Wow, we sure took a lot of flak for our recent comments about the OccupyWallStreet movement. Many of you misinterpreted our article to mean that we defend big business and Wall Street, as though they have done no wrong (not at all the case if you read the article carefully, for t’was not the cat’s fault he over ate, t’was he who left the refrigerator door open).
But the biggest complaint we received was the supposed irrelevance of an opinionated political essay on a website like RetireWorldwide. We were told we should “stick to your knitting”, and “avoid personal political rants at the expense of your readers”. Some of you even lashed out with blatant insults that won’t be repeated here.
At the risk of further alienating our subscribers, we’d like to connect the dots between OccupyWallStreet, RetireWorldwide, and SocialUnrest.
When considering an optimum retirement lifestyle – which is likely the core reason why most of you read our blog – the risks of social unrest should be a top consideration, especially given today’s volatile social landscape.
So highly valid questions in your mind should be, “where are the risks higher for social unrest”, and “how could social unrest affect my lifestyle or investments?”
Sure, it would be easier for us to continuously pander images of white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, “paradise”, and the endless reasons why you will love being somewhere where you are not. But, in an effort to provide a more balanced and realistic global perspective, we have to consider political issues and risks associated therein, including those occurring in the USA.
Social unrest can take many forms – strikes, riots, “OccupyThis”, discrimination, war, and/or higher crime rates. We wonder how people who chose Athens, Greece as a place to retire are feeling about their choice right now, or how the folks in Bangkok, Thailand felt during the violent clashes between residents and the military a couple of years back, and now during terrible flooding.
We wonder about the potential for social unrest in the USA, Latin America and other regions. We wonder how the OccupyWallStreet movement will evolve – will it make the USA a more or less attractive choice for retirement? Is the #OWS movement the beginning of widespread social chaos, or the wake up call our politicians needed to set things right?
The answer is we really don’t know. Like Nasim Taleb explains in his book, The Black Swan, high impact, seemingly improbable events cannot be accurately predicted based on historical data, which throws most statistically and historically based predictions out the window. For example, the fact that the USA has not experienced an Argentinean-style banking crisis, does not mean it won’t.
Here is a reasonably good graphical source from Princeton that tries to measure various classes of risk around the globe, but we would not give a lot of weight to these types of graphical portrayals because they are largely based on known information, and what concerns us is the unknown.
We found it to be extra-ironic that our article about OccupyWallStreet garnered a lot of “why don’t you shut up” style complaints – admonishing the very type of free speech the movement is sustained by. While some of you found our “opinionative political rants” a good reason to unsubscribe, we trust that the wiser among you recognize the value of different opinions – whether you agree with them or not.
While none of you offered a well thought out retort to our perspective on OccupyWallStreet, we are surely willing to publish opinions that go against our own, in an effort to provide balanced and diverse perspectives.