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The 3 Smartest Things I Heard at Occupy Wall Street

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On a visit to Fool HQ this week, Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, Liar's Poker, The Big Short, and more, said that the Occupy Wall Street protests "could be the beginning of something quite large." They have a point, Lewis said -- "but they don't know what it is."

I walked away from lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park near Wall Street on Wednesday thinking much the same thing. The gathering there -- and, increasingly, those around the country -- are gaining steam in the form of more protestors, union and student groups, and big-ticket endorsements from "mainstream" academics and journalists.

When the CEO of the largest asset manager in the world (BlackRock (NYSE: BLK  ) ) sympathizes with you -- heck, when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sympathizes with you -- you've stumbled onto something large.

A colleague and I took a handheld video camera, a digital camera, and our notebooks from Alexandria, Va., to New York to see for ourselves what this protest movement was all about.

And yes, to acknowledge a criticism tossed at Occupy Wall Street since it first began on Sept. 17: Some of the protestors are misguided and uneducated about economic issues. The early soundbites on television would have you believe that this was a sort of airhead-hippie convention (see: Erin Burnett), but don't believe it.

We spoke with a good number of highly articulate and well-educated people who weren't there to simply shake their fist at The Man. They offered nuanced, pro-capitalist, pro-reform arguments for what they see as a financial system marred by conflicts of interest and perverse incentives.

Painting a clear picture of the typical OWS protestor is impossible. The demographics skewed young, but it was a mix of genders, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. For as much as it has been hailed as a liberal movement, I saw a substantial Ron Paul/libertarian contingent.

The protestors' demands are similarly complex. Despite reports to the contrary, there isn't an "official" list of demands, and you could tell just by walking around and striking up conversations that talking points hadn't been disseminated.

The group's ideas are fragmented, even messy. Some people we spoke to demanded vague and politically (and economically) impossible things like "make college free." One young woman we spoke with just said she was against "greed" over and over again.

But we heard some very smart ideas from articulate, nuanced protestors. Here are the three that most resonated.

1. Vote with your feet.
Matt Cropp, a Ron Paul-supporting protestor from Vermont, caught our attention because he was holding a seemingly odd protest sign -- a poster listing the street addresses of nearby credit unions.

He said he made the sign because the closest ATM to Zuccotti Park was inside a branch of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) -- one of the very institutions they're protesting. Cropp's message was simple: Vote with your feet. Forget Bank of America and the other bailed-out banks, and take your business elsewhere.

Cropp, articulate, clean cut, and in his late 20s, was singularly focused on credit unions because of their charters as nonprofit cooperatives. He argued that credit unions can perform the same simple banking functions (taking deposits, making loans, and so on) while serving the communities in which they operate.

This is how a free market should work: If people dislike the product at one institution, they should take their business elsewhere.

2. Public education should include personal finance.
James from New York City, a graduate student in neuroscience, told us that personal finance should be required in the curriculum of every public school in America. His idea was to have it in high schools, and although he acknowledged that kids wouldn't love taking that class, "we need it in the same way most people aren't interested in science but we agree that people need to know about this stuff to have a functioning society."

One criticism I've read about these protests is that they deflect any personal responsibility for the mortgage and housing mess -- it's all Wall Street's fault. That's why James' sentiment is so powerful: It acknowledges the terrible mistakes of Americans trying to live outside their means, while providing a forward-thinking solution. It also happens to be a solution we've proposed before on

3. Short-term-itis.
Several of the protestors we interviewed expressed dismay at the short-term bonus culture of the financial system. James put it best:

People here [Wall Street financiers] seem to not have enough consideration of what the long-term consequences of their actions are. They're worried about getting their bonus this year. They know that if the company goes down because of what they did last year, they'll be riding away and their bonus can't be taken from them … as long as what you do doesn't get caught before you get your paycheck, you're fine. That's a real problem.

Everyone should be thumbing their noses at the short-term thinking so pervasive on Wall Street, from the quarter-to-quarter horse race to the compensation practices.

