall-street participants need not to be patronizing our clients. Instead we should be listening to them.

    I personally am pissed that I give 100 bucks a month to AT&T and yet my iPhone is useless to me. To the same extent, we wall-streeters need to understand that if the general population is angry at the service we provide them, there probably is a reason for it. And it's up to us to win them back.

    Listen to the words of wisdom of a great capitalist, Tom Siebel: "Get ready for a breathtaking rate of increase in governmental regulations; free markets are bad, regulation is good. This pendulum is heavy, it's big and it's just started to swing. And it's gonna swing for a decade."

    Whether the financial industry brought this onto itself or it is merely a natural shift in economical trend, people can debate this for a long time.

    But let's be honest. The general population, the consumers, the 401k participants... they're pissed off. And if we want to be intellectually honest for a minute, it's not very hard to understand why.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2010, at 9:57 PM, bphasnodaddy wrote:

    Or...the general population need to find alternative means to invest and generate wealth through local means that is more about providing value (infrastructure, shared/local government amenities) that both improve your community, invest in it, while giving you a fair return and adding value to where you live. I'm no expert and this isn't sarcasm but maybe that needs to be looked at as a way to grow at a sustainable rate without the usual disconnect from the investor and the stake in the investment (i.e. i only buy mcdonalds because they are going to make the most money, but I'd probably invest in business x if i also had some local benefit as a fringe for my investment plus i'd feel i would have a more tangible way to voice concerns, demonstrate, or hold business x accountable since it's in my backyard, whereas my boycott of mcdonalds does nothing)

    That extremely long quotation on money being the greatest thing to make can be dismissed very easily--Money is a system that operates on trust and faith. Once a currency loses faith, it's about as valuable as the blemishes on one's face. To equate a man's value in life to how much money he's worth or can make is a sad misunderstanding of what it is to be human that lead to the enslaving of other human beings (going back way before the U.S.) and all other types of unfortunate occurrences for profit that just exemplify why one more dollar on a balance sheet doesn't make one company better than another just like it doesn't make one human being better than another. Whether or not one believes in Christ, reading his example and what he was supposed to have said about priorities in life should make us realize that wealth and material possessions are temporary and one should not let them rule ones life.

    I think it's easy and non-controversial to say People are more valuable than money (flip side though is that all the world's resources are not to be spent to preserve one then everyone but that one person would die). Anyways, Corporations are not people and weirdly the board room comprises a bunch of people advocating the profit/monetary interests of an ageless, non-breathing entity (some would say master), not just in the pursuit of a profit, but *more profit* than it's ever made before. These decisions are made with knowledge that it will hurt X # of people and generate Y margin of profit. It's been done time and time again in the corporate world. Externalize costs, privatize gains...those costs sometimes are people's health and lives if the laws aren't tight enough to significantly punish that corporation if they're caught red handed. We are letting this happen by not challenging the way the game is set up enough. Capitalism as it's now practiced is the defacto religion in this country, and wall streeters are the priests. Put your faith in nothing, yourself, or God if you believe in one, because you can only control your own actions in relation to your conscience. Some people choose to ignore their conscience to certain degrees. What everyone else sows, so shall they reap. Keep your intentions good and no matter how challenging life becomes, you will come through without having to worry about how wall street is making their money or all those other things that aren't necessarily fair, but are for the most part out of your control.

    Nobody is perfect and I'm sure just us living in the american system to an extant puts blood on everyone's hands to some extant. Important people in positions of power though tend to have more impact to change the status quo and more of an opportunity to make the world better, or profit from the way it is until it sinks, or manages to still swim. Hopefully we figure it out before drowning in our own greed.

  • Report this Comment On November 21, 2010, at 4:26 PM, hatecapitalist wrote:

    Honest to god, I love this article, But i feel like it doesn't say enough. I'm a 19 year old girl, that grew up in the middle class... and I am preparing for a revolution to come. Because if you're too blind to see what is REALLY happening in this economy, Then Wall Street is doing a good job on hiding it.

    First of all, If Wall Street goes on taking money, imagine the United States, Already fallen apart, No more jobs, no more money in the middle class, No more support or help for the ONLY Hard workers? How long do you think the middle/lower class are gonna just sit and watch? While the Fat Cats who sit on their tush get paid for NOTHING.

    Does america need the higher class, tax cuts... Higher? uhhh... Yes. This isn't a socialist economy, but it also shouldn't be capatilist. Having more then 90,000 a year is an absolute waste of money.

    I went to WalMart the other day.. yeah yeah.. but while i was in line, the lady at the cash register said, "Would you like to donate money for the food donations?" and you know what my first thought was.... WHY ARE THEY ASKING US(middle/lower class)??? .. obviously when walmart and all the other HUGE companys can easily pay for those people to eat... why are they asking the people already trying to survive.

    This is just my opinion but, I dont think we need a Wall street.. We really dont. Whats gonna happen if we dont have it?

    Anyways.. my point being.. If they keep doing what they are doing, no jobs, no money. only a high class and low class. with no money going into Wall Street, cause they will have practically sucked us dry? Then that will be the day The United States will fall apart.

    BEFORE anything like this happens. I want a revolution. I want us to act before putting us in that desperate need to finally do something. Lets not wait till the last moment to get our money and to make our economy, OUR way.

    I'm sick of this. To Wall Street, I hate you!

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