Saturday, April 14, 2012

Occupy Wall Street - Fighting for Financial Freedom?

I'm sure you have heard about this in the news...that America is in trouble.  People are angry, and there doesn't seem to be much focus or vision coming from leadership.  At least that is what the news portrays.  America and the world is going through huge changes, and much more is coming.

Several political groups have come out of the woodwork since the market crash of 2008.  Groups like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street have been created.  Both of these parties I believe want America to be great.  Each group has vastly different agendas, ideas and methods of how they can get America great again.  The problem is we cannot go back to the past.  Most people have a hard time seeing what the future lies, and longing for something better is understandable.  Sometimes people will cling to the past because it was a time of comfort, and certainty.  Regardless of what the news might think...change starts at the dinner table, by many individuals. 

I am a proponent of making America great.  This blog is all about fighting for financial freedom and making America even better.  Every now and then I'll give my two cents...or perhaps a wooden nickel worth of information.  I am glad to see several prominent business people at least talking about some ideas on how to solve some of the problems we are facing.  In my Open Letter to Warren Buffett, I discussed my idea that could help put a dent in the national debt.  $2 for a debt free America!

Today, I'd like to help out another group.  The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) group.  I have done a little research about the group, and have heard things on the news, and talk radio about this organization.  Some things I have heard is good, while others not so good.  OWS has an unofficial website that had the most information regarding organization.  They really need to get an official website.  Think about it...serious organizations have an official website.

It seems the organization and supporters are upset about a few key things.  Wall Street, bank reform, top 1% income disparity, jobs, and the forgiveness of student loan debt to name a few important issues.

My thoughts...well, I'm all about forgiveness of student loan debt.  America was and still should be about debt forgiveness.  Why is it important to forgive debt?  Because, people born shouldn't be paying for the money problems created by past generations.  Under the current law, certain debts are unforgivable.  I'd even go so far to say our national debt should be forgiven.  Why should younger generations have to pay for past mistakes?  After all, money is nothing more than an idea.

Unforgivable debts include things like taxes, student loans, condo or HOA fees.  In my opinion this is ridiculous, and very upsetting.  You can not have a fresh start, and that is not what America is about.  If student loans are unforgivable, then we shouldn't be allowed to have them.  These loans have caused a tremendous rise in the cost of education...and the quality certainly has not increased.  In fact, I'd say that we are pretty much tapped out regarding increasing the quality of education.  I don't think it can be much better.  Certainly it can get worse.

Let's get back on track...Occupy Wall Street.  It seems to me, that the focus should be on Wall Street.  However, from my reading no clear direction seems to exist.  Let me help give this group some direction.

First of all...the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) needs to be repealed.  The Act is responsible for destroying defined benefit plans.  What we have now is defined contribution plans.  This means that a large majority of retirement money MUST go to Wall Street.  If you have a 401k, chances are money flows to Wall Street.  Many companies match up to a certain percentage.  For example, if I contribute 5%, my employer matches 5%.  Sounds like a great deal right?  Well, not if you don't want your money going to Wall Street.  What if you want to save money to invest in a local car wash?  Or what if you want to invest in a farm cooperative?  Or what if you like to be a landlord?  Or purchase U.S. Treasury or savings bonds?  Too bad...if you don't send your money to Wall Street then you don't get paid.

Why should I have to contribute my money in order to have the organization I work for pay me what rightfully belongs to me?  After all, the company match should be your money right?  Well, unfortunately that isn't the way things work under ERISA.  I say...give me my money!  If I do not want to invest in some basket of stocks, I shouldn't be penalized.  What if I'd rather use that money to buy savings bonds, or U.S. Treasury notes?  Sorry about your luck chuck.  What if I'd like to donate that money to a charity, or start my own charity with that money.  Nope!

This should be one the focuses of Occupy Wall Street in my opinion.  If you don't like Wall Street...then stop feeding the beast!  Fortunately for people employed by the government, we still have a defined benefit plan (for now).  We also have a defined contribution plan as well.  Instead of the 401k, 403b we have the Thrift Savings Plan.  With this plan, at least you can invest in government bonds through the G fund.  That way you know money isn't flowing to Wall Street.

Do I particularly care about whether my money goes to Wall Street or not?  I don't think anyone really cares.  All people want is someone to show them the money.  In the 90s...was anyone upset that the stock market was going up?  No way!  Had the market never crashed and kept going would have been grand.  However, those dreams slipped away, and now seem to be out of reach for many people.  People tend to get upset when they lose money...and I don't blame them. 

I say good luck to OWS in all your endeavors, and if you need another idea regarding Wall Street then send me an e-mail.

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