Dear Dr. Boli: Now that we know how banks work, can you tell us how stockbrokers make us broker? —Sincerely, Greybeard.

Dear Sir: The stockbroker, like any other tool, cannot be held responsible for the actions of its user. It is true that the presence of hammers in the world may encourage people to go around hitting nails, but the responsible adult is expected to be able to decide for himself when such an activity is appropriate and when it will infuriate the neighbors. In the same way, the mere fact that stockbrokers exist does not require us to buy or sell stocks. It is perfectly possible to go through life from beginning to end without once employing the services of a stockbroker; and it is a curious thing that many Americans who are deaf to the pleas of ordinary mendicants seem to be unable to resist the importunities of brokers, who generally have less to offer in return than a street beggar. A street beggar, after all, usually pronounces God’s blessing on us, whereas the broker brings down the curse of Mammon.

In short, the problem is not in our brokers, but in ourselves. The next time you have a large sum of money to invest, give about 3% of it to the next street beggar you see, and stuff the rest into an old pillowcase. You will be achieving approximately the same long-term results as if you had given the money to a broker, but you will receive far more gratitude in return.