I used to walk by the Occupy Wall Street encampment every morning on the way to my office at thestreet.com and I liked to chat with some of the good people who were trying to warm themselves with coffee as they slipped out of their sleeping bags.
I thought they made such good points about equality. But they were leaderless and didn't have a true mission other than to try to make Wall Street more fair. Wall Street, though, was way too metaphorical. There is no "Wall Street" anymore, at least physically so the whole thing was a bit antediluvian.
Did nothing come of it?
In retrospect it does seem to be a little bit of an asterisk. Society went another way. President Trump was elected. I, somehow, could not see him addressing these people with a lot of support.
Now we have another "revolution" stoked by people using emojis of rockets to summon a new group to be challenging the fat cats, the Wall Street Bets people with the park this time being GameStop (GME) .
It's certainly caught the eyes of Washington. Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen is in there fact-finding. Senator Elizabeth Warren is agitating. The regime has changed, a Democrat is in charge.
Lasting? As long as the short-busting continues to be attempted at GameStop and a handful of other companies that are heavily - but not overly - shorted.
Let's not let the park's forest obscure the trees. Unlike those who peaked their heads out of their sleeping bags in the early morning, there is a bigger movement here, and it is a movement about the empowerment of individual investors using the Robinhood app to try to make more money and augment a paycheck that doesn't go far enough, or a stimulus check that seems like free money if you have a decent job.
The app has brought in about 17 million people who might not otherwise gotten involved. There are plenty of issues: too many customers all at once, too many people who are buying things that may not match their suitability, way too much margin being used, but it is a legitimate movement and we don't want the movement to be about GameStop.
The Twitter (TWTR) feed is a powerful one and when you write what I just did the blowback is that I want to keep you out of GameStop. Believe me, the people who want you out of GameStop are the people who are silent: the execs there, other than a release today about a new hire or two. Take it out on them not me. I am no angel, but I sure ain't the devil. I am trying to keep my eye on the prize: getting those new 17 million people as best educated and informed as possible.
That's not what is happening and it isn't because people are encouraging them to buy a stock that may be worth a fraction of what it sells for instead of a fractional share in something like an Alphabet (GOOGL) or an Amazon (AMZN) or Chipotle (CMG) to name three companies that just reported excellent quarters.
As long as the discussion is about empowering the people who aren't trying to occupy Wall Street, but are trying to better themselves, I am on board. Does it take more regulation and competition and disclosure, not to mention capital? Then government show us the way.
Does it take show trials and demonization and emojis and scatological attacks, count me out. I dislike the hedge funds that got greedy more than the GameStop people who didn't listen to me from my hospital bed and say please take something off the table.
But you must take one thing away from this: unlike the amorphous, nihilistic group of Wall Street Occupiers, count me with this new revolution, with the 17 million. We can make you better and more informed. We can help you win.