Letters 1.16.13

By on January 16, 2013

Imperiled travelers should be supported, not chastised
I have to start this off by saying I am a huge fan of The Planet. I read it every week and always enjoy it. But I was incredibly shocked and appalled to read your take on the Peruvian ordeal. We are talking about a local Jackson woman who has just returned from the worst thing that has ever happened to her, and she has to pick up her local paper to read a harsh criticism of her tragedy? Are we not a community that supports one another? It is one thing to talk about this amongst your friends, it is another entirely to take that petty opinion to a public forum.

I was absolutely shocked by not only your tone, but your harsh and untrue words. Not only is your glaring misrepresentation of what actually happened over there offensive (they did not just have their gear stolen, that is not what people find “sexy” about this story), but you demean their tragedy. “How is it that the upper middle class vacationers, who had a horrible misadventure, outdo in sympathy and support the real tragedies right here in front of our faces, in Jackson Hole? “Seriously? Is what happened to them not a real tragedy? Is it something you would want to go through?

I completely agree it is a horrible thing for a mother of two to get diagnosed with cancer, have to quit her job and not have her friends rally around her. But if that was your point – a criticism of the people who didn’t rally around the woman with cancer – you did not need to also criticize those who did rally around their friend. What you wrote was completely unprofessional and embarrassment to this community. I can assure you, you have alienated some loyal readers and your article is now what is being discussed around town as unjust.

I hope you feel personally responsible for some of the suffering this young woman now has to go through, because I can also assure you that you have added to her trauma and tears.
– Maddie McQueeney

Acknowledging all in need
Thank you for your thoughtful and moving publisher’s note this week. The social service organizations in our community are overwhelmed with need at every level. As you know, I’m active or tangentially involved with, several groups who offer various types of help.

It is terrible to see what a lost job or illness can do to those without a sufficient safety net. The most tragic victims are the children who understand so much more than we credit them with, and internalize their parent(s) fear and uncertainty. So many of these people, individuals and families alike, get increasingly isolated as their situation worsens.

I don’t, in any way, want to downplay the horrible ordeal of our fellow residents visiting Peru, but I join you in wondering about what moves people to help one another or, conversely, what keeps them from reaching out.
I think, in some ways, it is hard for people to acknowledge that the tragedy of a lost job or sickness could be their story, this lost home could be theirs.
I hope that your note motivates people to open their hearts and wallets for organizations like CRC and all of the others involved in the Systems of Care group.

I hope that your holidays were wonderful.
– Kelly Egan, LLC

Self-directed trading with TD Ameritrade is not ‘dreadful’
I just read your “Props & Disses” column for the 1-9-13 JH Weekly and noticed your references to TD Ameritrade.

You refer to TD Ameritrade as “a truly dreadful idea that allows any moron with a laptop to lose his shirt in the market.”

How is a self-directed brokerage platform a dreadful idea? Would you prefer that an individual wishing to invest his or her IRA have to work through an expensive broker? Or be limited to depositing money in a bank? If an investor has a portfolio that is too small to be of interest to a traditional wealth management company, is it “dreadful” that he or she is able to invest these funds? What alternative would you propose? Should the ability to invest in stocks be taken away from all people because a “moron with a laptop” lost “his shirt in the market”?

If a blogger writes a stupid article on his or her blog, does that make the very concept of blogging “dreadful”? Your statement seems to imply that individuals should not be able to direct their own investments. What alternative would you propose? I certainly agree that not every person should have an account at TD Ameritrade. That does not make TD Ameritrade a “dreadful” idea any more than the fact that some people are injured while skiing makes skiing a “dreadful” idea.

You also refer to TD Ameritrade contributing “to the volatile nature of Wall Street with its billions of pre-programmed standing orders to sell or buy.”
TD Ameritrade is a brokerage. If an individual wants to invest an IRA or wants to buy 100 shares of Safeway, TD Ameritrade offers a platform.

There is a huge difference between a brokerage like TD Ameritrade and the high frequency/algorithmic trading that you seem to be referring to. Algorithmic trading tends to be done by hedge funds and securities firms, not through TD Ameritrade. Your statement seems to be an attempt to display populist rage against Wall Street. Unfortunately, it is comparable to taking out frustrations regarding the British phone hacking scandal by criticizing Wyoming Public Radio.

Your claim that TD Ameritrade is a “dreadful” idea is an opinion – and unfortunately an opinion that detracts from the credibility of your work elsewhere in the paper, including an interesting article about the bank robbery. However, your statement regarding TD Ameritrade’s “billions of pre-programmed standing orders” is factually inaccurate.
- Jim Steele


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