‘The rich rule over the poor’: Dave Ramsey, McDonald’s, and the personal salvation of personal finance (part 1)

Earlier this year McDonald’s created a publicity backlash for itself by creating a “personal finance” website for its employees.

Like much of the personal finance industry, the site was a mixture of banal common sense, condescension and victim-blaming. Worst of all was the sample household budget that the site offered as a model for McDonald’s workers. That budget wound up shining a huge spotlight on the fact that all the site’s preachy moralizing about frugality and “personal responsibility” didn’t mean bupkis to fast-food wage-slaves earning minimum wage. The budget included ridiculously unrealistic monthly figures — like $600 for rent, $20 for health insurance, and $0 for heat — yet it still assumed a 60-hour work week at two different jobs in order to make the math possible.

Oh, and it also left out taxes — pretending that McDonald’s workers earning $8.50 and hour were taking home $8.50 an hour. Otherwise change that 60 hours to 80 hours.

Laura Northrup at The Consumerist summed it up:

This is a terrible budget. Besides leaving out gas, heat, car maintenance, and remotely realistic medical expenses, it leaves out clothes, entertainment, furniture, various kinds of personal hygiene, furniture, charitable and religious giving, cleaning supplies, and groceries. Groceries.

It also completely ignores that you might have children, which is convenient, because it’s hard to fit child care for those 60 hours a week that you’re working into this budget. Assuming that you can even get that many hours from your job: maybe it’s time to start looking for a third one.

The bottom line is that “Whoever wrote these materials had no grasp of what it’s actually like to live on $8 or so per hour.”

Because of that, much of what the site offers that might otherwise seem like common-sense advice about making responsible “choices” reads instead as simply clueless. The authors of the site don’t realize that McDonald’s low-wage workers have no choice but to make such “choices.” They’re already forgoing all of those “luxuries” not out of choice, but out of necessity.

Lecturing people about their choices when their context does not afford them any is not just stupid, it’s cruel.

Which brings us to Dave Ramsey, the Christian-ish personal finance guru who has built an empire off of just such stupid and cruel lecturing. That McDonald’s website offered a distillation of Ramsey’s ideology of “personal responsibility” as the only significant variable for financial security.

McDonald’s didn’t design that website itself, mind you. They contracted that out to Visa. Yes, that Visa — the credit-card company. Dave Ramsey is famous for preaching against debt and borrowing. Visa makes its living encouraging debt and borrowing. Isn’t it interesting, then, that the essence of their “personal finance” advice turns out to be indistinguishable?

Sure, it’d be bad for Visa if suddenly everyone started following Ramsey’s advice, paying for everything with cash up-front, but Visa doesn’t seem too worried about that. They’re far too delighted by the larger effect of Ramsey’s influence: A three-hour daily radio show in every major market preaching that it’s a moral duty to make your payments on time and that it’s an irresponsible shirking of your personal moral duty to question interest rates or inexplicable fees. The anti-debt preacher may pose as their enemy, but they think of him as their MVP.

Credit-card banks and other lenders are scared of Richard Cordray and of Elizabeth Warren. But they’re not scared of Dave Ramsey. They love the guy. No matter how many new ways they concoct to fleece their customers, they can always count on Ramsey to have their back, telling his radio audience that it’s their fault and that their only response should be to cut expenses and pay those new rates and fees in full.

We’re seeing an encouraging wave of push-back against Ramsey’s victim-blaming and his apparent ignorance of “what it’s actually like to live on $8 or so per hour.” I want to highlight some of the sharp responses to Ramsey’s mean poverty-is-your-fault ideology, the graceless works-righteousness behind his individualistic misunderstanding of “personal responsibility,” and the way his victim-scolding framework serves the interests of creditors and robber barons. We’ll get to a bunch of them in Part 2, but here I want to focus on one in particular: Helaine Olen’s long, detailed profile and critique for Pacific Standard, “The Prophet.”

Olen knows this world intimately. She used to be a “personal finance” columnist and then became a whistleblower on the whole charade, publishing Pound Foolish: Exposing the Personal Finance Industry.

Here’s Olen’s stark summary of Dave Ramsey’s advice:

  1. Purge yourself of debt;
  2. Live on cash;
  3. Pretend economic trends don’t affect you;
  4. Blame yourself when they do.

This admonition to blame no one but yourself appeals most to those who are, in fact, largely powerless:

In [Ramsey’s] version of the story, the wider economy’s problems are not structural or political, but instead stem from the fact that most people, including his listeners, are weak-willed, self-indulgent, and stupid (he doesn’t shy from the word) when it comes to spending. “The problem with your money,” he often says with perfect certainty, “is the person in your mirror.” Once you get over the casual meanness of this message, it becomes clear how oddly reassuring it is. It assumes that we are in control. To his listeners, Ramsey holds out the promise that they can simply choose to be different — that it’s within their power to not take part in recessions and the economic troubles facing American families.

And that, like the McDonald’s budget, requires that we prefer an imaginary world in which, “there is always fat that can be trimmed from a family’s budget, always another job that can be scraped together to add to a family’s income.”

Olen discusses the importance of Ramsey’s personal story as a redemption parable for his audience, but also notes how it distorts his understanding of what the real world is really like for people whose stories aren’t just exactly like his was:

His story begins during the real estate boom of the 1980s. As a young entrepreneur fresh out of college, he convinced a local Tennessee bank to loan him money so he could build up a real estate empire. But Ramsey’s properties were financed via short-term loans and lines of credit. The bank called in all the debts, and his $4 million real estate portfolio collapsed. Lawsuits and foreclosures ensued.

… Ramsey was a risk-prone real estate developer who went bankrupt because he attempted to leverage borrowed money into riches and failed. He didn’t hit financial bottom because he was fired, or because he was stuck with a high-deductible, low-benefit insurance policy when his child got sick.

There seems to be, in other words, an element of projection in Ramsey’s “personal responsibility” shtick. He imagines he knows how everyone else got into debt because he knows how he did — through extravagance and risk and leveraged dreams. That taught him one set of lessons that might apply to other people whose story is just like his story, but those lessons are completely alien and irrelevant to someone who got laid off or who got hit by a drunken driver.

He also, defensively, denies his followers access to the actual way he first achieved his own debt-free status: Ramsey declared personal bankruptcy in 1988. Sure, his methods have helped him stay debt-free since then, but bankruptcy protection is how he got there in the first place.

Olen also examines the huge fortune Ramsey has amassed from doling out his victim-blaming message of “tough love”:

As the world economy was imploding in 2008, Dave Ramsey went shopping for a new home. According to published reports, Ramsey paid a little more than $1.5 million for several acres of land in Franklin, Tennessee, and then constructed a 13,000-plus-square-foot residence (the garage is another 1,450 square feet). After completion, it was valued at just under $5 million. More than a few evangelicals thought Ramsey was flaunting his wealth, and took to the blogosphere to say so.

The attention seems to have gotten under Ramsey’s skin. “No one was mad at me when I sold 10 books and made $10,” he said during his Houston show. “Wait ’til you sell 10 million — you’ll be attacked like you wouldn’t believe.” He laments that “winning is no longer OK” in our culture.

He’s a “winner,” see. What does that make people who don’t own $5 million homes? Losers. And like all sore winners, there’s nothing Ramsey hates more than losers. He’s not just thin-skinned and prickly about his own prodigal lifestyle, he’s also deeply resentful of those who have less than he does:

Not surprisingly, Ramsey’s political views — which are often vividly on display during his radio show and in his public appearances — are quite conservative. He argues that estate taxes are “immoral” and a sign of incipient socialism. So too is Obamacare, which will damage the American economy. Social Security is “running out of money fast” and “mathematically doomed.” And he believes the federal government, like any household he advises, needs to say “no” to things it can’t afford, balance its budget, and stop borrowing money. (Needless to say, he’s generally not in favor of raising taxes either.)

What’s more, Ramsey has said that the story of rising income inequality in America — a story backed up by reams of data — is “not really true.”

Dave Ramsey serves up a lot of lies in the quotations there above. Well, let’s be generous — Ramsey says many things that are not true. Ramsey says many things that are not true that he ought to know are not true. Ramsey says many things that are not true that are so easily disproved that it would seem impossible for anyone to continue repeating them unless that person was simply unconcerned with whether or not they are true.

So maybe not a liar, then. Maybe just a lazily ignorant fellow with a reckless disregard for the veracity of what comes out of his mouth.

In the middle of her article, Helaine Olen discusses the Bible verse — or the half-verse — that Dave Ramsey has taken as his slogan and marketing motto:

He turned to the Bible, where he saw wisdom in Proverbs 22:7. A portion of that verse is his mantra to this day: “The borrower is the slave of the lender.” (The first part of the verse — “The rich rule over the poor” — is less prominently featured in his messaging.)

Ramsey’s message to borrowers is to work their way to emancipation from the slavery of debt. It is not the slave’s place to question the legitimacy of their enslavement. For Ramsey, Proverbs 22:7b always carries with it an implicit citation of Ephesians 6:5: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart.”

“The rich rule over the poor” because the rich are winners. Maybe lazy, irresponsible poor people think that “winning is no longer OK,” but Ramsey knows that winning means winning the right to rule, and to demand that your slaves make their payments on time, in full, without ever questioning your right to collect them.

Preaching this anti-Jubilee interpretation of Proverbs 22:7 means that Dave Ramsey had better hope that Proverbs 22:8 isn’t telling us the truth: “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity.”

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  • http://cappadocius.tumblr.com/ The Internet’s Cappadocius

    I’m not sure why Dave Ramsey hasn’t explicitly embraced “the rich rule over the poor” as part of his mantra. As a simple statement of fact, it’s 100% true.

  • miketheorganist

    Only thing is, the first half of the verse is an admonition not to become poor by going into debt. That is why it’s in PROVERBS. That is a book about spiritual common sense. Context does matter. That’s the first point.The second, the brief mention of the Jubilee, is something Israel never managed to get to because they kept straying away from God. It would be interesting to see if it would work … but that would take the dreaded theocracy (which ancient Israel was supposed to be but never became due to corrupt religious leaders) to implement, and since we will never have that, we will never find out.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It’s impossible for a secular nation to abolish debt?

  • Morilore

    So what does Ramsey have to say to these millions of people? On the subject of debt, his advice can be summed up in one word: abstinence. Just say no, Ramsey says, to credit cards. No to student loans. No to anything you cannot afford with cash, with the exception of a fixed-rate 15-year home mortgage. Lenders, he says, are a scourge on the American public, and borrowers are their slaves. “Debt has so sunk its claws into our culture, we believe we are here to work, play, make payments, and die,” he told his rapt audience in Houston. “It’s a life of desperation. You feel like a gerbil in a wheel. We borrow … then everything hits the wall: the marriage, the kids. It’s a NASCAR car crash.”

    Borrowing went up

    because

    WAGES STOPPED RISING

    aaarrglebarglefuckthisguy

  • Caretaker of Cats

    Precisely how is one supposed to get that fixed rate mortgage after following his advice to pay cash for everything, ensuring one has no credit history at all?

  • Dan Hetrick

    How are people to get mortgages at all when they’re supposed to pay for everything in cash? His message might just be, “The poor are supposed to rent, not to own.”

  • Lorehead

    Oh, I remember that now. I had the strong impression that advice was supposed to be about as realistic as the McDonald’s/Visa budget. That is, people were pointing out that you couldn’t possibly ever own your own home if you never borrowed anything at all; you’d be trying to save up to pay cash for one while also paying rent. So he said, “Okay, just get a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.”

    Since it wasn’t remotely possible for very many of his followers to go out and do that, if they were rejected because they came to him after a personal-finance crisis, that was their fault. On the other hand, if one of his followers did follow his advice their whole lives and discovered they had no credit history, that just proved his point that lenders were a scourge on the American public. Obviously, you should be getting the good loans, because you have no debt, but it’s those irresponsible debtors who get all the breaks, to lure them into a trap and turn them into slaves.

  • T’Shaunik

    Simple. You go to a mortgage company that still has a brain and does manual underwriting (one company is Churchill Mortgage). They look at your credit, but also verify your income and make the loan like they did before the credit score dumbed down the mortgage business. Dan, he tells people not to rent long term as that is throwing your money away. In the short term, it is spending patience money. He is okay with a 15 year fixed rate mortgage because that is on an asset that is going up in value over the long term, while cars, consumer electronics, etc depreciate.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *chinhands*

    Please, tell me of this mythical relic from the 1960s

  • T’Shaunik

    It’s quite simple, actually. Ignorami can even grasp it. You make sure someone can pay the bill BEFORE you give them a loan. Today, the companies like to use the Great FICO as the end-all be-all that magically tells them everything they could possibly want to know. Of course, no single number can give all that info, so they manually verify that the person can pay the bill. Imagine that! What a concept!

