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Americans Do Not Understand Money

Raisor
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5/4/2016 12:20:25 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
The majority of Americans are astoundingly incompetent when it comes to managing personal finances.

Almost half of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to come up with $400 cash.

http://www.allgov.com...

One quarter of households making $100-150k could not raise $2000 within a month

http://www.theatlantic.com...

One in ten millionaires claim to be "living paycheck to paycheck."

http://www.usatoday.com...

Financial instability appears to be endemic to American society- the cause isn't lack of resources, as the above articles illustrate. Instead the cause it an addiction to spending at the limit of personal finances, failure to plan for the future, and general obliviousness to the resources available for financial planning.

I would also argue that Americans place too much value on consumption in general. We strive to make more money so that we can buy nicer cars, bigger houses, go to more expensive bars. There is a misplaced belief that money buys happiness by allowing us to buy things. The psychology of consumption is fairly well understood- purchasing goods provides a short boost of happiness that quickly fades, while trading money for meaningful experiences and time provides a long term increase in well being.

http://www.wsj.com...

By pursuing status symbols and luxury goods, and by failing to take basic steps in financial planning, Americans across all stratus of the economy unnecessarily create instability and unhappiness in their lives. Money does not buy happiness.
lamerde
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5/4/2016 3:37:57 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
Those are some crazy stats. I don't understand why schools don't teach financial literacy. But I guess it's a deeper cultural problem than that (i.e., consumerism). I wish I had more to add but I don't :/
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SpiritandTruth
Posts: 2,315
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5/4/2016 4:39:33 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
No it's true, Americans are really stupid.

There is an active conspiracy of the culture to do this to people.

The good thing? It makes America the land of opportunity for immigrants. The devil is allowed to run free in America, it's his home. If you have a family in America, you REALLY have to know what you are doing, otherwise the culture will snag your kids, and the next thing you know, all your grand kids are spoiled satan worshiping dummies. The devil really is a very beautiful and attractive angel if you aren't aware of the fact that his only mission is to kill, steal, and destroy.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God. The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth,
FaustianJustice
Posts: 6,239
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5/4/2016 11:54:23 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 3:37:57 AM, lamerde wrote:
Those are some crazy stats. I don't understand why schools don't teach financial literacy...

America's economy is dependent upon debt and consumerism. It stands to reason that if you don't teach your kids about those things, the cycle perpetuates, thus keeping our economy going.

If you were a fisherman, would you want every kid learning how to fish?
Here we have an advocate for Islamic arranged marriages demonstrating that children can consent to sex.
http://www.debate.org...
Raisor
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5/4/2016 12:19:10 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 11:54:23 AM, FaustianJustice wrote:
At 5/4/2016 3:37:57 AM, lamerde wrote:
Those are some crazy stats. I don't understand why schools don't teach financial literacy...

America's economy is dependent upon debt and consumerism. It stands to reason that if you don't teach your kids about those things, the cycle perpetuates, thus keeping our economy going.

If you were a fisherman, would you want every kid learning how to fish?

That's crazy. You can become fiscally responsible with fairly modest shifts to your spending. The economy would be just fine if people prioritized paying off loans, built nest-eggs, and maintained an emergency fund. We don't need to live paycheck to paycheck to keep the economy going.
FaustianJustice
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5/4/2016 12:24:46 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 12:19:10 PM, Raisor wrote:
At 5/4/2016 11:54:23 AM, FaustianJustice wrote:
At 5/4/2016 3:37:57 AM, lamerde wrote:
Those are some crazy stats. I don't understand why schools don't teach financial literacy...

America's economy is dependent upon debt and consumerism. It stands to reason that if you don't teach your kids about those things, the cycle perpetuates, thus keeping our economy going.

If you were a fisherman, would you want every kid learning how to fish?

That's crazy.

But efficient.

You can become fiscally responsible with fairly modest shifts to your spending. The economy would be just fine if people prioritized paying off loans, built nest-eggs, and maintained an emergency fund. We don't need to live paycheck to paycheck to keep the economy going.

Well, sure, you caaaaan, but, dude, new iPhone. Xbox 1 with Fallout 4 bundle. "Economical" hybrid car. And another new iPhone (its a new year), and the new CoD remastering.

Now, if you were the folks peddling the phone, Xbox, games, cars... be honest. Which would you prefer... the consumer hold the money, and not be a consumer...

or, ya know, they buy your product?
Here we have an advocate for Islamic arranged marriages demonstrating that children can consent to sex.
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Raisor
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5/4/2016 12:26:56 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 3:37:57 AM, lamerde wrote:
Those are some crazy stats. I don't understand why schools don't teach financial literacy. But I guess it's a deeper cultural problem than that (i.e., consumerism). I wish I had more to add but I don't :/

I don't know how much a class in financial literacy would help. Learning how to budget several years before the need comes up probably wouldn't be helpful. The importance of managing your finances doesn't really sink in until you actually have to do it.

I do think the cultural consumerism is a bigger part of the problem than just not understanding financial literacy. As people make more money, they tend to respond by simply spending more money until their previous lifestyle/level of spending is unsatisfying. The result is you buy more stuff rather than using a larger income to actually make your life better, and you are constantly spending more money to maintain lifestyle creep.
Raisor
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5/4/2016 12:31:10 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 12:24:46 PM, FaustianJustice wrote:
At 5/4/2016 12:19:10 PM, Raisor wrote:
At 5/4/2016 11:54:23 AM, FaustianJustice wrote:
At 5/4/2016 3:37:57 AM, lamerde wrote:
Those are some crazy stats. I don't understand why schools don't teach financial literacy...

