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Stewart vs. Cramer: A Victimless Struggle

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I just finished watching Jon Stewart's almost completely satisfying conversation with Jim Cramer on Hulu. Stewart chastised Cramer for taking Wall Street CEOs and others who abuse the stock market at face value and in turn for not looking behind their misleading statements to report the real story of how Wall Street turns a profit. He said rightly that knowing more about the house of cards that is Wall Street would have helped investors make better decisions. To remind Cramer of whom he is supposed to be serving with his CNBC show Mad Money, Stewart told the story of his seventy-five year old mother who took Cramer and CNBC and other would be financial experts at face value and bought into his advice and information and has subsequently lost everything, even though Cramer knew the system was unstable. Stewart told Cramer he had a responsibility as a self promoted authority figure to better serve those who would trust him with their wealth by revealing his knowledge of any and all structural problems in our financial system.

I might remind Jon Stewart that while he is asking CNBC to take a more serious, realistic approach to understanding the stock market and to provide its audience with a window into the ugly, volatile, criminal realities that are woven into the fabric of Wall Street, he might do well to not portray his grown-ass mother as a victim. No one put a gun to her head and said invest in the stock market. And if she didn't know the stock market was full of crooks and liars then she sure does now. Naiveté is no excuse for losing one's retirement investments. Everyone who puts his or her future into the hands of another is taking a risk, no matter how credible and well spoken that other person is who would very much like to control other people's money.

People, in case Jon Stewart hasn't noticed, have been known, on occasion, to be unreliable. We do not have the right to expect human beings to be defect free just because we would prefer they didn't screw us over. We cannot assume people will do the right thing because they say they will do the right thing, especially when large amounts of money are involved.

Others have to earn the right to be in our lives. Since we are responsible for our lives, if we don't do the proper vetting ourselves we will be the ones we hurt. The definition of an adult is someone who no longer hurts him or herself. Jim Cramer and CNBC and Bernie Madoff are not responsible for the fact that Jon Stewart's mother no longer has money for her retirement. Jon, I hate to break the news to you, but your mother is solely responsible for her current situation. There is no "but..."

Jim Cramer pointed out that his show is designed to serve the market. Stewart responded by saying hookers serve a market and coke dealers serve a market, too, which doesn't mean the market should be served. Stewart then tells Cramer he ought to serve his mother's interests. But what is the market that is Jon Stewart's mother's interests? According to Jon Stewart she did not want to do her own vetting. She wants other people, like Jim Cramer, for example, to do it for her. She bought into him hook line and sinker and she then wants these people to whom she gave all her power to take responsibility for her retirement. That is a childish market, the kind that deserves Jim Cramer and his childish antics. CNBC can provide an adult service but it can't stay in business if an adult market does not exist. A cable network can serve hard cold reality spinach but it does not have the power to send Americans to bed without supper if they don't eat it. Americans want to believe in Wall Street at any cost because they want what they goddamn want and they want it right now. Americans did not want to know how Walls Street makes its money as long as it was making money. The "House of Cards" system that Stewart wanted Cramer to reveal had practically become financial orthodoxy. It worked for generations. I knew it was a damnable house of cards. I just couldn't believe it kept on standing up.

CNBC must serve the market that is or there is no CNBC. Stewart might as well tell CNBC to stop broadcasting. Jim Cramer served spoiled, opportunistic Americans stuck in a state of financial adolescence due to their own little Peter Pan tantrum gobs of shiny candy for dinner every night, and as a result spoiled candy fat Peter Pan Americans got financial diabetes. That's why I don't watch CNBC. The Daily Show is the only remotely adult show on television.

Am I saying Jon Stewart's mother is a spoiled, financial Peter Panma with fiduciary diabetes fat from candy-ass advice? Yyyyyyup. If she let someone else be responsible for her well being she is a spoiled, financial Peter Panma with fiduciary diabetes all fat and sick from taking candy-ass advice from the happy happy fun clowns on TV.