Short-term-itis is a mindset. When Michael Lewis was asked which banker should be brought in front of the Occupy Wall Street protestors, he rightly said "none" -- the problems we face now are more complex than one person or one institution. Dick Fuld, head of Lehman Brothers when it went under, may be a villain in this narrative, but pinning him with all the blame would be incredibly destructive. The problems are deep. The problems are systemic.

Where to from here?
The protest, the protestors, and the problems they're protesting are complex. But when the top 1% of the population owns 40% of the wealth of the country, populist movements will thrive. By one measure of income inequality, the U.S. ranks 90th worldwide, between Uruguay and Cameroon.

That was an abstraction until three weeks ago, when Occupy Wall Street and the accompanying We Are the 99% blog sprouted up. The more they attract articulate people with specific ideas, the more steam this movement gains. managing editor Brian Richards doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned. Follow him on Twitter, @brianlrichards. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of BlackRock. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2011, at 8:17 PM, materialsman92 wrote:

    Those are some really scary inequality statistics.

    1% own 40% of America. Not right.

  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2011, at 9:14 PM, carbonpenguin wrote:

    Thanks for the nice words about my very impromptu credit union sign. If folks are interested in delving a bit more into my perspective on the intersection of #OWS and the credit union movement, check out:

  • Report this Comment On October 09, 2011, at 3:28 AM, Thevian wrote:

    When this country had a Savings & Loan crisis, hundreds of banks went under. Thousands of executives lost their jobs. Hundreds of executives got hauled before a judge. Some even served time in prison.

    So why isn't this happening this time around? We know some of the guilty parties. This should be one of the major demands of the movement.

    Example: Top executives of Clayton Holdings testified before a California commission that, when they were hired by the banks to do due diligence on mortgages, some 28% didn't meet the banks' OWN underwriting guidelines.

    The banks often waived the loans anyway - despite deficiencies in documentation, income, etc. But they DID NOT pass that information on to investors - who would either have backed out, or demanded additional discounts - NOR DID THEY PASS IT ON TO to rating agencies - who wouldn't have given AAA ratings to the highest tranches of those mortgage-backed securities otherwise

    (Clayton Holdings even offered to share information with the ratings agencies, but they declined, knowing what would happen if they took the information offered.)

    But of course, that didn't stop the banks from demanding deep discounts from the mortgage loan originators based on the same failure to meet underwriting standards.

  • Report this Comment On October 09, 2011, at 9:04 AM, mythicalmike4 wrote:

    I agree that the bonus structures on Wall St need to be addressed but most of the protest is filled with out of work Americans looking for someone to blame. Banks have become the whipping boy for everyone's mistakes ... including individuals who lived outside their means and the US Government for sponsoring toxic programs and minimal oversight. And for the record --- credit unions collapsed in the crisis too b/c the fell victims to the same risky investments. Not wanting Banks to earn a profit is anti-American and anti-capitalist. Banking is not a free service or a right. Buy a safe and hoard your money if you dont like it.

  • Report this Comment On October 09, 2011, at 11:30 AM, carbonpenguin wrote:

    Statistically, credit union collapsed at a much lower rate than for-profit banks due to the incentives inherent to their different ownership structure. Also, they do not provide a "free" service, the provide service at cost. Big difference.

  • Report this Comment On October 09, 2011, at 2:08 PM, LeeLeeBird wrote:

    Honestly I wouldn't have expected this type of article on The Motley Fool. I am impressed that The Motley Fool took the time to try to objectively

    understand the Occupy Wall Street protestors and not just check a box by talking to one crazy protestor and saying "see, they are all crazy anti-capitalists."

    I also really appreciate the constructive suggestions outlined in the article.

    Motley Fool for Congress? :-)

  • Report this Comment On October 09, 2011, at 5:38 PM, chupper1 wrote:

    It makes me sick on my stomach to say this but until some people start going the way of Louis XVI nothing of substance is going to change.