  • AlexSeanchai

    I think Neutrino’s point was, those places don’t actually exist anymore.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    As EllieMurasaki so succinctly indicated, banks and credit unions don’t usually work that way anymore. I’ll happily sit corrected if you can give me a verifiable link to an institution that discounts credit scoring in favor of a personal assessment from the loan officer.

  • T’Shaunik

    As I already stated: Churchill Mortgage (http://www.churchillmortgage.com/). Open your eyes and read what I say before you say I need to provide an institution.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    http://www.kiwi-musume.com/myicons/ANTM%20Icons/sporfle.gif

    You actually tried fobbing me off with Dave Ramsey’s very own favorite mortgage company? Same dude who declared bankruptcy? And now makes his dough giving all those silly-ass motivational speeches? Lordycakes.

  • AlexSeanchai

    Wait, wait. Dave Ramsey recommends people live without a credit history, such that the only mortgage company that’ll take them is Dave Ramsey’s?
    Hell of a scam, that.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yup! “See why Dave Ramsey endorses Churchill Mortgage!” in big ol’ print right there.

  • smrnda

    My opinion is that, giving uncertainty in the housing market, student loans might be a better investment than the mortgage there.

    By refusing to admit that borrowing is what people do when their wages fall, he’s really just telling his audience to accept a declining standard of living.

  • jemand2

    I’m not sure if that isn’t what’s going to happen anyway, and the standard of living will ultimately be lower still if all the interest is also paid or the penalties for defaulting included.

    So, I do think at an individual level it is usually incredibly important to avoid debt *even if* it results in a lower standard of living but *also* work to change the trends which have allowed wages to fall so much in the last 30 years. Basically, simultaneously do as best as possible to play the game as it is now, while working to change the rules.

    This differs significantly from Ramsey’s message which is just to play by the rules and blame yourself if you deviate.

  • Joshin

    People borrow when they want something that they can afford. Every day I see people, friends and family buying massive quantities of items that they stick on a credit card. Xbox’s, TV’s, Movies, CD’s you name it. Cha ching bada bling. “You want that new sweater, go on you deserve it. You had a hard break up.” Cha ching. Charged. Most people don’t have a budget. They don’t live by one. They don’t say no to themselves. How many people do you know blow all their money on one weekend party? Listen. You don’t make tons of money now, so start a budget. Tell every dollar where it has to go. No, I’m not going to buy this fast food. My electric bill is due tomorrow. It has to start there. I hope no one plans on making minimum wage forever. That would be horrible to have no aspirations and such hopelessness. It’s a great starting point. As spring board to doing something else. Something you were made to do and are passionate about!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Every day I see people, friends and family buying massive quantities of items that they stick on a credit card.

    This is like the whole “I totes saw a friend’s mother’s roommate’s pet gerbil do such-and-so!” thing I see people trot out when they want to prove hasty generalizations anecdotally.

  • miketheorganist

    BUT, sir, personal borrowing does not HAVE to go up. People CAN decide to live within their means, and do what’s necessary to improve their lot. People end up where they do because of their own decisions, and sometimes they make wrong decisions because they react wrongly or badly to what life hands them. But in every case where you find poverty, scarcity, down-and-out-ness, if you ask a person and he is honest with you he will tell you where his wrong decisions were. We all make them.

    Wages stopped rising … but somehow some people managed to find a way out. I will tell you something you will not like. Wages will resume rising when there is sufficient competition for people to do work, and right now, with companies heading out of the country to avoid the taxes government wants to lay on the capital that makes them run, there is less and less competition for employees because there are fewer employers. The ONLY way out of this as far as government involvement is concerned, is to drastically reduce corporate and small business taxation so that those who are willing to put their money at risk of loss in business ventures resume believing that success will not be penalized. The more people who are willing to take risks perceive that the rewards of success will not be confiscated, the more of them will take the plunge, the more work will need to be done and the more competition for workers there will be. It cannot happen overnight, not even with massive government stimulus that only serves to increase federal debt and continues to undermine the dollar’s buying power, which only makes matters worse.

    One last thing. You won’t like this either. Income inequality MUST grow in order for modern civilization to continue to exist. This was very hard even for a conservative like me to accept, because like you, I get envious of wealthy people. Income inequality is a natural by-product of national prosperity. Trying to sabotage it or rein it in will of necessity rein in growth (new wealth creation) which is what makes everything possible. I do not condone greed. OF COURSE rich people should share more. But if they don’t, IT’S THEIR MONEY just like your money is yours. Understanding what I’m trying to tell you would require a chapter’s worth of explanation of the nature of the debt money system. The reason we have everything in abundance on all sides it that companies became wealth-creating engines when they succeeded and the people who created the wealth try to keep it, which is what you would do if you were one of them.

    Ramsey learned some things about the nature of money and the money system that apply to both the macro and micro ends of it. People on the low end simply have to learn a whole lot more about this before they start making decisions about finances whether it be a junk-food purchase or an IRA. Maybe it isn’t their fault that nobody taught them that you can’t have what you can’t pay for. Maybe they saw their parents get into the debt trap and learned that, instead of learning to control their desires for stuff. It’s different in every case. You would think we would advocate for financial education as part of what kids get taught in school, and I don’t mean learning castigation of the rich by left leaning teachers and professors; I mean learn what money really is and how to manage it when you’re a kid, so that when you become an adult you don’t start making decisions that lead to dependence on federal programs or a life of lack.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    You don’t condone greed, but you think they have every right to be as greedy as they want and the rest of us just need to learn to accept our slave wages with dignity, raise a couple of kids who starve to death, stop fighting and let the billionaires guide us to a world of sunshine and rainbows.

    Here’s a hint: Some things are “hard to hear” because they’re a load of shit. You, sir, are full of shit. If the scenario you describe were actually true, then we would have been in a world of shit 50 years ago, much less today. Strangely enough, the nation did not collapse when taxation was at its highest, but it certainly seems to be having trouble now that taxes are at their lowest in well over a century, despite productivity rising ever higher, profits rising ever higher, and wages remaining stagnant.

    Your answer is that if we just kowtow to our overlords long enough, eventually they’ll deign to release their exploitative grasp and let us join them on among the pantheon of elites. It ain’t gonna happen. They have no reason to do this. They benefit from everyone else being too poor, too sick and too poorly educated to do anything about their predicament except accede to worse and worse working conditions.

    You know what two of the biggest economic reforms are on the millionaire market that is politics? Repealing minimum wage and child labor laws.

    Yes, I’m sure life is going to improve for us in the long run. And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

  • miketheorganist

    You, sir, are the one whose mind is a bit smelly. I am saying that trying to change this through central command and control is your only route to your solution. You’re going to have to decide how much power you want to place in the hands of intellectual socialist theorists, enforceable by painful laws, before you start down your path, because you will not escape them if you sic them on the wealthy.

    I will share something with you that ought to be self evident even to someone as arrogant as yourself. The human condition is that the bulk of wealth is always going to be concentrated in few hands. It always has been, and despite the best efforts of those in revolutionary France, Bismarck’s Germany, Wilson’s USA, Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany, Roosevelt’s USA, and now the People’s Republic of Obama, and the long train of benevolence that ruled Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Eastern Europe and so many other places in the 20th century, the condition has remained the same. The question is, will the wealth be held by people who seek to rule for the sake of power disguised as idealism, or will it be held by people who want to create more wealth?

    In every case where there has been a massive effort at redistribution it has resulted in a massive creation not of prosperity but of vast poverty and deprivation of liberty. You can bitch and moan about the rich and their companies, but they ARE the economy, always have been, and always will be because that is the human condition.

    The Founders recognized this for what it is and made a pathway not to slavery as you suggest, but a way OUT of it, and even the institutionalized slavery they incorporated into the founding in order to get the founding done they foresaw would be destroyed by joining states who allowed it with states that didn’t because they understood that human nature’s desire to be free would lead to slavery’s demise.

    There is no slavery now (in the civil society, I am not speaking of the human trafficking that escapes detection) except that which is imposed upon oneself by one’s own belief about one’s own life. If that were not so there would never be any rags to riches stories.

    I do NOT think billionaires will lead us to a world of sunshine and rainbows because THAT WORLD CANNOT EXIST not with them in charge, nor with collectivists and progressives. What I think about rich people is that we unfortunately cannot do without them because it is they who make the engine run. You will never keep the engine running by trying to take revenge on them. You may, however, succeed in stopping it and returning the world to a dark age where there is no transportation, easily available food, clothing, shelter, computers, electricity, modern medicine, et al., because these all exist as a result of the profit motive. Government CANNOT do these things because government cannot create wealth.

    You guys. I really admire your zeal and conviction. I wish people on my side were as motivated as you are. But I think you have not thought things all the way through to where they must lead if you get your way.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Sweden. Finland. Denmark. Germany.

    All countries that to a greater or lesser extent put far more limits on capitalism than the USA does and they are not drowning in misery. Even Canada does more to blunt the workings of the free market and I assure you, we are a wealthy. healthy country.

  • Joshin

    They also have populations that are a fraction of the size of the US and a majority of the citizens contribute. They do not punish the wealthy there either. Think Saab (bankrupt I know), Volvo, Ikea. “Horrible, evil, wealthy capitalists” Why is it okay if they prosper? Those countries would not work either if the same number of people were not contributing members of society. Where do you get that people are drowning in misery from their being rich people? That makes little to know sense. People are drowning in misery not because they have no money, but because they have broken homes, abusive parents, little meaning in their lives, and a sense of hopelessness. Money has little direct correlation with happiness. It can make you temporarily happy yes, but it is not a source of happiness that can last. Some of the most miserable people are wealthy and some of the happiest people are the poor. People need to understand that their lives matter and that they have a purpose. They are loved and valued and that they can change the world around them. Which I know they can! When you empower, instead of complain, you can change your lives and your situations.

  • AlexSeanchai

    You do know Ikea uses the same strategy re furniture production that a lot of US companies use for production of various goods, yes? That being, put the factories somewhere that pays shit wages compared to the domicile country’s federal minimum. For the US, that’s places like Bangladesh. For Ikea, that’s the US.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Okay, they have marginal tax rates on rich people in some cases getting close to 70% and yet you’re going to go into apoplexy over Obama wanting the top tax rate to go back to 39.6% in the USA?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    They do not punish the wealthy there either.

    Our wealthy are struggling so hard

  • Morilore

    People are drowning in misery not because they have no money,

    No, actually, pretty sure it’s the money.

  • Joshin

    Why are you going to stay in slave wages?!!! Why would anyone only ever aspire to that level?!! Who would want to stop there and say I’ve done it, I’ve arrived. I can go no further? If a man gets wealthy by coming up with an amazing idea, spending thousands of hours getting other people to believe in it too, creates it and sells it to people who want to use it. IE the computer you are writing this post on, the internet you are using to access this post, the electricity you are using to turn on the internet to access this post. All inventions by people who are now very rich. I think it’s a brilliant system. Then it creates opportunities for others to work too, you can either choose to work there for the going wage or work somewhere else, or try staring your own company. I tell you one thing for sure. I’m not staying at minimum wage! That would be insane!!!

  • AlexSeanchai

    Imagine for a moment that the only jobs anyone’s vaguely willing to hire you for are minimum wage. For your entire life.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’d bet anything Joshin’s brilliant rejoinder will be to edumacate urself, bcuz reasons. Never mind that mass production of B. Sc and B. A. students is creating situations where the Bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Hell, in my experience, I can’t even get those jobs. I get paid-by-commission job offers that would involve a lot of travel, or buying specialized equipment — meaning it’s quite feasible that trying to do these jobs will cost me money.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com/ Ross

    But that sort of thing only happens to those people!

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Most inventions are not successful and not every person has the brilliance to invent something, the means to patent and prototype it, the connections to get it widely distributed, etc, etc. The first step of any such venture? Obtain large amounts of money. Most people sink tens of thousands of dollars into their inventions — whether successful or not. For a person living paycheck to paycheck, experimentation with thousands of dollars just isn’t feasible, nor can every one of the people out there either unemployed or employed below a living wage become a successful inventor.

    In short, you’re pointing at a pipe dream as being a viable strategy for anyone. Frankly, I’m an intelligent person (IQ measured at 135), but I’m not intelligent in that way and I’d be happy simply to get a decent revenue stream off my own creations so I could pay my day to day bills.

