Should you “Occupy Wall Street”?

You may be aware of a growing social protest movement that began on Wall Street a few weeks ago. According to their website:

“Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”

And now this protest is metastasizing and spreading to 25 cities across the country, according to a report from CBS News. They justify their actions by chanting “This is what democracy looks like” and “We represent the 99%!”.

It doesn’t look like democracy to me, but protests are more accepted in democracies. Few non-democratic countries would allow these protests to take place. They do not represent 99% of the population. If you have followed them on their twitter hashtag, #occupywallstreet, you would find several who are protesting while visiting the US from Germany, Canada, Bolivia, and other countries. You would also discover similar protests beginning overseas in Sweden and other European countries. Pretty impressive for a “leaderless” movement, but, I do not think there is anything to be learned from the protesters or their various messages.

There is a lesson here, one that is critical for you and me both as people and as investors. That lesson is not found in the protest, or in the actions of the protesters. This lesson is found by looking for what is missing from the “occupy” protest.
Individual Responsibility

Your ability to accept individual responsibility for your own actions is critical if you want to be a fearless, successful, person. Whether it is a mistake at work, a poor investment decision, or forgetting a friend’s birthday, you need to accept responsibility for your actions, or lack of action. Once you accept responsibility, then it is very healthy to move on.

If you want to benefit from the protests, take a few minutes and think about the areas of your life that need improvement. Think about those things that cause stress and worry. Think about mistakes you made or things you never got around to doing. Think about your fears and what may have caused you to have them. Make a list and then…

Accept each and every one of them.

They happened but they are in your past and you cannot move on until you accept responsibility. Blaming others and making demands are not solutions. If you’re not happy with something, do something about it. If you don’t have the money you believe you need, start saving even if all you can do is put change in a jar each day. Too much debt? Develop a plan to pay it off over time. It may be very challenging, particularly if you’re job hunting or working multiple jobs to keep your head above water. It’s tough today, it really is, but keep your situation in perspective.

While this economy is not fun, it is nothing compared to what human beings have faced over the past century. Our ancestors survived and ultimately thrived to improve their own lives during world wars, depressions, famines, pandemics, and many other natural and man-made disasters. Many things we have would be luxuries to them. Central heat and air conditioning, television, radio, computers to name a few. You may not feel good now, but accepting your past and your responsibility for your current situation is the only way you can move on. Don’t blame anybody for your situation, including yourself.

If you’re lucky enough to have money to invest, good for you. Stick to your plan, assuming you have one, and accept your past investment decisions. Learn from them and move on. The economy will improve and the markets will roar. The challenge is that nobody knows when! That is why it is critical to stay in the market. It may be painful in the short-term, but investing is not a short-term endeavor.

As always, remember, money is not your life but it is the means to the life you want.

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About Paul Puckett

14 Responses to “Should you “Occupy Wall Street”?”

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  1. Brad Chaffee says:

    What this looks like to me is “Take from people who have been more successful, and SHARE IT WITH ME!” I think your take is right on Paul. This protest should be called blame Wall Street instead of occupy Wall Street and I think it is a display of just how far the entitlement crowd has grown in this country. If anything they should be occupying Washington because that’s where half the problems come from in this country.

    Don’t the 1% they hate so much pay for 50% of the services they enjoy? Now they want more? Disgusting to me.

    • Paul Puckett says:

      Thanks Brad,

      Here’s an article describing the protests with a map showing the cities targeted

      The wealthy do pay the majority of taxes. The IRS has the data on their website. I’ll find it and post here later.

      • Paul Puckett says:

        Here’s the link to the IRS website:,,id=237694,00.html

        Click the first report under “Data Snapshots” with the title “Individual Income Tax Rates and Shares, 2008”

        In 2008, after the Bush Tax Cuts, the top 10% paid 70% of Federal Income Taxes and the top 50% paid 97% of income taxes.

        And here’s a direct link to the article in my last comment:

      • Brad Chaffee says:

        It SCREAMS ENTITLEMENT and I can’t stand it when people expect someone else to subsidize their lifestyles because they want more than they’re willing to work for to achieve. That’s all this is. A bunch of people whining that mommy and daddy don’t give them enough spending money.

        That article mentioned “where’s my bailout?”

        Here’s my answer. In the sweat of your brow! I wonder how many of those people protesting across the country right now has ever filed bankruptcy. Essentially it’s the same thing just on a smaller scale. If you’ve filed bankruptcy before you’ve received your bailout!!

  2. I agree with you 100% Paul. People are complaining they have to much debt and want it all forgiven, but what about the decision these people made to take on that debt. I heard one guy complain he had $80,000 of student loan debt on the radio but the reality is no one forced him to take on that loan.

