Why Doesn’t Evangelical Financial Guru Dave Ramsey Understand the Plight of the Poor?

Dave Ramsey is the Suze Orman for the evangelical Christian crowd, a financial expert who’ll help you get out of debt. (Though Ramsey’s advice also includes giving the church some of your money.)

Turning away from the pros and cons of his typical advice for a moment, he’s been under fire recently after posting an article on his website (written by Tom Corley) about the 20 things rich people do every day — suggesting that if we start those habits, then we, too, can be rich like them. Items include:

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day…

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.

It’s not hard to find the problem with this list. Rich people usually have time to read, and they have money to spend on audio books (which they can listen to on the commute to work since they either have cars or can afford an iPod), and they have the option of eating healthier meals (which tend to be more expensive than fast-food fare), and they don’t usually have to worry about fighting in wars to make ends meet, or going to school at night while working during the day, or raising kids while juggling multiple jobs, etc. On the flip side, it’s hard to wake up three hours before work starts when you work multiple jobs and only get a few precious hours of sleep to begin with.

The list really shows us the results of being rich, not the reasons people become rich.

As Fred Clark put it, Ramsey should have titled this post “A Rich Guy Finds 20 Different Ways to Accuse the Poor of Being Lazy.” Clark also sarcastically added to Corley’s list by pointing out more habits of the rich: They borrow money from their parents, declare bankruptcy when needed, lobby Congress, exploit tax breaks… you get the idea.

It’s not that the Ramsey team hates the poor. Ramsey’s own bio states that he was broke at one point. But Corley, at the very least, must have no idea what being poor is like. I have a hard time respecting the financial advice of a company that doesn’t know the difference between correlation and causation.

You would think Ramsey would apologize for the bad advice and move on. Instead, in a recent addendum to the post, he defended the faulty logic and blamed readers who interpreted it in a way he never intended:

This list simply says your choices cause results. You reap what you sow. Is the research perfect? No. It is a small sample, but it does pass the common-sense smell test. Does this research or the reason for posting it have anything to do with third-world countries? No. Anyone with good walking-around sense can see that this is a first-world discussion. Is this list a way of hating the poor? Seriously? Grow up.

There is a direct correlation between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth in non-third-world settings. To dispute that or attribute hate to that statement is immature and ignorant. To assume that our ministry hates the poor is ludicrous and is a reflection more on you than on our work or our beliefs.

He still doesn’t get it. He still blames the critics instead of looking inward. The big issue here isn’t that it doesn’t apply to those living in third-world countries; it’s that it completely ignores the realities of what it’s like to be poor in the first place. It ignores the bigger problems within our society that makes it ridiculously difficult to get out of poverty once you’re trapped in it. When it would take a McDonald’s worker making $8.25/hour more than 100 years to match what the CEO of the company made in a year, we have some serious wealth inequality problems in this country that go far beyond fixing your reading and eating habits.

So you can understand why Christian writer Rachel Held Evans took to criticizing Ramsey’s approach in a recent CNN article:

[Ramsey’s particular brand of prosperity gospel] also glosses over the reality that economic injustice is not, in fact, limited to the developing world but plagues our own country as well.

When medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States, there are systemic injustices at work.

When people working 40-hour weeks at minimum wage jobs still can’t earn enough to support their families, there are systemic injustices at work.

When approximately 1% of Americans hold 40% of the nation’s wealth, there are systemic injustices at work.

When the black unemployment rate has consistently been twice as high as the white unemployment rate for the past 50 years, there are systemic injustices at work.

People are poor for a lot of reasons, and choice is certainly a factor, but categorically blaming poverty on lack of faith or lack of initiative is not only uninformed, it’s unbiblical.

Couldn’t agree more.

And how did Ramsey respond to that?

With this tweet:


(The other “attack” he’s referring to is this one.)

He thinks this is all a personal attack on him. It’s not personal — and it sure as hell isn’t inaccurate.

Yes, you can get out poverty by not spending beyond your means and not getting into credit card debt and sticking to a budget and practicing good money management — all of which Ramsey preaches. To those who have gotten out of debt and prospered by following his advice, more power to you. But not everyone has the luxury of doing those things. It is possible in America to work full-time, not waste your money on frivolities, and still find yourself with very little money to work with to pay for rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other basic needs.

To tell poor people that they can get out of their financial situation by just doing what rich people do — without acknowledging that a lot of that advice is very likely beyond their means — is just irresponsible on the part of Ramsey’s team.

That he can’t own up to the mistake should give his future customers a lot of pause before they follow any more of his advice.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • GeraardSpergen

    >Two personal and inaccurate attacks from CNN in three months. Guess I should be thankful.

    The persecution complex runs deep.

    • http://batman-news.com Anton

      When Dave Ramsey hates people, it’s because he recognizes their vices. When people hate Dave Ramsey, it’s because they resent his virtues.

  • LesterBallard

    He’s an asshole Christian. Is that personal? And I bet he never mentions that “sell all you have and give to the poor” line from his fucking savior.

    • trj

      Of course not. That is against everything prosperity gospels stand for.

    • ok87

      He does use this phrase with great regularity in fact. However, this story is actually not a story about money; it is about having idols. Jesus used the young man’s money to reveal his true heart and he loved his money more than Jesus. Money was his idol. For many it’s our cars, computers, family, anything.

      • LesterBallard

        Well, I do love my family, and friends, more than “Jesus”. Also more than Allah, Yahweh, Thor, Zeus, Kali, etc.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I listen to his show sometimes. I’m more a fan of Suze Orman, but overall it’s the same message. Stop spending money you don’t have on stuff you don’t need. I have certainly done stupid things involving money and I accept responsibility for that. Yes, there were plenty of people (banks, mostly) happy to take advantage of my denial and naivete but they were my choices.

    About audio books, you have a point about access and time but you can check them out of your local library for free. It seems to me that Dave’s audience is mostly rural/suburban while Suze’s is more urban/exurban. That’s an oversimplification but if you listen to the callers and their situations, I think it’s clear that each knows their audience. I find Dave a little “fundamentalist” in some of his advice, but at the time I was listening to part of his show a few times a week I was in serious need of some “tough love” about my personal finances. The religious stuff did get on my nerves, though. I do think both care about the people they are trying to help. Neither is above criticism but I do think their intentions are good, unlike most of what is marketed to people at the lower end of the economic ladder.

  • Cindy

    Some of my questions include: what constitutes poor v. wealthy? How was this data compiled?
    And #8: 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday phone calls v. 11% of poor? What role does this play in wealth?

    • Katie

      Well, having grown up very poor, I don’t recall making or receiving Happy Birthday phone calls. Pretty much everyone that mattered in my life lived nearby and was seen on a regular basis, including at birthday celebrations. So there was no need to make a phone call. And anyone who lived far away who felt compelled to send birthday wishes sent a card or note because it was cheaper than a long distance call. And probably because they were old and old people preferred written notes to phone calls. It takes more effort and appears more thoughtful.

      I’d think if you were wealthy, you’d be more likely to have close family members who lived far away and you’d have a much more widespread circle of friends and associates. The wealthy tend to network more and work at maintaining a certain social standing. It seems likely they’d call an old college friend or business associate or wealthy distant relative on his or her birthday than send a handwritten note. It would give them a chance to network and hobnob.

      That’s speculation, though. I can only speak from the poor side. However, I’m guessing Ramsey’s point is “wealthy people are caring and thoughtful Christians and poor people won’t even wish you a happy birthday.”

      • grumpy_otter

        Yeah, those damn poor people don’t even care enough to remember that “oh-so-important” anniversary.

    • baal

      It doesn’t. Dave Ramsey has causality backwards. He’s saying that by trying to mimic rich folks’ habits, you’ll magically also then become rich.

      • Gus

        Yup. It’s pure magical thinking. It reminds me of the cargo cults, in a way.

  • the moother

    How to Become Rich; by D Ramsey.
    First, and most important, be a white male. Make sure all your connections are white males too.
    As long as you meet the first condition, almost nothing can keep you from becoming rich.
    Be as stupid and as insensetive as you like, as long as you have met the first condition.

    • RedneckCryonicist

      Yeah, look at all those screwed up dysfunctional countries run by white people, like Canada, Australia and Denmark.

      • The Starship Maxima

        I’m reasonably sure (s)he wasn’t implying all white people are stupid, insensitive, screwed up, and dysfunctional.

      • the moother

        Besides the fact that you have entirely missed the point of my comment (maybe I should have called it “how not to be poor”) you seem to forget the chequered history white people have had stealing the wealth of “savages” and taking extraordinary measures to keep it for themselves.

        • paulalovescats

          *sigh* Some white people, some savages.

        • The Starship Maxima

          Well…..that was fairly depressing.

        • UWIR

          Singling out white people as being particularly prone to theft is yet more racism from you.

          • the moother

            Not prone to theft… but beneficiaries… and privilaged because of it…. and if you want to call me out as a racist for saying that then you are, well…, reaaal saaad….

      • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

        Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine…..

    • grindstone

      You forgot: give people a free trial subscription to your newsletter then make it hard as hell to remove yourself once the fees kick in.

    • Rain

      Don’t forget you can have “ORDERS $49+ SHIP FREE!” over on his web page. Although I’m not sure exactly what the hell he is selling. Didn’t bother looking, lol.

    • UWIR

      This pernicious idea that white people somehow have a free pass on life (and, what, any white person who is poor must really be a fuck-up?) is one of a sadly much-too-long list of idiocies that have emerged from “social justice” activists. The way to fight racism isn’t with more racism.

  • paulalovescats

    Horrible logic! Rich people can do all this stuff because they’re rich!! He’s got it backwards. Although you can eat healthy and cheap, but time off work is a factor here also. If you both work, then yes, convenience food.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Now, Hemant, this is the first article that is straight up bullshit, and a very unwelcome addition to the running theme of calling empowerment “victim-blaming”, except here it serves the double purpose of finding some rod, any rod, to beat a Christian with, and absolving people of any responsibility for their lives.

    Are there advantages that come with being wealthy? Of course. Are their challenges the financially-strapped face that others don’t? Of course. You are not discovering something new by saying there are factors outside of your control that affect your financial situation. From what I see of Ramsey, he doesn’t either.

    With all that said, you still control how you choose to respond the situation presented to you. We all do. You can choose to continue on the trajectory you were launched on, or you can assess your status and start choosing to do better, step by step.

    If you find something offensive or oppressive about that, then as Ramsey, says, it reflects far more on you than on he.

    • Red-Star

      I find that nearly anyone who buys into the Personal Responsibility would fail given the amount of personal responsibility they expect of the poor. It may be an assumption but are you willing to go through a few questions to prove or disprove this?

      Until than my view is we’ll stop calling it victim blaming when people stop making other people victims. Also I have fairly wealthy grandparents, (make over a 100,000 a year) who believe the same as I do who actually do give money to the poor and help with charity so please don’t attempt to dismiss the entire point based on me “hating the wealthy”.

      • The Starship Maxima

        I loathe broadbrushing and knee-jerkery, so I would never dismiss good sense, from you or anyone else.

        And to be sure, there are those who mask the mistreatment of others via “victim-blaming”. All true.

        I just don’t see how that changes the fact that people still make their choices and those choices yield different outcomes, some for the better, some for the worse.

        • Red-Star

          It also doesn’t change the fact that if your working three jobs to support yourself you’ll be hard pressed to find time to do a lot else. Can I ask if you work one job and how much your rent is?

          • The Starship Maxima

            Without getting into too many details, I work one job currently, my rent is $1000 give or take. Disclosure, I have parents who have helped me before.

            • Red-Star

              So did you get a promotion in your job or was it something you trained for in college?

              • The Starship Maxima

                This is not remotely what I went to school for. I wanted to write screenplays (although, another post from Hemant suggests that Christians don’t really make good screenwriters, lol)

                I did get a promotion at work though, but that was entirely because I do a fair job and bitch less than others here.

                • KeithCollyer

                  Will the real JJ please stand up?

                • Red-Star

                  “Here” as in at your job? Very well.

                  How many jobs were you working when you got this promotion and were you partially or in full being supported by relatives?

                  I also see below that you live in NYC and for the interest of full disclosure I’d like to point out my older brother lived without financial support there on barely above minimum wage. for a while until he moved to Seattle. He was also white and our aforementioned grandparents helped him find a decent place.