America's economy is dependent upon debt and consumerism. It stands to reason that if you don't teach your kids about those things, the cycle perpetuates, thus keeping our economy going.

If you were a fisherman, would you want every kid learning how to fish?

That's crazy.

But efficient.


You can become fiscally responsible with fairly modest shifts to your spending. The economy would be just fine if people prioritized paying off loans, built nest-eggs, and maintained an emergency fund. We don't need to live paycheck to paycheck to keep the economy going.

Well, sure, you caaaaan, but, dude, new iPhone. Xbox 1 with Fallout 4 bundle. "Economical" hybrid car. And another new iPhone (its a new year), and the new CoD remastering.

Now, if you were the folks peddling the phone, Xbox, games, cars... be honest. Which would you prefer... the consumer hold the money, and not be a consumer...

or, ya know, they buy your product?

But they aren't exclusive - I can forego an Xbox for a few months while I build an emergency fund, and then buy the Xbox once I am comfortable with my savings. There would be some reduction in consumption, but it might even be offset by smarter purchases from people who have more money to spend since they aren't paying off interest to debt.
SkyLeach
Posts: 206
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5/4/2016 1:43:32 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Economics is about control and power.

Generally speaking, most Americans (in fact most human beings) just want to live their life.

The issue is a social control situation. People can't possibly build everything, and so money is a way to determine who get's to own or operate what.

The massive gremlin in the system is sociopaths who understand that gaming the system is far more profitable than using it as intended.

In essence, the economic system is the security system of government systems. It has been so riddled by exploits and hacks that the only thing it secures is the hacks themselves.

If one were to consider this as a computing system rather than a social system then one would be forced to admit it's better to redesign the entire thing from the ground up than to attempt to fix it.

Most people are bad with money because they don't want to touch it. It's ethically ambiguous and morally corrupted beyond repair.
Math is just another language, however one without analogy.

- http://arxiv.org...
The_Great_Amalgam
Posts: 1,130
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5/4/2016 1:47:38 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 3:37:57 AM, lamerde wrote:
Those are some crazy stats. I don't understand why schools don't teach financial literacy. But I guess it's a deeper cultural problem than that (i.e., consumerism). I wish I had more to add but I don't :/

My Jr. High had one... I wished I actually paid attention in the class. :(
Raisor
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5/4/2016 3:57:05 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 1:43:32 PM, SkyLeach wrote:
Economics is about control and power.

Generally speaking, most Americans (in fact most human beings) just want to live their life.

The issue is a social control situation. People can't possibly build everything, and so money is a way to determine who get's to own or operate what.

The massive gremlin in the system is sociopaths who understand that gaming the system is far more profitable than using it as intended.

In essence, the economic system is the security system of government systems. It has been so riddled by exploits and hacks that the only thing it secures is the hacks themselves.

If one were to consider this as a computing system rather than a social system then one would be forced to admit it's better to redesign the entire thing from the ground up than to attempt to fix it.

Most people are bad with money because they don't want to touch it. It's ethically ambiguous and morally corrupted beyond repair.

Most people make money by adding value to the economy. There are some people that try to game the system and arguably do not provide value- they represent a narrow portion of economic activity. I don't really know what you mean by exploits and hacks- all the rich people I know add value through fairly easy to understand jobs.

My point is that economic success isn't presicated on making a lot of money- if you don't understand how to manage your finances and chase consumption driven desires, you will be financially unstable regardless of income (within reason).

There is nothing ethically ambiguous about handling your money in a smart way. It isn't unethical to save money for an emergency. It isn't unethical to contribute to an IRA for retirement. It isn't unethical to buy economy cars instead of luxury cars.
lamerde
Posts: 1,416
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5/4/2016 4:00:41 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 12:26:56 PM, Raisor wrote:

I don't know how much a class in financial literacy would help. Learning how to budget several years before the need comes up probably wouldn't be helpful. The importance of managing your finances doesn't really sink in until you actually have to do it.

But even basic things, like knowing the difference between a debit and a credit... I can't tell you how many 18-year-olds I've come across who have messed up their credit in less than a year with a credit card maxed out at $1000 because they didn't understand that the money had to be paid back. They hit the bottom credit score over $1000. And the cycle just starts from there.

Then you hear stories of people who have won the lottery or come into large sums of money, and it's gone in a few years. No amount of money can fix financial illiteracy.

I do think the cultural consumerism is a bigger part of the problem than just not understanding financial literacy. As people make more money, they tend to respond by simply spending more money until their previous lifestyle/level of spending is unsatisfying. The result is you buy more stuff rather than using a larger income to actually make your life better, and you are constantly spending more money to maintain lifestyle creep.

Yah, it's pretty crazy... things go out of style very quickly in the States. That's why you guys have better sales ^_^ Though I read somewhere that Canadians actually have the highest debt in the world or something (too lazy to look up if it's true lol) so it's not just an American thing...