  • Morilore

    Why are you going to stay in slave wages?!!! Why would anyone only ever aspire to that level?!!

    I’m not staying at minimum wage! That would be insane!!!

    You seem to think everyone has the power to obtain rising wages. This is a really fundamental misunderstanding on your part.

  • AlexSeanchai

    There’s an awful lot wrong with this post, but let’s take only the single most egregious point:

    Income inequality MUST grow in order for modern civilization to continue to exist.

    If that’s true–and citation. fucking. needed.–then fuck modern civilization with a guillotine.

  • Morilore

    guillotine

    I see what you did there…

  • Morilore

    BUT, sir, personal borrowing does not HAVE to go up. People CAN decide to live within their means, and do what’s necessary to improve their lot. People end up where they do because of their own decisions, and sometimes they make wrong decisions becaue they react wrongly or badly to what life hands them. But in every case where you find poverty, scarcity, down-and-out-ness, if you ask a person and he is honest with you he will tell you where his wrong decisions were. We all make them.

    That’s just wrong. Wages throughout the country stopped rising. That’s a systemic issue and cannot be solved with personal moral effort.

    Wages stopped rising … but somehow some people managed to find a way out. I will tell you something you will not like. Wages will resume rising when there is sufficient competition for people to do work, and right now, with companies heading out of the country to avoid the taxes government wants to lay on the capital that makes them run, there is less and less competition for employees because there are fewer employers.

    Wages will probably never resume rising, ever again. All of the ruling class have the uniform collective incentive to keep the supply/demand of labor markets tilted ever more against the best interests of mass of people. Companies don’t head out of the country because of regulation, they head out of the country because they can pay less wages in a place where the standard of living is much less – thus they will not return and stay here until the wages of the mass of people are so low that the standard of living in America has dropped to the level of a third-world country.

    The ONLY way out of this as far as government involvement is concerned, is to drastically reduce corporate and small business taxation so that those who are willing to put their money at risk of loss in business ventures resume believing that success will not be penalized. The more people who are willing to take risks perceive that the rewards of success will not be confiscated, the more of them will take the plunge, the more work will need to be done and the more competition for workers there will be. It cannot happen overnight, not even with massive government stimulus that only serves to increase federal debt and continues to undermine the dollar’s buying power, which only makes matters worse.

    Well, there is another way. We could abolish capitalism.

    One last thing. You won’t like this either. Income inequality MUST grow in order for modern civilization to continue to exist. This was very hard even for a conservative like me to accept, because like you, I get envious of wealthy people. Trying to sabotage it or rein it in will of necessity rein in growth (new wealth creation) which is what makes everything possible.

    If by “modern civilization” you mean capitalism, then yes, true. This is one reason I would like to abolish capitalism. Also, I’d like to point out that I’m not actually very envious of wealthy people. My life, personally, is pretty comfortable and I don’t want for much.

    I do not condone greed. OF COURSE rich people should share more. But if they don’t, IT’S THEIR MONEY just like your money is yours.

    Property is a social construction. It was defined differently in the past and it could be defined differently in the future.

    Understanding what I’m trying to tell you would require a chapter’s worth of explanation of the nature of the debt money system. The reason we have everything in abundance on all sides it that companies became wealth-creating engines when they succeeded and the people who created the wealth try to keep it, which is what you would do if you were one of them.

    Actually, the reason “we” have everything in abundance is that “we” had the good luck to be born in a country founded by slaveowning settler-imperialists who capitalized on the catastrophic die-off of Native Americans and finished the process with a little ethnic cleansing to obtain a pre-fabricated rich, empty country, so that there was always less labor than the available resources of the country and, after slavery was abolished, wages had to be kept high to keep workers from running off to the west and homesteading. Then, this country had the good luck to be the only major industrialized nation spared from bombing and invasions in World War II, meaning American industry had a virtual monopoly on everything in the entire world for decades. This, combined with the pre-war and inter-war efforts of the leftist labor movement, resulted in a high-wage social-democratic capitalism (for white men) that could still obtain profit due to the aforementioned post-war monopoly. Thus (white, male) Americans were fooled by our own history into thinking that capitalism could be made humane and democratic. But the chickens have come home to roost: the country has long been fully populated, the labor movement is decimated (although perhaps beginning to regrow), the industries of other countries are long recovered, and technology makes globalization ever-more trivial. The privileged position of workers who happen to be white, male, and American is being revoked.

    Ramsey learned some things about the nature of money and the money system that apply to both the macro and micro ends of it. People on the low end simply have to learn a whole lot more about this before they start making decisions about finances whether it be a junk-food purchase or an IRA. Maybe it isn’t their fault that nobody taught them that you can’t have what you can’t pay for. Maybe they saw their parents get into the debt trap and learned that, instead of learning to control their desires for stuff. It’s different in every case. You would think we would advocate for financial education as part of what kids get taught in school, and I don’t mean learning castigation of the rich by left leaning teachers and professors; I mean learn what money really is and how to manage it when you’re a kid, so that when you become an adult you don’t start making decisions that lead to dependence on federal programs or a life of lack.

    Systemic problems cannot be solved by personal moral effort. This is the biggest American delusion.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Inflation-adjusted wages have been essentially flatlined since 1973, or 1979, depending on your exact metric.

    Also, taxes have been cut again and again repeatedly over the last thirty years now, and yet you seem to think there’s still more left to cut.

    You ARE aware that the top marginal income tax rate as late as the early 1980s was 50%, yes? Clinton only raised it back up to 39.6%, which is where Obama wants to reinstate it.

    As for corporate taxes those have been cut and the whole tax structure has been flattened out, but nonetheless a look at the history of net capital formation in the USA shows that the figure has been astonishingly steady at 10% of GDP right from the 1950s through to the 2000s.

    In short, what you are saying is mostly feel-good propaganda for that class of people you aspire to be in, and none of it has worked well in practice (see: Gilded Age, a period of considerable crapitude for a lot of people and also one in which at least one major economic disaster hit – the Panic of 1893).

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com/ Ross

    Surely if income inequality must always grow, then the ultimate state of the economy is for one man to have all the wealth, and the rest of us have nothing at all.

    I think you have confused “modern civilization” with “Egyptian civilization at the end of the book of Genesis”

  • miketheorganist

    That is totally absurd. But what is reality, is that wealth creation by people who know how to do it makes ALL of modern civilization possible. In order for the dollar to continue to have value, the amount of new wealth being created has to stay ahead of the amount of debt being incurred by the federal government (4% annual growth in new wealth). There are a LOT of people who know how to create wealth so it will never get to where one person has it all. I am trying to point out that it’s useless to think you are going to have a prosperous economy and federal control over wealth creation and individual liberty all at the same time. To get your version of fairness you HAVE to control people at ALL levels of income. That is not liberty. It is tyranny. You need to ask yourself how much federal control you want on YOURSELF before you start thinking about handing over that kind of power to the federal government.

  • P J Evans

    You’re wrong. Plainly and simply, the economic theories you’re using are wrong, they don’t work, they have NEVER worked, and actual qualified economists have said so time after time
    Wealth and jobs come from the movement of money THROUGH the economy,, and when it flows only (or almost completely) to the rich, it isn’t flowing through.
    The best economic times have been when inequality is at its lowest. The people you listen to won’t say that – but they’re benefiting from inequality, and the 99% are NOT.

  • AlexSeanchai

    You seem to be confusing “income inequality is a fact of life”–it is; we would have to expend far too many resources in order to achieve strict equality of who has what, and keep on expending those resources year after year, and it’s not worth the expense–with “income inequality is a necessary thing that must never be reduced or alleviated”.

    I repeat: Cite your sources for why income inequality is necessary for modern civilization. Unless by ‘modern civilization’ you mean ‘capitalism’, in which case say so clearly and explain why you believe the terms are synonymous; I am already aware of why income inequality is necessary for capitalism to function, but I see no reason to believe that capitalism and civilization are the same thing.

    And I repeat: fuck unfettered, unenlightenedly self-interested capitalism with a sharp pointy implement.

  • P J Evans

    GOP and Austrian-school economic theory. Which has failed every. fucking. time. it’s been tried.

  • Joshin

    This is funny to me. Let me ask you a question. What happens if they raise the minimum wage. Now everyone makes at least $15.00 hooray look at all of us now making $15.00 aren’t we happy? Now that the wages have gone up the cost of good must now go up. The cost of transportation goes up, An item that used to cost $5.50 now costs $7.15. This happens across the board and within a year or so the 15.00 dollars they are now making is equal to the money they were making before. The buying power of the dollar has dropped and inflation rises. It now cost more USD to buy the same products over seas. It doesn’t work to raise minimum wage. It’s only a bandaid. What if tomorrow everyone suddenly had a million dollars. Yay we’re all equal look at our happy millionaires. Guess what that million is worth now? Nothing, that’s right nothing because everyone has it. If everyone on the same block was suddenly given a red bike guess what that bike would be worth compared to the one blue bike? Nothing! You could trade fifteen red bikes for that one blue one. Don’t raise minimum wage. It’s not an effective, long term solution.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    So why is it that none of these catastrophes happened when minimum wage was increased so many times in the past, including a handful of very large increases? And why can our employers, who are making record profits, not afford to pay us proportional to their gains?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Minimum wage in terms of purchasing power was around $10 an hour in the 1960s.

    (See here: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/anth484/minwage.html )

  • Morilore

    Now that the wages have gone up the cost of good must now go up.

    Since what stopped rising was real wages, i.e. wages normalized against the prices of commodities, your entire comment is irrelevant to my comment.

    However, let me roll with it for a sec. The price of a good can be crudely broken down into

    price = physical cost + labor cost + profit

    that is, the price of the raw materials needed to assemble and transport the product, the wages/salaries of the workers who assemble it and transport it, and the profit margin.

    So check it out: if labor cost goes up, the whole sum will go up if nothing else changes. But you can look at this for five seconds and realize that the whole problem of inequality in our society boils down to

    labor cost << profit

    I.E. you can raise the minimum wage without causing inflation if you simultaneously impose something like a maximum wage. Raise the wages of workers and pay for it by cutting the obscene salaries of the hyper-rich.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Also, productivity keeps going up and up, so the minimum wage could easily be increased by around 3% per year essentially indefinitely.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com/ Ross

    DO you know what happened the very first time they raised the minimum wage? It made the economy better. It did not cause runaway inflation. It did not end up being a zero sum game. It just fixed the problem.

    Do you know by what percentage they raised the minimum wage?

    100%. They doubled it.

  • eamonknight

    So maybe not a liar, then. Maybe just a lazily ignorant fellow with a
    reckless disregard for the veracity of what comes out of his mouth.

    Meh, I long ago stopped trying to tell those two things apart, and just call them all by the first label. Because there’s no difference in their culpability. (The triggers for that sentiment were creationists, but the same phenomenon occurs across many domains).

  • Victor

    (((Preaching this anti-Jubilee interpretation of Proverbs 22:7 means that Dave Ramsey had better hope that Proverbs 22:8 isn’t telling us the truth: “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity.”)))

    Fred I’m really not sure what this Ramsey fella is UP to and although I personally don’t know him there are Ramsey roads in Victor’s neck of the woods if YA know what “I” mean?.

    Right Fred? This guy should remember that “Hypocrisy is a grave sin,” and in the long run please tell him to “FORGET BOUT “IT” or else we gods will send Victor’s boun cer, “I” mean boun sir, no, no, “I” mean bouncer after him.

    Please don’t tell Victor that we were here! :(

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yL7L1Dn104

    Go figure folks? :)

    http://www.catholicherald.com/search_mode/keyword/browse.html?search_filter=Pope+Francis+bouncer

    God Bless Peace

  • chgo_liz

    I promise we won’t tell Victor, but who are you?

  • Phylllis

    Olen’s description of Ramsey’s empire had me thinking ‘what does this remind me of…oh yeah, Scientology

  • Arresi

    “. . . always another job that can be scraped together to add to a family’s income.” Always another job, period. Because if there isn’t, then for every person holding down two or three jobs to make ends meet there must also be someone who cannot find a job. In that sense, it’s not dissimilar to issues surrounding cases where the innocent are convicted. For people so fond of zero-sum thinking, they are stunningly bad at understanding what it actually means. (Or should it be unwilling to admit what it actually means?)

    The fact that this is hitting unskilled labor so hard also means that the inexperienced cannot gain work experience, among other consequences. Of course, given that most of those consequences fall upon the young, the poor, women, minorities, and the working class, that may be considered a virtue.

  • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

    To him? Yeah. After all, he’s not any of those, and therefor he’s better than all of them.

    This is, to put it bluntly, because he is a racist, misogynistic old fuckwit.

  • RALovett

    I haven’t listened to Ramsey for a while (he’d started getting a bit more strident than he used to be, and the trend may have continued). However, I think you’re overstating things slightly, Fred. I often heard him tell folks who couldn’t afford it not to pay debts in full. He was a big advocate of negotiation with creditors, particularly credit card companies, for partial payment.

    I am not saying I agree with him on everything, and he does have an overly optimistic sense of job availability and the ability to find jobs that are more than just scraping buy. But I’d also thought that was his target audience: people well above minimum wage.

  • Monala

    My husband and I declared bankruptcy two years ago, after years of struggling to pay off debt caused by unemployment and high medical bills. At the time that we started struggling, I had an 800 credit score. I had never missed or had a late payment on anything – not my student loans, not credit cards, not my car note.

    When I, this perfect customer, tried to negotiate partial payments with credit card companies, you know what they said? “No, we don’t do that.”

    And then eventually we weren’t able to pay anymore, and the cards were sold to debt collectors. Debt collectors are perfectly willing to reduce your payments, but there’s a catch. If you ask, “Can I pay $75 a month? Or $100 a month? Because that’s a payment I can afford,” they tell you no. Instead, they say, “Tell you what, we’ll cut your $2,000 debt by 50%, if you can pay the $1000 right now!” Or, “Sure, if you can pay $1000 within 30 days, I’ll let you pay the balance in $100 payments!” And when you protest that there’s no way you can come up $1000 right now, let alone in 30 days, they tell you to borrow it from a relative – as if most people in today’s America have relatives with that kind of disposable income available.

  • Lori

    Not only do they offer to you “deals” that there’s obviously no way you can accept, they get really nasty if you in any way indicate that their offer is ridiculous and not some kind of gift for which you are endlessly grateful.

  • Monala

    Yeah. I was reading or listening to something a few years back that was talking about the debt problem in this country. One of the interviewees was from a debt collection company, and he had the gall to say, “We really do try to work with people and make arrangements for more affordable payments, but most people aren’t willing to meet us half way.”

  • Lori

    That’s how the world looks when you’ve tied your livelihood to a definition of meeting them half way that equals paying half of what you owe in cash, today.

  • Shay Guy

    Sounds like something out of Kaiji.

    (For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s an anime series about a guy who gets trapped in debt during Japan’s “Lost Decade” and ends up in a series of esoteric games, trying to gamble his way out. The games are generally run by people who are sadistic, self-righteous, contemptuous of the poor, and obscenely wealthy. Americans can watch it for free on Crunchyroll.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Clearly you should have had the good sense to be born to rich parents.

  • http://www.to-hither.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I regret that I only have one “like” to give to this comment.

  • onamission5

    I had a collections agency for my student loans tell me, when I asked for reasonable payments that were not more than $400/mo, that the only deal they could give me was to forgive the interest I’d accrued, thereby reducing my lump sum payment to 28K. Due immediately.

    I found this highly amusing, being unemployed at the time. I was informed that if I was serious about fulfilling my obligations I could just borrow the money from a family member. I asked which one, the one with brain cancer, the one who’s an out of work truck driver, or the one who lives in the woods in a trailer? They hung up on me. Or did I hang up on them? Hmm. Memory is hazy.

    Funny thing is, when I finally did get a job and the collection agency went the route of garnishments, they by law could only take a small percentage of my paycheck that was pretty much the same reasonable amount I’d asked for prior.

  • aklab

    Same thing here. We went bankrupt five years ago, after maintaining good credit for a long time, and every company refused to negotiate with us over anything. Other than, you know, “pay your entire balance now or we’ll sue.”
    But, for what it’s worth, we are way better off now* than we would have been if we had kept trying to negotiate and struggle through the debt. We were even able to buy a house last year!

    *not counting the student loans, of course. Always not counting the student loans…

  • Monala

    Interesting how all the experiences shared here are so similar: creditors unwilling to work out payment plans with you, no matter how good a customer you’ve been; collection agencies offering “deals” no one can afford to pay; demands that you borrow money from family members, regardless of whether or not that’s an option for you, or else you’re “not really serious about paying what you owe.”

  • sidhe

    I ended up in that position, but have the good fortune to have a relative I could ask for help…after I’d set up a payment plan with them. They told me they’d refund my payments since I was paying the balance in full (as, so they claimed, they’d not received a payment through the mediator yet). Never saw a penny back, and instead saw the amount I’d already paid get added to the quoted balance.

  • LL

    It’s amusing (in a bitter way) how so many things to Republicans (I’m not going to call them “conservative,” because they’re not) are a matter of “It’s OK when I do it (bankruptcy, abortion, collecting a check from the government) but it’s not OK when the poors/blacks/Latinos/people who aren’t me do it.”

  • smrnda

    The guy who wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad declared bankruptcy. Of course, his entire book just basically says that the rich get to follow different rules than the poor, and his advice is find some way to get groomed for some position to be bestowed upon you by nepotism.

  • T’Shaunik

    I think it’s funny when people talk about what they don’t know about. Dave Ramsey DID file bankruptcy, but he went back and paid back EVERY PENNY of what he filed bankruptcy on.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *chinhands* really, now? You have access to the actual creditor agreements, do you? Signed off by a judge and all? No haircuts on the outstanding debts, either? And cancelled checks and “full and final settlement” letters all around?

  • Nirrti

    It never ceases to amaze me how a religion that was supposed to empower the poor and outcast has been co opted by wealthy a-holes like this guy. They believe they have carte blanche to screw people over..then tell people it’s their fault for being in pain because they didn’t bring their own lube. They’re sociopath bullies who should never have been allowed a ham radio much less their own talk shows as platforms to spread their brand of BS.

  • Baby_Raptor

    That’s an insult to sociopaths. The one I know and love would never in a million years do something like this.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Good thing I have very little group identity! *Snuggles*

  • Kirala

    Fair enough. Can we come up with a term for those who CHOOSE to shut off empathy, to allow themselves to act in a self-seeking/other-harming manner? Because it is sorely needed.

  • T’Shaunik

    That’s beauty of freedom of press and speech; you can say what you want, and nobody is forced to listen to you. So victims like you don’t have to listen to it.

  • Jen K

    I know I’m lucky to have paid off my college loans in the 90s. I think I’m also lucky to have used Personal Finances For Dummies in learning to live without debt, and not Ramsey.

    “And he believes the federal government, like any household he advises, needs to say “no” to things it can’t afford, balance its budget, and stop borrowing money.”

    I see. Does he also tell households to turn down raises and seek lower-paying jobs the way the government has reduced its income by cutting taxes over the past 50 years?

  • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

    Probably not, but like anyone who thinks the government can honestly be run like a business, I don’t think he cares.

  • Albanaeon

    Add in “sell the car that you need to get you to work” and “refuse any training to improve you skills” which are the closest analogies I can think of for stopping investment in infrastructure and letting higher education cost spiral out of reach.

  • T’Shaunik

    Wow. Let’s not look at any facts. How about the fact that the economy has been growing in those decades? So even though you lower taxes, you are getting a higher amount of tax revenue than you were?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    O hai what are inflation adjusted tax revenues per capita plz

  • T’Shaunik
  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I don’t see per capita, but as a percentage of GDP is a decent proxy measure. The fact that it’s remained essentially constant over quite some time would seem to indicate that the much-vaunted “boost revenues with tax cuts!!!!” thingo seems to have as much to do with the fact that GDP growth in the US tends to clock in at around 2.5% per year anyway.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I wonder if Ramsey has ever had to go the last couple days before payday without food because, whoops…Memory in the computer died and I can’t work without the thing (this week’s problem) or well, the tire developed a leak and Roomie can’t get to work without the car (an issue from a couple months ago.)

    The people he likes to lecture face these types of issues *all the time.* And they don’t have the padding to just shrug it off. If it comes down to eating or paying a credit card bill, most people are going to pick eating. And understandably so.

  • Ross Thompson

    To be fair, he does say you need to pay for your mortgage / rent, food, power, and something else (I forget what) before you even think about paying off debts.

  • http://abipwu.blogspot.com Melissia

    But he also explicitly calls you an idiot for having debt in the first place, no matter the reason why you got the debt.

  • Baby_Raptor

    This. I doubt he’d be very forgiving or graceful about the situation.

  • P J Evans

    I have spare memory for computer, but likely it wouldn’t work in yours.

  • Monala

    I hear you. A coworker and I were just discussing that we never get to the point of having that $1,000 in emergency savings because emergencies keep coming up. My emergency fund was up to $485 two weeks ago, when I stopped at a gas station and had the baldness of my tires pointed out to me. I had my husband check, and he confirmed it. So i had to use $300 of that $485 to buy new tires before the frost set in and the old ones blew. And i know I’m lucky to even have that money in the bank. As you said, for a lot of people my situation might mean not eating.

  • Jenny Islander

    We live in a small house. How small? It was designed to be heated by an oil stove. There is no way to cram a third person into the children’s bedroom without destroying its usefulness as a space to get away from each other when foul weather keeps us indoors. Solution: Fix up the high-ceilinged part of the attic, which used to be a bedroom anyway.

    We have been saving up for this since before he was born. In fact we have saved up for it four times so far. Each time, there was an emergency. My son is almost four and still sleeping in the living room. Hopefully he will be in a room of his own before he outgrows his toddler bed, because if we have to put a bigger bed in the living room we won’t be able to get into the bathroom without climbing over it.

    We have taken exactly one trip out of town in those 5 years, and that was on the overnight ferry to the mainland to see relatives in the city. We don’t go to movies. We don’t go to restaurants unless it’s somebody’s birthday and sometimes not even then. We only have the basic cable package because that’s the one that has the emergency channel on it, and we would drop that if it would make our phone/Internet/cable any cheaper. We never carry a credit card balance, and our car is almost 10 years old (and poised to start drinking up money to the tune of a new car payment any day now). But I guess we should, I dunno, stop selfishly expecting that people who were dumb enough to be middle class in the first place could use hot water for showers, or something.

  • Kirala

    This, to me, does not sound like middle class. Maybe because I grew up at the upper end of it, but you should be able to afford enough house for a family of three on a middle-class income. And have an entertainment budget outside the occasional birthday restaurant trip.

    But then, income inequality is shredding the middle class, so who’s to tell anymore?

  • Monala

    My husband and I are both college educated. I am a program director at a nonprofit (overseeing 3 different programs, which a few years ago each had their own program director). My husband is an IT support contractor for a major corporation. The company used to have paid employees doing IT support, and switched to contractors a few years ago. He and I work pretty long hours as a result, and my husband, as a contractor, has no benefits. My company pays health insurance for the employee only.

    Our annual income is about $25,000 higher than the area median income for where we live, which is on the West Coast, so not a cheap area. By all standard measures, we are “middle class.”

    We haven’t had a vacation in about 4 years. Our cars are paid for, and his is 20 years old and mine is 13 years old. We live in an apartment that is less expensive than the median rental for our size place. We also have a lot of frugal habits – we bring our lunches to work; we buy second-hand as much as possible; we don’t have cable (we have Netflix plus a Roku box), and we rarely eat out (although we are doing takeout for dinner more often, as our work hours have increased), or go out to the movies or other forms of entertainment. We have an 8-year-old who (mostly) understands our income limitations and that she can’t have everything she wants. Since she’s 8, we have some pretty steep costs for out of school care.

    Right now, we are trying to figure out how to get my husband health insurance on the exchanges. We are almost but not quite at the income limit to no longer qualify for subsidies – which means we’re going to be looking at at least $400 a month in additional expenses. (He is a diabetic, so him being without insurance has been a huge worry for us). Meanwhile, my husband’s 20 year old car is starting to fall apart, so we have to figure out how we’re going to replace it (and hope mine holds out for a few more years). We have retirement funds and a college fund for our daughter, but neither are anywhere near what they need to be to fund retirement or college.

    Our situation is probably not atypical for a lot of “middle class” families in the U.S. today.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Sounds like the diabetes is really what’s hitting you two in the pocketbook. :O

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com/ Ross

    I pay a about a hundred dollars a month all together for my diabetes medications. If I didn’t have insurance, it would be (math math math) close to five hundred dollars a month.

    It’s a condition where money is pretty much literally the difference between a chronic illness you can live a roughly natural lifespan with and a protracted and extraordinarily horrible death.