                  If you’d like me to end these questions about you or lay them all on the table at once you may say so. My point with these questions is I know given the position many are dealt I may have failed had I made the same mistakes I made in my relatively privileged life and I honestly suspect the same about you. Not to imply your life has been easy or even good, just that you did have some advantages over others that helped you no matter how miniscule.

                  Off Topic: But I encourage you to keep writing. Some of Cracked’s professional writers didn’t start until they were well over 30 or didn’t even finish college. Plus It is much easier to make a movie now than it has ever been. I know filming permits in NYC are huge but if you can find somewhere else you could probably write and film a movie fairly easily.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I don’t mind at all. I’ve developed a….fetish, as it were….for learning. And for having my viewpoints and assumptions challenged. It’s difficult, but the thrill of increased knowledge and the tools to make better choices is too great to resist.

                  And I will say I completely agree with you about how our privilege (and believe me, I know I’m privileged, though disadvantaged in others) has insulated from feeling for full wrath of our miscalculations. I completely agree that others without the insulation of our privilege have been punished far greater for lesser misdeeds.

                  It’s a thing I want to reverse. It’s not fair. And in the United States of America, it’s an outright abomination.

                • Red-Star

                  Yes, it isn’t fair. A problem I also have with the personal responsibility is that nearly every thing they can do can be met with a legitimate reason they cannot and it is dismissed as “laziness”. “Stop spending so much money” “but I have a very sick son who needs expensive medicine.” “Join the army if you can’t afford college” “They declared me F4″. etc…

                • The Starship Maxima

                  A problem I also have with the personal responsibility is that nearly
                  every thing they can do can be met with a legitimate reason they cannot
                  and it is dismissed as “laziness”.

                  On this topic, I see I cannot refute you.

                • Red-Star

                  Eh? Are you saying you can’t refute me or that you think I won’t accept it?

                  Are their people taking advantage or people who just want to be lazy? Yes they exist. Just not as much as many believe, and I believe all attempts made to stop this are going to get someone trying to take control caught in the crossfire.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I cannot refute you because your points are built on air-tight logic.

                  It’s a compliment.

                • Red-Star

                  Thank you.

                • smrnda

                  O, poor you, you didn’t get to write screenplays.

                  Also, workers should complain at work. It’s what leads people to start unions and stop exploitation. Not complaining at work is just a means of maintaining the status quo. The whole ‘attitude is everything’ propaganda is bullshit to keep people docile and in line and blaming themselves.

                • Red-Star

                  Why I agree with you in principle that workers in poor conditions should complain I have talked to him about his experience a little and I believe he did genuinely work harder and deserve it more. I wasn’t there of course but I believe his account of the story.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I don’t think I ever implied it was some sort of social injustice that I didn’t get to write screenplays.

                  And I support unions.

            • smrnda

              I take it you don’t work for minimum wage?

              • The Starship Maxima

                Not anymore, thank God. Minimum wage in NYC sucks.

        • KMR

          In regards to choices, an interesting study came out recently on the affect of stress on rat’s decision-making abilities. Here’s the links, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081118150635.htm, but to sum up stress hinders decision making. Poverty creates a ton of stress and to simply tell people they’ve got to make better decisions doesn’t help them. They can’t always see what the right decision is. Anyway there are a lot of factors that go into generational poverty and to approach it like there’s a simple solution isn’t fair. I have no idea whether Ramsey does this or not. People are making a judgment on one list of his and IMO Rachel’s article isn’t that great of a response. It’s also a rather simple article and devoid of any real content.

        • Lagerbaer

          To make choices, you need options. If you’re truly poor, your options are fairly limited.

          • The Starship Maxima

            Fair point Lager. However, isn’t even more important to make better choices when your choices are limited??

            I mean, Skip Baker who will likely inherit his dad Rutherford Baker’s banking business can afford to spend foolishly on Vegas getaways with strippers and blow.

            Jamal Watkins on the other hand, who never met his father and whose mother is working three jobs has no such leeway. He has to make better choices.

            • Lagerbaer

              And none of the tough choices have anything to do with the list of 20 things that Ramsey gave.

              • The Starship Maxima

                I don’t understand. Jamal can exercise to avoid health issues that will strain his resources. He can dedicate himself to being an academic acheiver which will in turn open opportunities to him and allow him to escape the cycle.

                Is this not the truth?

                • Red-Star

                  The problem is Jamal can’t read because the system underfund his school even though he has tried to learn himself and his caring parents want to help but they live in a place where a literacy workshop means he’ll have to walk through sixteen miles of a dangerous neighborhood and his parents also don’t want him to do that for his own safety. When your options are this limited you need someone to help and personal responsibility by you alone is not gonna cut it.

                  Essentially I want a system where the best and the brightest aren’t the only ones who can escape the ghetto.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I find little in your post that I can disagree with. And it would seem you and I want the same thing.

                  However JJ, I have to ask, what do you say to the kids who make fun of Jamal because he wants to get tutoring so he can read and speak English better, accusing him “wanting to be white”? (that one is from personal experience)

                • Red-Star

                  That is terrible. Especially since the assholes are victims of an oppressive system as well and they can’t see it and are going to spread it to their kids most likely.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  But then that brings us back to Corley and Ramsey. What if Jamal thought to himself “Fuck these ignorant clowns. I will NOT live and die in the goddamn projects.”

                  I mean, is that pretty much exactly Ben Carson’s life story?

                • Red-Star

                  Yep. He also had parents who cared enough to help. Should a child who wanted to go to school but couldn’t quite manage to score the high-test grades and who’s parents discouraged this have to wait until they are financially able to move to a town where he can live semi-decently on a low income job to go to school?

                • The Starship Maxima

                  No. That would be unfair and unjust, of course.

                • smrnda

                  So you are openly admitting that being white is an advantage, since white people looking to better themselves cannot be accused of wanting to be white?

                • Red-Star

                  I’ll answer that as a white man I have privileges that have been denied others based purely on my skin color. That is not to say I’ve lived a privileged life and that there are not black people more privileged than I. It is unfortunate but white privilege is still alive.

                • Anat

                  Does Jamal live in a place where it is safe to spend time outdoors exercising? Because his mother can’t afford fancy sports classes, nor is she available to drive him to and from them.

                  Does Jamal have a safe and comfortable place to do his homework? His mother can’t afford books nor can she drive him to the library. They only have a slow internet connection and an outdated second-hand computer. Those are limitations on his access to scholarly achievements.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Shit. That’s true.

            • smrnda

              People with shit options open to them are likely sleep deprived, don’t get adequate nutrition and probably are too stressed to think clearly. Demanding that people under adverse circumstances like that *take responsibility for their choices* is like getting someone high and then blaming them for doing poorly on a test. Your ability to make choices is compromised by the stresses of poverty.

              • The Starship Maxima

                Zero argument here.

        • smrnda

          Rich people have, from birth, choices open to them that most poor people never had, so it’s more a question of different people starting with very different choices. The starting points are so uneven that talk of ‘choices’ is bullshit.

          The other thing is that rich people *control* what choices exist for poor people, and they have chosen to make it almost impossible to escape poverty.

          • The Starship Maxima

            The other thing is that rich people *control* what choices exist for
            poor people, and they have chosen to make it almost impossible to escape
            poverty.

            I can’t argue with you there.

    • KeithCollyer

      Speaking as someone who is not poor, I read the original “20 things …” and immediately realised that the implication of all of these topics is that rich people are rich because they do these things, when, as so many people have pointed out, it is more often the other way round. So I call BS on your post.

      • The Starship Maxima

        That’s your prerogative. I on the other hand, as someone who was extremely financially irresponsible and was about to reverse course as Ramsey did using several of those principles, I will…not….call BS on that theory.

        • Katie

          Being financially irresponsible is not the same as being in poverty. It’s great that he helped you. However, the point of this article is that he’s speaking on something which he apparently knows nothing about. You seem to be blindly defending him without really considering what this article is saying.

          • The Starship Maxima

            I don’t think I am. Tell me how you see it, if you don’t mind.

            • Katie

              I don’t think you are, either. My comment was a reply to someone else.

          • The Starship Maxima

            Being financially irresponsible is not the same as being in poverty.

            In your honest assessment, do you not believe that financial irresponsibility can cause or exacerbate poverty?

            • Katie

              No, I don’t believe that financial irresponsibility can cause poverty. Can it exacerbate it? Of course. What does that have to do with Ramsey’s article?

              When I was young and in poverty, my mother was lucky to get three hours of sleep at all, let alone wake up three hours before her job. Her first job of the day. How would she find time to sleep more if she worked three jobs? And how would getting up earlier made her wealthy?

              How does exercising more make someone less poor? Where do they go to do this exercise? They’re exhausted from work and have no one to watch their children. They should go outside and run around the block a few times? I remember my mom falling asleep in the car before she could even make it into the house. Where do overworked poor people get the energy and time to do aerobics? And why? How does it make you wealthy?

              How would any of the things on the list really make you go from poverty to wealth? They don’t. All they do is show how nice your life can be if you’re privileged.

              There is a famous definition of poverty by sociologist Peter Townsend. A person is in poverty when they “lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary, or are at least widely encouraged or approved, in the societies to which they belong.” Notice that they LACK THE RESOURCES to obtain these things. Resources like time, transportation, money, education, etc. Ramsey’s list basically reinforces that definition. It says, “Look at all the resources wealthy people have compared to poor people.” Instead he’s interpreting the data as, “Look how superior and ambitious and deserving the wealthy are compared to the poor. If only they’d just be like us, all their problems would be solved.”

              • The Starship Maxima

                This is a lot to ponder.

            • smrnda

              No, it cannot. Financial irresponsibility is what can cause middle class people to go into too much debt or people with six figure salaries but poor people will be poor no matter how responsible they are.

        • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

          So exactly how many audiobooks did you listen to as you pulled yourself up by the bootstraps? Did you wake up 3 hours before your job?

          The list that Ramsey provides here is nothing about being financially responsible. It is a list of luxuries afforded to people with some wealth.

          • The Starship Maxima

            I don’t do audiobooks. However, here is what did happen. I used to blow all my money on fast food because it was relatively cheap and I can’t cook to save my own life.

            A wonderful girlfriend of mine started showing me how to buy groceries and prepare meals. But that meant cutting out McDonald’s. To force myself off the fast food teat, I started going to Barnes and Noble, or any bookstore, or magazine stand. I started reading, as the reading would distract me from going to get fast food.

            In time, I’d buy a magazine or book here or there. It kinda started me on the road to being less a blindly ignorant fundie and toward a somewhat more sane Christian, in addition to helping to get off the fast food, which honestly was making me ill.

            • Wildcard

              Good for you.I mean that honestly but do you think you could have done that eventually without your girlfriend for emotional and intellectual support?

              • The Starship Maxima

                Wildcard?? That Wildcard? Good to see you bro!

                No, of course not. If not for her, I probably would’ve ended up sick.

                • Wildcard

                  I have many names. :P Nice debating with you again.

                  But yes it is me, and I also go by Red-Star. I like debating occasionally. Though this place is kinda a drag, (my comp freezes and takes forever to load the comments) so I’m not on here as often as the forums.

            • alfaretta

              Time and the availability of a kitchen are both factors here. You evidently had enough time and the equipment necessary to shop and cook.

              Yes, homecooked food is much better for you. What people like Ramsey need is a little imagination — when you’ve worked three jobs, ending your last one after midnight, and you don’t have a car, how do you get to the grocery store to cook your food? If you don’t have a stove, refrigerator, pots, pans, knives, spatulas, etc., how do you cook them?

        • smrnda

          Meaning that his theory is about helping privileged people get ahead a little bit, and it offers jack and shit to anyone actually poor?

    • paulalovescats

      “Are THERE challenges”, and some people have IQs way above 100 and have only worked shit jobs. I went to school. It didn’t do me any good. A lot of people get rich on their athletic skills or personalities.

      • The Starship Maxima

        No one ever accused me of being a master writer, grammatically or otherwise. :)

        Again, personal responsibility does NOT excuse systemic oppression. It a fucking shame that so many of us got degrees that haven’t done shit for us. That’s wrong.