Beyond consumerism, there's also the fact that people make judgments based on perceptions of class, so you feel like you have to to elevate your self-worth.
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lamerde
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5/4/2016 4:01:45 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 3:57:05 PM, Raisor wrote:

Thoughts? http://seananmcguire.tumblr.com...
Why I ignore YYW:
http://www.debate.org...
http://www.debate.org...
Calling someone a bitch multiple times while claiming you're taking the high road is an art form, I suppose: http://www.debate.org...
TrumpTriumph
Posts: 165
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5/4/2016 4:10:39 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
We force students to take (useless) humanities courses at literally every level of their education. Perhaps it's time to start diverting some of those funds to invest in a nation-wide financial literacy program.
#TrumpTriumph2016
Greyparrot
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5/4/2016 4:41:49 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Spending beyond your means only helps the banking sector of the economy, which produces zero innovations for the nation. We can get along just fine without revolving debt.
YYW
Posts: 36,392
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5/4/2016 6:12:51 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 12:20:25 AM, Raisor wrote:
The majority of Americans are astoundingly incompetent when it comes to managing personal finances.

Almost half of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to come up with $400 cash.

http://www.allgov.com...

One quarter of households making $100-150k could not raise $2000 within a month

http://www.theatlantic.com...

One in ten millionaires claim to be "living paycheck to paycheck."

http://www.usatoday.com...

Financial instability appears to be endemic to American society- the cause isn't lack of resources, as the above articles illustrate. Instead the cause it an addiction to spending at the limit of personal finances, failure to plan for the future, and general obliviousness to the resources available for financial planning.

I would also argue that Americans place too much value on consumption in general. We strive to make more money so that we can buy nicer cars, bigger houses, go to more expensive bars. There is a misplaced belief that money buys happiness by allowing us to buy things. The psychology of consumption is fairly well understood- purchasing goods provides a short boost of happiness that quickly fades, while trading money for meaningful experiences and time provides a long term increase in well being.

I would agree with everything you wrote there.

http://www.wsj.com...

By pursuing status symbols and luxury goods, and by failing to take basic steps in financial planning, Americans across all stratus of the economy unnecessarily create instability and unhappiness in their lives. Money does not buy happiness.

100% agree.

Excellent post.
Tsar of DDO
SkyLeach
Posts: 206
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5/4/2016 7:47:22 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 3:57:05 PM, Raisor wrote:
At 5/4/2016 1:43:32 PM, SkyLeach wrote:
Economics is about control and power.

Generally speaking, most Americans (in fact most human beings) just want to live their life.

The issue is a social control situation. People can't possibly build everything, and so money is a way to determine who get's to own or operate what.

The massive gremlin in the system is sociopaths who understand that gaming the system is far more profitable than using it as intended.

In essence, the economic system is the security system of government systems. It has been so riddled by exploits and hacks that the only thing it secures is the hacks themselves.

If one were to consider this as a computing system rather than a social system then one would be forced to admit it's better to redesign the entire thing from the ground up than to attempt to fix it.

Most people are bad with money because they don't want to touch it. It's ethically ambiguous and morally corrupted beyond repair.

Most people make money by adding value to the economy. There are some people that try to game the system and arguably do not provide value- they represent a narrow portion of economic activity. I don't really know what you mean by exploits and hacks- all the rich people I know add value through fairly easy to understand jobs.

My point is that economic success isn't presicated on making a lot of money- if you don't understand how to manage your finances and chase consumption driven desires, you will be financially unstable regardless of income (within reason).

There is nothing ethically ambiguous about handling your money in a smart way. It isn't unethical to save money for an emergency. It isn't unethical to contribute to an IRA for retirement. It isn't unethical to buy economy cars instead of luxury cars.

You're wearing situational blinders.

The wealthy do not create wealth, they streamline the flow of it. Creating wealth is creating industry, and we have been on a crash-dive of industry stagnation and elimination through wealth displacement economics (labor export) for more than 50 years.

One can hardly call a few successful industrialists 'the wealthy', even though some of them earned their fortune by creating industry. The vast majority of the wealthy stole their wealth by screwing the industrialists, the labor force, the public (through backdoor legislation) and by exploiting the entire US economy through labor displacement.

Blue-chip IP, MPAA, RIAA, business-plan by litigation, legislation by litigation, civil court excesses of the 14th amendment, policy by economic threat, debt buying, inflation life tax, etc...

American finances... HA! People go into debt by being unable to pay forced recurring service bills on essential services such as electricity, water, and communication. One cannot cut lumber or gather peat for energy due to law. One cannot settle land because it is all owned by government mega-collusion industries. One cannot use well water due to city ordinance. One cannot hold more than slave-labor jobs without communication. One can lose the right to parent children without providing these same services. Any, and I do mean ANY, reason for collapse (be it sickness, or injury, or simple job relocation overseas) and the individual suffers immediate guiltenomics through forced suffering regardless of their desire and capability to pay off their slavery-by-forced-lending credit payment history. Credit reporting abuses are laughed off by the credit reporting companies who use the information to justify excessive rates and to refuse lending to people in need, leaving only the lucky or the liars to get loans.

This stagnates the lending infrastructure of the entire economy and allows only exploiters to gain enough wealth to match investment and begin business.

It's a self-feeding monster that's completely out of control.

Don't blame Americans for the problems created by corrupt antisocial subhumans.
Math is just another language, however one without analogy.

- http://arxiv.org...
Raisor
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5/5/2016 12:08:02 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 7:47:22 PM, SkyLeach wrote:
At 5/4/2016 3:57:05 PM, Raisor wrote:
At 5/4/2016 1:43:32 PM, SkyLeach wrote:
Economics is about control and power.

Generally speaking, most Americans (in fact most human beings) just want to live their life.

The issue is a social control situation. People can't possibly build everything, and so money is a way to determine who get's to own or operate what.

The massive gremlin in the system is sociopaths who understand that gaming the system is far more profitable than using it as intended.

