I have read both of the articles in question. The Dave Ramsey 20 Things That the Rich Do Every Day and the response 20 Things the Poor do Every Day that the Rich Never Have to Worry About. Here is my response.
For one: THIS is why we are building our project. THIS is why we have the blog. THIS is what we feel we need to change. Not by changing policies, or government, but but changing the people effected by poverty. By showing people that it’s possible to get out of this despite the roadblocks we face. It’s not easy, and it involves changing peoples thoughts and behaviors, but most importantly it puts focus back on living instead of just surviving.
Secondly, as someone trained in statistics, there is one thing Dave Ramsey gets terribly wrong. You can take data all you want on percentages of people that do things, but without further research you cannot draw cause/effect conclusions. I look at those numbers and say, huh that’s interesting, I wonder why that is. He seems to look at the numbers and say “THIS is why you are poor”. In fact, a direct quote from his says “This list simply says your choices cause results. You reap what you sow.” I know plenty of rich people who have far worse work habits than I do so I call shenanigans on this statement.
There are some points that I DO agree with him on. This one in particular:
“Biblically speaking, poverty is caused and perpetuated primarily by some combination of three things:
1. Personal habits, choices and character;
2. Oppression by people taking advantage of the poor;
3. The myriad of problems encountered if born in a third-world economy.”
I have to intercede here with this, as he is explaining this statement he says “The scientific method you should have learned in seventh-grade science class is based on sowing and reaping (cause and effect).” Actually, it isn’t, it CAN be, but that’s not in the definition and an experiment does not have to show a cause and effect, so don’t try and make people feel stupid if you don’t even know what you are talking about.
He goes on to say “Bible-believing Christians understand God has called us to have an impact, to take dominion, on our environment, and logic follows that our habits, choices and character have consequences and harvests. For over 200 years, that belief system has led to life-changing industry, inventions and a standard of living never known before on this planet. This is not hate; on the contrary, it is love.”
I have to both agree and disagree with him on this. I completely and 100% agree with him that we need to make better choices in order to succeed. I 100% agree with him that we have a standard of living never known before on this planet. HOWEVER, one thing I think he is missing is that we are in a time where workers are not loved. They are viewed as slaves. Some of the worst offenders being so-called “Christians” who feel that paying workers a low wage, overworking them, and constantly keeping them afraid of losing their jobs is the RIGHT way to live. They feel superior to their workers. I know this because I have seen it, time after time. Those in the “job giving” positions like to wield their power over those below them and enjoy it. Money has become more important to them than people. Even Jesus spoke out against the love of money. To these people I would like to say, if Jesus were in front of you today would he be proud of you? Would he be proud of the way you treat people? Would he say, “Wow, you’re a really great guy and are really representing me well” I can tell you right now he wouldn’t be impressed by you or your money. He wouldn’t be impressed by your position. To these people I would like to say that I pray for your salvation daily, because although you may believe you are saved your actions say otherwise.
So Mr Ramsey, what do you say when your so-called “Christians” are the ones who are guilty of the oppression in reason #2? (I am NOT saying they are the only ones, there are plenty of people of many different faiths who are also guilty, but being in the bible belt I feel like in order to be successful you have to display how Christian you are. Like Snatch but with Christianity instead of Judaism, and if you haven’t seen it go rent this movie today, great movie).
So now on to the second article.
Yes the poor suffer. Woe is the poor. Oh how oppressed we are. We don’t have money or time to succeed. We eat terribly, have bad health because of it, we skip meals, we pay more taxes, and i LOVE the last one, we accomplish one single goal: to stay alive.
If there is one thing I absolutely hate it’s playing the victim. Yes it is tougher for us, yes we struggle, yes we will probably never be millionaires, but our one goal should not be to survive, it should be to find what makes us happy and BE HAPPY.
What we make qualifies us to be on food stamps but we aren’t. we don’t need to be. We still struggle, we still freak out at the end of the 2 week pay period when we don’t know if we can afford gas for a few days, but we eat almost completely organic, no preservatives, are healthier than most “rich” people, are happier than most “rich” people, and every month we can breath a little easier. How did we do it? We cut back on things. We figured out what was important for us, what we could change, and how we needed to change in order to be able to set back money. We are living in a cabin, probably for the next year or two. It’s probably nicer than most people’s mobile homes/ trailers. We have to drive to pick up water so we can have running water in the house.
The problem I have found with most “poor” people is that they want the same things the rich have. The goals that they have are based on the assumption that at some point in time they will be just as comfortable as the rich. They get a little money and they buy things that they think will make them happy and they think will show status, like video games, movies, tv’s, etc, but it doesn’t. As soon as that money is spent they are already wishing they had more to spend on something else. We don’t even really have a tv. We have an antennae that gets 3 channels, and we don’t care. We pay for just enough internet to be able to get online when we want. We don’t pay for electric, water, gas, or trash. Imagine how much extra money you would have every month if you no longer had those bills. We spend $200 a month on food and we eat better than most wealthy people i know. We need to learn how to make better choices and educate ourselves on what our choices are. In 5 years we want to only have a cell phone and car insurance bill, C wants to have his leather working business running so well that he can hire people to work for him (and pay them the $15 an hour he feels they are worth), we want to have free classes on the farm teaching people to be more self sufficient. We want to be selling our goods to people who don’t want to do it themselves (and that’s ok too). We 100% believe that the breakdown in our society comes from one thing, money becoming more important than people. When you can make millions and find nothing wrong with paying your workers $7.50 an hour, or paying $30,000 a year salary and requiring 70+ hour weeks there is something wrong. Dave Ramsey can teach people to get out of debt all he wants, which is great by the way, but when workers making $12 an hour qualify for assistance there isn’t much people making less than that can do to get out of it. They can get another job (maybe), or a second job, but there will always be people in these positions, there will always be people struggling. Living the way we were, before we started the project, we couldn’t survive on C’s wages. Even on his new wages we would barely we able to afford our bills plus food and gas, and we were living minimally back them. These thoughts have to change, but until they do we as the poor need to change our thinking. We need to come to terms with the fact that we can’t have the same things as the rich do, but not only that we don’t WANT to have those things. Why do we need a 3.000 sq ft home where we never see the other people who live there? Why do we need a $100,000 car? If it’s to impress people then maybe we should rethink our lives. We can’t sit and look at what others have and wish we had it too, we have to find the joy in the things that we DO or CAN have and slowly work on a way to better ourselves. As poor as we are we set aside $50 a month towards the kids college fund. As soon as we build the house we are putting away money for retirement and more towards the college fund, but one huge difference is that no matter how much money our businesses make we will not be hoarding our money. We will have a college fund, retirement fund, emergency savings, and the rest we are giving away. Other people need it more than we do. We are raising our kids that way too. You can have everything you need, be happy and comfortable, and not hoard your money. We are to love and we are to give away what we have. We are to sacrifice to help those in need, and as the needy we need to stop playing the victim.