        But, it doesn’t change the fact that there are ways to effect a change in our situation. Which I think was the point of the list.

    • grumpy_otter

      You’ve never been poor, have you? I mean REALLY poor. Let me guess–you had working class-parents, you always lived within your means, and you managed to go to college and get a good job all on your own?

      • The Starship Maxima

        You are correct on all those counts. And no, I did not do it all by myself. Nobody I know has.

        However, I did apply the things in Corley’s list or approximations thereof and I did see a turnaround in my financial situation.

        • grumpy_otter

          You are very lucky then. Not everyone has the luxury of applying those things.

          • The Starship Maxima

            Wait, hang on. I don’t buy that. I was an extremely self-destructive, self-righteous, self-sabotaging asshole. If these things worked for me of all people, it stands to reason that no only can someone else do them, but they’d get better results since they’re not as much a dick as I was.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              You had the resources to do them. Not everyone does.

              • The Starship Maxima

                Question, do you believe that for, say, a homeless person, there is just nothing they can do? At all.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  No, I don’t believe there is nothing they can do. I do know that their options are extremely circumscribed and that probably the best thing they can do is ask for help (from a society that gives a shit, so preferably not ours since our social safety networks are pretty terrible). They certainly can’t listen to audiobooks, get up 3 hours before work, read to their children, eat healthy meals, etc because those are not options available to them.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  No argument there.

            • smrnda

              A privileged person can afford to be those things and will not be that harmed by those behaviors. I survived self-bad-anything thanks to lots of privileged I had, which meant that, at worse, I was just going to be a slightly lesser success than if I hadn’t.

              I mean, I’m disabled but I can work because I had the luck of learning how to program starting around 9 or so.

              • The Starship Maxima

                But smrnda you actually learned programming. And then you went out and actually applied it.

                Could you not make the case that while you, and I, had privilege, we still had to have the will to exploit it?

                • Red-Star

                  Counter. We had the chance to find out what we were good at early and the will to exploit it came from discovering it early. Many don’t even get a chance to try. Example: Do you know how much it costs to animate on the computer with anything other than a mouse? Or how much flight school costs?

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I’ll hazard a guess and say “insanely expensive”.

                • Wildcard

                  A basic tablet will run you $200-300. Adobe Flash might be anywhere from 50-100 depending on what version your using. Lessons can be free if you have a high-speed internet connection, but if you can’t learn with the free video tutorials than you’ll probably need a tutor, a teacher, or to know somebody none of which are free.

                  If you want pretty good consumer level products it can cost as much as your monthly rent but it is a one-time purchase, (I got Maya for free with a class enrollment, but it cost $1,000 so would the best drawing tablet)

                  There are other ways but they can be insanely convoluted.

                  Flight lessons even for hobby flyers cost about 10,000-20 to complete a private license. You can sometimes get subsidiaries for it if you opt out of college and instead choose it though. Not that it always helps as much as you might think unless your in the military.

                • Red-Star

                  Additional Counter: Not everyone can learn with the least resources. Some Rap musicians come from nothing and learn music insanely easy, and some other musicians could barely hold a guitar right but not just didn’t give up but had the luxury of expensive teachers or private tutors who encouraged them.

                  Some people are slower learners with the potential to one of the greats, but their potential can’t be used because they don’t get past the basics because they can’t learn how without more help than they currently have.

        • smrnda

          You mean a person with a steady job and decent income can, by applying his system, increase their % of disposable income? So… that would do nothing for anyone really poor. Corley is just helping already privileged people exploit their privileged better.

    • smrnda

      Given the lack of upward mobility, it’s clear that there is very little poor people can do to escape poverty. There are no good choices open to them.

      • The Starship Maxima

        But smrnda, simply because you have (extremely) limited options, does that mean you are not obligated to still make the best choices available?

        Even if homeless, maintaining physical fitness can only still help.

        • Red-Star

          It isn’t always hopeless. But we need to help more people than we are now.

          • The Starship Maxima

            In this, you and I are in complete agreement.

    • Carmelita Spats

      Ramsey is a shit salesman with a mouthful of samples. He’s quick to judge others about spending habits, preaches extreme austerity, demands blood from a turnip, and yet REFUSES to address reproductive CHOICE as one of the most PROVEN methods of eradicating poverty and liberating women, particularly women in the third world, from a livestock version of compulsory breeding and dependency. He induces a diseased pecuniary anorexia by urging his listeners to tighten the belt until they vomit acid but “Let GAWD give you the children He wants you to have.” Personal responsibility? My ass. Ramsey throws reproduction and its FINANCIAL impact on the whims of the Sky Fairy. He needs to have his mouth taped shut before he farts himself to death.

      • The Starship Maxima

        Damn. That’s kinda harsh, don’t you think?

  • Ian Reide

    One other factor, if you are poor, have failed in your career, suffer discrimination, etc, then you will be unhappy, depressed, alienated. Thus, listening to a podcast, or fifty toe stretches might not seem that important or doable.

  • JJ

    They made us do a whole Dave Ramsey lesson plan in government my senior year of high school if I remember correctly one of his “amazing” tips was to be a good Christian man lol this guy is laughable

  • RickyWW

    I actually listen to Dave Ramsey’s show… there are times when I have to turn it off because of the evangelizing, but he really does have quite a few very good points that pertain to my money and my situation. If they don’t apply to you, don’t listen.

  • Katie

    My mom used to spend her commute with the window down in the middle of winter and her arm out the window so she wouldn’t fall asleep on the way to her third job from her second. Sometimes she’d turn the radio on to the local heavy rock station (she hates heavy rock) and blast it as loud as she can. All this trying not to fall asleep at the wheel of her broken down piece of crap car because she rarely got more than a few hours a sleep a day trying to keep us from going homeless. She failed. We did end up getting evicted. Maybe if she had listened to audiobooks, everything would have been different. Instead of having to go live with relatives in an overcrowded apartment, she would have gotten a job as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and bought several homes!

    • :)

      3 low paying jobs, if any of them were good enough she wouldn’t need the other 2. Indeed, if she would have increased her value in the marketplace by learning a higher paying skill things would have be different.

      • Katie

        Oh wow. I guess all those poor people out there don’t know how simple it is! Makes you wonder why they don’t all just better themselves and get rich, huh?

        If it makes you feel better, she rectified her distinct lack of value by first getting some nursing training, then going to college. However, that takes a long time when you’re also working low-paying jobs day and night. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree the same year I graduated from high school. And yet, she will never be anywhere near wealthy. She works only one job now but, at 68, I’m sure she wishes she could retire instead of work until she dies.

  • RedneckCryonicist

    If you think “poor people” equal “rich people minus money,” then you’ve had a sheltered life. I’ve known poor people, and they stay that way because they make consistently stupid choices in life, like starting families early before they can provide for them financially, spending money on tattoos instead of dental work, traveling to another state to buy the fancy motorcycle they just had to have (I know a dentally challenged poor woman who did this, yet she lived in constant fear of not having the money to pay her mortgage!), etc.

    David Ramsey has a legitimate point of view about the behavioral differences between losers and successful people; but because he loves Jesus, you think that fact discredits him.

    Hell, even the people in the most degraded black underclass communities in the U.S. understand the difference on some level. They expect the athletes in their communities to succeed in competitive professional sports because these young men work hard (acquiring rich people-like habits, in other words) and they don’t accept liberal rationalizations for failure.

    • KeithCollyer

      This is certainly true for many people, but it is also true that the very fact of being poor, and the stresses it involves, saps people’s energy to the extent that even if they have they do not have the emotional, mental or physical energy to follow these habits. Hard work does not equal success – see http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3qtlv4

      • katiehippie

        It’s soul crushing to be poor.

    • öpper

      And what about tax reductions you only get when you have money? And other stuff like that?

      Sure, some people didn’t learn how to manage money but that alone is not the whole problem.

      Also, what if your parents can’t pay for edcation? You either start with a debt or without education, no matter how good you are in money management.

      • The Starship Maxima

        I would like to say the tax loopholes and other breaks the wealthy get are OBSCENE and a disgrace

        The NFL makes a gagillion dollars a year and is listed as a tax-exempt non-profit. How some shit that like is allowed baffles.

        • Gus

          You’re likely not even thinking about the tax loopholes that are really unfair to the poor. The NFL shouldn’t be tax exempt, but those tax dollars aren’t that big an issue. Many of the blockbuster tax exemptions we hear about aren’t that unfair to the poor. The home mortgage interest deduction, on the other hand, is a huge give away that disproportionately benefits the wealthy at the expense of the poor. It is the single largest housing expenditure of the federal government. We spend more on that deduction than we do on Section 8 and all other housing programs for the poor combined.

          • The Starship Maxima

            I did not know that. I’m to take some time to research that further.

            • Red-Star

              Why are two people here posting under the same name?

              • baal

                Sometimes it’s sockpuppets. Both Gus and Starship post real posts and seem to be two different people. I suggest you’re seeing the other case of a confused Disqus and suggest reloading the page (shift f5).

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I’m the Starship Maxima. There’s a guy named God’s Starship.

                  But every post I see under my name appears to be one I wrote.

                  What post is causing confusion?

                • baal

                  I’m not confused. Red-Star needs to refresh his page.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Ah.

          • The Starship Maxima

            JJ I did some research on the home mortgage interest deduction.

            Isn’t a good thing? As in, doesn’t that create incentives for people to own their own homes? And doesn’t that in turn help the economy?

            Keep in mind, housing and real estate economics are still subjects I’m working on.

            • Gus

              Well that’s an interesting question, and part of the reason it’s so hard to get rid of. Yes, it creates incentives for people to own their own homes, but the more interest you’re paying, the larger your deduction, so it also creates an incentive to bite off more loan than you can chew. In other words, it incentivized the whole housing bubble. And again, it’s rigged against the poor. People like me who can afford to get a mortgage and buy a home benefit from it, but people who can’t afford to buy a home, even with the deduction, don’t benefit at all. Neither can people who don’t have enough total deductions to be worth itemizing, nor anyone who just doesn’t have enough income in the first place.

              • The Starship Maxima

                Oh. (thinking) Is there a way to do that so that it isn’t so biased against the poor?

                Or do you think it’s better to simply eliminate it?

                • Gus

                  I’m not sure if it should be eliminated. A lot of the reason it is there is because of the belief that home ownership builds wealth, lifts people out of poverty, and promotes people caring about their homes and neighborhoods and taking care of them. I consider these conclusions unproven and I have a lot of problems with them, which I won’t detail here. But if we did get rid of it, we’d have to do so at the right time. You’ve got to look at the housing market and when you see signs that it’s starting to become a bubble, that’s when you end the deduction. But if bubbles were easy to see coming, we wouldn’t be where we are now, and when the market is doing well, people look at that as expanding home ownership and consider it a positive for all the reasons above. So maybe we need to modify it. We could do caps on the deduction, make it not apply to home equity loans (my cousin took out a home equity loan to buy a Porsche so he’d have a lower interest rate and could deduct the interest on his taxes). We could also make it a credit instead of a deduction and give a similar credit for rent payments. Or we could just recognize it for what it is: a huge payment to the middle class and the wealthy, so that we can stop begrudging poor folks the medicaid, housing vouchers, food stamps, and other programs that allow them to get by as if those of us better off weren’t getting a huge boon ourselves.

    • The Starship Maxima

      Exactly.

      But I think the problem here is that people are dismissing the list and focusing on the extreme poor and those who have extenuating circumstances. To be graphic, a crack-baby born with the attendant health problems and having lived in and out of foster care is playing against a massively stacked deck.

      I believe Ramsey and Corley are referring to those who are simply not making decent choices. You can’t afford an audiobook, okay, paperbacks count. Hell grab a single issue of Scientific American.

      I live in New York, I know that Whole Foods requires another mortgage. But there’s stuff in the average bodega that can be bought and prepared cheap.

      You have no time to exercise? I know a woman who finally got fed up with being overweight and shelling out for cholesterol meds and simply decided to get off one stop earlier and walk the distance to her job and then get off one stop earlier on the way back and walk home. When I spoke with her last, she’d dropped 45 pounds.

    • Gus

      You’ve known poor people? Amazing! And they’re all poor because of stupid life choices? Wow! You’ve solved everything, all poor people need do is make better life choices and everything will be fine! You can collect your Nobel Prize next year.

