Secure Marketspace with Mike D'Agostino

It's Not a Matter of Trust, It's a Matter of Honesty

I'll admit that even though we're in the "age of digital," IPODS, Flip cams, and satellite radio, I still find some comfort in good ol' radio. I'm somewhat of a news junkie, and so naturally AM is my choice. Sure, I'll turn on the conservative guys for a few laughs every now and then, but most often I have the dial turned to Bloomberg. Because I listen on the way into work, and the way home, Tom Keene seemingly has a 24-hour presence. And I have no problems admitting I'm a big fan.

Tom and just about everyone else (in radio and otherwise) seems to be talking more and more about a lack of confidence - a lack of confidence in the stock market, a lack of confidence in housing and mortgages, and just an overall lack of confidence regarding finance in general. To me this means that everyone is expecting banks and the "finance industry" in general (i.e. - everyone except "consumers") to take responsibility for a troubled economy. As if THEY (the banks, finance industry, etc.) are the ones that need to make a change in order to get the economy on track and keep things moving forward.

My argument is that this isn't necessarily so - the "finance industry" is just a subset of the larger general "people" set.

So let me talk for a moment about those conservative guys for a moment. I'm a huge Rush Limbaugh fan. To be precise, I'm a huge fan of the way Rush Limbaugh conveys himself. I think he's a phenomenal speaker; he's turned talking into an art form. I don't care if he's talking about how bad of a job Obama is doing, the next great economic disaster, or the color of the sky during sunset - his tones and intonations and the way he emphasizes certain words and his seeming passion are outstanding. Sometimes I listen to him just to hear how he conveys himself. That being said, I'm not really a fan of his conservative beliefs.

However, one day Rush said something on the air that really struck a nerve. It was April 10, around 1:00pm Eastern, and I caught him in the middle of some kind of rant. I believe the context was regarding a caller that had something to say about how more and more people should be taking advantage of collecting unemployment checks, especially in a down economy. To Rush's credit, he kind of started bashing the caller. Limbaugh explained that when he is looking for a job (referring to the past no doubt), he is looking to work. He doesn't go into a job asking how many days off he gets. He doesn't go into a job trying to negotiate for more vacation days. He doesn't go into a job thinking like Fred Flintstone that at the sound of whistle at 5 o'clock he rushes out of work and doesn't think about it again until 9am the next morning. He goes into a job to work - extremely hard - because he has integrity. In effect, he goes into a job expecting it to become a way of life and a means to live. Rush doesn't leave his job, he lives his job.

People have been taking too much advantage for too long now. I can accept the fact that we live in a capitalist society, and I believe one of the goals of this type of society is to have the ability to attain a certain level of financial freedom to afford life's luxuries. But how can people expect not to work for it?! It seems as though the more luxuries one has, the greater the sense of entitlement.

Some recent examples:

  • People taking mortgages they know they couldn't pay off, ever;
  • Companies giving mortgages that were too risky;
  • People trying to sell their house for more than it's really worth;
  • Bernie Madoff et. al., enough said;
  • Phishers, scammers, fraudsters - TJX, Hannaford, Heartland Payment Systems.

So hold on...phishers, scammers, and fraudsters? That's way too general. Fine, what about the people who respond to the phishers?! Shame on them for expecting a large sum of money for doing nothing!

Let's expand this to everyone in general...raise your hand if you have a 401k plan or some other "investment" that has been affected by the current economic downturn. What were you expecting? You are giving someone a chunk of your money with expectations that you are going to get more back at some point in the future. But why?! Are you working for it? When something sounds too good to be true...

Is it all just gambling? Is any investment really just a gamble? If so, how can you be upset if the gamble doesn't turn out in your favor?

At this point I'm calling for a nice dose of honesty, not trust. Businesses are in business to make money, period. Shame on you for sitting back and blaming businesses for this economic downturn. Instead, look inward and evaluate how honest you are with your own expectations. Can you look at yourself in the mirror and honestly admit that you've worked for what you have?

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