  • Report this Comment On October 10, 2011, at 7:05 AM, dbjella wrote:


    I worked in the mortgage industry during the heydays of no doc/limited doc/stated doc loans. I am telling you the industry was driven by Fannie Mae's desktop underwriter (DU). Almost every mortgage application was first run through DU, before it became a loan. In fact, I never heard of someone bypassing Fannie, I am sure it happened, but it was rare.

    If you got an approved loan decision from DU, you application was "golden" which meant you could sell it to anyone.

    BUT, the rules that made up the DU engine were NOT PUBLISHED. It was a black box. Data in and out came a approved/decline decision and suggestions on how to "fix" the loan or sell the security.

    Overtime, everyone in the industry could see the riskiness that Fannie was taking on. Herd mentality :(

  • Report this Comment On October 10, 2011, at 10:14 AM, ShaunConnell wrote:

    Wall Street isn't evil because they made money -- Wall Street is evil because they stole money directly and indirectly through fraud.

    That said, remember not to want to punish all rich people for the actions of a few, or all tax payers because of a few bad individuals. Saying all rich people are corrupt is like saying all poor people are lazy.

    We are the 53%

  • Report this Comment On October 10, 2011, at 10:56 AM, atpeace wrote:

    Isn't this just survival of the fittest? I thought we wanted more Darwin and less religion.

  • Report this Comment On October 10, 2011, at 11:01 AM, baldheadeddork wrote:

    @dbjella - The DU rules were not published beyond the basic requirements, but anyone who worked in the business more than a few weeks figured out what would and wouldn't pass.

    I think what you're saying is a canard for several reasons. A lot of the loans that have the highest default rates now were never eligible for sale to Fannie/Freddie. HELOC's are the best known example, but the worst of the ARM's and even a large percentage of conventional loans were not conforming, either. In 2006, only 32% of the loans made by Countrywide were conforming. The other big offenders, Ditech/GMAC, WaMu, Wachoiva, were equally tilted against conforming loans.

    I'm sure you know this, but a quick way to get your boss screaming at you in 2005-2007 was to push a loan into the DU. Conforming loans had a cap on originator fees, but on non-conforming loans the sky was the limit. I personally know of mid-six figure loans that generated $30K in fees. In the last two years that became a much larger cause of fraud than massaging the conforming standards. A lot of people who could have qualified for a conforming fixed loan were told they had to get a non-conforming loan with higher fees.

    There has been a lot of analysis on this and the default rate for Fannie and Freddie loans is significantly below the overall rate, and in line with default rate on government-backed mortgages during past recessions.

    Fannie and Freddie didn't get into trouble because of the loans it guaranteed, they got into trouble for the non-conforming loans they bought as capital reserves.

    In 2005, the mortgage industry and investment banks lobbied Congress to modify the charter for Fannie and Freddie so they could buy "investment grade" mortgage-backed securities that were made up of non-conforming loans. Before that, Fannie and Freddie's capital reserves were held in Treasuries or securities composed of the loans they guaranteed. The mortgage industry and the investment banks that created the non-conforming and subprime MBS's wanted another customer and they got it.

    Once the law was changed, the GSA's became one of the largest buyers of non-conforming mortgage-backed securities. They were buying loans made at the peak of the bubble years, and the corruption of the ratings agencies meant a lot of the tranches bought by F&F were actually filled with high risk loans. When these MBS's blew up, it destroyed F&F capital reserves which impaired their ability to buy new loans and pay interest on conforming loans they had securitized.

  • Report this Comment On October 10, 2011, at 11:07 AM, hjg0989 wrote:

    I've attended two Occupy protests in Portland, OR. The three things I most agreed with were:

    1. Reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act

    2. Reversing the Supreme Court decision to allow corporations unlimited spending to political candidates

    3. Create jobs, get a WPA type program going

  • Report this Comment On October 10, 2011, at 11:50 AM, Tygered wrote:

    Very fine article. It is nice to see someone not throwing mud at the 99%. I've been a credit union man for many years now and have no plans to help the bailout banks. I even got my mortgage with a credit union. Definitely, vote with your feet.