      Let’s just forget about social structures, about growing up poor, about the lack of opportunity, about inadequate schools, about not having the support of even a middle class family, it’s all about making stupid choices and being a loser! You’re a genius.

    • Red-Star

      Ah, yes “All minimum wage people have motorbikes and IPODs and use their money for that instead of buying a house!” not only is that FAR from a universal truth, (anyone with a brain can tell you that) but every time they present a legitimate issue you respond with “your just lazy”.

      America is one of the worst first world countries about this. Canadians don’t make victims, social mobility is much easier their.

    • Eliot Parulidae

      I went to a high school where there were a lot of students from wealthy families, the children of doctors, lawyers, local politicians. They made many, many terrible decisions. They used more drugs than any other group of people I’ve ever encountered. Many were high-functioning alcoholics by their teens. They got poor grades and often lacked basic living skills (when they went to college, they would mail their laundry home every week.) Teen pregnancy was common, though more easily taken care of than it is in poor communities. Popular pastimes included shoplifting and vandalism, done for the adrenaline rush. This is what I think of when you say “rich-people-like habits.”

      • smrnda

        Rich people definitely abuse drugs more. First, they can afford them since drugs aren’t cheap. Second, the cops don’t do ‘stop and frisk’ in rich neighborhoods, so they don’t get caught. Third, if rich people do get busted, they can find some way to get out of trouble thanks to better lawyers, connections.

    • Anat

      There are reasons poor people make the decisions they make. They aren’t stupid, their circumstances are such that their most practical options are suboptimal. And they don’t have anything to cushion them, as opposed to wealthier people, which means their conditions tend to spiral downwards. See Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts

      • The Starship Maxima

        I read that list. It punched me square in the face.

    • smrnda

      And then, there are poor people who are totally responsible who remain poor, they just maybe have a little less fun. I have seen responsible poor people end up homeless. It happens. Ditch the snotty ‘poor people are ignorant trash’ nonsense.

      The other thing – rich people can blow money on drugs, tattoos, video games, extra houses, can have both motorcycles and dental care and can reduce the % of their income spent on food/housing/bills to well under 50% of their income. Rich people have $, which means that there is less of a penalty, if any, for their irresponsibility.

      Please, Black underclass communities are not full of people so dumb as to think that professional sports are a way out. There are only so many spots in professional sports, not enough to lift everyone out. Are you even sure that most athletes who are Black come from the most underclass background?

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Also 100% of rich people have excessive money, while 0% of the poor people do. So if poor people want to be rich all they need is to have excessive money.

    Edit: fixed grammar.

    • UnePetiteAnana

      Excessive?

      • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

        Damn dyslexia. Actually, it’s probably not dyslexia, but I’ll blame it anyways.

    • Rain

      He’s a professional marketer. That’s all he is basically. He couldn’t care less. Marketers are the biggest jerks in the world (from what I’ve seen anyway.)

      • John Milligan

        As the late Bill Hicks said, “If you’re in advertising or marketing, kill yourself.”

    • grumpy_otter

      I think you were referring to “disposable income.” :-)

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Plus they never spend their own money. I used to work for CEOs. The company sent a car to get them to work and back every day. A company chef made their lunch. They flew around the world in the company jet. They paid for nothing out of their own pocket. It’s actually not expensive to be that rich because people give you crap for free all the time. Tickets to openings, everything. Yes the COMPANY donated to the museums and arts groups, but none of that came out of their own pockets. It was shocking. And these people need a tax cut? Ummm…no.

      • ok87

        A “company” is really just a legal document with a specific set of rules for transacting and delivering goods and services.

      • TCC

        Reminds me of the song “Free Coffee” by Ben Folds.

  • Gus

    Someone should point out to Ramsey that being “broke” is not the same thing as being “poor”. Poverty is a lot more than just not having enough money to make ends meet. It’s a long term, chronic situation that usually involves one’s entire social support structure, if there is one. I’ve been known to say I was poor. I was homeless, I stole food because I was hungry, but it was temporary. I had a way out and a plan and was moving forward. Even after that I made low wages and had minimal or no benefits for a long time. But truth be told, I never experienced poverty. I came from a working class family, had a good education, never experienced food insecurity as a young person, never feared for my life on a daily basis because of where I lived (well, as an adult in that “poor” phase I lived in some sketchy places, but nothing like being a kid trying to go to school and your neighbors or classmates getting shot on a routine basis). Poverty doesn’t just happen. Yes, middle class or well off people can end up truly poor, but it takes time and a lot of either bad events or bad mistakes or a combination thereof. Being broke for a while, like I was, or living paycheck to paycheck in a crappy apartment when you’re a young adult is not the same as being poor in the way the people these statistics refer to are poor.

    When I though I was poor because I was making low wages and had no health insurance, I overheard two women who worked at the gas station where I had just bough a hot dog for lunch talking about their paychecks and whether they had made enough overtime that, when combined with their second job, they could pay the electric bill. And they had kids they had to take car of as well. I realized that day how lucky I really was and resolved to never forget those hard working women doing everything they could to provide for their families.

    Ramsay’s advice and ideas are fine for middle class folks who’ve gotten in over their heads or had a temporary setback, or even for middle class young people starting off and struggling. But he’s completely out of touch with what it means to be really poor and the financial and life possibilities for really poor people.

    • ansuz

      “Someone should point out to Ramsey that being “broke” is not the same thing as being “poor”.”

      Yes. Technically speaking, I have no money. Sure, there’s a bank account with my name on it and it has some money in it. It’s not my money, though — it’s my parents’ money. I can’t spend it however I want — it’s not mine, and my parents can see everything I spend.

      I live pretty cheaply; my food + rent + utilities + incidental + fun expenses usually comes out to <$500CDN.
      Despite my lack of money and frugal living, I can't say I've ever experienced poverty, either. My parents are a doctor and a lawyer (which doesn't make as much money as it sounds like, as they're both pretty average and public employees, but it's still a lot. Also, the lawyer only works per diem and short-term contracts), and they’re giving me enough money that I don’t have to work while I go to school.
      They’re also giving me enough to cover counselling, tutoring, and an academic coach (~$1000CDN/month) so that I can succeed at school and go on to have a well-paying job that I like.
      Additionally, I’m covered on both of the health insurance plans they have from work in addition to the provincial health insurance. This means that I get my three daily medications (two for my brain, one because I fucked up my digestive system with an eating disorder) without any copay at all. I also get vaccinations (for most things) without paying anything, got an IUD and only paid $100CDN (but my parents paid that), and I don’t have to worry about paying pretty for much anything health-related.

      tl;dr: I’m a spoiled rich kid living on a strictly monitored allowance while not actually needing to worry about money and while receiving a huge whack of the benefits that money gives people. This list might benefit me if I didn’t have the psych issues I do or if I didn’t know exactly what I need to do to succeed, but that’s because my situation != actual poverty.

      • ansuz

        “5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.”
        Fuck making to-do lists. I have notebooks full of ‘em, and they never did me any good because my working memory capacity is in the 3rd percentile — I have literally no executive functioning skills.* So, being a rich kid, I asked my parents for some more money. Now I have someone who makes to-do lists for me.
        Sometimes, there are things you really can’t do yourself.

        *EDIT: I have no sense of time or sense of scale. I literally** do not have enough room in my active processing space to compare things and see which is more important or which ought to take longer.
        **and I do mean literally, as far as that can attach to something as nebulous as CPU in my brain.

      • grumpy_otter

        You seem like a smart and well-informed person. Thanks for sharing your story.

        • ansuz

          XD glad someone liked it.

      • ansuz

        “4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.”
        So, I don’t ‘commute’ to work (when I work); I ride my bike. In the past it’s taken me anywhere from 15 minutes to 120 minutes. I have ADD. If I tried to listen to audiobooks while cycling, I’d either absorb none of the book or I’d be dead (I tried; I like stories. I hit a parked bus, smashed into a couple curbs, accidentally cut in front of a couple cars, narrowly missed a few children and old people, and missed an important bit of the book.). Even when I do use public transportation (I can’t drive. ADD gets in the way.), I can’t listen to audiobooks or do anything but sit there and (sometimes) do Sudoku. If I try to do things, I get absorbed in them and miss my stop.

    • itchy balls

      #15: of course they wake up 3 hours before work, they decide to not go in till after then unlike the rest of the world who will be fired or reprimanded for showing up when they please

      • ok87

        You’d be surprised who the “rich” really are. I know many very financially successful people who have their own business (and/or even work for someone else) and wake up at 5am every day just to get things done.

    • Alice

      Ramsey has said many times that there is a difference between being broke and being poor, but he thinks the only difference is attitude, not circumstances.

      • smrnda

        I was once ‘broke’ for a day or two, then my next paycheck fixed that. “Broke” just happens, it’s a temporary and minor setback you get because of unplanned expenses or being a bit irresponsible.

        Poor – means you are effectively always broke, and there is no way you can really increase your income and it’s probably impossible to reduce spending any more. Eventually, you run out of cheaper options – you find the cheapest place you can live in, the cheapest place to shop for food, and you still don’t have any extra. Something that makes a rich person *broke* makes you *bankrupt.*

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      This advice is good for people who make enough money to at least get by but make stupid decisions with that money. There are plenty of people who make a decent salary but who spend more than they make. That’s a fixable problem. If you can cut out things you don’t need but just want and use that money to pay off your credit cards and start saving for retirement, then you aren’t actually living in poverty, even if your current financial situation is stressful.

  • Ben Joiner

    I’m a Christian, but I still don’t agree with Mr. Ramsey’s list. I make $20,000 a year. Essentially, he is bringing up the old debate of “rich by hard work or by more opportunity?” The real truth is that life is more complicated than this. It’ a complicated mixture of both in everyone’s life and we all know it. Let’s just go down the list 1)Junk food calories? Ambiguity fallacy 3)Aerobics? Special Pleading, my job work is usually 40 hours of exercise a week compared to office work. 4)Audio books? Well education is a key to success, DUH sir. If you’re really smart then you’ll find a less arrogant way of getting this message out. 6)Kids Reading? Ditto for above. 10)Adults reading? WE GET IT. 15)Get up 3 hours before work? Special Pleading. Rich people don’t have to go in to work early. That is one of the perks of being the boss. Everybody knows that. Also, I live in a poor neighborhood and I can tell you, a lot of poorer people don’t go to work much at all and are okay with that. They are well fed and live in a house with most of their family. The grandkids all play together everyday and the families spend lots of time together. They eat well and are healthy and happy. The old folks live to be very old and they have good barbecues. MAYBE PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO BE RICH???? Maybe the there’s a lot of people who find the simple life better? Maybe it’s the arrogant, stuck up, elitists who are driven to success. Success meaning obviously nothing other than having lots of money in this day and age. The funny thing is, Jesus’ idea on the important goals in life didn’t list money at all.

    • The Starship Maxima

      I’m a Christian as well Ben, and I can honestly say I have NO idea what you’re talking about.

      • Ben Joiner

        I made a variety of points. Of which are you confused on the meaning of?

        • The Starship Maxima

          Why do you assume he presented his points arrogantly? In fact, they’re all just numbers.

    • Alice

      Poor people don’t necessarily have to go into work early. It depends on which shift they work and how many jobs they have since most minimum wage jobs are not consistent 9-5 shifts.

  • averydashwood

    My boss at a job I used to have would come in around 1:00 pm on the days when he bothered to show up at all. He would have to get up at 10:00 to be up three hours before work!

    • Gus

      I found the “up three hours before work” one a bit odd. I guess a lot of poor people aren’t up that early because they went to sleep so late after working a second or third job or excessive overtime. But as for me, I’m up three hours before work because that’s how long it takes to make lunches and get the kids fed and dressed and one dropped off at school and the other at preschool. I expect my three hours aren’t spent the same way as his rich people spend their three hours. If I want to get some aerobic exercise in the morning I’d have to get up four hours before work.