    Plus, since it’s linked with obesity, you get the fun of half the population being convinced you brought it on yourself and that it’s divine punishment for being a fat-ass.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It depends on what kind of computer, but I could conceivably have spares.

    Ask Comrade Onymous for info to contact me. :)

  • Baby_Raptor

    Done and attempted. Registration isn’t cooperating. Maybe inform Dear Comrade of a secondary route?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Comment at my blog anonymously, it’ll automatically get dumped into the spam filter so I’ll spot it.

  • T’Shaunik

    And you don’t know what you are talking about. EVERY TIME that someone calls in and doesn’t have the money, he talks about building the four walls; pay your house/rent payment, lights and water, food, transportation, and basic clothing. You do that before you do anything else. Don’t pay a single debt payment when you haven’t taken care of your household first.

  • Baby_Raptor

    So? Even if he’s making the proper noises, that doesn’t mean he has a decent attitude about it. Which is kind of the entire point of this series on him.

  • T’Shaunik

    Incorrect. He doesn’t have an “attitude” you like about him. He takes the tough love approach. I tend to as well as not telling people what they need to hear is not helping, but instead, hurting them. This fallacious series…

  • AlexSeanchai

    “Cruel to be kind” is invariably simply cruel.

  • T’Shaunik

    To not tell someone what they need to hear to get their life back on track is cruel. Some people have done it to me, and it’s exactly what I needed to hear to get my butt in gear. To stop denying a truth I didn’t want to admit. If I hadn’t listened to them, I wouldn’t still be alive. I barely survived because of my ignorance.

  • AlexSeanchai

    Let me clarify, then. With very few exceptions, “cruel to be kind” is simple cruelty.

  • T’Shaunik

    We’re not going to convince each other. So agree to disagree. I don’t agree that the vast majority of the time it would be cruel. Sometimes, it may be, but I wouldn’t say anywhere near most of the time it would be. Sometimes honesty is just nice. And there are nice ways to say stuff without agreeing with someone. Tact is good to use, also.

  • Baby_Raptor

    All the tough love in the world won’t change the fact that sometimes, there’s just not enough money there. Tough love won’t make money magically appear in someone’s bank account, or give someone a raise to a living wage. But tough love is easy to do, and it lets you shame people, so I guess that’s your chosen route.

  • T’Shaunik

    And maybe it’s simply that they need to get an extra job. I’ve had to do that. I’ve worked 110 hours a week for 3 years, during that, there was an 18 month period where I worked literally every single day. But I’m not going to let victim-talk and -thought keep me from achieving my dreams.

  • AlexSeanchai

    …great, another one who thinks the solution to ‘minimum wage isn’t high enough to live on’ is ‘get another job’, in a world where there aren’t enough jobs (counting the below-living-wage jobs) for everyone who needs at least one job to have even one job.

    Why do I even come on this site anymore.

  • AlexSeanchai

    Also, if you’re working 110 hours a week, when do you have time to dream?

  • T’Shaunik

    Plenty of time because I was working towards my dream. I’m what’s known as a hard worker and I know how to multitask. You can do anything if the goal you’re working towards is greater than the sacrifice you are committing to get there.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Ah, so when I was working 90 hours a week and getting nowhere (because they paid me significantly less than minimum wage), it’s because I wasn’t a hard worker and didn’t know how to multitask. Good to know.

  • AlexSeanchai

    *channels T’Shaunik* Sam, that’s victim talk. Don’t do it.

  • AlexSeanchai

    I think you missed my point. Let me rephrase. When did you have time to do anything that wasn’t working or commuting or sleeping, and how much did you sleep?

  • T’Shaunik

    Usually 3 hours a night, sometimes as much as 5. I worked near home, so commute time was very little. I kept on task so I could get other stuff done. It’s not the best thing to be working that much, but it IS possible. You need to keep working to improve yourself. Find something to learn about so you can start moving towards a better paying job.

  • AlexSeanchai

    So you were driving your health into the ground for the sake of a few dollars.

    I applaud your ambition but health is not unimportant.

    I also observe that with that sort of work schedule, there’s no time for things like, oh, college. Makes it hard to better oneself through education.

  • T’Shaunik

    As you’ll see in the reply above, I started teaching myself new things so I could get a better job. A degree doesn’t mean anything; it’s what you learn why you’re there that means everything. How did people learn ANYTHING before colleges were invented?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh my god I’m going to hear the fucking mariachi band roll on by any minute now with all the rah rah OOMPAH OOMPAH SELF RELIANCE WHOOO going on around here

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Three hours a night and that’s all? You do know that that’s the kind of thing only a young person can really do to themselves day in and day out without serious long-term effects? You subject a 45 year old to that, don’t be surprised when the person croaks of something apparently unrelated but provably aggravated by stress and lack of sleep.

  • T’Shaunik

    And I’m sure you guys’ll find a way to blame Dave Ramsey for it…Well I’m going to stop responding to you guys. “Don’t try to educate a pig; you’ll waste your time and irritate the pig.” You guys can continue blaming everything under the sun for the reason you can’t ever get ahead (it’s your fate, after all!), you go ahead and wear that armband showing how you followed your fate, bearing it with pride. I’m not going to accept limitations on where I can go. “Aim for nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.” By the way, I had a good friend working at a gas station, opening shift. One day he was no longer working there. I saw his dad one day and asked him where his son was. He told me that one guy stopped at the gas station every day before driving to work and was so impressed by his work ethic that he decided to hire him for a much better paying job. Go ahead and believe that isn’t true if you want, but it is, and it’s amazing stuff that can happen when you’re diligent at work, and handle stuff well (including your finances!). Good night to you all. It’s been a lot of fun.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There’s working to improve yourself, and then there’s just pure self-abuse in the name of self-improvement.

  • T’Shaunik

    Again, if you want to accept limitations, that there’s a glass ceiling pushing down on your head, don’t let me stop you from being victimized by it. It’s your self-given fate to let that stop you.

  • AlexSeanchai

    The glass ceiling exists. It exists in several venues, actually: sexism, racism, classism, etc. Denying it exists helps no one but those above it. Acknowledging it exists, on the other hand, opens the possibility of breaking it.

  • AlexSeanchai

    Dude, stick the flounce.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’ve worked 110 hours a week for 3 years

    LET ME BUST OUT THE POMPOMS AND DIG UP AN OLD SOVIET STAKHANOVITE AWARD TOO

    Srsly though, what if you couldn’t do it because you ended up getting, I dunno, black lung or some other nasty-ass chronic condition?

    and “victim-talk”? Goddamn, buddy, I want the Kool-aid you’re drinking.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh god not another “tough love” person

    Tell me, are you also in favor of corporal punishment?

  • Lunch Meat

    OT: Disqus is now sending me up to the top of the page whenever I click “show new reply” under a comment, meaning I have to scroll halfway through the hundreds-of-comments thread to figure out where I was every time there’s a new comment. Is this happening to anyone else? Are they actively trying to make it worse?

  • http://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/ mr_subjunctive

    Yes, this is also happening to me, so you’re not alone.

    As to whether they are trying to make Disqus worse: could be, but we should probably give them the benefit of the doubt, for a couple hours at least.

  • http://myeckblog.blogspot.com/ myeck waters

    Me also. I was assuming my Firefox install had gone south.

  • P J Evans

    I just figure it’s Disqus and they really don’t have a clue.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Add me to the list.

    I’ve just been right-clicking and using “open link in new tab” to get around it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah, that happened a couple of times last night. Seems to be sorted out now though.

  • smrnda

    The reason people dislike many ‘winners’ is that they’re simply become ‘winners’ either by a rigged system, through nepotism, or by skillfully marketing a shit product. Ramsey seems to be the latter, he’s getting paid to dish out advice that everybody has heard a million times before, and people are justifiably disgusted because it means that people like him have sold struggling people the lie that it’s *their fault* they aren’t getting ahead. People who write books on personal finances strike me as bigger parasites than drug dealers getting people hooked – at least the drugs tend to do what they promise and they aren’t sold as an answer, just a palliative.

  • arcseconds

    Or by just sheer luck.

    Accept for the sake of the argument that you do need a considerable amount of talent and hard work to succeed in the music industry.

    Well, there must be hundreds of thousands of singers and bands in the USA. Let’s say you need to be in the top 0.5% of talent and hard work to have a chance of success. Well, that’s still thousands of groups. Let’s say you’re a winner financially if you have a $5million home. Do thousands of groups do that well? I don’t think so.

    So what accounts for the difference between the $5million home artists and the ones that scrape by or ‘do OK’ but aren’t rich?

    Presumably very little. They got found at the right time by the right people, they got marketed the right way and their song hit just the right notes at the right time. For everyone one that did that, another 10 got everything right except one or two things, and as a result they didn’t ‘win’.

    Similar arguments can be made about other fields.

    This isn’t a reason to dislike them particularly — essentially they won a lottery, that’s fine (although I think we can ask a lot of questions about a system which has a few extremely successful people and a lot of people who just eek by). But if they start to whinge about how we’re all jealous and want to punish success because we think they should pay some tax on their winnings… well, given the difference-maker between them and another artist who’s still starving is luck, not hard work and talent, that’s starts to get a bit difficult to swallow.

  • Susan Paxton

    Bill Gates is a great example of someone who made it big because of sheer luck. He happened to be around the day IBM was deciding on an operating system, while his competitor chose to go flying that day. The rest is horrid history.

  • Lorehead

    That’s not what happened. The late Gary Kildall’s version of the story was very different from Bill Gates’, and Gates certainly did not happen to just “be around the day IBM was deciding on an operating system.” Microsoft had already negotiated a deal with IBM to write the ROM BASIC interpreter. If you’ve never heard of that, well, they were really big in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Therefore, when negotiations with Kildall fell through, IBM, which thought PCs would never replace its mainframes, decided to hire Microsoft to produce PC-DOS 1.0.

    There were several other operating systems for the original IBM PC when it launched, including Digital Research’s own CP/M, but PC-DOS won. IBM later did purchase the descendant of CP/M, renamed FlexOS, as the operating system for one of its point-of-sale systems. Novell bought out Digital Research’s operating systems in 1991, and IBM itself sold its PC division to Lenovo in 2004.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Microsoft even wrote a fair chunk of the Apple BASIC interpreter, which is kind of ironic considering the whole Mac vs PC rivalry that’s been going on for years now.

  • Lorehead

    No, Microsoft did write the Commodore BASIC interpreter for the 6502, but Woz wrote Apple’s. If you go back to 1984, though, Apple and Microsoft presented themselves as allies against the hegemony of IBM. If you remember the Big Brother ad, that’s who Big Blue represented.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I know for a fact Woz did the Integer BASIC interpreter, but Applesoft is another ball of wax and I’m not entirely sure that was 100% Apple’s deal.

  • Lorehead

    You’re right, they did license Applesoft Basic from Microsoft. I should’ve remembered that, since it was my second programming language.

  • arcseconds

    It nevertheless does still suggest serendipity plays a highly important role here. I’m sure Bill Gates was almost certainly going to be mildly successful no matter what, but if negotiations with Kildall hadn’t broken down, or if Gates hadn’t already had a contract with IBM, would he be so massively wealthy now?

    ‘Almost certainly’ – Gates is a gifted and ruthless businessman, with considerable talent for reading (and to some extent even dictating) the course of tech sector. And, let’s be fair, he’s capable of churning out a halfway decent product. If anyone ‘should’ win the capitalism game, it’s Gates.

    But even here luck has a part to play. Many people fall from comfortable situations into poverty (I’ve seen figures that suggest it may be as high as 10% over a decade in the States) and a leading cause of this in the USA is health issues (and divorce, for women). Gates, just like anyone, could have contracted serious health issues taking him out of the game more or less completely. You don’t need to be out of the tech sector for long to become an also-ran.

  • Lorehead

    Absolutely, serendipity gave him the opportunity in the first place—starting with the serendipity to be born where and when he was.

  • fraser

    He doesn’t deny that. He’s spoken about the fact there was a community computer club for kids where he grew up, at a time when kids and computers did not go together. And that if he hadn’t had that chance, he wouldn’t be who he became.

  • http://repost-this-image.tumblr.com The_L1985

    It still makes me chuckle that International Business Machines no longer makes any of those “business machines.”

  • Lorehead

    They still make the mainframes that were always nearer and dearer to their heart. They even originally called their PC division the “entry systems division.”