    I do disagree slightly with the comment that 1% own 40%. I think it might be closer to owning 90%. I am also amazed at our income inequality ranking. I do agree that we're somewhere down that low.

    Again, kudos on a great article. I for one have high hopes that this may in fact be the start of an American Spring. Lord knows we need it.

  • Report this Comment On October 10, 2011, at 5:40 PM, richie54 wrote:

    A very nicely done article. Here in Massachusetts, where credit unions began in 1909, you can deal with a few of the big banks that still do business here (of which Bank of America is one) or you can vote with your feet and do your banking at a credit union. I do it because they are still one financial institution that is still consumer oriented. Since they're non-profit and owned by their members they can offer great rates on credit cards, installment loans and mortgages.

  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2011, at 12:29 AM, donbcms wrote:

    They do have a list, not of "demands" , but "facts" that they are trying to bring out to the public! ! "Declaration of the Occupation of New York City". They are not "Mobs" and these are the "protest" points.

  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2011, at 1:00 PM, OldOwl100 wrote:

    In America, the "land of opportunity", the playing field is not level. This is the point the protestors are making.

    Incidentally, the "inequality measure" should be an "equality" measure if we rate as low as 90th.


  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2011, at 6:34 PM, klk5439 wrote:

    Another idea that comes up here is a capital appreciation schedule, where you start at perhaps 50% tax for the first year to 0 after five years, it would mean any windfall (speculation) would be taxed and the investor would be rewarded by owning a Roth-type asset after five years. Is there any politician who has endorsed such a strategy?

  • Report this Comment On October 11, 2011, at 6:47 PM, solarfool314 wrote:

    Thanks for the fine article!

    It infuriates me that the ultrawealthy are hiding behind the name "job creators". I and allmost all the folks I worked with lost our jobs when the venture capitalists that bought our employer decided to consolidate operations in another city. Since then our consolation has been that their business has not exactly been a real success story...

    As a result myself and a co-oworker took the plunge into starting a business to just create ourselves jobs. Little guys like us are the real job creators in this country now. The big players are leaving in droves


    Many CEOs are paid far too much, If they were as smart as their wages indicate the country and the companies they run would be in a far better place economically. Just consider Enron and Lehman Bros!

    That excess salary is robbery, the money should be going to the shareholders and employees, not just the kleptocrats at the top.

    Thanks for the opportunity to sound off and the investment information. You folks are great!

    Yours, Charlie

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2011, at 11:14 AM, ViewOfLife wrote:

    There is not a focus on personal finance in schools because big business does not want you to be smart about personal finance. Business is all about profit, making money. They will use whatever they can to give them that edge, including the psychological aspect. Their view is that a fool and his money are soon separated. And that's the way they like it.

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2011, at 11:34 AM, kishmei wrote:

    My own experience suggests one is always better off with a local credit union - I have been particularly outraged by US Banks' thievery! - but why is society structured to effectively compel people to deal with any financial institution? One gets a paycheck, never a "paycash," which is useless until you take it to a bank (or cu) they won't cash it unless you have an account, often even if it is written on their bank! Why must my pay be filtered through the (often sticky) fingers of any financial institution? How about some legislation requiring banks to cash any check backed by deposits in their bank for free?

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2011, at 2:35 PM, muddlinthrough wrote:


    and it'd be nice if the sky rained bubblegum pie and we could drink rainbow stew.


  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2011, at 2:51 PM, beechersfault wrote:
  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2011, at 4:44 PM, kishmei wrote:


    I don't propose abolishing the laws of physics (especially for something as disgusting as "bubblegum pie") or even economics; that said, banks routinely clear checks without charge to the payee when someone makes a purchase. If my work is purchased, why does the bank deserve a piece of my wages?

  • Report this Comment On October 12, 2011, at 5:36 PM, rhltx4 wrote:

    It's always somebody else's fault, right? Teachers didn't teach personal finance. I applied for that no documentation re-fi at 125% of the value of my house so I could buy a new car, then the value went down and I couldn't pay the loan back and the bank foreclosed. I can't find a job, yet there are 200K manufacturing jobs open in the US today (too bad I won't work for $15/hr because it's less than the unemployment benefits I get). I want free health care, but I'm not going to stop smoking or lose weight.

