Pot calling the Kettle Black

Pot calling the Kettle Black December 6, 2011


When I was in Nashville, TN, in September, I had the opportunity to hear Dave Ramsey on the radio. I’d heard a lot about Dave Ramsey over the years but I had never actually heard anything from the mouth of Dave Ramsey other than the occassional soundbite on TV.

But listening to Dave Ramsey was a whole ‘nother matter.

I wrote about that experience in a blog post, Hawking Jesus.

The day after I wrote that, I had coffee with a dear friend whose husband pastors at the church Ramsey attends. She was gracious, though, and we had a good laugh about it. She’s known me for a very long time.

As I said in the original post, I am sure Dave Ramsey is a perfectly good man who has helped a lot of people.

I’m just not comfortable with that Carnival-Barker style of evangelism or whatever it is. I’m not smart enough, however, to break down my objections to Ramsey as well as Dr. David J. Dunn did in his essay for the Huffington Post:

Even though the Christian financial “guru” Dave Ramsey claims not to understand Occupy Wall Street, he does know why protesters (and by extension most Americans) want to raise taxes on the wealthy: We are sinners. “At the core of this demand [to raise taxes],” he says, “is envy.”

I was not aware that Ramsey was dissing on the Occupy Wall Street folks until I read Dunn’s essay. So I was deeply troubled to read Ramsey was marginalizing the OWS movement as just sinners doing what they do best, sinning.

I wonder if anyone has pointed out to Ramsey that if what motivates the OWS group is envy then what motivates those opposed to OWS, say people like Ramsey himself, might be greed?


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  • Karen, I’ve been disagreeing with your opinions a lot the last couple of weeks, so I hate to do it again, but after hearing the words of many of the OWS protesters, I have lost a lot of respect for them. A lot of them do, in fact, seem to be envious of anyone who’s rich. That may not be a core value of the movement itself, but it is definitely part of the motive of a number of them as individuals.

    • JW: Disagree away. I’m used to swimming upstream. I am going to disagree right back. Your comment that “A lot of them do, in fact, seem to be envious of anyone who’s rich.”
      C’mon, James.
      A lot of them?
      You mean the less than 50 that have been interviewed by mainstream media? You know that media goes into these events and looks for the best sound-bite. They aren’t looking for the most articulate person. There’s no way you or I can conclude that what’s motivating these people is envy. Shoot I have envy about a lot of things but that doesn’t make me any more of a sinner than Dave Ramsey. This kind of talk only leads to the widening gap between classes of people. You might want to read some of Dorothy Day’s writing about the Catholic Workers Movement.

      • Of course I have to base my understanding of OWS on what the on-camera folks say? What else do I have to go on? Do you not do the same for followers of Fred Phelps or the Tea Party or any other group/movement?

        Karen, I am not rich. Never have been. Don’t have any rich relatives. I have no personal stake in this. So it’s just me, evaluating what I see. And as far as I can tell, the OWS is motivated by two things they are for:
        (1) more accountability in the area of making corporations stop using their influence to get government leaders to either funnel money their way (govt bailouts as well as projects & contracts) or to keep them from having to pay taxes.
        (2) wealthy individuals (often the leaders of those same corporations) being paid tons of money, then retiring with golden parachutes, while the employees who do the work are paid much less.
        –yes this is oversimplified, so cut me some slack before tearing into me. This is a comment section, not a term paper.

        I agree with #1, and in fact that very idea is what was the foundation of the Tea Party. The modern one, I mean.

        It is #2, however, that I believe is based on a hate-the-rich mentality. Well, maybe not hate exactly, but there is envy there. For some, the idea that the rich already pay taxes at a higher rate than the rest is comforting. Not for me. I don’t think anyone should have to pay a higher percentage than others. I realize I’m in the minority on this, but I’m still right about it. Punishing people for daring to do well, which is a product of both hard work and luck, is indefensible.

        One other thing. I hate anything that resembles bringing in Godwin’s Law. But my response would be incomplete if I didn’t point out that, while I was getting my BA in History, most of my elective upper-level courses were in German history, and the talk I hear toward the rich from many people these days bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the Nazis in the early years, blaming the Jewish people, many of whom were successful business owners, for the troubles of non-Jewish German citizens.

        I am not–repeat not–saying that OWS folks are Nazis or fascists. I am saying that when a people is hurting, leaders take advantage by pointing the hurting people to a group of people and saying “it’s those people’s fault you’re hurting.”

        • OK, to clarify: I don’t mean that the OWS supporters are for the descriptions described in #2. Obviously, they are against it. I worded that badly.