  • http://repost-this-image.tumblr.com The_L1985

    Mainframes still exist? I thought those were phased out in the 80’s or so.

  • Lorehead

    No, and they’re still making new ones in the zEnterprise series. Legacy systems are going to be around for a good long time. Supposedly, one of the biggest back-end problems on healthcare.gov was connecting to some of the old databases that could not possibly be replaced.

  • arcseconds

    IBM has been called IBM since 1925, and has some kind of company history going back to 1890.

    They don’t make any of those business machines any more, either.

    One of their major product lines back in those days was punch-card technology, like tabulator machines. Obviously this is well prior to computers proper.

  • Lorehead

    The reason why, if you open a command prompt on your PC or Mac today (CMD.EXE on Windows or Xterm on MacOS or Linux), it has 80 columns, is that there were 80 columns on a Hollerith punch card from IBM.

  • auroramere

    I’m old enough to remember playing with heaps of punch-outs like confetti.

  • P J Evans

    The reason why device names end in colons (A: etc) is that CP-M was based on one of DEC’s operating systems, which used that convention (although they used two letters and a digit – DX0:, DX1: etc). And also the / for switches on commands.

  • guest

    Bill Gates also made it big because he had no ethical scruples about subverting monopoly laws or not paying suppliers. I personally don’t think it’s possible to make money at that scale without you or someone in your employ doing something criminal.

  • Lorehead

    No. That’s not true. First of all, Microsoft is a software company, so it didn’t get where it is today by stiffing the suppliers of its cardboard boxes and floppy disks.

    Second, while it really is true that Gary Kildall failing to close on the deal to license CP/M to IBM did give Bill Gates a lucky break, you go back to the ’80s and it was IBM that had the reputation for being a nasty monopolist that pushed little companies like Microsoft around. (Remember the 1984 Apple ad that presented IBM as Big Brother?)

    So let’s go back to 1990, seven years after this lucky break. Microsoft negotiated what turned out to be a sweetheart deal with IBM, and instead of just selling another programmer’s CP/M clone, it got the right to sell a version of it as MS-DOS. That beat out its early competitors, but it still was no monopolist: clones included IBM’s version PC-DOS and Digital Research’s DR-DOS, Macintosh was established as a niche market, and even the Amiga and Apple IIGS were still for sale and technically at least as good as the PC. But IBM did not make the same mistake with its next-generation operating system, OS/2. What Microsoft had to compete with that was not even an operating system at all, just a slow graphical shell with a fraction of the features of its competitors, for instance, no true multitasking. That was Microsoft Windows, then on version 2. On the application side, the dominant spreadsheet was Lotus 1-2-3 and the dominant word processor WordPerfect. Both of those bet on OS/2 over Windows, which is why neither exists as an independent company today (LibreOffice is a distant descendant of the WordStar codebase).

    Even if you grant that Bill Gates needed a lucky break plus some business acumen to get Microsoft to 1990, it was not at all obvious then that Windows 3.0 would be the smash hit that it was (both MacOS and OS/2 were technically superior). It didn’t definitively win the OS wars until Windows 95, and it didn’t become a near-monopoly until the middle of the decade. Once it had that monopoly power, it used it ruthlessly until the courts forced it to stop in 2001. And that’s the period of time in which it earned all that ill will. But it only lasted about six years, and those six years started twelve years after anything you could call a stroke of pure luck. The fact is that Microsoft beat a number of much better-established competitors who had the advantage of making their own hardware.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino
  • Lorehead

    From the reviews, that book’s timeframe begins in 1989. Gates got that “lucky” deal instead of Kildall in 1980. Even the antitrust settlement ended up agreeing that Microsoft did not obtain its monopoly illegally, just maintain it that way.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Actually the book goes back into the 1980s as well. For example ISTR it discusses some prior restraint actions MS took in approximately 1986 to corner the West German OS market.

  • Jamoche

    But IBM did not make the same mistake with its next-generation operating system, OS/2

    It made a similar one, though. There was a Microsoft version of OS/2, but while IBM thought it was a joint effort, MS was siphoning bits of it into WindowsNT, which is still the core of what they ship today.

  • Lorehead

    True; OS/2 3.0 forked off into Windows NT 3.1. But that was three years after Windows 3.0 beat OS/2 and two years before Windows 95, which was not built on the NT kernel, beat OS/2 Warp.

  • P J Evans

    Then there was the version of MS-DOS (4.0, I think) that was so buggy that people like me switched to DR-DOS.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I remember for a while, 4DOS.com was a superior command interpreter and I used it in preference to command.com on MS-DOS 6.22; with the advent of Windows 95, I had to drop it, though.

  • P J Evans

    I met OS/2 – some of the databases and stuff at work required it. This was in the 1998-2003 period, and they got everything moved off that system sometime later.

  • wendy

    Let’s not forget to mention Bill Gates’ early luck.

    His father was a prominent lawyer in a major city, his mother on the Board of a major bank. Naturally, he attended the finest, most expensive private school in Seattle (average class size 16).

    When he was in 8th grade, in 1968, the Mother’s Club at his school used the proceeds of their rummage sale (wonder what kind of “rummage” people in that bracket are donating?) to buy, among other things, a teletype computer terminal and a block of time on a General Electric time-sharing mainframe. Because it would be fun and educational for the 5 kids who were interested in learning programming.

    Bill’s best friend in high school, his buddy from computer club, was Paul Allen. But I’m sure the two of them would have done just as well in life had they attended Random Public High School and had middle-income people kind of hobbies. Because smart, talented, hard-working people make their own opportunities. They find a way, or else it’s their own fault.

  • Monala

    I will say this for Bill Gates: he recognizes that he had a lot of breaks. He knows that luck and his background played a big part in getting him where he is today. His dad has been an outspoken advocate of reinstating the estate tax and higher taxes on the wealthy because he recognizes that a lot of people don’t have what their family had.

  • fraser

    I remember one libertarian who wrote a rather deranged screed about how Bill Gates saying he wanted to “give back” clearly proved he doesn’t understand capitalism because it’s all the job-creators’ work and so he didn’t owe anything to anyone and capitalism so there!
    The same writer used to bitch about how liberals were all obsessed with political correctness.

  • Kirala

    THAT is simply inhuman. I get – even if I strongly disagree with – people who think that we should let people decide what to do with the money they’ve earned, regardless of whether they have any real use for it or not. I cannot imagine any justification for saying that no one should want to/choose to give money away in recognition of the fact that no one is an island.

  • smrnda

    Another issue is that sometimes the ‘successful’ product ends up being not that different than the run of the mill failure that didn’t take off.

  • Abby Normal

    I made the mistake of running across his list of “20 things that rich people do that poor people don’t”. It was bad enough that it was a steaming pile of ill-informed swill written by someone who obviously never learned that correlation does not equal causation–he has the balls to write a whiney follow up piece about how his critics are all immature and that oh, yes, he totes was poor once like the rest of y’all until he got his act together!

    I keep trying to give that wing of Christianity a pass because much of my family is into it but, God help me it’s so hard. Fuck this guy. Fuck him and all the jerks that let him get away with it. I hope he gets reincarnated as a single mom on food stamps.

  • Random_Lurker

    Why wait for reincarnation? If you set it up with the right people…

    :P

  • Monala

    Ramsey is full of crap, and sickeningly un-Christian. A sample of his advice from the Prophet article:

    There’s Talyn in Kalamazoo, whose dad has come out of retirement twice to make ends meet. He’s working with a foot injury and not taking care of his health the way he should because his current job requires him to be on his feet. Talyn calls him “financially irresponsible” and senses that she might need to bail him out. “I can kind of see stress coming in the future,” she says. Ramsey’s take: The foot injury and financial trouble are Talyn’s father’s responsibility. “Don’t get sucked into this,” Ramsey tells her as the music announcing an upcoming break begins
    to play. “There’s no end to it. There’s absolutely no end to it.”

    What about the Scripture that says care of your family, or you’re worse than an unbeliever? Or Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees for telling people they could “honor their father and mother” by giving gifts to the temple, rather than actually helping their parents?

  • Veylon

    Check back with the Libertarians in about five years (or certain ones now). Individualism means taking care of yourself. Not your country, state, community, or family. You. Survival of the fittest is the name of the game and needly siblings and parents can be as casually sneered at and kicked aside as the bum in the street. Give the Christian facade a little more time to erode and ditching family members will be respectably mainstream before too long.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    If they’re gay, trans*, or atheist, it is already.

  • Jenny Islander

    Check back with the LIbertarians in about 20 years, and you’ll find a lot fewer familiar faces. Also there will be a saying circulating among the Interwebs: “A Socialist is a Libertarian who found out that everybody gets old and weak.”

  • Kirala

    Sadly, not my experience. My grandfather has discovered all these things and, while being much, much more generous in personal and individual matters, much more open emotionally and financially, he still leans rather libertarian politically/economically. I also know libertarian-types deep in gov’t assistance. Some people don’t transfer information well.

  • Ymfon

    Also, didn’t Jesus have something to say about the kind of people who would see a naked, starving person and cheerfully advise them to solve their problems by eating more and putting on some clothes?

  • Rowen

    Yes, but as many Christians of a Certain Mindset will tell you, that’s the responsibility of charity, not the government. Besides, those naked, starving people are often drug addicts and you pay your taxes, and donated to that one charity that one time, and he’s just going to spend it on drugs…

    Or you can go the L&J route where the sheep and the goats refers to how well you treated the Nation of Israel as a nebulous concept (as opposed the actual, individual people who might make up said nation).

  • Jeff Blanks

    That’s in the Letter of James, isn’t it?

  • MaryKaye

    I was a Libertarian as a teenager because it sounded exciting and self-reliant and was tied up with the romantic dream of Alaskan secession.

    Then I went to live with my elderly grandmother for two years while I went to college, and that cured me. It became immediately evident that moral people need to recognize a duty to care for those who aren’t in a position to care for themselves. In fact that applied in both directions: I needed her or I would never have been able to go to college, and she needed me because as her brain aged she became less able to protect herself from scams and scammers. And I saw that demands for her to be self-sufficient were nothing more than the stupidity of the young and solvent–of people like me who were too naive or too blind to realize that we, too, would someday be old or sick or otherwise vulnerable.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    So tell me – what was the difference between communism-as-practiced and capitalism-as-practiced again? It doesn’t seem to matter which ‘c’ your pet philosophy starts with, guys like this wind up in control in either case.

    “The problem with your money,” he often says with perfect certainty, “is the person in your mirror.”

    The problem with my money is that I don’t have any, you stupid jackass.

    I went to college and graduated cum laude with a degree of science in education (and $28,000.00 in debt) so I wouldn’t have to work at McDonald’s for the rest of my life. I believed that message. Now that I graduate, and I have a degree, this asshole and others like him come along and say, “What? You’re too good for McDonald’s?”

    Oh no, let’s not be generous. The man’s a fucking liar. He’s a damn, dirty liar. When you’re that rich, you have no excuse to be that stupid. And I refuse to believe he is. He’s got the talking points down. He knows his role too well. He knows he’s lying. Mammon, Lucifer, and Beezelbulb are good company to keep, aren’t they Mr. Ramsey?

  • P J Evans

    And if you do have to work at McD’s, or some other low-paying job, they blame you for not being ambitious and ‘improving your skill levels’ so you can get a better job – because they think good jobs are plentiful, since everyone they know has one.
    Fuck them.

  • Carstonio

    People like Ramsey imply that the world is inherently just, but they conveniently define justice loosely for people like themselves and rigidly for people not like themselves. They greatly overestimate their own role in their successes, and greatly underestimate their role in their failures, and do the opposite for people who aren’t like them.

  • fraser

    Yep. As someone said elsewhere, they’re desperate to believe that capitalism is a moral system where good is rewarded and sloth and evil punished.

  • Carstonio

    With themselves in the rewarded column. Perhaps they view all systems as moral ones.

  • sidhe

    My Comedy Story:

    I’m a pagan in the deep south, which means I get to see the most surreal things in my own spiritual community as there’s frequently a gap between the general support for all things liberal that’s found in mainstream pagan communities, and the deep-seated conservatism of the South.

    Putting aside such things as seeing a wiccan argue, vehemently, for the need to elect someone like Santorum or Palin for the moral good of the country (while *also* supporting same-sex marriage); or hear someone complain about the evil liberals taking prayer out of school (“So, you want your pagan kid to say the Lord’s prayer every morning?” just resulted in more frothing at the mouth)…I had a friend who swore by the Ramsey method of personal finance.

