After the SEC filed the recent civil fraud charges against Goldman Sachs, I heard a lot of folks commenting on how greedy Goldman was and how they were finally being held accountable. My view is that people are not being held accountable – especially the investors. The assets they were buying were fully disclosed. The job of every investor is to do good due diligence on any investment they are making. (This is especially true when you are talking about the level of sophistication of these investors.) The investors may not have known who selected the assets but a careful evaluation of the assets would have shown they were a dog. They simply took a bet and they lost. As investors, we have to make our own decisions and live with the consequences. It is our money. If we make a bad investment, it is our fault.
It seems like we have evolved as a society where if anything goes wrong, it is someone else’s fault. The past couple of years seem to be the worst. Lawsuits and bailouts reign supreme. “It is Wall Street’s fault.” (Not mine because I paid too much for a house and took out an even stupider loan.) “It was the perfect storm that caused our business to fail.” (Not the stupid decisions the board and executives made over the last 20 years including overpaying people for the job they were doing – or not doing.) It is not my fault and someone else should pay!
I made some bad investments over the past couple of years that would be easy to justify that were someone else’s fault; however, at the end of the day, it is my fault because I made the final decision. The problem is that until we take full responsibility for our lives, they don’t get better. We don’t control everything that happens to us, but we do have 100% control over the thoughts, decisions and actions we take. Where are you not taking full accountability for the decisions you have made?