When Jon Stewart and his mother take responsibility for the fact that they alone are responsible for their well-being, Jim Cramer will cut out the bells and whistles and clean off the white face and start providing real information. He doesn't provide viewers all the inside shenanigans that created the house of cards we are watching collapse around us not because he is lame and unethical but because Americans like Jon Stewart's mother ignored clear, visible red flags, which means they did not want to know the truth about how Wall Street works, which means Wall Street has their permission to do anything it can get away with, just like an adolescent. It is not Jim Cramer or CNBC's fault that Jon Stewart's grandma is a Peter Panma.

Stewart can't tell me his mother saw no red flags along her road to retirement ruin. She either ignored them or felt overwhelmed by what she saw, which is a pretty big, bright, red flag, or didn't have the time in her busy day to protect her retirement cuz everything else was more important -- which is a Super Bowl type cover-the-playing field sized red flag. Or she's straight lazy, another massive red flag, or she incorrectly judged herself incapable of understanding Wall Street, and if that is the case John Stewart's mother was living in Red Flag Cop Out Doormat City. She put her future in the hands of something beyond her ability to grasp? I don't think so. If she sat there and listened to Jim Cramer and just crossed her fingers and hoped everything would be all right then she had to learn a very hard lesson in a very hard way, and that's too bad, but that is her doing.

Jon Stewart is upset because CNBC promotes Jim Cramer as an expert in whom we can trust. I don't pay any attention to freakin' promos! Who pays attention to promos? Peter Frickin Pan, that's who. Do Jon Stewart and his mother have every God given right to be Peter Pan? Hell yes. And they get to not enjoy the consequences as well. And why didn't Jon Stewart tell his own mother these TV guys are not all what they are cracked up to be?

My mother has a wonderful friend name Jean Sullivan. She embodies the now required value of self-responsibility in the face of authority. Jean and her late husband Joe worked their asses off creating real value, not paper value, for those invested in the company Joe ran and for its employees and customers. They did things the way they were supposed to be done. Any hardworking, adult American would have to be proud of and satisfied with what they accomplished.

Jean took responsibility for protecting and growing her family's wealth, in that order, which to this day remains considerable. While Jon Stewart's mother sat back and trusted CNBC, apparently, as well as others marketed as experts who must be cuz they play one on TV, Jean Sullivan was out there doing everything Jon Stewart is asking Jim Cramer to do and wished Jim Cramer had done for his Peter Panma. Jean Sullivan made every company and fund she invested in earn her trust and earn the privilege of handling her hard earned money. She took no one at face value. She learned how the system worked. She didn't let the promise of past results lull her into a rose-colored expectation of security. She didn't let overwhelm or a Peter Panma lack of belief in her abilities stop her from learning what she needed to learn. She went out there and found who was on solid ground and who wasn't.

She discovered on her own all the signs that Wall Street was not on solid ground and pulled her money out. She realized it was better to have cash than a worthless stock portfolio. She literally put her money under her mattress, and as a result she still has what she and her husband worked so hard to earn over their long, productive lifetimes. She did the search. She did not rely on CNBC or the funny bald man with the bells and whistles with the rolled up sleeves selling candy with fart noises whom we cannot trust despite those shiny promos. Ahem. As a result she has retained the bulk of her wealth while so many others who refused to take responsibility for themselves are left shaking their fists at Bernie Madoff and Jim Cramer and all the other experts who shockingly let them down. Jon Stewart made a point of showing how all over the map Cramer was with his predictions. Why then did his mother trust the advice of the world's Mad Money Men??? Every stock market analyst is all over the map.

Many Madoff victims like to say they had no reason to suspect any trouble. All that tells me is that giving away responsibility worked for these 'victims' up until Madoff collapsed. All it tells me is they got away with turning a blind eye and are pissed off they can't still get away with not caring how Wall Street manages to turn a profit. It does not tell me they are victims, not as long as Jean Sullivan is around.

I'd like to see Jon Stewart run his mother and those Madoff victims through an archived video gauntlet of their past statements and decisions just like the one he put Jim Cramer through. Let's see how their supposedly noble, pitiable victim hood survives the light of day.
If Jon Stewart can convince his mother and every other victim to take responsibility for him or herself the way Jean Sullivan did, CNBC will have a huge new market to serve that won't be entertained by Mad Money, and Jon Stewart would have the financial network he would then deserve.