Thursday, 22 December 2011

On taking personal responsibility

Business Mirror

IN the aftermath of the Sendong flooding, literally millions of people have opened their hearts and wallets to those affected by this massacre of life and property.

However, the finger-pointing to non-existent climate change, Pagasa’s inability to adequately perform its mandate, and the government’s lack of “disaster preparedness” points to a truth no one is willing to admit. The government cannot protect the people.

In 2008 I wrote a column, titled “Who is responsible for our lives?” about the maritime tragedy when bad weather sank a ship, killing hundreds.

Then also, the blame game dominated the discussion. The ship was allowed to leave port by the Coast Guard, Pagasa underestimated the severity of the weather, and the captain perhaps put schedule before safety. But the blame was put on the “government” rather than the passengers taking responsibility for getting on a ship in very bad weather.

Certainly, Sendong is a completely different set of circumstances, with people dying in their beds from the rains. But still, we tend to look to an outside authority for our protection, even when experience tells us time and time again, that protection is weak at best and non-existent at the worst.

Albert Einstein said, “Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will, his power, his personal responsibility.”

The New Year is right around the corner. What is your financial plan? Or are you relying on the government to protect and prosper you?

Let me tell you a secret. The government, even when staffed and led by the most wonderful, loving, honest public servants, does not care about you. The government, like every other institution, lives only for its own survival.

You, even the good person that you are, would not sacrifice your family for mine any more than I would forfeit my family to save yours.

We must take responsibility for our own lives because no one, no institution is going to protect or prosper us.

Are you making financial plans based on what the government says that it is going to do for the economy in 2012? Are you really that foolish?

The common socialist thinking is that no one can prosper himself/herself unless the government helps. The other side of that is one person cannot become wealthier because the already wealthy keeps the lower economic groups down. When that kind of thinking takes hold, personal responsibility is gone and we become dependent as Einstein says on our “environment,” whether that environment is the government or others.

If you want to be wealthier, you must do it yourself.

I received this e-mail yesterday, requesting a copy of my stock-market analysis. This man, Jovy, is the clearest example of what I am trying to say.

“I discovered your column around six months after I started investing in March 2009. I have been following you since then.

My interest started around 1998 when my father gave me shares in Petron, which he bought around 1994/5. I thought, what do I do with this thing and started studying/reading about the stock market since 1998 by buying secondhand books.

I was casually following the stock market already when 2008 happened, and all I’ve read made me feel strong that it was the time to invest and did so starting March 2009. Starting small with just a couple of thousand pesos and buying more incrementally. When I saw that what I read in books was starting to unravel, I went all in with the wedding gift I and my wife received in 2007. I think I doubled that amount or more. I built a small concrete house here in Bicol with that money, my trophy.”

This man started investing just as the stock market was taking off, based on his own analysis reading secondhand books. He took responsibility for his personal financial future and look at his words: “My trophy.”

While others were complaining about the “PSE Casino” and the “Old-Boys’ Club,” Jovy was making money to build himself a house. And those Petron shares his father gave him? Remember the majority of Petron’s initial public offering was allocated to the Small Investor Program with the buying limit being P5,000.

Next year is going to be difficult, perhaps very difficult. Every quarter when economic expectations have not been fulfilled, the people are going to blame the government and the government is going to blame the environment.

But there will be another group that will not be listening. They will be too busy making money, taking personal responsibility.

On a personal note, I would like to send you a complimentary copy of this week’s PSE Strategy Guide from Please e-mail me at with your request. Merry Christmas.


E-mail to and Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

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