      • onamission5

        For me, when I was in college and worked nights, I got up at 6:30 AM to get my kid ready for school, get myself ready for school, get both of us to class, then after a full day of that, pick kid up and take him to the sitter’s then get myself to work, home at 10 or 11 PM, do my coursework and pour my ass into bed around 2 or 3, only to do it all over the next day. If I got up three hours early? No sleep whatsoever.

        edit: and I still couldn’t always pay my bills. I kept at it that way until I burned out to the point that my grades slipped from a dean’s list 4.0 to low enough that I got put on academic probation and eventually dropped out. I was in low income housing, I had no internet or car, no cell phone, no cable, made just enough to keep us from getting food stamps, bought all our clothes second hand, and still one bounced check to the phone company on top of one slow week at work was enough to risk homelessness. I spent little quality time with my kid, most of our relationship during that period consisted of me shuffling him to one sitter or another. It’s an unsustainable way to live, plain and simple. I’d love for Dave to try and live below his means for years on end as a single parent making less than $9/hr without benefits. I dare him. Bonus points if he can do so without having a nervous break down *and* manage to eek out some semblance of a social life for both parent and child. Or is friendship and a sense of normalcy just a luxury that the poor cannot afford?

        • The Starship Maxima

          You instantly earn my respect.

          • onamission5

            Thank you. I have to ask, though, would I instantly have your respect if you hadn’t read any of that and all you saw of me back then was a young, shabbily dressed mother with big ole dark circles under her eyes grumping at her kid to stop putting things in the grocery cart that they couldn’t afford? Or would you, like so many, have simply told me to “get a job” or “don’t have kids you can’t take care of” or if I’d been paying with food stamps, would you have given me nasty looks when I bought some ice cream and made barely under your breath comments about moochers stealing your damned taxes?

            • The Starship Maxima

              The truth……….there was a time in my life I might have looked at you and thought “oh great, another ghetto chick that can’t control her kids by her baby daddies”.

              There isn’t an hour of any day that goes back that I’m not horrified and disgusted by the man I used to be. I was a failure as a man, as an American, and worst of all as so-called Christian. I realize that sometimes when I call for people like Fred Phelps to be shot, it’s just my own self-loathing coming through.

              I can’t apologize enough for being so smug and self-important that I ignored the first and greatest commandment, that I was to love God and care for my neighbor as I would have myself.

              That is why I am dedicated to seeking truth over ideology. So that I can finally learn to do better. And maybe, maybe, in some small way before I die, I will have fulfilled by duty as a Christian.

              • Red-Star

                You’ve already done a lot better and encouraged other people to be better.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. Thanks man.

                • Red-Star

                  No problem. But your work isn’t done yet. You have to do that web serial some time or whatever million stories your working on if you can find time. Even if your writing hasn’t made money yet, it has encouraged people. You found an audience

              • onamission5

                If my story helps you see the victims of urban poverty in a more compassionate light, I am very glad. The thing is, though, I’m white. I grew up rural. The time period I wrote about, I was living in a little touristy college town in the mountains, the kind of place that well off white people go to retire, but has very few opportunities for people who aren’t independently wealthy or self employed. I have privileges which granted me a somewhat better chance to improve my situation with less backbreaking work– I was an A/B student in school because most of my teachers took my efforts seriously and encouraged me, when I slagged off or had a bad day it was not attributed to my base character or my “people,” folks do not automatically assume I am at a store to steal, I am generally assumed to be law abiding and well intentioned rather than criminal or dangerous. I have had to fear for my safety and deal with hostility, stereotypes, and systemic injustice because of my orientation, my class, and my gender, but not because of my color or my physical abilities or command of the English language or immigration status. Most people are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt.

                A “ghetto chick,” (ugh) should she be a WoC in the same situation I was in, would have to deal with levels more microaggression on a daily basis than the worst I, or someone like me, could ever go through. She would have to live with levels more inequity. More sexual harassment. More scrutiny. More hostility. Less trust. Substantially less benefit of the doubt. Should she do well, she’d be expected to be a representative of all people like her, and her individual success could even be used by others to bludgeon those who have not had her success. Should she be trans, should she be queer, should she be disabled, each of those is a multiplier of the injustice she has the potential to face. I can now hide my class status if I work at it, and people will, in general, treat me better. If I drive a nice-ish car people don’t assume I am a drug dealer, for example. I have been hassled by the cops but those instances are a one-off; I don’t have to deal with stop and frisk. I don’t have to worry much about my sons being sent to jail on trumped up charges, or my kids getting expelled from school for slightly less than perfect behavior.

                As hard as it was. As hard as it has been. I still get away easy compared to many, simply because of the social privileges I was born with, and those I was (and am) assumed to have, and the negative traits I am not automatically assumed to have.

              • Snuff

                Wow, I have a clone! Our stories are the same, Maxima. I can sicken myself simply by remembering how sanctimonious and, well, Republican I used to be. Falling from a comfortable middle class existence to shopping during off-hours so nobody would see me using my EBT card cured me of that.

                Onamission, I, too, would have been one of the many smug ass-clowns rolling my eyes at you. Learned my lesson the hard way.

        • grumpy_otter

          Thank you for telling your story. I feel it. I hope you are doing better?

          He might actually take that bet to prove how “easy’ it is. I’d love to see him try and point out all the ways he cheated.

          • onamission5

            Better, yes. It’s been a while since then. Things in life go back and forth as you know but for the moment, thankfully, they are forth!
            I hope things are good with you, and if not, that they improve.

            • grumpy_otter

              I’m glad to hear it. Your story really touched a chord with me. Go forth!

  • realeasygoing

    You guys are bunch of fricking whiners. When I was broke
    making 20,000 a year sleeping on a friends couch driving a broke. I had a
    daughter and a girlfriend to provide for so got off my butt and did self study
    for IT certifications because I knew they paid well. I saw my parents and their
    get rich quick schemes not payoff (real estate, insurance, Amway and
    Melalucca.) By doing that I doubled my salary in 2 years. In 6 years I tripled
    my salary. Christ sake we have a great community college system in the states
    that we can immediately begin to build skills with. Not only that those that
    make little money have Pell Grants to move themselves forward.

    I will saying the entitlement attitude of these atheist
    forums and blogs is truly sad. Feeling
    sorry for your self and others does not
    increase your income. Teaching
    those others that attitude of I am stuck in this situation and there is nothing
    I can do about it does not make their lives better.

    • The Starship Maxima

      I had the same gut reaction you did, but after scrolling through some posts, I think that while the original point of Ramsey and Corley’s list stands, that doesn’t change that there is a LOT of systemic rigging that favors the rich, and over time, saps that American can-do spirit.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      So are you saying you ate more or less than 300 calories of junk food at the time? How many audio-books did you listen to?

      • realeasygoing

        I didn’t eat junk food as it was not available were I was living. I did listen to Anthony Robbins in the car on my work laptop.

        Are you a looter too?

    • Wildcard

      Just because you did that doesn’t mean everybody should have to be you to escape poverty. If a kid is not good at math it doesn’t mean he deserves to starve because he can’t manage an IT degree.

      • realeasygoing

        No it means he should have to do something else to not starve instead instead of. I am not good at math either and I am still working to finish my degree and paying for it my self because I make to much money for government funding! A result of my not giving up and hard work something apparently something you would not understand.

        Your all just a bunching of mooching socialists anyways. Most of you are bunch of over educated trust fund babys that want to steal from your rich parents to take care of the poor.

        • The Starship Maxima

          Excuse me, you don’t know him. I do. You have no basis whatsoever to make such a character assessment.

          And I utterly loathe the broadbrushing you’re doing here. You have quite a few examples that the people in these comments sections are anything but trust fund babies.

          • Red-Star

            I didn’t assume anything about you realeasygoing. Please don’t assume about me. I’m certainly not rich and the wealthy people I know agree with me. I know the meaning of hard work.

            • Red-Star

              Also thanks Ship.

              • The Starship Maxima

                Internet forums change, bros stay the same.

                • Red-Star

                  *Fist bump*

          • realeasygoing

            Look I understand the looter mentality . There are 2 types. Those that think those of us that work owe them something and the sympathizers who grew up over privileged and want to give away our hard work. I am so wore out on people finding excuses not to succeed in life. I have a sister who got way better grades than I did in high school. She didn’t do jack in the real world and I make 5 times what she does.

            You looters won’t be happy until we have a mirrored European system where nobody gets to keep what they earn except those that refuse to work.

            • Red-Star

              Or the types who worked hard all their life, got rich off it and still want to give back because some do not succeed through hard work alone. Do you not believe those type of people exist, because if your going to use personal experience alone I have two very important people in my life who don’t fit that mold and wish to have higher tax brackets for their own income group.

              Also what Canada and European countries have is not “nobody gets to keep what the earn except those who refuse to work”. Please educate yourself on the governmental systems before you make judgements like that.

            • The Starship Maxima

              I do no dispute that there are looters. Yes, there are those that don’t believe in hard work and their defeatist/victimist mentality causes them to chalk up the success of others to luck or privilege.

              This particular guy, Red-Star, I know him. He’s the antithesis of a looter or a looter sympathizer.

              Further, you have folks like onamission or tsara, who slapped the shit out adversity and kept trucking.

              All I’m saying is…..these particular people deserve some slack.

        • smrnda

          My rich parents should be taxed to level the playing field. And I would support increases on my own taxes to that end.

          • The Starship Maxima

            I don’t agree with all your views, but I think you’re have noble goals.

          • realeasygoing

            If it’s anything that I learned from the 2012 presidential election when I saw that Mitt Romney paid less taxes (percentage wise). than most of us is our Tax systems complexity leads to giving the rich too many loopholes (I saw this living in Europe also. What needs to happen to make it fair is nobody is taxed period earning less 20,000. Then a flat tax after than that for everyone with zero deductions or earned income credit. THis way the Romneys of the world would pay the same as us not less. The liberals and neocons of the world have made a system that protects the rich and poor at the exspense of not the middle class. I don’t believe in classware. Not taxing the poor at all is the best way to begin to alleviate poverty instead of them having to wait for the tax refund at the end of the year.

            • The Starship Maxima

              Reasleasy, I think you and I are going to get along.

    • Pitabred

      Must have been nice to have a friend give you free lodging. That didn’t help at all. It was all bootstraps.

      • realeasygoing

        Who said anything about free Lodging? I paid half the rent!Then again I am not some lazy no bath taking hippy ……

        • Red-Star

          Hmm…did you know your friend before hand? Or did you rent the house from him? Also where where you? I know of local places where 20,000 a year can get a decent 2-3 bedroom place alone. But I’m also aware of places where you can’t live for less than 40.

        • smrnda

          You made 20,000 a year.

          Also, what sort of disabilities or chronic health conditions do you have that limit your ability to work?

          • realeasygoing

            None ?? I don’t understand your point?

            • Red-star

              smrnda is asking what disabilities you had while he is making 20,000 a year because he had a disability when he was working up and now is making more than that. Yet despite overcoming it by working hard he still believes in taxes for those in a higher income bracket.

    • smrnda

      You had a friend giving you housing. Give your friend some credit, not yourself.

      Driving a broke *car* I assume. Not everybody can afford a car, and not everybody can drive.

      If you could get IT certification, then you were probably not as badly educated as many poor people who are so far behind that something like that would require years of extra schooling before.

      Perhaps I should tell you my story. My parents both had PhDs, I learned to program around 8 or 9, and I started college at 14 and had it all paid for by my parents without having to take on debt. I do have some disadvantages (several disabilities, one of which kept me from working for about 2 years) but overall, when people like me have it so easy, other people are *entitled* to whine about how unfair it is. It would have been nearly impossible for me to screw up, and for some people, it’s almost impossible to get ahead.

  • Rain

    character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth

    Yeah I don’t think I need to elucidate that one. Another internet “fake it till you make it” guru. The internets abounds with these clowns.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Bowen

    Meh…What this guy is peddling is magical thinking, it’s louise Hay or Deepitypak Chopra + Jesus. If you behave rich you’ll get rich because… Oh…. God ….or something.

    • UnePetiteAnana

      Right, because paying off your debt and living below your means is magical.

      • The Starship Maxima

        He he. Good one.

      • onamission5

        You are assuming that living below one’s means is equally possible for everyone, that it means the same thing and leads to the same results, when in fact, it is not, and does not.

        • UnePetiteAnana

          I’m not assuming that living below ones means is equally possible. Do you even know what you just said?

