A trader is a man who earns what he gets and does not give or take the undeserved. A trader does not ask to be paid for his failures, nor does he ask to be loved for his flaws. A trader does not squander his body as fodder or his soul as alms.
Just as he does not give his work except in trade for material values, so he does not give the values of his spirit – his love, his friendship, his esteem – except in payment and in trade for human virtues, in payment for his own selfish pleasure, which he receives from men he can respect.
The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread – a man of justice.
– John Galt, from Atlas Shrugged
If you follow me on twitter, you are probably aware that I have been slowly making my way through Atlas Shrugged since I started reading it while on Vacation back in January. The book is a monster, but it has been well worth it to this point. It continues to amaze me that something written so long ago could so accurately describe the current state of the world. The deeper I get into the book, the more I am able to identify with the struggles of the industrialists and the ridiculous expectations of the looters.
After hearing much about John Galt’s epic speech, I finally arrived at it last week. The quote above was taken from that speech. Since I read that section, I have not been able to get it out of my head. While Galt is not talking about traders in the financial sense that you and I would, the parallels are perfectly aligned.
I took the liberty of breaking the large paragraph into three smaller ones to make it easier to digest. Sorry, Ayn.
In the first section, Galt explains that a trader gets exactly the amount that he earns. If he performs poorly, he will not be paid. If he performs exceptionally well, he will be paid well. This is the exact line of thinking that attracted many of us to financial markets.
The second section builds on the fact that traders work exclusively for themselves, and whatever they choose to do with their profits is of some benefit to them. It also points out that traders do not interact with men unless they respect them.
The third part, where Galt references parasites and looters is where it gets really good. For me, this represents every person that asks me for “hot stock tips” so that they can “make some quick money” in the markets. These people are not willing to put in the work that you and I have, yet they feel entitled to the same rewards that we reap.
As traders, we are all on solo missions to prove ourselves exclusively for our own benefit. We seek to earn a better living by applying our minds and tirelessly working to get better. These parasites who expect us to hand them portions of our hard earned profits have no legitimate claim.