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Wall Street needs GA chapter as in Greed Anonymous

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POSTED January 4, 2013 11:39 p.m.

Playing the stock market and gambling - what’s the difference?

You’d think there was a huge difference, given the righteous indignation of politicians vowing to fight its expansion. Harry Reid aside, given the fact he’s beholden to Nevada casino interests, others in Congress who oppose further legalization of games of chance are hypocrites. They talk about fairness, odds being stacked against the player, and the fact people can lose their entire paycheck or life’s savings. Yet if they are so concerned about the odds being rigged against the players, you’d think they’d have the same indignation about those who sell stocks.

Stocks - as they are sold and bought today - are speculative. People play to get quick returns. Long-range returns and value mean nothing to them. They want to win big and they want to win now.  And that’s just the folks who manipulate stock offerings.

These days a person has a better chance of getting a fair return on their investment at a black jack table than they do on Wall Street.

While the odds may favor the house in gambling, at least the deck isn’t stacked against you like it is on Wall Street.

If the house tweaked the odds against a payday like some in Wall Street boardrooms do, the Nevada State Gambling Commission would close them down.

Wall Street types misrepresent the game - and the odds - all the time. A classic example would be the former head honchos at Washington Mutual Bank. They were virtually swearing on the graves of loved ones that they didn’t get into toxic mortgages as they were aggressively seeking investors. Months later the truth came out. The bank stock is now as worthless as a politician’s campaign promise.

If a casino mislead players on the odds of a game to entice them to bet more, which is exactly what Washington Mutual brass did, they’d be facing criminal charges. Instead, in return for imploding a bank and siphoning off more money from small investors being lulled into a false sense of security, the bigwigs pocketed millions of dollars.

Stock trades today aren’t about long-term investment. It’s about trying to make a fast buck betting on the day-to-day movement of the market.

Political unrest in the Middle East? Then better bet on oil prices going up. Fiscal cliff possibly on horizon? Bet on market going down.

You can even double down by betting that stocks will lose money in order to make money as an “investor.” So how is that different than gambling?

At least with gambling in a casino you are face-to-face with the folks you are placing bets with. When is the last time you saw any of the young Turks who profiteered handsomely off the slicing and dicing of bank stocks contaminated with toxic mortgages?

They took your money with the same callousness of a cat burglar ransacking your valuables.

Congress needs to get off its high horse about the so-called “moral bankruptcy” of gambling.

Better yet, they should focus on the sins of Wall Street.

This country needs to get a large chunk of the corporate businessmen who play on Wall Street into GA. That’s not Gamblers’ Anonymous, but rather Greed Anonymous.

And politicians need to stop enabling them.

But to put money down that is ever going to happen would be a sucker’s bet.

 

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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