          You guys do realize the government has defined the poverty line and that a lot of those in poverty (the poverty line is probably higher than you think) receive government assistance? I’m not saying it’s easy or even doable at some points to live within your means in all economic situations but what I am saying is it’s not MAGICAL – it’s common sense advice. Dave Ramsey is offering practical advice most of the time – I think this list is a little weird but it’s not insensitive or all-encompassing.

          How about say what you mean and mean what you say and stop backtracking after replies . . . you know, like you’re demanding Dave Ramsey do. No room for a mistake ever!

          • alfaretta

            Dave Ramsey has SOME good ideas. He also has some bullshit ideas, such as encouraging others to believe that the poor are that way because they deserve to be.

            If his good ideas help you, fine. However, poverty is bad enough without being demonized for it.

            • The Starship Maxima

              Whoa, hang on. Where does Ramsey even insinuated the poor are poor because they deserve it? No sane person, let alone a Christian, would ever think poverty is something deserved .

              • alfaretta

                It’s the Prosperity Gospel. It is certainly the opposite of the gospel I once followed, but there are plenty of American Christians who follow it. (Sorry, tried to find an article I read recently about Ramsey, but coming up empty at the moment.)

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I hate prosperity gospel.

          • baal

            ” (the poverty line is probably higher than you think)”

            Nope, it was lower than I thought . Notice on the chart on the link how it also lists out 2x 3x 4x? That’s because the poverty level is set so artificially low that folks earning twice the poverty limit are still in need (sometimes dire).

          • smrnda

            He’s offering advice a person who isn’t really poor could use to get ahead a bit.

            One condition of government assistance is not having too much money in savings, which means that it really just helps people endure poverty, but not get out of it. Poverty is caused by shit jobs paying shit money – nothing that people do who have these jobs, other than get better ones, will fix that, and we aren’t seeing the creation of many non-shit-jobs.

      • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Bowen

        It is if you’re that poor. Without giant beanstalks and golden egg laying geese poverty is a trap.

  • Dennis Vander Houwen

    My sister is a huge follower of this moron. It falls in line with the philosophy of “I’ve got mine..I’m just fine.” She tends to assume there is a level playing field… So does he. Yeah stick to the basics of not spending what you don’t have is good advice but also a rather oversimplification.

  • ZeldasCrown

    The problem is, most (more on ‘most’ in a second) of these items won’t do anything to increase the size of a person’s paycheck. Making your kids read more, eating healthier, exercising more isn’t going to cause a person at a minimum-wage job to earn more (pretty sure McDonald’s doesn’t base their raises upon how early before coming in for their shift a person woke up). The only item that might help is if the person is reading/listening to something educational (such as for a course or part of employment training) that would eventually result in them getting a better/higher paying job (though most folks working several minimum wage jobs don’t really have time for school work). Also related to #10, McDonald’s doesn’t send its employees home with a half hour of reading every day; a CEO might very likely have a half hour of reports/papers/etc to read each day, so the reading is often an integral part of a richer person’s job, whereas any reading would be purely self-motivated on their own time for a poorer individual.

  • UnePetiteAnana

    “To tell poor people that they can get out of their financial situation by just doing what rich people do …”

    Wait, where does he say this?

  • TrickQuestion

    On the subject of financial responsibility and the poor, most of the best money managers I know and have known have been poor…because they HAD to be good at it just to get by.

  • The Captain

    Nothing surprising with what he said here or even with what some in the comments think.

    I have said it time and time again, for many people in the US, economics is a religious belief, even for some who are not christian.

    For many in the US, christianity is not just a belief about the nature of “god” but thanks to the cold war it has also been wrapped in a set of political/economic beliefs as well. For US christians it’s the father son and the invisible hand. Communism and atheism was the menace coming to destroy our good christian land, and only god and capitalism could save us. Well, the cold war ended, but the “god and capitalism” slogans where spoken too much and now have become the same thing. It’s what leads to that strange phenomenon where so many evolution denying christians in the US embrace the economics of the early social darwinist.

    But for both US christians, and non-christians though, the belief that ones wealth is a direct indicator of ones character is a left over from the early calvinist/puritans who thought that god shows his blessings, so that well off families where inherently loved more by god, and the poor then must have inherently more sin in them. This becomes “There is a direct correlation between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth in non-third-world settings” for the christian, and “the poor are just lazy” for the non-chritian. Add in some antidotal stories (“I knew a lazy poor person” or “I got rich”) and bam, your economic based religious belief gets justified.

  • Blacksheep

    His alleged arrogance aside, I love any type of data (provided it’s true). I can always learn something from it.
    Some habits require no money. For example: when I was a kid I observed that my friends who didn’t read much had no bedside lamp. In my mind, bedside lamp = more reading. Maybe “rich people grew up with bedside lamps” would be a true statement – and if it were, a valuable piece of info.
    Last week I was introduced to an organization that helps poor kids from bad neighborhoods who are smart get placed in elite NYC (public) high schools – mainly because their families don’t have the wherewithal to do so. A key part of what they do with these kids once they are placed is to expose them to the world of “rich kids” – take them to art museums, the opera, on trips, etc. I guaruntee they will be more successful from “doing what rich people do.”

    What any of this has to do with Christianity I have no idea, Christianity does not value financial success over poverty.

    • grumpy_otter

      “Christianity does not value financial success over poverty.”

      Apparently you have never watched any televangelist discussing how wealth will come to those who give. To their ministry.

    • Steven

      Growing up Mormon, the first rule of financial success was always give 10% (before taxes!) to the Church. I had a milk carton full of change I collected, and the one and only time I tithed I gave about $1-$2. I still want my money back.

    • baal

      Merely aping rich folks is an extremely suboptimal route to success. The factors and mindsets that allow for success even when resources are very limited are known and directly teachable. I’m having a second issue with the aping route. If you’re trying to pretend to be rich, you’re going to overvalue what they are doing. This gets so silly that we see poor folks arguing that the richest Americans need even more money. Google up some Tea Party stuff sometime.

  • The Starship Maxima

    In light of these discussions, I’ll amend my post.

    I don’t believe Corley or Ramsey wish to victim-blame. But yes, this list can be problematic, if one doesn’t look at it in full context.

    Full context being that our upbringing and options available at our birth can help or hinder us greatly. And the fact that the wealthy have many cards to play besides good old fashioned grit.

    With that said however, the thought that your life is still the result of your choices is, for me, an axiom. Any change in the world around us still begins with changing us .

    • Wildcard

      I agree with the main idea that change begins from within. But that is the key word “begins”. If a 25 year old guy who grew up in the ghetto and went to trade school or just finished highschool decides to change his life because “my kids WILL NOT live like this” he can do a bunch of things to go to school, but that might not help him much if he can not get any time off because his employer doesn’t care about his problems.

    • ansuz

      Two things:

      1. If you’re economically disadvantaged, you are unquestionably constrained in what choices for improving your life are viable.

      2. It’s a lot easier to change yourself if you’re in my position (the tl;dr version is this: I’m 21 with upper middle class parents, so my depression, anxiety, ADD, gender identity issues, and eating disorder don’t constitute an insurmountable barrier to anything — I can go to school with a reduced course load, not work at the same time, get my medications with no copay, get a shitload of tutoring and counselling, and pay somebody to make to-do lists for me* and make sure I’m eating and sleeping and doing my homework) than if you have my issues and are trying to go to school full time (because you don’t get enough financial assistance if you only go part time) while also trying to work two jobs and while paying for medications and either getting only the therapy that you can get OHIP to cover or paying out of pocket for more.

      *this is, actually, necessary because my ADD manifests mostly in terrible executive functioning abilities (which mostly means that I’m terrible at planning, separating important things from waffle, and making up my mind, and that it takes me a few beats to react to things I’m not expecting).

      • The Starship Maxima

        I read your post earlier and found it very educational. I agree with everything you’ve said.

        The issue I see from these discussions seems to be this, does one conflate “extremely difficult” with “impossible” or “not worth trying”?

        In your case, with all the hurdles you are facing, imagine what would happen if you didn’t try?

        On the flip side, let me ask you this, would you agree that range of options is itself the result of choices? Meaning, Jamal, our inner-city black kid who doesn’t know his father and lives with his mom on Section 8, has it tough struggling to stay in school and not join his gang-banger pals.

        Now, if Jamal decides to boxcut someone for their Jordans, he’s going to go to jail. This will no erase options from his already short list of options.

        However, if Jamal decides to defy the stereotype and finishes high school and then attends college, he has effectively multiplied his list of available options.

        Do you agree with this?

        • Red-Star

          No quite. College can actually limit your options depending on how long your there and whether or not your working while. Bachelors degrees might actually make you unemployable in this economy.

          The best thing to do is move out where you can find a decent safer place to live. Going to a cheap college might not help anywhere near as much as it should. SO if you can’t find a good job maybe saving money and moving to a better town first would best. It shouldn’t be this way but were going through so much shit that a degree can actually hurt you.

          • The Starship Maxima

            You know I hate it when you refute my points with logic.

            • Red-Star

              I’m not saying an education is of no use. Just that isn’t as useful as it should be now. Used to be a kid from the ghetto could get a job and save up and probably end up as an English teacher with a degree and a teaching certificate. Now there is a glut of teachers.

              Yes education can get you plenty of things and often helps. Education is good I’m actually not saying it isn’t. But being poor limits what your major can realistically be if you want to get out in a few years. I wish that kid could be a writer or animator just out of college but now if he wants to do so he’ll probably have to become a medical personal or engineer first if he wants a decent chance to pursue that dream and also not live in a car.

        • ansuz

          Your points are good as far as they go. Yes, there is a difference between ‘extremely difficult,’ ‘impossible,’ and ‘not worth trying.’ How do we tell the difference, though?

          Without my antidepressants, I wouldn’t be trying. Everything would look and feel hopeless. I wouldn’t get out of bed, and I would hate myself for that. I’d go days without eating or sleeping — I’d just lie there and be overwhelmed by everything I should be doing. I’d have panic attacks about how I was ruining my life, and probably throw up. After I threw up, I’d probably go sit in the bath for a while and gargle some mouthwash. I’d feel too tired to do anything about the mess; even brushing my teeth would be too much work. I’d sit in the bath and cry and hate myself for not killing myself and getting it over with.

          I lived like that on-and-off for two years. I’m only not living like that now because my parents came for a surprise visit to my university halfway across the country. They noticed that nobody in my residence hall knew who I was except for my RA, and that my RA couldn’t tell them anything about how I was. They noticed that none of my profs (at a tiny, tiny university) knew who I was. They noticed how unhealthy I looked (I weighed 92lbs). They realized that I could have killed myself or starved to death and nobody would have noticed until I started to stink. At that point, they finally stopped believing me when I said that everything was fine.

          Before that, every single time there was a problem, I was fully convinced that I could deal with it — up until the point where I was left alone to actually deal with it.

          If somebody isn’t trying (or doing thing X, Y, or Z that would help them), think about why they aren’t trying (or doing thing X, Y, or Z that would help them).

          Why isn’t Jamal in high school anymore? Because he found a full-time (dead-end) job with good benefits that extend to his brother, who is sick. Because he was being bullied, or felt threatened by the gang activity. Because he had undiagnosed dyslexia and has no idea what’s going on in class most of the time. Because he got someone pregnant (because of abstinence-only sex ed, neither of them knew how to use a condom. It fell off and neither of them noticed. Better methods of contraception are out of their price range), she’s religious and opposed abortion, and needed help with her medical bills (sure, they’re giving the baby up for adoption, but nobody’s going to pay the mother’s medical bills so they can adopt a black kid). Because there’s no way he’s going to make it to college anyway — he’d need a scholarship and he’s way too stupid, so what’s the point?

          And that last point — that staying in school wouldn’t make a difference anyway — is a big one. People who are living in poverty don’t have the resources to invest in themselves, or to make any big payments for things that’ll be money-saving/money-earning in the long run. And the mindset that comes with that* (probably especially in the US with the ‘everyone is a temporarily embarrassed millionaire’ thing) doesn’t include the middle-class slow-and-steady self-improvement thing. My impression is that living in actual poverty is incredibly demoralizing, and that in the absence of the means to make large investments for modest but cumulative payoffs people instead make small ‘investments’ in hopes of a windfall (if they’re not completely immobilized due to trying to make ends meet) — buying lottery tickets, sending money to a televangelist who promises huge returns, etc.