        • And I think it’s those leaders doing the pointing that the OWS folks are taking issue with. There’s been no accountability for Wall Street for it’s creed of corruption. None. Yet, people all over this nation have lost jobs, lost homes, lost loved ones because they simply can’t afford to keep the medical bills paid.

          But here’s the real issue of the post — Dave Ramsey has made his fortune taking advantage of people who are hurting. Then he turns and kicks those folks in the teeth by saying their problem is envy.

          I’m just saying I think Ramsey’s problem is greed.

          • If that’s your main issue, I am not going to argue. Not because I agree, but because I don’t know enough about Ramsey either way. From what I can tell, his program consists of telling people that they shouldn’t spend money they don’t have. It’s sad that so many have paid for this message, because it should be common sense. But at the same time, I’m not willing to call him greedy either, because I don’t know enough to know his motives.

            I was responding to the criticism of his casting OWS protesters in a negative light. I am not convinced at this point to agree with a lot of what motivates them.

      • I’ve lost track of where I am in this thread, so not sure if I’m inserting this in the right place, but just a comment about how we are to interpret the protesters message: I go by their own words. Last week, I saw a large group of them on the news, chanting (and I quote): “Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Los Angeles! Occupy…everything, and never give it back!!”

        That’s so insane (and telling) it’s not even funny.

        Also…no one has yet explained to me why these people are not protesting on the steps of their local and/or federal government buildings. Which is where they should be.

        • I do think protesting on the steps of Wall Street makes sense, but it would be helpful if they also camped out on the steps of Congress. I never could understand why war protesters went to Walter Reed or Arlington instead of Congress. But yes, I agree that the OWS message is fractured and, in cases like you’ve cited, inane.

          • Karen, I read somewhere recently, though I’m sorry I can’t tell you where or who wrote the piece, that in several ways, OWS and the Tea Party share some traits at a fundamental level. Relative to the discussion here and your above reply to Cathy is that the Tea Party rightly has located the nexus of political power as being at government institutions while either failing to identify that a large part of the problem is also found on Wall Street, both literally and metaphorically — while OWS has done the reverse: identified the center of economic power but paid too little heed to Congress, etc.

            Actually, another similarity may be relevant here: just as OWS is rather incoherent in its demands, so was the Tea Party in its earlier days, though their message has been somewhat sharpened.

            (Now I wish I had bookmarked that column so I could share it with you and others here. Anyway, Happy New Year, and thanks for a good article.)

          • Karen Spears Zacharias

            I would have liked to have read that one. Of course, as a writer, I understand all too well the pitfalls of not clearly communicating one’s message, and the fallout that ensues when that message is misunderstood.

  • Anonymous

    No doubt some of the OWS protest is about taxing the wealthy (and no doubt some are driven by envy), especially since that is an easily articulated issue. However, there is also a lot of anger about the fact that Wall Street was bailed out but was not held accountable for the financial meltdown. The reason why this message is not articulated as well is that it is hard to identify a target: Wall Street is not going to pay much attention to the protesters, but it doesn’t seem like politicians (of either party) have much interest in taking the necessary action to deal with the problem.

  • I noticed a few weeks ago that status updates from my Facebook friends were almost exactly evenly divided between pro and anti OWS, and that many of my friends were very actively pro and anti (i.e., attending rallys and posting pics). Me? I like to think of myself as a moderate. I was initially very excited about the Tea Party movement a few years ago and I agree with a lot of the original rhetoric in that movement. And though I’ve been slower to warm up to OWS (I find it very frustrating that they haven’t said what they are FOR, only what they are AGAINST…solutions, people! We need solutions!), I am also very sympathetic to the obvious frustration felt by those in the OWS group.
    And so here is what I find most fascinating — and hopeful … people on polar opposite sides of the political spectrum have simultaneously arrived at the conclusion that the system we have is not working for the masses in the middle. They disagree wildly on why and what to do about it, but both the Tea Partiers and the OWSers totally agree that our system is broken. To me, that’s ground zero for a fresh start. Now if somebody could just bring them together…
    Unfortunately, this is all happening at the same time that greedy shepherds (perhaps Ramsey is one of them?) on both ends of politics are attempting to marginalize both movements to guide their sheeple into thinking that we are all very different. That way the shepherds can keep us in an “us versus them” mentality, lining their own pockets all the way and ensuring that nothing changes for those of us most in need of change.
    Rise up, people! Let’s all resist the urge to demonize each other and let’s work together to find real solutions! (but there I go being an idealist again…)

    • Karen

      Amen, Sister. Preach it.

  • “Sure, Dave. Kimmy will leave her children alone for many hours to deliver hot food to people who do not tip well.” Hahaha. “But her kitchen is ugly.” Bahaha.

    • Karen

      I loved it. Glad you got a laugh out of it too.