    That was half as headache inducing as the rest, but still a moment of “Hold on…but…that’s…you…don’t agree with him on anything else! You’re a crunchy hippie craftperson who supports democratic socialism! He is actively working against your stated interests!”

  • DCFem

    ” Well, let’s be generous — Ramsey says many things that are not true”. Please don’t be generous to charlatans like Ramsey. That’s the main reason I come here every day — to hear the unvarnished truth about alleged Christians who are perverting the gospels. Don’t be generous to them — hit them with both barrels! People need to know the truth about creeps like this so they can talk their relatives out of sending them money or buying their books.

  • MaryKaye

    Related to this topic, something that is increasingly bothering me:

    I would have been blissfully unaware of Rich Dad, Poor Dad except for *this site* which constantly spams me with ads for it. In general the ads that I see (I don’t know how much is Disqus and how much is Patheos) are very right-wing and very unwelcome. The Disqus “elsewhere on the Web” section tends to show me “Obamacare will ruin the nation” and other Faux delights, as well as some of the most awful sex-advice columns I have ever seen.

    By being here on Patheos this community is contributing to a markedly right-wing and unsavory ad climate. Is there anything that can possibly be done about this? (Compaints to Disqus are not answered–I tried.) I know that it’s financially important for Fred to be on Patheos–is there anything we can do as readers to persuade Patheos to change its ad policies?

  • Carstonio

    Most of the ads I see here are for refinancing or for books, and very rarely do I see the ones you’re talking about. I doubt that you browse right-wing sites, but perhaps your browsing behavior matches that of the demographic that the advertisers are trying to reach. You could try blocking third-party cookies, but I’ve found that problematic with logging in. If you’re using Firefox, you can selectively block ads with AdBlock Plus.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I have Noscript installed, allowing only patheos.com, disqus.com and disquscdn.com – I do not see ads as a consequence. You may wish to try that or an ad blocker.

  • Ross Thompson

    Ghostery is also a good choice.

  • http://www.gayellowpages.com/ hagsrus

    Yes, but keep an eye on it. It blocked access to my bank the other day until I adjusted the setting. Took me a while to catch on – usually that kind of problem means java is acting up.

  • P J Evans

    I have AdBlockPlus. You can tell it which sites not to block ads on.

  • smrnda

    You get a lot of pro right wing religion ads even on the atheist blogs, and even on atheist sites. I suspect it’s who ever wants to put out the money.

    I’m not sure how ads here are generated, and I normally ignore them. I see quite a few for the book of Mormon and Mormon related stuff myself.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com/ Ross

    People rarely have more than the vaguest sort of control over the ads on their sites — they can typically blacklist anything specific they find offensive or, like, their direct competitors, but the ads are typically generated based on complicated markov algorithms that are going to basically work out that on balance “people who read christian blogs” are overwhelmingly more likely to respond to ads targeting far-right stuff.

  • Jenny Islander

    Sometimes the algorithms are pretty funny. I get ads for gay men’s dating services after I read slash.

  • dpolicar

    Oddly, I get ads for Christian dating services after I read slash. I suspect this has something to do with genre choices.

  • Ernie

    Why don’t you people put down the keyboards and go to work? Maybe you’ll stop whining when you can move out of mom’s basement?

  • AlexSeanchai

    Maybe we’ll stop “whining” when we stop having things to “whine” about. I wouldn’t call it “whining”, myself. I’d call it “protesting an unfair world”.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Thank you, but I live roughly 2000 miles away from my parents, preferring to be as far away as possible from people who recently joined a militia to strike back at the government. I work two volunteer positions in hopes of eventually being hired on for real money, and my resume includes a job I held for the better part of a year where I worked 90 hours a week for a paycheck of about $125. Why don’t you tell me all about hard work while I continue looking for section 8 housing so I can keep from being homeless this Christmas?

  • Albanaeon

    Well, since your assumption is that people talking on the internet right now don’t have jobs (ignoring fairly obvious things like they may be off right now, on a break, etc.), and noting that YOU are a person talking on the internet right now, I’ll go ahead and throw this right back at you.

    Go get a jerb and stop yer whinging, asshole.

  • Ernie

    Got one, big boy. Do you?…or is it someone else’s fault?

  • Jeff Blanks

    Keep grovelling before the rich, guy–I’m *sure* it’ll pay off eventually.

  • dpolicar

    Actually, voice recognition is getting pretty good these days.

  • Pattrsn

    Whiny idiot troll says whiny idiot troll stuff.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    That’s right, everyone. You should be doing less whining and more loading yourself up into the job cannon and launching yourself off to jobville where jobs grow on trees and fall on the sidewalks, where they’re collected by jobs who hand those jobs out to other jobs.

    It’s just that easy. You people act like temporary work and part time work that doesn’t cover any kind of medical expenses or health issues, or requires you to drive half-way across the state, is hard to find. C’mon. What do you want, empathy? That’s asking a bit much from dipshit up there, don’t you think?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    wat r an “empathy”?

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    It costs extra; it’s not a standard feature on any model libertarian, although you can get something that’s pretty close at half the price, called “apathy.”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Hmm, I think my model does pretty well without it, but maybe I’ll upgrade if I ever strike it rich enough to buy a few libertarian slaves.

    They are slaves, right? It seems like someone with that little regard for human rights would probably be found pretty low in the social pecking order.

  • sidhe

    How ’bout this?
    I get to post here because I have the luxury of doing so: I am a graduate-school educated professional in a well-compensated management position.

    I don’t troll progressive blogs for a nickel a post, I post on progressive blogs because I agree with the content…as a graduate-school educated professional in a well-compensated management position. It occupies my time between handling budgets, educational resource programming, etc. I’m employed in a progressive discipline, you see, and it benefits me that people have access to resources and leisure time to improve their educational opportunities.

    I do, however, live with my mom, because the good school district is priced out of my range. She already lives there, so I pay rent and some bills, and my daughter gets a better education.

  • Abby Normal

    Riiiiiight. And what, pray tell, is it that YOU do that makes you God’s Special Gift To The Internet, genius?

  • P J Evans

    My parents are both dead (long dead, for my father). I’m retired.
    When you grow up, maybe your opinions will be more informed.

  • Ernie

    I was wondering why this “conversation” was slanted…It’s because you people keep removing any comment that doesn’t support your insane point of view. Is this free speech? Instead of blaming others, why don’t you step away from the keyboard for 40+ hours a week and go work a J.O.B.. Nobody owes you anything! Once you understand that and take steps to win, your life will change.

  • AlexSeanchai

    You haven’t been around very long, have you? The only moderator of this space never removes comments. Ever.

    And, y’know, I’ve got a job. I’m actually taking a momentary breather from my overtime right now.

    And if society owes rich folk tax breaks–which is a thing I have no reason to doubt you believe–society sure as hell owes poor people salaries.

  • Ernie

    No, I don’t believe in tax breaks for the rich (I think there are too many loopholes as it is)….but I also don’t think that anyone owes you anything for inactivity. A salary impies work…..If you work, I think your employer/client owes you a salary for that work. The End.

  • AlexSeanchai

    So, one, why are you arguing that the poor need to get (nonexistent) jobs instead of arguing that the rich shouldn’t get (very existent) tax breaks? And two, why are you supposing that people who cannot work should not eat?

  • Ernie

    I thought I said “No, I don’t believe in tax breaks for the rich(I think there are too many loopholes as it is)?

    Not sure what fantasy world you live in….but there are jobs all over the place (maybe none that you feel are up to your standards?). Attitude means everything. If a person is truly doing everything that they can do and still doesn’t have the money to eat/live, I believe the taxpayers should help them until they can recover. But I refuse to foot the bill for someone to sit around and feel sorry for themselves or take advantage because they are unwilling to “start at the bottom” like the rest of us.

  • AlexSeanchai

    Suppose the world had one hundred people and ninety jobs. Would you be telling the people without jobs to go get one, they’re obviously just not finding a job “up to [their] standards”?

  • Ernie

    Maybe you’re missing my point? Jobs are not finite. In a world with 100 people & 90 jobs….the 10 could craft something, paint, write music, walk a dog, or find something necessary (that people will pay money for)…and do that. (i.e. start a blog and charge people to advertise on it?)

  • AlexSeanchai

    Sweetheart, I craft, paint, write, and have a blog with a Paypal button. It don’t pay the bills. A month in which I make thirty dollars off my art is a good month.

    No, jobs are not finite–but in that world with a hundred people, the richest person, who could afford to provide jobs for all ninety-nine of his buddies (and who might for bonus points get even richer thereby), IS NOT DOING THAT. He’s only providing enough jobs that, with the addition of the jobs provided by the people who run small businesses, there’s a total of ninety. So don’t you fucking dare accuse the people with no job of being anything at all–other than unlucky, which is not a thing to accuse one of–because it is NOT THEIR FAULT.

  • Ernie

    Luck has nothing to do with it….Sweetheart.
    Maybe you should craft, paint and write better? Do something that people want to pay you for…

  • AlexSeanchai

    You do know that the average novel sells about two thousand copies, and that that average includes Harry Potter’s many millions of copies, right? And you do know that lots and lots of New York Times bestsellers have paycheck jobs too, right? Do the math.

    I cannot make a living at art without fabulous amounts of good luck. (Art quality has not a fucking thing to do with popularity, and it’s popularity that makes money.)

  • Ernie

    You could if you were really good at it…maybe art just isn’t your thing.
    So go do something that people will WANT to pay you for…like painting someone’s walls white?

  • wendy

    Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting in his entire life, and that was to his brother.

    Are you suggesting he maybe wasn’t very good at it?

  • http://myeckblog.blogspot.com/ myeck waters

    MaryKaye is very good at making her position look like the position of a spiteful, nasty piece of work who has no clue about the realities of the current job market.

  • AlexSeanchai

    MaryKaye hasn’t been involved in this discussion that I recall. wendy and I are talking to Ernie, who is exactly as you say.

  • http://myeckblog.blogspot.com/ myeck waters

    Boy is my face red! Yeah, about half the posts above were showing as this false MaryKaye, who was sometimes loudly contradicting herself.

    Disqus is sucking even more than usual today.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Disqus has a habit of screwing up names sometimes. If a post looks out of character for someone, refresh the page and see if the originating name changes.

  • Ernie

    I think he sucks…..but that’s not the point :). If something isn’t working, instead of blaming everyone else…..figure out another way…until the “paintings” do sell.

  • wendy

    Well, since his works now go for about $80,000,000 apiece, the free market obviously disagrees with you.

  • Ernie

    And somehow I’m still ok with that…that’s my point. Everyone has different needs/wants….If you are serious about providing for yourself…..”you” just have to find a need that you can fill, do it and people will pay you for it. But that’s not going to happen if “you” blame your “misfortune” on a fictional/strategic wall that someone has placed in front of you.

  • AlexSeanchai

    You’re missing wendy’s point, namely, Van Gogh wasn’t exactly making bank on art while he was alive, and which has about as much to do with the quality of his art as how much I’m making on art has to do with the quality of my art. And you’re missing everybody else’s point, namely, there are systemic forces (including societal victim-blaming, in which you are engaging) that keep poor people poor, and pretending they don’t exist doesn’t make them go away.

  • Ernie

    You’re so hung up on the “systematic forces” that you fail to see that you have something to say about your own life as well. If you want to paint…paint….but if you can’t make a living at it, it’s a hobby. That means that you need to make a living (earn money) doing something else (many examples listed above(feel free to add your own idea/dream)). No one is blaming the poor…I’m simply saying that there are many things that all of use have had to do to earn a living. And it’s not fair for you to continue your hobby….while I have to support you with real life money. That’s all.

  • AlexSeanchai

    You are saying, in so many words, that the person without a job is at fault for not having a job, and that no one else, not even the people who have the money to employ more people and who are not employing more people, can possibly be at fault.

    That is textbook victim-blaming. That is textbook blaming poverty on the poor.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    Work to live? Hell, you dumb jackass, I can’t even work to exist, much less work to live.

    Explain to me why I should have to work merely to exist. Why should I be denied my very existence without working slave wages?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com/ Ross

    Say what you mean: If your skills aren’t marketable, I want you to die a painful and undignified death.

    That is the inescapable conclusion of your position. If you want anyone to respect you, own it.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Oh, he doesn’t WANT you to die a painful and undignified death.

    He just doesn’t care enough to do anything about it.

  • Jeff Blanks

    How on earth are you “supporting her”? Heck, you know, maybe you SHOULD be supporting her. Because there’s no reason that any of this has to happen. There’s enough work and enough wealth to support everyone IF THE PROPER ADJUSTMENTS ARE MADE IN THE SYSTEM. But you don’t care about that.

