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Speaking for the 95th Percent

I would love to invest in the great new industries being created in this country right now:
  • There's a huge boom in apps. No one writes applications any more. They all write apps, which can be downloaded quickly, which are often free, and which are fueling the phone and tablet boom.
  • There is a renewable energy boom in this country. There are a ton of small solar panel companies, hosts of biomass companies and dozens of startups working on making this intermittent power the center of tomorrow's electric grid.

But retail investors can't get a taste of either boom. Most publicly traded companies in either area are penny stocks, easily manipulated, thinly traded, often of dubious quality. The good plays, the big profits, they're all in the hands of the 1% of the 1%.

Here is an inconvenient truth for you: Wall Street is a TV studio. Nothing really happens there. The markets are all computerized. Much of what is being traded on those computers isn't worth buying. It's a day-long game show. It may reflect the economy, but it does not reflect opportunity.

As hard as the 90% are being pressed by the 10%, and as hard as the 95% are being pressed by the 5%, almost 99% of that 5% are also being pressed, by the 1% above them. The reason this feels like the Gilded Age is because it is, with ordinary American progressive ideas like financial regulation and anti-trust enforcement derided as "socialism" by the smug.

But it's the retail investor who will save this country. The most important reform we can make is to give retail investors something better to invest in, because we're catching on to the game and we don't like the way it's rigged.

At the time of publication the author had a position in SCHW..

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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