In essence, the economic system is the security system of government systems. It has been so riddled by exploits and hacks that the only thing it secures is the hacks themselves.

If one were to consider this as a computing system rather than a social system then one would be forced to admit it's better to redesign the entire thing from the ground up than to attempt to fix it.

Most people are bad with money because they don't want to touch it. It's ethically ambiguous and morally corrupted beyond repair.

Most people make money by adding value to the economy. There are some people that try to game the system and arguably do not provide value- they represent a narrow portion of economic activity. I don't really know what you mean by exploits and hacks- all the rich people I know add value through fairly easy to understand jobs.

My point is that economic success isn't presicated on making a lot of money- if you don't understand how to manage your finances and chase consumption driven desires, you will be financially unstable regardless of income (within reason).

There is nothing ethically ambiguous about handling your money in a smart way. It isn't unethical to save money for an emergency. It isn't unethical to contribute to an IRA for retirement. It isn't unethical to buy economy cars instead of luxury cars.

You're wearing situational blinders.


You are speaking about something entirely different than I am. Whether the top 1% are parasites has nothing to do with the inability of the 99% to manage personal finances. The morality of the income of the top 1% does not absolve the upper-middle class of self destructive spending habits.

The wealthy do not create wealth, they streamline the flow of it. Creating wealth is creating industry, and we have been on a crash-dive of industry stagnation and elimination through wealth displacement economics (labor export) for more than 50 years.

One can hardly call a few successful industrialists 'the wealthy', even though some of them earned their fortune by creating industry. The vast majority of the wealthy stole their wealth by screwing the industrialists, the labor force, the public (through backdoor legislation) and by exploiting the entire US economy through labor displacement.


Who do you consider "the wealthy?" I consider the breaking point to be 6-figure income. Personally, everyone I know at that level is making valuable contributions to society. I can think of maybe one or two who probably don't deserve what they make, but on the whole the well compensated earned their money.

Most of what you are bemoaning is the side effects of globalization and the disruption of the manufacturing market.

Blue-chip IP, MPAA, RIAA, business-plan by litigation, legislation by litigation, civil court excesses of the 14th amendment, policy by economic threat, debt buying, inflation life tax, etc...


If you are speaking specifically about the top 1% (which is not representative of most of my OP), the four most prevalent professions are Executives, Lawyers, Finance professionals, and the Medical industry. Undoubtedly there are overpaid people in all of those fields, but those industries also provide indispensable services to society. The financial industry is hugely important to the US economy as one of the largest economic sectors.

http://www.economist.com...

American finances... HA! People go into debt by being unable to pay forced recurring service bills on essential services such as electricity, water, and communication. One cannot cut lumber or gather peat for energy due to law. One cannot settle land because it is all owned by government mega-collusion industries. One cannot use well water due to city ordinance. One cannot hold more than slave-labor jobs without communication. One can lose the right to parent children without providing these same services. Any, and I do mean ANY, reason for collapse (be it sickness, or injury, or simple job relocation overseas) and the individual suffers immediate guiltenomics through forced suffering regardless of their desire and capability to pay off their slavery-by-forced-lending credit payment history. Credit reporting abuses are laughed off by the credit reporting companies who use the information to justify excessive rates and to refuse lending to people in need, leaving only the lucky or the liars to get loans.


That's just not true...only the very poor go into debt because they cant pay for basic services. You are just wrong on this point. Debt is overwhelmingly owed for housing, for auto loans, and for student debts. These are all costs consumers have a huge amount of say in.

https://www.nerdwallet.com...

This stagnates the lending infrastructure of the entire economy and allows only exploiters to gain enough wealth to match investment and begin business.


What? Mortgage rates are at historic lows. It is very easy to get a loan for housing right now. There are organization piloting microlending programs gaining traction. It is incredibly easy to get personal lines of credit.

What specifically are you talking about when you say the lending infrastructure is stagnating?

It's a self-feeding monster that's completely out of control.

Don't blame Americans for the problems created by corrupt antisocial subhumans.

My OP is mostly talking about fairly well off people...2 of my sources were specifically about people making 6 figures plus annually. The point of my OP is that there are trends that transcend buying power. None of what you said addressed that point.

I still stand by my claim that if most Americans were simply smarter about their money, they would be happier and more secure.
Raisor
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5/5/2016 12:22:20 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 4:01:45 PM, lamerde wrote:
At 5/4/2016 3:57:05 PM, Raisor wrote:

Thoughts? http://seananmcguire.tumblr.com...

Hahaha....my OP definitely isn't speaking to the very poor. If you don't have enough money to be able to get into an avalanche of debt, I don't think my OP really describes your situation. But I do have some reactions...

First, I am pretty skeptical that the story is true, since it is basically a direct paraphrase of Terry Pratchett's boots parable:

http://www.goodreads.com...

Second, I have never lived in true poverty. I don't know what it is like, I don't think I am in a good position to comment on how hard it is to save money while very poor. There is obviously a lot of truth to the idea that "being poor is expensive." But being so poor that you can't maintain a savings account and people literally break into your housing to steal 20 bucks...that is an alien existence to me.

Third, maybe it is true that this person has never been given good advice by a "non-poor person." That sort of speaks to the point of my OP. My guess is she hasn't been given good advice by anyone. But that sentiment does contradict the respondent's comment that "If you are coming from generations of poverty, you will not learn to save money"

Fourth, I know people who work in the service industry full time. They could be a lot more financially responsible, they don't make a lot but they waste a ton. And being "hardworking, creative, and smart" isn't exclusive to spending excessively, failing to plan, and chasing consumer-driven happiness.

