The Fed had bailed out Bear Stearns and mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, but the decision of the Treasury Secretary and the Fed to allow Lehman Brothers to fail, had trickled down to Main Street. Their theory that NO company was too big to fail, had in fact, FAILED. Seeing the financial abyss, the Treasury and Fed acted to stabilize the markets with the announcement of a $700 billion bailout package with taxpayers on the hook. The markets rallied on the news, and the week ended down only 33 points.
Ahhhh – the markets….. since then we have seen a low in March only to “rally” to our current levels and it seems that it’s back to business as usual. While Wall Street is contemplating their year-end bonuses, I wonder how many people you may know that have lost their jobs – how many new graduates shouldered with debt, can’t find one? My profession centers on assuring the financial futures of my clients – and I’m angry! In my 20 years within the profession I have watched Wall Street become rich, while average Americans have seen jobs disappear and basic expenses rise. Wall Street has sold the dream – and then turned it into a nightmare.
American families are struggling day to day with lost jobs, trying to educate their kids, health care costs, and unfair public policies that allow the very same banks that we bailed out to continue to make billions charging fees that are equivalent to a loan shark. Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts, last week on December 3rd, posted on the Huffington Post an op-ed entitled, America Without a Middle Class, which details the decline and economic struggles of American families.
People such as David Walker, President of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former US Comptroller General feels so strongly about the risk to the financial future of the next generations, that he now spends his time lecturing on our national debt. This past month the Peterson Foundation, in collaboration with Mobilize.org, an organization dedicated to empowering young people, presented a three day conference in Chicago and the message was simulcast via the web for anyone to “participate”. Like me, viewers knew about the conference due to Twitter and Facebook – social media at work.
Can social media be the tool that ordinary Americans use to make their voices heard like never before? There are currently 5 financial services lobbyists in DC for every member of Congress and the health care industry is spending $1.4 million a day to keep the status quo. It’s easy for everyday Americans to believe that we have no voice against such well-financed machines. But, the campaigns of Howard Dean and Barack Obama showed that “a little from many” can make a difference.
I believe passionately that the financial planning profession is essential in the lives of not only the affluent, but those everyday individuals and families faced with important financial decisions affecting their lives. The financial planning community has a role to play in advocating for the Middle Class, and it is my view that the profession must use its collective voice to represent the interests of the investing public. On December 5th I launched,PublicFiduciary.org, to bring together the collaborative efforts of financial professionals who support the mission of serving as the public’s fiduciary in advocating for policies that create and assure the financial security of American families.
Can Twitter, Facebook, and other social media resources bring together the voice of the Middle Class and make it heard? I SURE hope so. PublicFiduciary.org is a grass roots effort born out of the belief that social media can level the playing field for those most under-represented and create a voice that Washington can no longer ignore.