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What Dave Ramsey gets wrong about poverty
Financial advisor Dave Ramsey is also an evangelical Christian.
November 30th, 2013
09:59 AM ET

What Dave Ramsey gets wrong about poverty

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN 

(CNN)– Dave Ramsey is rich. And he makes his living telling other evangelical Christians how they can get rich, too.

Host of a nationally syndicated radio program and author of multiple best-selling books, Ramsey targets evangelical Christians with what he calls a “biblical” approach to financial planning, one that focuses primarily on the elimination of consumer debt. His for-profit Financial Peace University is billed as “a biblically based curriculum that teaches people how to handle money God's ways."

Much of what Ramsey teaches is sound, helpful advice, particularly for middle-class Americans struggling with mounting credit card bills. I have celebrated with friends as they’ve marked their first day of debt-free living, thanks in part to Dave Ramsey’s teachings and all those white envelopes of cash he urges his students to use instead of credit cards.

But while Ramsey may be a fine source of information on how to eliminate debt, his views on poverty are neither informed nor biblical.

Take, for example, a recent article by Tim Corley posted to Ramsey’s website. Entitled “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day,” the article presents some dubious statistics comparing the habits of the rich with the habits of the poor, including:

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

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

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

One need not be a student of logic to observe that Corley and Ramsey have confused correlation with causation here by suggesting that these habits make people rich or poor.

For example, a poor person might not exercise four days a week because, unlike a rich person, she cannot afford a gym membership. Or perhaps she has to work two jobs to earn a living wage, which leaves her little time and energy for jogging around the park.

A poor family may eat more junk food, not because they are lazy and undisciplined, but because they live in an economically disadvantaged, urban setting where health food stores are not as available: a so-called “food desert.”

Critics were swift to point out these discrepancies and among the critics were some of Ramsey’s fellow evangelical Christians who also noted that, though the book of Proverbs certainly heralds success as a common return on faithful labor, nowhere does the Bible guarantee that good habits lead to wealth.

The writer of Ecclesiastes observed that "under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all."

And far from having contempt for the poor, Jesus surrounded himself with the needy and challenged the excesses of the rich. “Blessed are you who are poor,” he said, “for yours is the kingdom of God. … But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort” (Luke 6:24).

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle," Jesus famously said, "than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

It’s hard for the wealthy to flourish in the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated because the economy of that kingdom runs so contrary to the economies of the world. It rewards the peacemakers over the powerful, the humble over the proud, the kind over the cruel, and those who hunger to do the right thing over those whose wealth has convinced them they already are.

Ramsey responded to the pushback with an addendum to the original post calling his critics “ignorant” and “immature” and instructing them to “grow up.”

“This list simply says your choices cause results,” he said, again committing the false cause fallacy. “You reap what you sow.”

The list, he said, applies only to people living in “first world” countries, where Ramsey believes economic injustices are essentially nonexistent. While the poor in developing countries are so as a result of external circumstances beyond their control, the poor in the United States have no one to blame but themselves.

“If you are broke or poor in the U.S. or a first-world economy, the only variable in the discussion you can personally control is YOU,” Ramsey says. “You can make better choices and have better results.”

America, he argues, has prospered as a direct result of its “understanding and application of biblical truths” which have led to “life-changing industry, inventions and a standard of living never known before on this planet.”

“There is a direct correlation,” he concludes, “between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth.”

For Christians, Ramsey’s perceived “direct correlation” between faith and wealth should be more troubling than his other confused correlations, for it flirts with what Christians refer to as the prosperity gospel, the teaching that God rewards faithfulness with wealth.

Ramsey’s particular brand of prosperity gospel elevates the American dream as God’s reward for America’s faithfulness, the spoils of which are readily available to anyone who works hard enough to receive them.

But such a view glosses over the reality that America was not, in fact, founded upon purely Christian principles (unless one counts slavery, ethnic cleansing, gender inequity, and Jim Crow as Christian principles), so we should be careful of assuming our relative wealth reflects God’s favor. (The Roman Empire was wealthy, too, after all.)

It also glosses over the reality that economic injustice is not, in fact, limited to the developing world but plagues our own country as well.

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

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

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

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

And throughout Scripture, people of faith are called not simply to donate to charity, but to address such systemic injustices in substantive ways.

The 17-year-old girl who lives in a depressed neighborhood zoned for a failing school system who probably won’t graduate because her grades are suffering because she has to work part-time to help support her family needs more than a few audio books to turn things around.

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

God does not divide the world into the deserving rich and the undeserving poor. In fact, the brother of Jesus wrote that God has “chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him” (James 2:5).

God does not bless people with money; God blesses people with the good and perfect gift of God’s presence, which is available to rich and poor alike.