    We can do two things here:

    Vote the current administration out for not addressing the situation.

    Vote with your feet and not patronize businesses who you feel don't treat you fairly.

    Remember, Darwin's law is rarely wrong

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2011, at 1:48 PM, 5048 wrote:

    @baldheadedrock - thank you for exposing djbella's mischievous attempt to mislead us.


    The problem will the Occupiers is that they're just complaining about symptoms. They have no idea what the causes are, much less what solutions might work. Saying "greed" and "short-termitis" is a start, but it's still too vague to be actionable.

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2011, at 6:12 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @5048 - take a look back at the original post. These are three specific, actionable items being proposed by OWS members. And believe me, there are plenty more where that came from. Reinstate Glass-Steagal, financial transaction and speculation tax, reverse citizen's united, public financing for campaigns, WPA-style jobs program... that's just off the top of my head. You want actionable items, we've got them.

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2011, at 7:42 PM, gregconnor wrote:

    If 1% own 40% of the wealth, does China own the other 60%?

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2011, at 9:24 PM, Edover50 wrote:

    Instead of letting everything slowly evolve, economically speaking (to the place it is now, which is pretty bad) - how about more of the following: Thou shall not lie, Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not be jealous of and want your neighbors goods (covet) Thou shall not love money more than GOD. And finally, the borrower is a slave to the lender. The more you borrow, the bigger a slave you are. If us dumb humans just followed basic principles, maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we are in now. It seems that no one even knows of these simple basic rules anymore. I am a 52 year old women. I try to live by these rules and some others. I am not always successful at it, but I do try! And these rules are for everyone-the banker, the mortgage broker, the CEO, and the regular Joe. What has happened to America? It seems that everything is all about money. Well guess what- it ain't all about money. Everyone needs to put life in perspective. And start using their common sense. That means - if I do this- what will happen down the road? Who will it effect and how? How will it effect me? This country is in a financial mess. And it will take many many years to get out of it. Three years ago, driving to work, I would listen to Bloomberg radio. They said by 2010, we would recover, then 2011, then 2012. How about 2018-19? This is how long it WILL take, if not longer because no one used basic laws of wisdom. How blinded this nation has become. Are you one of the blinded? Ask yourself- are you one of the blinded? I am saying it three times so you won't miss it. Ask yourself the question- am I Blind? Wake up America ! From a 52 year old women who just keeps shaking her head.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 11:57 AM, hdbpilot1953 wrote:

    Some of the protestors are misguided and uneducated about economic issues. The early soundbites on television would have you believe that this was a sort of airhead-hippie convention (see: Erin Burnett), but don't believe it...

    Actually I do believe it. Just because some articulate guy has latched on to this worthless movement and is trying to give it credibility does not make it so. Articulate, intelligent people, who truly care about these issues, will write letters to the editor, elect new representatives and maybe protest in a dignified manner when normal processes fail. They don't poop on police cars, the flag, or spit on military in uniform... or lend their support to those who do.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 1:28 PM, cornell22 wrote:

    ". So I changed to bank and have been happy ever since.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 2:15 PM, arborgator wrote:

    Three points from a simple mind. First we are a species of followers. Someone is going to jump in front of this movement and lead it somewhere. It concerns me greatly that unions and other corrupt organizations are already attempting to gain a foothold. Second, We began to lose control of capital investment with the loss of state chartered banks. Now FDIC is on a mission to close all community and regional banks and already has buyers for those they are "investigating" with the predetermined purpose of closing them down. These national and international banks are not investing money locally because standards are too high. So locals are losing the ability to recover and grow. Third, regulators and wall streeters need to recognize that their employees are their customers and by taking advantage of them they are in fact "eating their young," and will evenutally lose US revenues.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 2:29 PM, mrk43 wrote:

    I am upset that this movement is not focused on demanding that Congress remove lobbyists from access to ANY legislator. People don't realize that 99% of the influence on the government (Congress and the President) is made for the wealthy 1% by the rich, corrupt, influential lobbying system. The Rich, Wall Street, the Banks and the Corporations OWN Congress by way of the Lobbyists. Please pass this on to whoever your leaders are (and also to anyone else who is really serious about changing the country). I think that your movement should occupy the U.S. Capitol, and try to shame the legislators into doing something about the Lobby system. Nothing is going to be accomplished until the Rich, Wall Street, the Banks and the Corporations lose their voice in Congress.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 2:46 PM, Cubano68 wrote:

    @chupper1 Agree with the Louis the XVI reference.

    We are an apethetic bunch. We are all scared to lift our heads up from our daily jobs, for fear that we will lose them, long enough to say hey this needs to stop and I am going to do something.

    We now have a group of millions who are educated, unemployed and are fed up. They have nothing to lose.

    Having been laid off, underemplyed and frustrated when I couldn't get a job bagging groceries because I was "over qualified" but still needed to feed my family, put a roof over our heads and pay for healthcare for two toddlers. I get why they are mad. Its obvious.

    Additionally, when the President and members of Congress are taking millions of dollars from the people who helped caused the chaos are they going to want to change the The President is worth millions. Look at Obama's and Boehner's tax returns. Both rich. You can't be middle class and run for office.

    I have seen some comments here saying we should vote out the existing set of Congressmen and Congresswomen and the current administration. The question I would ask the group is who do you think is financing the next bunch of people we would elect? Yes the special interest groups who pick a candidate and back them with money. Until we change the political finance laws we are spinning our wheels.

    Here is a thought. Each one of us contributes two dollars each year to fund politicians campaigns. That would be hundreds of millions for us to allot every two years. We earn intrest on the money in between. Wow there is a thought for less than a small Starbucks or Dunkin Doughnut coffee we could fund the political finance system. I would make that sacrifice...wouldn't you to clean up this mess?

    We can then prohibit PACs and corporate involvement and ban lobbyists.

    Is all this is going to happen with 300 million people who don't stand up for themselves? No. If the million plus people who are unemployed rise up then you have a small but powerful showing.

    We should all be more active in making sure our government representation are watching out for our interests.

    I know I am going to be and I am happy that #occupywallstreet is doing what they are doing.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 2:53 PM, sm2200 wrote:

    The protestors should protest in front of the White House, the problem starts there. An attempt by the President to install a socialist system in the U.S. has created high unemployment, high prices, more poverty, etc.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 3:58 PM, jdp245 wrote:

    "Cropp's message was simple: Vote with your feet. Forget Bank of America and the other bailed-out banks, and take your business elsewhere."

    Uh, sorry to rain on your protest Cropp, but the credit unions were also bailed out, to the tune of about $35 billion.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 4:36 PM, TimothyVR wrote:

    Interesting! So the vast majority here think these 'protesters' represents the majority!

    Have you listened to their leaders?

    Have you read their demands?

    Have you seen their celebrity supporters?

    The radical left is now the majority? Really?

    This is pure fantasy. But is the essence of political correctness now to hate capitalism.

    Still, it is ironic that this is posted on an investment site, of all places.

    Will you still be swooning when the protesters succeed in destroying capitalism?

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 4:58 PM, Cubbob wrote:

    For years we have heard nothing but all problems are President Bush's fault. Now that it is ridiculous to blame him any longer, it's Wall Street's fault. How about holding those accountable who are at fault? Vote the President, and all Senators n Congressmen out of office who want to increase spending. Vote out those who do not want to end lobbying. Vote out those who want to continue to print money to solve our problems. Hold people accountable for thei decisions, including making people back back student loans. You forgot to mention that loan forgiveness is one of the key points of the occupy movement. Herman Cain is someone who has actually run businesses successfully and created jobs. I say let's give someone new a chance to make real change.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 6:39 PM, WikiCPA wrote:

    Cubbob, i'd be willing to bet my positions that you did not see the 2008 crash coming.

    It is part of human nature to remember the good, forget the bad.