          And… I think I’ve lost the thread of what I was saying. Let me know if anything needs clarification.
          *I am pulling about 80% of this out of my ass

          • The Starship Maxima

            I fully got the gist of what you’re saying.

            • ansuz

              Excellent :)

              • The Starship Maxima

                tsara, I am EXTREMELY proud of you for what you’ve done. Depression; chronic despair, as I call it; has broken mighty men.

                You survived. You had help, yes, but that help would mean shit without the will to outlast your condition. In a way you kind of prove the point of the list; (the original, intended point, that is).

                You give hope to all. Stay awesome.

                • ansuz

                  Not sure how I feel about proving the point of the list, but thanks!

  • Wildcard

    I also think we have an educational problem in this country and many others. The belief that to get your dream job or even a good one you have to go to school for it right out of highscool. Not to undermine that value of a good education but a lot of the times it doesn’t work until years later.Sometime it helps to go to school for something else so you can have a nest egg so you can live well while pursuing your dream. I want to draw and animate, (did both these things but I’m not too good) and write. The writing I’m working on right now, (might get paid soon depending on what editors say) the other are probably gonna take years so I think I’m gonna learn something else when I go to college next September. It certainly isn’t too late to learn something when your 30 or even 35. But you need to be able to have that other chance. I wish teachers made that more apparent. You don’t need to be a genius or prodigy to do what you love for a living. You may just need time and when your poor you have less of that.

  • onamission5

    I thought of some others things most wealthy people have that poor people don’t, they have other people to manage their money, protect their interests, and do menial labor for them! So if poor people would pull up their bootstraps and just hire financial advisors, bookkeepers, lawyers, gardeners, housekeepers, cooks, personal assistants and nannies already, they could be rich, too!

  • Steven

    My extended family loves this guy. Most of his advice is only useful for going from middle class to upper middle class, not any answers to systemic poverty.

    • revyloution

      Excellent point Steven.

      • The Starship Maxima

        I see where you’re coming from. But do you think his points could be used even in extreme poverty?

        • Red-Star

          Some maybe. I’m not sure all of them even apply.

  • SJH

    “suggesting that if we start those habits, then we, too, can be rich like them”

    I think you are incorrect here. He is not suggesting that if you do these things you will be rich. He is suggesting that rich people tend to do these things and the outcomes, in part, are natural consequences of their actions. So naturally, when a person reads this, they would try and do as many as they possible if they want to be financially successful. Perhaps a person is in the unfortunate position of not being able to do any of these. There is nothing in what he says that implies anything about these people.

    It sound, yet again, that atheists here are making a judgement about his thoughts and assuming that he is thinking things that he is not actually thinking.

    Also, it sounds like you art polarizing the discussion. This is not an issue regarding poverty vs. wealthy. It is a list of actions that your average, American person can take to aid them in accomplishing their financial goals.

    • allein

      He is suggesting that rich people tend to do these things and the outcomes, in part, are natural consequences of their actions. So naturally, when a person reads this, they would try and do as many as they possible if they want to be financially successful.

      Perhaps I’m misreading you, but how is this different from saying “if you do these things you will be rich” (or at least, better off financially)?

      • SJH

        He is not making any guarantees. He is simply saying that rich people do these things. If you do them as well it might help your financial state in life.

    • baal

      You’re making the same exact error that financial guru Dave is making. Rich folks can make certain choices because they are rich! The behaviour set isn’t inherently likely to make you rich. We aren’t assuming much beyond the words that are actually in the guru’s piece.

      The central problem with the piece is that Dave (and now you) don’t understand the nature of poverty. Big hint, the kinds of changes needed to reduce poverty are not really in the hands of the poor. They are busy trying to get more than a few hours of sleep per night and figure out how to pay for the basics.

      • SJH

        He is not talking about poverty. He is speaking to the average American who wants to improve their financial state. If you practice these habits you will likely improve. Not necessarily become rich but improve. If you are impoverished and cannot practice all of these habits then so be it but you can practice as many as you can. He is simply trying to empower people with information. You are polarizing the argument and redefining his audience.

        • baal

          He’s still wrong as are you. Looking after yourself is intrisically valuable and certainly won’t hurt. To look at how rich folks live as a model for your life is class worship and wrongful. It’s also really sloppy thinking.

    • smrnda

      Rich people tend to have rich parents.

      • SJH

        So, what does that have to do with anything? They still tend to have the habits that keep them rich. Just because a person has rich parents does not mean that they can be irresponsible with money drive themselves into debt and still be rich. They still have good habits. The ones that do not drive themselves out of wealth.

  • revyloution

    The Perry Preschool study shows the only path out of cyclic poverty. You have to train children when they are very young. I’m all for raising the minimum wage, extending food stamps to the poor, and creating jobs programs. The hard reality is that most people are doomed to a life of poverty because they lack the skills to dig themselves out.

    http://www.highscope.org/content.asp?contentid=219

    Most of Mr. Ramseys list does a poor job of causation/correlation, but his comments on getting children reading earlier are spot on. The only sure cure for poverty is to educate children from a very young age. Nothing else has a better track record.

    • grumpy_otter

      “because they lack the skills to dig themselves out.”

      My garbage man is 72 and still works a full-time job. He has never missed a day of work except when he went to Viet Nam. He lost his paid-for home 4 years ago because he had gotten a mortgage to put his daughter through college.

      He’s not smart. Some people aren’t. Doesn’t our society have room for people who perform menial labor? Not everyone is educable–can we not value hard work and a kind spirit?

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        Well, and what makes me angry is that he was most likely deceived as to the terms of the mortgage. I have friends who are highly educated and before they signed their mortgage they made everyone stop while they re-read the document one more time. The bank had tried to switch them to a different type of mortgage WITHOUT TELLING THEM. You’d think that would be illegal, but apparently it’s not. It’s hard for people like your sanitation worker friend to imagine that someone would knowingly take advantage of him like that because chances are it would never ever occur to him to deal with people in such a dishonest manner. The world really can such for people like that. Yes, they are gullible, but shame on businesses that take advantage of decent hard-working people like that.

      • revyloution

        For sure. Like I said, I fully support all of the things that help people. We need a minimum living wage, a secure safety net, etc. I’m talking about systemic poverty, where you have entire communities that are simply broken because of a lack of proper education.

        Your garbage man shouldn’t have to work at 72, especially after a lifetime of physical labor. We should have a system that lets people retire with dignity.

        The problem is that even garbage is becoming a high tech industry. Our local garbage company has GPS and touch screens in their trucks. If you can’t use a computer here, you can’t haul garbage. We desperately need to find generational ignorance and poverty and correct it the only way we know how, but educating the very young.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          I’m in favor of raising the minimum wage since we are now at a point when businesses would rather sit on their profits rather than give their employees a raise. But if you want to get people out of poverty then we need job training and better schools. MUCH better schools, especially in areas where people are poor. Yes, that will cost a little bit but it is an investment in our future. People earning minimum wage are always going to be at the bottom of the pile, even if we raise that wage. In order to support a family, they need to be able to make several times that amount and they can only get that if they have skills. One of the problems with poverty is the drop-out rate and illiteracy. Those are fixable problems. If we wanted to have better schools we could. We just have to decide they are worth paying for.

          • revyloution

            In my original post, I referred to the Perry Preschool project. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend finding a copy. Everyone tries to focus on job training, and medium or higher education. The Perry Project showed pretty conclusively that the skills needed to succeed in school and work are developed between the ages of 3 and 4. Most impoverished households can’t afford preschool, and few states supply it.

            I try to hammer this point everywhere I can. It is startling the difference that having preschool makes. It isn’t a cure all for all of societies ills, but it is a major stepping stone towards the fix we need.

      • smrnda

        Better educated proles tend to start unions. This is why Wal Mart tells its managers not to higher workers with too much education.

  • grumpy_otter

    Last May, through no fault of my own, my income dropped by 60%. I had been barely getting by before, now I was hanging on by my fingernails. Since that time, I have come to understand the reality of being really poor.

    Every single purchase must be weighed; I go to the grocery store with a list that has estimated prices next to it so I won’t go over how much I have. I see great sales on things I’ll need, like toilet paper, but I can’t stock up because I only have a few bucks to get me through the week.

    I sometimes put 4.37 in my gas tank because that is all I have.

    The social worker almost laughed at me when I described my situation–I am a few hundred bucks above the poverty level in my state. So no food stamps or aid. But I may be able to get health care if that website would ever work! lol

    After 5 months and hundreds of job applications, I swallowed my pride and reached out to a rich relative for help and was told no–”you need to grab those bootstraps!”

    Sometimes despair and the fear of the unknown consumes me so much I collapse into myself and spend a day playing video games.

    I am SO lucky–because of my mother, I know I will never be homeless, but at nearly 50 years old, it is horrendously embarrassing to have to ask mommy for help. Plus, she enjoys telling me what a loser I am as she writes yet another check.

    I am a happy person; I have a Master’s Degree and a high IQ. I am fairly confident that my situation is temporary. I am the child of the middle class and have a good support network.

    Can you imagine what life must be like for people who are born into my situation? How unnerving and frustrating it must be to ALWAYS have to settle for the cheapest food and goods?

    People who write articles like the above are so clueless I don’t even know how to begin educating them. Have they ever tried to make a healthy meal out of peanut butter, corn meal, and dried prunes? Do they understand what it is like to crave a fresh tomato? Do they know what it is like to start crying at the grocery store because your debit card is declined?

    My wish for the new year is that everyone could learn true empathy. Don’t these “Christians” know you are not supposed to judge?

    • alfaretta

      This x100. Thanks so much for writing this, grumpy_otter. Been there, done that.

      As another commenter said, the best money managers are poor people — they have to be.

      • grumpy_otter

        Thank you for your kind words. I hated to sound like I was whining–I just wanted to illustrate that poverty can happen to the so-called “elite.”

    • cyb pauli

      Amen Brother Otter keep preaching the goddamn truth.

  • Lynn

    Mr Ramsey needs an experience in poverty. Then his advice could be considered. Otherwise it is just a bunch of pathetic, disrespectful babble from someone who is not a decent and respectful person.

    • The Starship Maxima

      Why so harsh? He listed some statistics, statistics that might be of use to someone. What’s so wrong about what he did?

      By his own admission he admits that there is systemic disadvantage and he opposes it.

      • Wildcard

        Because it makes it look like all these things will help you get financial security when to many people doing those things isn’t even an option. Many are offended at how it seems to downplay the plight of poor people and imply it is their fault. Whether it does or not I’ll leave it up to reader.

        • The Starship Maxima

          I admit I hadn’t quite seen it that way.

          • Red-Star

            I admit I wouldn’t have such a bad reaction against the personal responsibility crowd.if many of their measures against welfare or helping hands didn’t also inadvertently target those who need more help. No solution I’ve seen. (short of individually spying on people) won’t also hurt the people who need help the most.

            • Red-Star

              *Sorry it would also hurt the people who need help the most.

          • alfaretta

            Starship,

            You really seem to have a good heart — but you have to consider exactly what Ramsey was trying to say by posting these statistics. He did have a point — and the overarching point of his system is “Do what I tell you to do and you’ll be debt-free.”

          • smrnda

            Maybe you aren’t insulted because you aren’t a poor person struggling day in and day out who is sick of all the patronizing advice?

            • The Starship Maxima

              My circumstances do shape how I process the information, yes.

      • Lynn

        If you have not experienced something, you have no idea about that experience. Words and advice are so easy to give, but I personally would not take advice from anyone that has not gone through something they write about. That is just my personal opinion.

        • The Starship Maxima

          Didn’t he say he bankrupted himself and worked his way back using the very techniques he shares with others?

          • Lynn

            Bankruptcy has nothing to do with poverty. How about being thrown to the streets and having to live in that dire situation for a couple years. That is a person I would respect and take advice from.

          • smrnda

            Bankruptcy is a trick rich people sometimes use strategically to avoid paying $ they don’t want to. Businesses declare bankruptcy to get out of paying pensions to workers sometimes. (Hostess did this I believe) The guy who wrote ‘rich dad poor dad’ did a strategic bankruptcy.

