Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ownership Society

I was reading the reports this AM from the Consumer Electronics Show and noticed that Google got a nice 14 dollar bump as rumors swirled about what their next move would be. And I had a quick thought as Google ratchets up its stock price toward 500 bucks a share. I think it is rather fitting that the CES is in Vegas. Anyone who thinks that an "ownership" society is better for all Americans must enjoy that town. If you invest in the stock market, you know: It's just like legitimized gambling, but the insiders have the edge instead of the house.

Sure "investing" by buying company stocks or bonds (junk or not) is part of the capitalistic machinery. And it's all well and good if you can pick the next Starbucks or Google (btw, the jury is still out as to how hosed people will get when the Google bubble bursts), but unless you are Martha and you don't get caught, the ordinary person is going to find it very difficult to make any money grow much at all by trading common shares. Even worse is giving your hard earned dollars it to a mutual fund manager to squander - even putting it in the company pension may be foolish - just ask the rank-and-file folks of Delphi Motors.

So, the next time you hear the W, Rove and Co. chatting up the "ownership society" and how the Social Security system is untenable, call them to the carpet and ask them how much money they have made trading stocks. And then, if they have made much capital gains ask them two more questions: 1) How close to the inside of the companies that made you the most money are you (e.g. are they on the boards, did they recieve options executable below market value, do they have constituents that own companies that gifted them or their PAC's funds, etc...) ? And 2) did you pay any taxes on your capital gains or did you find shelters for your 'hard earned" cash?

I have in mind the Big Dick Cheney when thinking about those two questions. If the W, Rove and Co hadn't busted the doors down and obliterated the country side in Iraq, there are a large number of Cheney's cronies (read war-time profiteers) would would be voting for some one else in these next election cycles.

One book I would recommend for folks intersted in the "ownership" society is "Liar's Poker." That should explain why we are in such a fix when MBA types assume major roles in government. I just found an on-line novella that also might interest you but can't vouch for it as I haven't read it. It is, however, seemingly appropriate for people who liked this post: "Confessions of a Mutual Fund Insider."


Neil Shakespeare said...

Great post. Yes, the "Owners" love the "Ownership Society"...just as Slave "Owners" enjoyed Slavery, I'm sure. Enjoyed it very much, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just posted the my response to just the Social Security part of the Ownership Society blather. Take a look here.