    "Let's give someone new a chance to make a real change"

    Sounds like we did that with Obama, what makes you think this time it will work again? Bachmann is new, Paul is new, Romney is considered 'new' to some, according to your logic, we should let them try.

    If you believe the problems were President Bush's, then you probably voted for Obama, which is why we are in this mess right now. What happened to the change? 10 Years ago we had steve jobs, bob hope, and johnny cash. This year, we have no jobs, no hope, and no cash.

    This might just be me but if you were to take over Tony Hayward's job, your job is to fix the damage. If you failed, you didn't do your job. Don't go bashing Tony, he already failed. I bet a majority of the protestors voted for Obama, falling for his speech. They were misinformed, just like they are misinformed now.

    You can't call these millions educated, they haven't even ever look at a 1040 Long Form or a schedule D, they have no clue what a put or call is, nor that you can make money in a bear market. It's sad to see my peers try to topple a capitalistic society, when you could easily climb to the top, just don't think you're the next mark zuckerberg, money takes time

    -22 y.o. recent grad

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 7:12 PM, IthacaDon wrote:

    Advise to 22 y.o.recent grad-

    Try not to get caught up with presuming or assuming just how much education a large gathering of people possess.

    I, for one do not resent capitalism, just it's deregulation of the past 30 yrs...

    Unregulated capitalism, it seems to me, leads to monopolies which result in a movement towards Fascism and corporate control of the State, icing out the average (educated) Joe's voice.

    I'm looking for anti-monopoly regulations to be enforced, creation of a new, strong independent media, and election reforms regarding financing & in my perfect world, run-off elections.

    The OWS crowd is simply running with the jargon of Wall St. vs. Main St. as a starting point for expressing their anger.

    Good luck as you put on your "big boy" pants!

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 7:13 PM, TMFBrich wrote:


    Everyone I spoke with in New York was pro-capitalist. That's not to say there aren't anti-capitalists among the bunch. Indeed, when I visited Occupy DC last weekend, there was a user-generated protest poster that had a list of things the protestors wanted to change. One line said "reinstate Glass-Steagall," the other said "abolish capitalism."

    These protests have thousands of participants around the country. Of course some of them will be anti-capitalist and from the radical left. Having spent some time observing the protests in both NY and DC, I found that that's the minority, though.

    <<Interesting! So the vast majority here think these 'protesters' represents the majority!>>

    What I think is happening is that people are identifying with the OWS anger -- over income inequality, over a perceived unfair political system where special interests rule -- rather than a specific demand or set of demands. See these two CBS News polls, for example:

    <<Have you read their demands?>>

    It's important to note that there is no *official* set of demands from the OWS protestors.

    <<This is pure fantasy. But is the essence of political correctness now to hate capitalism. Still, it is ironic that this is posted on an investment site, of all places.>>

    I disagree with your premise -- that these protests are anti-capitalist -- and therefore don't see the irony. I am a pro-capitalist investor, but certainly see issues with the way Wall Street runs (one small example mentioned in the story is the short-term bonus culture). Would you consider Charlie Munger part of the radical left for criticizing Wall Street?


    Brian Richards

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 8:30 PM, TimothyVR wrote:

    I am deeply troubled and surprised by the extreme politicization that has taken over this site. You must make the position of the Motley Fool clear to the participants and those who pay money to join.

    The idea that all of the protesters are 'pro-capitalist' is too odd to take seriously. Whether wealthy Wall Streeters (and politicians) 'sympathize' with the protesters is their own business. They are unquestionably chumming up those who oppose them and everything they stand for.

    It is important to note that there most certainly ARE demands.

    The support for the protesters and the weird romanticizing of their 'demands' is unquestioned and absolute here by those who write the articles on this site.

    If you are going to march in ideological lockstep and write these articles, those who run this site are duty-bound by integrity to make that clear to those who come upon this site.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 8:42 PM, Zitadel wrote:

    You are FOOL!