    I agree times are tough for a lot of people. A few years ago I was living paycheck to paycheck and did whatever I could to make ends meet. I sold stuff, I took on extra jobs, I even started an internet marketing business. Now only a few years later I’m doing well, in fact I’m even looking at buying a new house.

    Some of my greatest mentors use to preach one very important message to me,” do the right things long enough and you will win.” I have applied this principle to my life and I can honestly say it’s one of the reasons I’m doing so well today. I just wish the people on Wall Street and other cities across America could heed this message as well.

    • Paul Puckett says:

      Thanks Chris,

      You should be proud of what you accomplished. That’s actually the point I wanted to make in this post. Regardless of what you did in the past, you have the power and the opportunity to learn from it and move on.

      As your mentor said, “do the right things long enough and you will win”. Complaining, protesting, blaming yourself or others is a recipe for failure.

  3. For the most part, I’ve been ignoring the Wall Street protesters. I’m not exactly sure what they want or expect private institutions to do. Although I’m not totally sure what their cause is, I’ve heard reports of signs being displayed of protesters wanting their student loans forgiven. I don’t have much sympathy for people who go $30K or even $200K into student loan debt, then find it difficult to secure lucrative employment upon graduation. It was their decision to borrow the money. Why is it my problem you can’t find a job? I support the Occupy Wall Street protesters for exercising their 1st Amendment rights, but they’re probably better served by spending their days working instead of complaining.

    • Paul Puckett says:

      Thanks Shawanda,

      It is hard to know what they hope to gain. The right to assemble and protest is an inherent characteristic of freedom, so like you, I don’t disagree with their right to protest. I believe they would be better off addressing their issues at the individual level and at the ballot box.

  4. atishaya says:

    Paul, I totally agree that we need to take more personal responsibility in all areas of our lives. Financial responsibility seems like an area that is pretty straight forward, especially with all of the great information available online through sites like EoD. Although some people may have made poor financial decisions in the past, you are right about learning from mistakes and making better decisions in the present. Accepting responsibility for your own life and choices is one of the most empowering things you can do. Maybe instead of an anti-Wall Street protest, there should be a pro-financial empowerment movement!

    • Paul Puckett says:

      Thanks Atishaya!

      A Pro-Financial Empowerment Movement, now that’s a great idea.

      The definition of empower is “to give power or authority”. I think of empower not as giving power but as removing the obstacles or blocks to the power someone already has within themselves. In other words, when you empower someone, you help them discover the power they already have and remove anything blocking it.

      What do you think?

  5. Monica says:

    Bravo Paul for speaking the truth! I read an article yesterday about the deplorable behavior of many of the protesters and the accompanying photos were really shocking- and I’m 40 yrs.old so I’ve been around awhile! Apparently, most of the protesters have money to buy booze, drugs, and condoms, but they are unemployed, so how does that work? The pictures showed naked teenagers in sleeping bags, a man defecating on a police car, and trash all over the place. If they wanted to be taken seriously, then they should demonstrate reasonable, respectful behavior. And who do you think will be footing the bill to clean up the mess when they leave?- taxpayers. We have two articles regarding the OWS debacle from opposing sides on our blog, and I would be thrilled if you would give your opinion or feedback on them. Thanks for your time.

    • Paul Puckett says:

      Thanks Monica!

      I appreciate your forwarding your articles on OWS from DirectBanc and will read them later today!

      The protesters behavior, lack of a cohesive understandable message, and choice of protest locations does not indicate a desired outcome, at least in my opinion. They seem to be having a party at the taxpayers expense. Although I support everyone’s inalienable right to assemble and express themselves (within the bounds of laws and regs), there comes a point where NYC and the property owners have an obligation to take reasonable action. Should be sooner rather than later….

  6. Rich says:

    There is a big need for personal responsibility. However, I find a bit of irony that individuals who end up screaming for personal responsibility, will say the government is the problem. If all it took was personal responsibility, then how could the government stop you?

    Besides this, economies are interconnected, and if a nation ends up collectively acting stupid, and not doing the right things, everyone suffers. Excess debt produces bubbles that ruin the value of everyone’s home.

    Anyhow, my message to the Occupy Wall Street crowd is to get out of debt. One thing to break the corruption in the current financial system and politics is to get out of debt.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      The government is the problem because it’s trying to take the place of personal responsibility by providing everything for everyone. That’s ironic?

      I do not rely on the Government for a thing besides roads and infrastructure and the current situation — inflation aside — is not negatively impacting my life because I have taken responsibility for myself. Too many people though are relying on the government for more and more services making them more and more complacent when it comes to providing those same things for themselves.

      The message is simple. Don’t rely on government to do or solve your problems because the government is a big fat joke — do and provide for yourself.

      Again, where’s the irony? Thanks for sharing your opinion.

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