"Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces."

- √Čtienne de la Bo√©tie

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Tunisian Street Vendor Moment



On Saturday I learned that my brokerage firm, Zecco, a firm I have enthusiastically recommended to all my friends, which provides ten free stock trades per month with a minimum balance will no longer do so.  Suddenly, I find myself in a profound Jeffrey Tucker moment wherein what really is, considered broadly, only a slight change fully in line with everything else around me pushes me off an intellectual cliff, pressing me to reflect on profound questions, raising issues of the grandest importance.

These issues, like the increasing cost of doing business and my unemployment, are not issues that I was not and suddenly became aware of, nor were their weight not previously felt. Like Mohamed Bouazizi, I have long been dissatisfied with my situation and quite disaffected by my inability despite wit and perseverance to make inroads towards change. But also like him, what should have been a small, fully anticipated change, an increase in the cost to trade stocks, will lead to profound changes in my life. You see, I have long been able to justify my unemployment by filling my time with investment research and proudly eking out small gains. This grew my income and was justifiable as a way to hone skills relevant to the workplace.  Instead of being unemployed, I was an investor.  And a good, if not massively profitable, one too.  I may have traded a few shares of SUSS from $9 to $14 and made a small sum, but this gave me a chance to feel larger than I was. That was my contribution to American capitalism!

 No longer.  With standard brokerage fees, my small trades quickly become unprofitable to do.  I can attempt to find another broker that is cheaper, but a certain amount of damage is done.  Even if I find free trades elsewhere, gone are the innocent days when I could expect such a consistent boon to my trading and structure my entire portfolio around it.  My trades will be fewer and my positions much larger and easier to monitor.  I find myself angry at my lost, but far too wise to be angry with Zecco.  Indeed, I am another small time Tunisian street vendor, who has had my cart confiscated by Bernanke’s inflation.  But unlike Bouazizi, the only thing I’m going to devote my anger, intelligence and free time towards immolating is the power of my enemies.

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