Personally that post reads like a litany of fantasy-excuse-apologetics. I think that's more a problem with tumblr than the very real hardship of living in poverty. There are real structural problems that contribute to inequality, but this post just comes off as whiny and I'm pretty skeptical about that person not being able to save $65 for work boots.
Fly
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5/5/2016 3:32:13 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/4/2016 12:20:25 AM, Raisor wrote:
The majority of Americans are astoundingly incompetent when it comes to managing personal finances.

Almost half of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to come up with $400 cash.

http://www.allgov.com...

One quarter of households making $100-150k could not raise $2000 within a month

http://www.theatlantic.com...

One in ten millionaires claim to be "living paycheck to paycheck."

http://www.usatoday.com...

Financial instability appears to be endemic to American society- the cause isn't lack of resources, as the above articles illustrate. Instead the cause it an addiction to spending at the limit of personal finances, failure to plan for the future, and general obliviousness to the resources available for financial planning.

I would also argue that Americans place too much value on consumption in general. We strive to make more money so that we can buy nicer cars, bigger houses, go to more expensive bars. There is a misplaced belief that money buys happiness by allowing us to buy things. The psychology of consumption is fairly well understood- purchasing goods provides a short boost of happiness that quickly fades, while trading money for meaningful experiences and time provides a long term increase in well being.

http://www.wsj.com...

By pursuing status symbols and luxury goods, and by failing to take basic steps in financial planning, Americans across all stratus of the economy unnecessarily create instability and unhappiness in their lives. Money does not buy happiness.

I'm with you except for the singling out of Americans angle. It's just that the system in America very clearly illustrates the human trait of making (or borrowing) and immediately spending money. I have come to the belief that contemporary humans are not natural savers. Australia, for example, forces people to save for retirement, and it works quite well-- it is known as Superannuation.

In contrast, Singapore, a relatively wealthy nation, has a shockingly underfunded senior citizenry.
"You don't have a right to be a jerk."
--Religion Forum's hypocrite extraordinaire serving up lulz
SkyLeach
Posts: 206
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5/5/2016 12:35:51 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
So rather than talk about the upper 1%, you meant to talk about the 8-2%.

I can do that, since that's the income bracket I inhabit, just barely, at 8% myself. I don't know much about that upper crust of 3-2%, but I do know many that fall among the rest.

They, are my peers.

If I were to generalize them all into a single class of person, I would say that they are far worse people than the 1%. The 1% are sociopaths and I consider them enemies of the human race, but I can *respect* them far more than most of my peers.

My peers, you see, are blind fools who do not understand economics. They are generally just baseline average in intelligence. They did better than average in school, many of them with MBAs or postgraduate degrees in some lucrative career track. They know enough science to be in vogue, enough religion to be in vogue, enough politics to be in vogue. Most are either republican, or fashionable liberals without the passion or belief to be anything more than moderates.

These people, by and large, are 'wealthy' only because it has been decreed by the 1% that they need buy-in from the general public. Unlike the aristocrats of the 15-19th century, modern aristocracy understands that they must manipulate the public rather than simply dominate them. Modern economy demands that the majority cannot be wealthy, the system wouldn't work, but enough must be so that there is a buffer between the true power players and the rest of the society.

Some of my peers, like me, are essential components of the system. Too intelligent to buy the self-serving BS dished out by those around us who overvalue their own importance and contribution to society, we tend to be a bit more pragmatic.

Standing on our values and beliefs reaches a point where we must decide between living for what we know to be true, effectively altruism, or to live like our peers. Altruism or purity of action requires us, like biblical prophets, to decry the system while living in poverty.

I've tried that, it f***ing sucks. While you get the most pricelessly surprised looks from people who expected an uneducated and unwashed bum and instead find a brilliant and washed-as-possible pauper with post-doctoral education, you also watch it melt into fear. Fear because they know you don't have to be there. Fear because your choices, your arrogant ethical certitude and blatantly regal moral superiority cannot be denied. Fear because you are a threat to their glass house without throwing stones. Fear because in your eyes they see the reflection of their own naked avarice and foolishness.

And in fear they will not listen. In fear they hide from you or, worse, attack you.

So what's the point? A statement heard only by the wind is neither poignant nor apropos, neither brilliant nor idiotic. Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, no one knows if there was sound and fury or even merely a whimper.

And so I spend my days among them, these 8-2%. The middle managers and lawyers and doctors. They consider me an oddity. They come to me for answers to problems they cannot solve, and throw me money and praise for my ingenuity and industry, then run before they must suffer through any conversation dealing with their pillaging of our world and their fellow man.

These are not the American majority, and they are not (mostly) bad with their money. more like children who do their meager best with limited intellect or wisdom. These are merely pawns, elevated to their economic status so that their voices, being louder-by-value than the masses, are too self-absorbed and stupid to be a threat to the 1%.

Your point, I fear, is dull and fails to cut.

Yet the successes and excesses of the system are wearing through the veil. The middle-class has shrunk by more than 60% in the past 50 years, and the rate of reduction has been increasing exponentially. We all knew that it would, yet like the monkeys in the monkey trap they will not let go of 'their' nuts in the box. They will hold the false wealth they crave and scream until the hungry hunters liberate their heads from their thrashing bodies, trapped only by their own greed and too stupid to let go.
Math is just another language, however one without analogy.