      • smrnda

        He listed meaningless statistics that sound more like a bunch of self-reported numbers from a badly done survey with poorly defined terms. If he calls this ‘statistics’ the man is an idiot.

  • rwlawoffice

    What a crock Hemant. In your zeal to attack a prominent Christian, you mis-characterize him and this list.

    First of all he doesn’t say “To tell poor people that they can get out of their financial situation
    by just doing what rich people do” You are reading that into this list for your own purposes.

    Second, it is obvious when you include all of the list that the list deals with habits, behaviors and thought processes. It isn’t all about having the means to buy things are the spare time to engage in certain behaviors.For example, the time spent watching reality shows or the money spent gambling are also on the list. How do these fit into your idea that he is wanting poor people to spend money in order to be rich?

    I agree that there is intrinsic poverty in this country. There are some people that are poor and despite all of their actions will remain that way. Some do not have the ability to earn a quality education, some live in family situations that hamper their ability to rise above their station in life. No where does Ramsey dispute this. Nor does he say that this is a panacea that will rid the world of poverty. All he is saying is that choices people make, how they think and the habits they engage in can affect their position in life. For the majority of people a change in this regard will make a difference. It may not make them rich, but you would be hard pressed to say that some of these habits will not improve their situation.

    For you to claim that it would take 100 years for a minimum wage
    employee to match what the CEO of McDonalds makes, assumes that there is
    no way that that minimum wage employee can improve his income. In an effort to point at the income disparity between you are assuming that this will be his income for the rest of his life. You are assuming there is nothing he can do to raise his income through hard work or additional education. That is nonsense.

    I will admit, I am one of the advantaged ones. I grew up in a family that some would consider wealthy. My parents grew up poor but worked hard and were very successful. They taught me a strong work ethic and I went to good schools. I fully
    understand that not everyone has that advantage. I am not bashing the
    poor when I say that some of their condition is due to their choices ( as a general statement of course not the same for everyone). It is not easy growing up in poverty where the bad choices are much easier to make. That is why so few escape it. There are far more stories of young gang members being killed then there are of those that rise out of that environment.

    But what we do know from the past fifty year war on poverty that government programs to address this issue simply do not work. Despite billions of dollars spent on addressing this problem through paying the poor benefits, there are more people who are classified as poor in our country then ever before. There are more people on government assistance than at any time in our history. What accounts for this? Is it simply the income disparity between the rich and the poor or is it choices that some people make that keeps them in that situation? What accounts for the massive number of single mothers on welfare which is the surest sign they will remain poor their entire life? Is it their choices to have children before they are married and financially ready or is it government programs that gives them more money for each child as long as the father is not around so marriage is discouraged?

    Can there be more fairness in our economy- of course there can. But that doesn’t mean the only way to attain that is to penalize those that you claim have advantages, it means we develop programs to help those that are disadvantaged rise to their best potential. Give them the tools they need if they choose to take advantage of them. Provide quality education in poor neighborhoods. Reward people for being responsible and don’t have incentives for being irresponsible. Encourage programs that will actually raise people out of poverty instead of keeping them there waiting for a government check.

    • smrnda

      Wow, you must have read *nothing about the causes of inequality*

      There is more poverty because a higher share of the GDP is going to wealthy people. Their share of the pie has increased while the wages of workers have stagnated or even declined. Rich people and their allies in politics have made sure that income earned from passive ownership is taxed at a lower rate than income from work. They have done everything they can to destroy workers’ ability to form unions which have, historically, been a major factor in decreasing poverty. Businesses have decided to increase profits by keeping wages low, or providing shittier benefits (or none.)

      They divert the cost of paying their workers onto taxpayers all while campaigning for tax breaks for themselves.

      This cycle – of rich people sucking up more of the $ – means that consumer spending is weak since fewer and fewer working people have any disposable income. This means that the next thing rich people do is consolidate their share of ownership and put a bigger squeeze on workers.

      The causes of inequality is that rich people rig the system so they can’t lose and nobody else can win. Tax these people like Eisenhower did and I think that would fix the problem, along with defending the human right of workers to form unions and bargain collectively.

      You are making the mistake that all privileged people make in assuming that the actions of poor people are the result of some cost/benefit analysis. The strain of poverty compromises the ability of people to make rational decisions the same way that sleep deprivation, drugs or mental illness does.

      • cyb pauli

        Not to mention poverty is a one way ticket to sleep deprivation, starvation/nutrient deprivation, drugs and mental illness.

      • rwlawoffice

        Unions had their place when they came into being, but they have long since lost their usefulness. Federal laws provide the protection that unions used to provide. If you want to look at the effect of unions go to Detroit or any other municipality that is contemplating bankruptcy due to union benefits agreed to over the years.

        You need to understand economics to know why your allegations are incorrect. Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate for two reasons- one the funds used to invest were already taxed so this is a double taxation and two, it encourages capital investment which historically benefits the economy overall.

        Before you look to the rich sticking it to the working class, you first should look to the government that takes 50% of a working man’s wages in taxes. You should look at government regulations that increase the cost of doing business to the point that manufacturing is sent overseas. Obama laments that this has been a jobless recovery while at the same time he has policies that discourage job growth.

        No doubt there is greed in the system and no doubt there are those that exploit the poor. There is a need for regulations and oversight to curb that greed. But truly successful companies need to hire the best workers and provide well for their people otherwise they do not survive.

  • Mario Strada

    Well, I know a number of poor people for whom listening to books on tape on their way to work and making their kid read non fiction and do all the other things is clearly not working too well. The 3 to 5% mentioned in the statistic. Since there are a lot more poor people than there are rich ones, that minority that somehow manages to do at least some of the right things must be really screwed.

  • The Starship Maxima

    @de2f676e8f9880b9d66765eedd794324:disqus

    I read that link you sent, Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, Poverty Thoughts. Kick-in-the-balls is perhaps the best metaphor I can think of.

  • SeekerLancer

    There seems to be a consensus among many wealthy people that if they can be wealthy, anyone can be and if you’re not wealthy it’s entirely your own fault. They don’t seem to understand that different people live different lives with different circumstances.

  • smrnda

    Actually, he’s just pointing out correlations without establishing any sort of causation between them, and he’s leaving out a lot of known statistics about wealth and poverty, such as the fact that *whether your parents are wealthy or not* is the biggest predictor of future wealth.

    • ok87

      80% of millionaires did not have millionaire parents. Most probably were not dirt poor, that’s not what I’m saying. But we need to break the concept that money just flows down a family tree like some magical river.

      • cyb pauli

        It flows down from class privilege and generational financial stability. Millionaires didn’t have millionaire parents is not an adequate rebuttal.

  • ok87

    “To tell poor people that they can get out of their financial situation by just doing what rich people do — without acknowledging that a lot of that advice is very likely beyond their means”

    He addressed this very thing on his show today (and has many times before)!

    I think he was just trying to point out that the only thing anyone can do at any time is do what we can with what’s been given to us. There’s a lot of lost hope among the poor and people call in daily to his show to thank him for giving them hope and a belief that there is a way out. I’m around the poor all the time and many of them are run down, beat up and just plain hopeless. This is how it started for them and they don’t have the tools to change it.

    Are there structural issues here? Of course there are. But to criticize Dave on this issue when he’s helped millions out of dire financial strife is like running into a room with a teacher trying to explain Algebra and getting mad that they’re not teaching Calculus too. That’s not the lesson and this “rich vs. poor” thing was never meant to demean the poor. This is a sliver of a teaching and it doesn’t make it doctrine. Do I agree with everything Dave Ramsey says? Of course not. I don’t agree with everything anyone says really.

  • cyb pauli

    “It is possible in America to work full-time, not waste your money on frivolities, and still find yourself with very little money to work with to pay for rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other basic needs.”

    Amen.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I’ve taken some time to do some research on the science of cognition, stress, and financial standing. And I have some thoughts to share.

    First, it is true that correlation don’t imply causation (although, it is telling that many liberals and atheists ignore that thinking in finding a way to link every bad deed to Christian beliefs, in effect deciding that correlation IS causation in that case).

    However, correlation does imply, and point to, patterns. The thing I get is this, your financial status, much like your sexual preferences, gender identity, and physical condition are greatly shaped by forces beyond your control.

    The question becomes, what happens after you step into this pre-made situation? Does it continue, or does it change?

    The numbers put forth by Corley and Ramsey suggest a truism of people and objects; they tend to continue along the trajectory they were already on, unless some outside force intervenes.

    In other words, while a rich person might not have created their situation, their choices keep following that trajectory. And their choices are driven by their worldview that they are architects of their own fate. They have hope. A poor person did not choose poverty; no sane person would; but their own lack of hope causes behaviors that ensure their continued privation.

    Victim-blaming places blame on a person for their circumstance. But this isn’t about their circumstance. This isn’t about holding a poor person accountable for their present or past, but rather, for their future .

    And yes, personal responsibility does not give a poor person the country club membership, or tutors, or trust fund. But it gives the same sense of hope, the faith that things can change, that underlies the rest.

    Of course this is pointless without actual help . You can’t tell someone to pull themselves up their bootstraps, if they have no boots to begin with. But, if they have no will to pull themselves up, then all the boots in the world will make no difference, kinda like how often those who win the lottery wind up just as broke.

    So, as with so many other things in life, this isn’t an either-or, but rather a “and and with”. People need the both the will to be empowered and the tools with which to exercise that empowerment.

    I see no reason the two can’t go together.

    • KMR

      Rachel Held Evans had some interesting links on her blog in regards to the same subject matter (look up her post on Ramsey). You won’t find it in her article but you will fine the links in some of her commenter’s posts. You might find it interesting.

      • The Starship Maxima

        Thanks for the info.

    • Red-star

      I agree in most cases but not in this one. Just because a person has given up doesn’t mean you give up on them. Notice that the woman in the “why I make terrible decisions” article had given in to fate until her article spread to the outside world. With help she found the will to feel alive again. If this was a case of a lot of poor people not wanting to take the effort I would agree with the idea here, but I think a lot of people have more will power than they know, but when all of it is spent trying to stay alive instead of living it clouds the mind.

      As for the lottery winners I believe that wasn’t a lack of will, instead a lack of knowledge. You suddenly bring someone from rags to riches they don’t know the value of things because they were never in a position to have them. I don’t know how much a limousine costs to own, if I had a million dollars I may go broke.

  • DontHoldBack

    You put in the work, you get the reward. Everything else is bullsh*t. On the other hand feel free to blame the wealthy for your inadequacies as a contributing member of society. Lets see how well that works out for you.

    On a side note, the half wit that wrote this article was too tied up in his emotions to see that he employed the same logical fallacies Ramsey did. Ramsey’s whole point is that in this country, you’re more in control of your prosperity than anywhere else in the world and he never says its an easy thing to accomplish. I’ve had friends and family who have come to this country with no money and barely being able to speak English to putting 3 kids through college and having a 7 figure retirement fund. No matter how little you think you have, someone somewhere had less than you and made it. No matter how bad your situation is, someone somewhere has it worse than you and will make it. It takes work, resilience, hope and luck. But here’s the good news. The one of those four things that you’re not directly in control of is also the one that matters least. Wake up.

    • Red-star

      Actually no, your not in control of your prosperity here more than anywhere else in the world. That is proven. Also don’t assume everyone “hates the wealthy”. Lots of people here are either wealthy or come from little money and got into the middle class but still wish to make the transition easier.

    • Yup

      Luck = preparation meeting opportunity

  • John the Drunkard

    George Bernard Shaw wrote somewhere that you can use statistics to prove that wearing a top hat is a cure for malnutrition.

  • 1%

    Lame.

  • Nick

    The 1% are the 1% for a reason. If all the money in the US was evenly distributed it would not take long for 40% of it to fall back in the hands of the 1%. It is all about habits, if you are broke or if you are wealthy it is because you made the decision to be either. 86% of millionaires are self made, they were not born wealthy. And by the way, the majority of the wealth in the US is controlled by the older crowd, 50+ years of age, again good saving habits. Bottom line, we live in the greatest country in the world with an endless amount of opportunities, stop making excuses for why you are broke and make the decision to go win for you and your family.

    • Wildcard

      Yeah, “endless amount of opportunities to be rich”. Yeah you need to look at some other countries besides America for signs of real social mobility. You clearly haven’t.


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