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 10:19 PM, Cubbob wrote:

    WikiCPA - No I did not vote for President Obama. I did not because he had never authored one significant piece of legislation so. I recognized he did not have the experience to lead our country. Herman Cain is not like the rest of the lifetime politicians. He has turned two businesses around, served on a federal reserve board, and more importantly he actually created jobs. Let me ask you, when searching for a CEO, do you think successful companies hire talkers, or doers? For the record, if I lean towards a set of changes, I believe in smaller government, less intrusion, true freedom, elimination of bribery (lobbying) and a true respect of all individuals including Christians.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 10:57 PM, brokeassbroad wrote:

    There is a huge difference between earning wealth and stealing it through fraud.

    When the govt condones the fraud through inaction or by passing laws that protect the thieves, citizens who care should speak out. Should maybe even act out.

    There are many little acts of rebellion against a culture of corruption that never make the news.

    But headlines aren't a bad thing. Occasionally they even make people take notice.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 11:19 PM, TMFBrich wrote:


    I believe I've written an article that's not about politics, but I'm sorry you are offended. I don't see this as a left-vs.-right struggle -- and actually, there were a good deal of Ron Paul supporters who I presume are libertarian (including Matt Cropp, quoted in the story above, who was wearing a Ron Paul pin on his lapel). There was a lot of anti-bailout and anti-Federal Reserve sentiment. (For more on that, see:

    As with almost all the stories we post, this article is not "the position of The Motley Fool"; these are my words, not the organization's.

    <<The idea that all of the protesters are 'pro-capitalist' is too odd to take seriously.>>

    Please re-read what my comment stated: "Everyone I spoke with in New York was pro-capitalist. That's not to say there aren't anti-capitalists among the bunch."

    <<It is important to note that there most certainly ARE demands.>>

    There is no single list of demands that everyone agrees with.


    Brian Richards

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 11:28 PM, WikiCPA wrote:

    Point taken Cubbob, i was wrong about you. I'm not against Herman Cain, and yeah I would choose a doer over a talker 7 days out of the week. I just hope he doesn't fall to the puppetmasters that run the current administration and go against everything he says during his campaign. For the record, these puppetmasters, the 1%, the wealthy, whatever you want to call them, I firmly believe they will always be there, but may not be the same group. Money runs the world and whoever puts up the most wins right? Just like any contract or any bid. One form or another, I'm pretty sure this sort of thing has been around during George Washington's time and maybe before?

    P.s. I respect your comment 100% on respecting Christians and their beliefs, perhaps even more so than others since they have been around longer. What kind of person would i be if i moved into a new country and tried to make my beliefs the standard.

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2011, at 12:13 AM, TimothyVR wrote:

    @TFMBrich - Yes, I am offended - because I essentially learned investing from the Motley Fool and I will be leaving now.

    Yes, of course it is a left wing movement. But there is no point in going on. I just read another article suggesting that readers join the movement. Is this some sot of weird joke?

    Anyway - I now have to figure out how to cancel my membership.

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2011, at 4:22 PM, nick1200 wrote:

    As a patriot and fellow investor I fully support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

    It's very clear what they want:

    A: I'm not going to cancel my membership because I like great articles like this.

    B: I'm going to make a donation to Occupy Wall Street today.

    C: I'm going to keep investing in companies I believe in.

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2011, at 5:25 PM, TimothyVR wrote:


    Of course! Why should you cancel when the Fool is playing Pied Piper for the protesters you admire!

    By all means - give them money. They can travel around the country, eat free food, hang out in parks and bang drums - while complaining about the miseries of life.

    None of which has anything to with actually changing things or doing anything constructive

    And as for the riots and destruction that have broken out today around the world in the name of this lunacy - I assume you think that is wonderful too?

    Have you seen the videos from Rome?

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2011, at 12:10 PM, jhs9256 wrote:

    People are protesting because of many conditions--unemployment, big salaries, articles about GE, business going to other countries, etc. They just want government to add some clarity to their lives. They see social security benefits put off for 3 years and the government saving businesses that they claim are too big to fail. They are aware that political parties don't make a move without consulting with lobbyists.

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