- http://arxiv.org...
SkyLeach
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5/5/2016 3:32:49 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
ha! I've been reading Dan Simmons... it shows in my writing style above.
Math is just another language, however one without analogy.

- http://arxiv.org...
lamerde
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5/5/2016 6:04:00 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/5/2016 12:22:20 AM, Raisor wrote:

Hahaha....my OP definitely isn't speaking to the very poor. If you don't have enough money to be able to get into an avalanche of debt, I don't think my OP really describes your situation. But I do have some reactions...

I'm not sure how that makes sense. Very poor Americans are also Americans and your OP is about Americans not understanding money.

First, I am pretty skeptical that the story is true, since it is basically a direct paraphrase of Terry Pratchett's boots parable:

http://www.goodreads.com...

I don't know. It's different enough and a common enough problem that it could literally be another person with the same problem.

Second, I have never lived in true poverty. I don't know what it is like, I don't think I am in a good position to comment on how hard it is to save money while very poor. There is obviously a lot of truth to the idea that "being poor is expensive." But being so poor that you can't maintain a savings account and people literally break into your housing to steal 20 bucks...that is an alien existence to me.

Third, maybe it is true that this person has never been given good advice by a "non-poor person." That sort of speaks to the point of my OP. My guess is she hasn't been given good advice by anyone. But that sentiment does contradict the respondent's comment that "If you are coming from generations of poverty, you will not learn to save money"

Not sure what you mean by the bolded.

Fourth, I know people who work in the service industry full time. They could be a lot more financially responsible, they don't make a lot but they waste a ton. And being "hardworking, creative, and smart" isn't exclusive to spending excessively, failing to plan, and chasing consumer-driven happiness.

The bolded is true. But there are structural barriers to planning... I agree that consumer-driven happiness is part of the problem, but it's only part of the problem. Your diagnosis of the problem seems to place the blame on individuals for not being above the culture. The point that that person was making is that people can be hardworking, creative, and smart, and still poor. It's your assumption that they're also spending excessively, failing to plan, and chasing consumer-driven happiness. It could be true of some poor people, but it's not necessarily true. And for this particular person (and probably many others) it's not a failure of character, or failure to plan to buy cheap shoes that will fall apart and have be replaced more quickly. There are structural barriers to buying more expensive shoes that will last (i.e., not having the money).

If you're only talking about rich people, then all this is pointless lol. But that wasn't clear from your OP.

Personally that post reads like a litany of fantasy-excuse-apologetics. I think that's more a problem with tumblr than the very real hardship of living in poverty. There are real structural problems that contribute to inequality, but this post just comes off as whiny and I'm pretty skeptical about that person not being able to save $65 for work boots.

I'm not sure how that's the case. You admit to never having lived in poverty, and yet somehow you're skeptical that there are people who can't afford to save $65. Newsflash - there are. I don't even know how to respond to this because I'm so mind-boggled at what you just said. Maybe I'll come back to it later. Probably not lol.
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Skepsikyma
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5/5/2016 6:17:08 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
I think that a lot of this has to do with our society's unhealthy obsession with youth. There is a rush to do things quickly, and so many people have this feeling of time slipping through their fingers. Its like some sort of profound neurosis that afflicts most of society, filling what ought to be carefree youth with a sense of tense desperation, and middle age with depression and feelings of worthlessness. It really is pathological.

Because the future is seen as a degraded state, no value is placed in it, and all that matters is clinging to the present moment. So people spend and spend and spend, not in an effort to buy happiness, but out of a sense that what we experience today will always be more valuable than what we experience tomorrow.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
Raisor
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5/5/2016 6:42:23 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/5/2016 6:17:08 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
I think that a lot of this has to do with our society's unhealthy obsession with youth. There is a rush to do things quickly, and so many people have this feeling of time slipping through their fingers. Its like some sort of profound neurosis that afflicts most of society, filling what ought to be carefree youth with a sense of tense desperation, and middle age with depression and feelings of worthlessness. It really is pathological.

Because the future is seen as a degraded state, no value is placed in it, and all that matters is clinging to the present moment. So people spend and spend and spend, not in an effort to buy happiness, but out of a sense that what we experience today will always be more valuable than what we experience tomorrow.

I agree, with a caveat...

Youth is valuable...the older you get the less free time you have, the more reaponsibility and obligations you have. There are things I can do now that I would not be able to do with kids.
Raisor
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5/5/2016 6:56:23 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/5/2016 6:04:00 PM, lamerde wrote:
At 5/5/2016 12:22:20 AM, Raisor wrote:

Hahaha....my OP definitely isn't speaking to the very poor. If you don't have enough money to be able to get into an avalanche of debt, I don't think my OP really describes your situation. But I do have some reactions...

I'm not sure how that makes sense. Very poor Americans are also Americans and your OP is about Americans not understanding money.

First, I am pretty skeptical that the story is true, since it is basically a direct paraphrase of Terry Pratchett's boots parable:

http://www.goodreads.com...

I don't know. It's different enough and a common enough problem that it could literally be another person with the same problem.

Second, I have never lived in true poverty. I don't know what it is like, I don't think I am in a good position to comment on how hard it is to save money while very poor. There is obviously a lot of truth to the idea that "being poor is expensive." But being so poor that you can't maintain a savings account and people literally break into your housing to steal 20 bucks...that is an alien existence to me.

Third, maybe it is true that this person has never been given good advice by a "non-poor person." That sort of speaks to the point of my OP. My guess is she hasn't been given good advice by anyone. But that sentiment does contradict the respondent's comment that "If you are coming from generations of poverty, you will not learn to save money"

Not sure what you mean by the bolded.

