Wall Street Protesters Embrace Capitalism

Jeff Siegel

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted October 17, 2011

I saw a picture of some Wall Street protesters holding a sign that read, “Capitalism Doesn’t Work.”

If capitalism didn’t work, that sign wouldn’t exist!anticap

Where did the materials come from to make that sign? Who paid to produce the ink that was used to print those words? Were they compensated, or is there some altruistic ink company that just donates 100% of its inventory?

Or maybe they just trade hugs for poster paint…

Look, I get it. I understand the anger and frustration. If you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention — and I don’t care if you’re unemployed and broke or have a great job and pull in six figures a year.

The tragedy that’s been unfolding in this nation for decades is coming to a head, and it’s primarily this younger generation that’s going to pay the price for a long history of fiscal irresponsibility and, let’s face it, blatant theft.

How long did we really think we could pilfer Social Security, leaving nothing more than a trail of worthless I.O.U.s?

In any event, no one should be surprised by the uprising.

Fortunately, not every Wall Street protester is an anti-capitalist moron.

Invest, Don’t Protest

I’ve never really been a big fan of these kinds of protests. For the most part, I don’t think they work.

These protesters aren’t going to put the banks out of business. They’re not going to bring down Goldman Sachs or end corporate special interests.

I do think it’s encouraging that so many younger people are making their voices heard by exercising their First Amendment rights. But the truth is those voices are falling on deaf ears.

Every day these folks spend shouting on Wall Street is really just another day their future is being dismantled.

And drum circles and chain-smoking won’t stop it.

That being said, these recent protests have also smoked out a new generation of investors that embrace the capitalist spirit, but in a way that supports rational, long-term, sustainable economic growth. They call themselves Slow Money Investors, and they’re looking to instigate change — not by squatting in makeshift campsites in Zuccotti Park, but by investing in profit-bearing opportunities that contribute to the health and sustainability of the global community.


Long-term Profitability

At the heart of everything, I am both a capitalist and an environmentalist. I make no apologies for either, and believe that the two are not mutually exclusive.

This is why I’ve spent years investing in and profiting from alternative energy and organic food markets. These are my passions and have been my top-performing investments since 2005.

So when I first came across the Slow Money movement a few years ago, I was intrigued.

Although I’m not 100 percent sold on all of their principles, there’s one truism that was expressed by Slow Money Alliance Executive Director Ari Derfel that I believe is important enough to include here:

The vast majority of our investment dollars perpetuate broken economic and ecological systems on this planet. If we’re going to change that, we need to invest in things that have inherent value here, close to home. We need to let our money work over time.

I couldn’t agree more — particularly the part about investing in things that have inherent value here at home. And that’s why I decided to share this with you today.

The markets are crazy; the global economy is completely unstable and fear continues to permeate throughout the world. While there are solid, long-term investments that will pay off better than most (particularly in the fields of oil and gas and alternative energy), we continue to seek additional opportunities in sustainability and long-term profitability.

This is something Slow Money can offer.

Another Farmland Opportunity

One of the goals of the Slow Money movement is to make it possible for all investors — not just accredited investors — to profit from the rebuilding of local and regional economies. The primary focus of Slow Money is on food systems, as they are the basis and foundation of local and regional economies.

I looked through a number of funds that were vouched for on Slow Money’s website…

I have to say, this is where I think the movement could lose a bit of steam. While I completely support long-term, sustainable investment opportunities, particularly in the area of local and organic farming, what some of these funds are offering in terms of returns is pretty weak.

You’re not going to bring in the masses (the numbers that’ll give you real impact) with returns that I could get on a CD or money market.

I don’t believe this is a realistic way to encourage robust participation in the Slow Money movement.

I’m not saying they need to pony up fat double-digit returns year after year; but anything shy of what I could get from a solid, dividend-bearing stock is not going to put the asses in the seats.

Now there were some funds available for accredited investors that were a little more realistic. Farmland LP actually has a pretty interesting model, describing itself as the only fund of its kind, providing its investors with the security of owning low-risk farmland while benefiting from the value added by converting to organic farmland. Returns are driven by cash flow from leasing farmland and land appreciation.

All in all, I do believe the Slow Money movement still offers an additional and common sense approach to investing in the 21st century — especially with its focus on food systems.

I’d just like to see decent enough returns to make it more worthwhile to the average Joe who wants to support this kind of investing, but also needs to see an acceptable return on his investment. And from what I can tell right now, that doesn’t seem to exist. If I’m wrong, I welcome any emails from folks who can point me in the direction of a solid Slow Money investment for the average retail investor.

Of course as I wrote a few weeks ago, organic farmland remains one of the safest and most profitable investments you can make these days…

And whether it’s via the Slow Money route or going out and physically purchasing a few acres for yourself, it’s an investment you should be making now.

To a new way of life and a new generation of wealth…

Jeff Siegel Signature 

Jeff Siegel
Editor, Energy and Capital

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