  • AlexSeanchai

    Sweetheart, my job keeps world capitalism running. You want to be condescending about not having a job to someone who isn’t me nobody at all.

    And you don’t have any fucking right to say art isn’t my thing just because nobody’s buying. What you do have the fucking right to say, and the fucking obligation, is “I’m sorry I’m a fuckwit who thinks jobs appear by magic when someone wants one”.

  • Jeff Blanks

    Dude! She already is! This “everything is the little guy’s fault” shtick is just bullshit and you know it.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    Jobs are infinite? I’m still waiting for them to open up in my area. Infinity is a strange concept when none exist within 10 miles of where you live.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    One thing I’m looking forward to in my lifetime is a renewed drive for exploration of our Solar System. If we can get enough people out there the economics of everything will change forever. There isn’t even the question of sentient indigenous life on other planets to be concerned about. The asteroid belt in particular; there’s nothing but rock. If you can handle microgravity for years at a time, you’re golden.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    There’s a lot of incentive for it. We’re running out of a lot of elements here on Earth – I think something like six elements – and there’s a lot of elements and minerals out there that we can use – for instance, you can “mine” the gas giants to produce antimatter, and you can also take up residency out by Saturn to mine for helium and helium 3, both essential for fusion (although I’d love to see Saturn’s rings declared a UNESCO heritage thing, since I’d hate to see what happened to them in Orion’s Arm happen in real life).

    Mercury stands a chance of becoming the solar power capital of the solar system, and you can devote some of that power to industrial colliders that create antimatter. If they exist, the Vulcanoid asteroids will contain extremely rare and extremely heavy metals; perhaps even trace transuranic metals in their island of stability. There’s a push to get out there, but it’s still prohibitively expensive, because you’ve gotta cough up a lotta delta-v to get off the surface. The obvious solution is a launch station from the moon or even a space elevator/astrolift (I like astrolift better), and they’re working on that, too. Problem is, private companies can’t afford this stuff; it’s got to be governments that do it. And we see how the Tea Party and people like Ramsey are towards government. The space program is one of those things we get when we pay taxes. Thanks a lot, libertarians.

    A concept that I really hope is possible is nanofabrication. Fuck their scarcity-based economies; nanofabrication becomes a thing and the entire game changes.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think the outer planets ought to be off-limits m’self, but the asteroid belt and the satellites of the outer planets are very fair game IMV. Titan alone is a scientist’s dream and no-one can possibly account the breakthroughs we might get studying the surface of a quasiplanetary body like that up close and personal.

    It’s kind of amusing that the Big Head Press books have the asteroid belt being Libertopia squared when it probably will take substantial government help getting a mining HQ set up on Ceres or Pallas, plus working out the trade routes to keep Earth supplied with metals and the asteroids supplied with water and oxygen.

  • P J Evans

    It would probably be more like Cherryh’s Heavy Time: corporation-controlled.

  • Pattrsn

    You seriously can’t be so stupid as to believe that the only value to a person is how much cash they take in?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The best part about this is that Slacktivist doesn’t even have any moderators, and Fred rarely deletes or bans for any reason.

    But by the way, free speech isn’t a right on the Internet. JSYN.

    How has my life changed from working 90 hours a week for a paycheck too small to even afford to rent a studio apartment?

  • AlexSeanchai

    What do you mean by ‘free speech isn’t a right on the Internet’? I hope you mean ‘you don’t have the right to say whatever you please in somebody else’s space but you certainly have the right to find your own space in which to say whatever you please’…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    A blog is like a shopping mall: quasipublic space that is still ultimately under private control. As a result, Constitutional protections do not apply, so the absolute right of free speech doesn’t exist.

  • AlexSeanchai

    So basically what I said.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah, sry, thought it sounded like you were contradicting ASam at first. My bad.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    What you said. Being international “territory,” the first amendment doesn’t really apply to the Internet, and any specific web area that isn’t hosted directly on your own server can be regarded as private property. So… no, there isn’t really a right to free speech, per se, as some people have found out to their peril (thinking of the folks who’ve been imprisoned by their country’s government for things they’ve said online that were regarded as blasphemy or gay propaganda)…

  • Ernie

    So you made $1.38/hr? Really? I’m sorry that you feel the deck is stacked against you.

  • AlexSeanchai

    …”you feel”. Which means you disagree that the deck was and is stacked against Sam. Despite acknowledging in the previous sentence that Sam made about twenty percent of federal minimum wage.

    Which means you are a horrible person.

  • Ernie

    No…it means I don’t believe he made $1.38/hr. That makes me a skeptical person.

  • AlexSeanchai

    I’ve spent long enough in the atheist community to know that ‘skeptical’ and ‘horrible’ are not mutually exclusive.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There are legal ways to accomplish that: A person paid a piece rate or a “per item” rate can be paid an effective hourly wage far below the minimum if a lot of work has to go into that piece rate.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    That’s about what it averaged out to, yes. It was a payment by commission job which paid a handful of pennies per product produced (pleh pbt plble *thpppt*). It took constant attention, had rigorous quality standards and was, in practice, impossible to produce enough product to maintain even the minimum wage at the time (which was $5.15 an hour in that state). Since then, I had another job which paid $100 a month for about 6 hours a day in a marketing research and distribution job, and I’ve also more recently done crowdsourcing databases for pocket change.

    Yes, I think it’s fair to say that the economy has an underbelly of exploitation. Especially when all of these jobs have also been sourced out to other countries where the residents can be paid even less.

  • P J Evans

    One year I had a part-time job that was something like $1.25 an hour plus 8 cents a piece. If you had good production, you could actually make minimum wage or a little over. The supervisor was a good guy – I’d worked for him before, so that wasn’t a problem.

    It was a good job if you were in school and just wanted money for clothes or books, but it wasn’t one you could live on.

  • fraser

    Oh what the hell, I’m going Godwin.
    You know who took steps to win?
    Hitler!
    Yet somehow his thousand-year Reich never came to pass …

  • Guest

    Your post is ignorant nonsense. So here, for everyone else to enjoy, is a picture of shirtless dudes on a merry-go-round.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh, hel-LO there. :P

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Huh… I tried to delete that, so as not to double-post, but Disqus posted it as “guest”.

    But if you’re interested, that and several others can be found here: http://giphy.com/search/sexy-boys

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Your post is ignorant nonsense. So here, for everyone else to enjoy, is a picture of Nathan Fillion.

    (I was originally going to post something else, but Disqus doesn’t seem to like animated .gifs.)

  • Pattrsn

    Isn’t it great that all life’s problems can be solved by a couple of dumb cliches.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    I’d gladly work 40 hours a week at my J.O.B. But you know what? My job won’t work me that much; in fact, they’re cutting my hours again. Yay! I suppose that’s my fault, though. Next thing I know, you’ll be blaming me for living in a predominately black community, won’t ya?

    Nobody owes me anything? Excuse me, dipshit, I pay taxes. I pay for society; society owes me something. Society owes me, and all other tax payers, a decent living, because that’s what we pay for with our tax money. Asshats like you are just willing to dump your tax dollars down a dark hole and then whine about paying them, rather than demand to get what you’re paying for.

  • Isabel C.

    I have a job. And as a taxpayer with a job? I’d much rather support a social safety net that looks out for everyone, including those who have a run of bad luck and those whose talents (homemaking, emotional support, certain kinds of art) don’t receive fair compensation in our society.

    Because you know what? Those people do actually make the world a better place. As far as I owe them anything, it’s because it’s fair compensation for all the things unfettered capitalism doesn’t properly recognize.

    What do you do, exactly? Work a sixty-hour corporate job? Ever see your family? Make friends? Will anyone care when you die? Will the world be a worse place for lacking a Guy Who Has a J.O.B.? I kind of doubt it.

  • dpolicar

    And as a taxpayer with a job? I’d much rather support a social safety net that looks out for everyone

    Yeah, this is basically my attitude as well. Some things are best handled by individual action, some by collective action, and helping keep people above the negative-feedback threshold is IME one of the latter.

  • RidgewayGirl

    I’m sorry you’re so angry. I hope you are able to find a suitable job soon. The job market is really rough right now, but keep on trying and I’m sure you’ll soon be successful as you would clearly make a delightful employee.

  • Gene

    Fred Clark, you are amazing. Every one of your blog posts absolutely hits the nail on the head. In the midst of the flood of evangelical misinformation that is drowning our country, I’m so glad there is a voice like yours for true Christianity.

  • Dean

    I agree that Ramsey’s advice is not useful for most people and that there are serious structural problems leading to greater and greater inequality in our society which is really getting to extreme levels. But I will say one thing, people in our country, poor and rich alike do spend too much money on stupid sh*t. All you have to do is watch those Black Friday youtube videos. I don’t know how it got this way, but something needs to be done to change this idea in our culture that material things can somehow bring happiness. I like what the Pope is doing in this regard, I just wonder if anyone is really listening.

  • auroramere

    People shopping on Black Friday are people who have put off buying items for weeks or months to get the best prices. They’re elbowing each other out of the way because if they’re too slow, someone else will get the last item and they’ll have to wait even longer.

    Our world is full of material things that may not bring happiness but do keep certain kinds of unhappiness away. A cell phone may be needed to get and keep a job, or to make sure a teenager doesn’t have to ride home with a drunken friend. For the most part, people want goods because they provide services that make life livable. The consumer gloating over the shiny features of his new purchase is a stock character in commercials, but that’s no reason to assume he represents most shoppers, any more than the cliff with the splendid view of the Rockies represents most people’s commute.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Dean still has a point. The ongoing trends in society are normalizing conditions where people will inconvenience themselves tremendously for the purposes of titillating the bread-and-circuses watchers who will gladly tut-tut over the Black Friday mob scenes without stopping to ask themselves why it is that this whole thing gets ginned up by large retailers nationwide to purposely whoop up that kind of frenzy in the first place to tut over afterwards.

    It’s like getting a dog all worked up: “You wanna go for a walk? Huh? Do you? Huh? Yeah? Uh-huh! Okay!” and by the time the poor bugger’s worked itself up into a frothing frenzy the pet owner is thereupon surprised and shocked that the animal tears the leash out of his hand and goes bucketing off down the street like a bat out of hell.

  • reynard61

    “In the middle of her article, Helaine Olen discusses the Bible verse — or the half-verse — that Dave Ramsey has taken as his slogan and marketing motto:

    He turned to the Bible, where he saw wisdom in Proverbs 22:7. A portion of that verse is his mantra to this day: ‘The borrower is the slave of the lender.’ (The first part of the verse — “The rich rule over the poor” — is less prominently featured in his messaging.)

    “Ramsey’s message to borrowers is to work their way to emancipation from the slavery of debt. It is not the slave’s place to question the legitimacy of their enslavement. For Ramsey, Proverbs 22:7b always carries with it an implicit citation of Ephesians 6:5: ‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart.’

    “‘The rich rule over the poor’ because the rich are winners. Maybe lazy, irresponsible poor people think that “winning is no longer OK,” but Ramsey knows that winning means winning the right to rule, and to demand that your slaves make their payments on time, in full, without ever questioning your right to collect them.”

    At the risk of godwinizing this thread, Ramsey’s basically preaching a version of the slogan that was placed above the gates of the Nazi concentration/Death camps: Arbeit macht Frei (“Work will set you free”), although in this case it would be “Gelt macht Frei” (“Money will set you free”) — except that under Ramsey’s rules, you can never *actually* make any money.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think a good comparison would be to inmates in the Soviet Gulag who were told they were insufficiently proletarian to pass muster; all the laboring they were doing was really supposedly for their own good when it was really just keeping them in a shitty situation at someone else’s whim.

    The capriciousness with which one could get sent there in Stalin’s time only adds to the analogy, since being poor can be subject to similar whims of fate.

  • reynard61

    Either way, *both* situations ensured misery and a cruel death for those who fell victim. The only difference between Hitler’s system, Stalin’s system and Ramsey’s system (as I see it, anyway) is that Ramsey’s system affords an *illusion* that one can actually *escape* one’s circumstance if one would simply *ignore the reality of one’s situation*. (It kinda reminds me of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Match Girl in a way. You get to see all of that nice stuff and great food and someone who will love you on the other side of the flame, but you have to die in a slow and horribly cruel manner in order to actually get there. Bummer!)

  • P J Evans

    And the other Soviet citizens used to say things like ‘As long as they pretend to pay us, we’ll pretend to work.’