Fourth, I know people who work in the service industry full time. They could be a lot more financially responsible, they don't make a lot but they waste a ton. And being "hardworking, creative, and smart" isn't exclusive to spending excessively, failing to plan, and chasing consumer-driven happiness.

The bolded is true. But there are structural barriers to planning... I agree that consumer-driven happiness is part of the problem, but it's only part of the problem. Your diagnosis of the problem seems to place the blame on individuals for not being above the culture. The point that that person was making is that people can be hardworking, creative, and smart, and still poor. It's your assumption that they're also spending excessively, failing to plan, and chasing consumer-driven happiness. It could be true of some poor people, but it's not necessarily true. And for this particular person (and probably many others) it's not a failure of character, or failure to plan to buy cheap shoes that will fall apart and have be replaced more quickly. There are structural barriers to buying more expensive shoes that will last (i.e., not having the money).

If you're only talking about rich people, then all this is pointless lol. But that wasn't clear from your OP.

Personally that post reads like a litany of fantasy-excuse-apologetics. I think that's more a problem with tumblr than the very real hardship of living in poverty. There are real structural problems that contribute to inequality, but this post just comes off as whiny and I'm pretty skeptical about that person not being able to save $65 for work boots.

I'm not sure how that's the case. You admit to never having lived in poverty, and yet somehow you're skeptical that there are people who can't afford to save $65. Newsflash - there are. I don't even know how to respond to this because I'm so mind-boggled at what you just said. Maybe I'll come back to it later. Probably not lol.

I'll try to respond in more detail later, but you are straw manninge here, just like sky leach is.

I am not claiming that all of the financial problems of individual Americans can be attributed to my op, nor am I denying that distributive justice has a place in our society, nor am I denying that there is structural inequality. Nothin about my op conflicts with the claim that racist housing policy has contributed to generational wealth gaps along racial lines.

My OP is addressed to broad cultural failing that cut across socioeconomic lines, that does not mean that my op is the totality of things that could be said about Americans and personal finance.
SkyLeach
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5/5/2016 8:38:36 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/5/2016 6:56:23 PM, Raisor wrote:
At 5/5/2016 6:04:00 PM, lamerde wrote:
At 5/5/2016 12:22:20 AM, Raisor wrote:

Hahaha....my OP definitely isn't speaking to the very poor. If you don't have enough money to be able to get into an avalanche of debt, I don't think my OP really describes your situation. But I do have some reactions...

I'm not sure how that makes sense. Very poor Americans are also Americans and your OP is about Americans not understanding money.

First, I am pretty skeptical that the story is true, since it is basically a direct paraphrase of Terry Pratchett's boots parable:

http://www.goodreads.com...

I don't know. It's different enough and a common enough problem that it could literally be another person with the same problem.

Second, I have never lived in true poverty. I don't know what it is like, I don't think I am in a good position to comment on how hard it is to save money while very poor. There is obviously a lot of truth to the idea that "being poor is expensive." But being so poor that you can't maintain a savings account and people literally break into your housing to steal 20 bucks...that is an alien existence to me.

Third, maybe it is true that this person has never been given good advice by a "non-poor person." That sort of speaks to the point of my OP. My guess is she hasn't been given good advice by anyone. But that sentiment does contradict the respondent's comment that "If you are coming from generations of poverty, you will not learn to save money"

Not sure what you mean by the bolded.

Fourth, I know people who work in the service industry full time. They could be a lot more financially responsible, they don't make a lot but they waste a ton. And being "hardworking, creative, and smart" isn't exclusive to spending excessively, failing to plan, and chasing consumer-driven happiness.

The bolded is true. But there are structural barriers to planning... I agree that consumer-driven happiness is part of the problem, but it's only part of the problem. Your diagnosis of the problem seems to place the blame on individuals for not being above the culture. The point that that person was making is that people can be hardworking, creative, and smart, and still poor. It's your assumption that they're also spending excessively, failing to plan, and chasing consumer-driven happiness. It could be true of some poor people, but it's not necessarily true. And for this particular person (and probably many others) it's not a failure of character, or failure to plan to buy cheap shoes that will fall apart and have be replaced more quickly. There are structural barriers to buying more expensive shoes that will last (i.e., not having the money).

If you're only talking about rich people, then all this is pointless lol. But that wasn't clear from your OP.

Personally that post reads like a litany of fantasy-excuse-apologetics. I think that's more a problem with tumblr than the very real hardship of living in poverty. There are real structural problems that contribute to inequality, but this post just comes off as whiny and I'm pretty skeptical about that person not being able to save $65 for work boots.

I'm not sure how that's the case. You admit to never having lived in poverty, and yet somehow you're skeptical that there are people who can't afford to save $65. Newsflash - there are. I don't even know how to respond to this because I'm so mind-boggled at what you just said. Maybe I'll come back to it later. Probably not lol.

I'll try to respond in more detail later, but you are straw manninge here, just like sky leach is.

I am not claiming that all of the financial problems of individual Americans can be attributed to my op, nor am I denying that distributive justice has a place in our society, nor am I denying that there is structural inequality. Nothin about my op conflicts with the claim that racist housing policy has contributed to generational wealth gaps along racial lines.

My OP is addressed to broad cultural failing that cut across socioeconomic lines, that does not mean that my op is the totality of things that could be said about Americans and personal finance.

it's pretty hard not to have a straw menagerie (yes, I just punned your mis-spelled hack-word) when using generalizations.

The human capacity to personify and indemnify an effigy of a group is profound and not entirely logically fallacious provided it is used to illustrate a sociological trend rather than a specific individual through associated guilt.
Math is just another language, however one without analogy.

- http://arxiv.org...
Raisor
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5/5/2016 8:54:23 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/5/2016 8:38:36 PM, SkyLeach wrote:
At 5/5/2016 6:56:23 PM, Raisor wrote:
At 5/5/2016 6:04:00 PM, lamerde wrote:
At 5/5/2016 12:22:20 AM, Raisor wrote:

Hahaha....my OP definitely isn't speaking to the very poor. If you don't have enough money to be able to get into an avalanche of debt, I don't think my OP really describes your situation. But I do have some reactions...

I'm not sure how that makes sense. Very poor Americans are also Americans and your OP is about Americans not understanding money.

First, I am pretty skeptical that the story is true, since it is basically a direct paraphrase of Terry Pratchett's boots parable:

http://www.goodreads.com...

I don't know. It's different enough and a common enough problem that it could literally be another person with the same problem.

Second, I have never lived in true poverty. I don't know what it is like, I don't think I am in a good position to comment on how hard it is to save money while very poor. There is obviously a lot of truth to the idea that "being poor is expensive." But being so poor that you can't maintain a savings account and people literally break into your housing to steal 20 bucks...that is an alien existence to me.

Third, maybe it is true that this person has never been given good advice by a "non-poor person." That sort of speaks to the point of my OP. My guess is she hasn't been given good advice by anyone. But that sentiment does contradict the respondent's comment that "If you are coming from generations of poverty, you will not learn to save money"

Not sure what you mean by the bolded.

Fourth, I know people who work in the service industry full time. They could be a lot more financially responsible, they don't make a lot but they waste a ton. And being "hardworking, creative, and smart" isn't exclusive to spending excessively, failing to plan, and chasing consumer-driven happiness.

The bolded is true. But there are structural barriers to planning... I agree that consumer-driven happiness is part of the problem, but it's only part of the problem. Your diagnosis of the problem seems to place the blame on individuals for not being above the culture. The point that that person was making is that people can be hardworking, creative, and smart, and still poor. It's your assumption that they're also spending excessively, failing to plan, and chasing consumer-driven happiness. It could be true of some poor people, but it's not necessarily true. And for this particular person (and probably many others) it's not a failure of character, or failure to plan to buy cheap shoes that will fall apart and have be replaced more quickly. There are structural barriers to buying more expensive shoes that will last (i.e., not having the money).

If you're only talking about rich people, then all this is pointless lol. But that wasn't clear from your OP.

Personally that post reads like a litany of fantasy-excuse-apologetics. I think that's more a problem with tumblr than the very real hardship of living in poverty. There are real structural problems that contribute to inequality, but this post just comes off as whiny and I'm pretty skeptical about that person not being able to save $65 for work boots.

I'm not sure how that's the case. You admit to never having lived in poverty, and yet somehow you're skeptical that there are people who can't afford to save $65. Newsflash - there are. I don't even know how to respond to this because I'm so mind-boggled at what you just said. Maybe I'll come back to it later. Probably not lol.

I'll try to respond in more detail later, but you are straw manninge here, just like sky leach is.

I am not claiming that all of the financial problems of individual Americans can be attributed to my op, nor am I denying that distributive justice has a place in our society, nor am I denying that there is structural inequality. Nothin about my op conflicts with the claim that racist housing policy has contributed to generational wealth gaps along racial lines.

My OP is addressed to broad cultural failing that cut across socioeconomic lines, that does not mean that my op is the totality of things that could be said about Americans and personal finance.

it's pretty hard not to have a straw menagerie (yes, I just punned your mis-spelled hack-word) when using generalizations.

The human capacity to personify and indemnify an effigy of a group is profound and not entirely logically fallacious provided it is used to illustrate a sociological trend rather than a specific individual through associated guilt.

Lol, 90% of my posts are on my phone...you are always welcome in my straw menagerie though.
lamerde
Posts: 1,416
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5/5/2016 9:01:19 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/5/2016 8:54:23 PM, Raisor wrote:

Lol, 90% of my posts are on my phone...you are always welcome in my straw menagerie though.

Sounds like a delicious dessert.
Why I ignore YYW:
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Calling someone a bitch multiple times while claiming you're taking the high road is an art form, I suppose: http://www.debate.org...
lamerde
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5/5/2016 9:11:33 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/5/2016 6:56:23 PM, Raisor wrote:

I'll try to respond in more detail later, but you are straw manninge here, just like sky leach is.

I am not claiming that all of the financial problems of individual Americans can be attributed to my op, nor am I denying that distributive justice has a place in our society, nor am I denying that there is structural inequality. Nothin about my op conflicts with the claim that racist housing policy has contributed to generational wealth gaps along racial lines.

I feel like we're having two different conversations here lol. I haven't read your conversation with Sky Leach but I'm guessing you're responding mostly to that?

My OP is addressed to broad cultural failing that cut across socioeconomic lines, that does not mean that my op is the totality of things that could be said about Americans and personal finance.

Yes, I think we mostly agree (except that I do think financial literacy is the first step to some of the problems in the OP)... I wasn't initially talking about systemic inequality, but I posted that link in response to some of the things you had said earlier (prior to your conversation with Sky Leach).
Why I ignore YYW:
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Calling someone a bitch multiple times while claiming you're taking the high road is an art form, I suppose: http://www.debate.org...