And that’s good news.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Business • Christianity • Ethics • evangelicals • Faith • Leaders • Money & Faith • Opinion

soundoff (2,299 Responses)
  1. krisc

    Here's another stat: 90% of poor people make excuses for themselves for having bad habits, while only 12% of rich people do.

    Okay, obviously I just made that up, but it's based on my general experience. Really? you need to be rich to exercise, eat healthy, and listen to books on tape? My family is considered lower-middle class. My husband works for a nonprofit, and I work part time by choice and am a full-time mom. I do have to get creative sometimes because of a tight budget, but it's very doable to have some of these good habits. Examples: I have a $20 exercise machine I bought used (they are a common at garage sales!), a few hand weights, jump rope and running shoes and exercise 3-4 times a week. I eat oatmeal with cinnamon and chopped apple every morning for breakfast. Get books on tape at the library (okay, I do that rarely, but still.. they're available.)

    We are doing the poor in this country a disservice by making excuses for them. And I see nothing wrong with a list generalizing habits of poor compared to rich. It is not "how to become rich" propaganda; just something to make us think about our own priorities or habits and maybe change something for the better. But no, we would rather whine. waa, waa.

    November 30, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Well aren't you a special princess. You are no where near the bottom of the poverty well. Anyone who has the option of choosing to work part time is actually pretty well off in the big picture.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
      • Sara

        Yeah, I had the same reaction but the woman seemed just far to delusional to bother. Wait until her husband gets injured, loses his job and his health insurance and her kid starts showing a developmental disability and tell her to get back to us. By this time she'll probably be caring for parents with alzheimers. Best of luck.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  2. xanthippe6

    My dear cousin is a single mom of twin teenagers and takes care of her 81 year old mom. Her ex helps out minimally (certainly not his fair share). She works her tail off in the kitchen of the local elementary school. To make her salary cover all her monthly expenses (she has no credit cards), she purchases food that will nourish her family and will last and not spoil. Which ends up being things with preservatives, high sodium and sugars. There is no way she could afford to shop the "perimeter of the store" for the healthier, but perishable items. I wish I could help, but I am also a single mom with two teenage sons (and an ex who has paid nothing in over a year), struggling to make ends meet each month. The self-righteous, rich, right wings have no clue how the majority of our society lives, let alone the rest of the world. They need to shut up and not make hateful, egocentric, blanket statements based on their little narrow minded world. Yes, Dave Ramsey's general money saving/spending philosophy and is great. However, he should leave it at that!

    November 30, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Sara

      They really don't know, and knowing would challenge their very high sense of self-worth. You can show them the math and how you can't do it all on a low wage job, but they won't take it in. There will always be something they can find to attribute blame.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
      • Indigo

        Yup, they will just say, "You aren't working hard enough!" When you could be working 3 jobs to put food on the table and keep a roof of your head. They will always be self-righteous and judgmental.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Yep. People who have no grasp of poverty shouldn't judge. They simply don't have the tools to understand.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • lol??

      "..................The self-righteous..............."
      Christians have the righteousness declared from God, not manufactured by any selves.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • IndianaHoosier

      Actually, based on the shows I have listened to, what Ramsey would actually say is what can your cousin do to increase her income in order to make the situation better? Can your cousin learn new skills or move to a different job? Perhaps start a stay at home business? None of what Ramsey suggests is easy, but I find it far kinder to offer a difficult path out of poverty than to simply say "Oh, you are poor, it's not your fault that you are stuck in this life".

      November 30, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
  3. gstlab3

    I heard it told more than once that in the end days Christians would be mocked and falsely accused of horrible crimes and would be eventually attacked and killed off when the antichrist came to Earth in the end times.

    November 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Yup, an often told myth.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • are122

      Rather like Jews in Germany, 1930' s * 40's.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
      • lol??

        Just a warm up. This time they'll most likely leave the not-a-jews out of it and go after the real thing.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Laura

      crazy.town.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • lol??

      Socies practice rough LUV. You owe em because your mama didn't suck your brains out at birth.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • ME II

      "killed off" ?

      Well, since they make up most of the most powerful nation on Earth, I guess "end-times" are a ways off yet, eh?

      November 30, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  4. live4grace

    Dave's language in citing "rich people" in his communication makes being rich too much of a goal. But Dave has BEEN to low places, at least relatively (not the kind of cultural poverty described in the article) and he's practiced the financial habits that get people into debt and keep them their. And his way out .. just works, for poor people of any stripe. Plus, it is applied scripture, like it or not.

    The author would do well to be informed regarding the economic effect of the Christian faith, practiced at large, in poor communities. Invariably a powerful middle class surfaces where there had been a desperate underclass. It's not Dave Ramsey's "rich people" but Christ's rich people.

    Scripture is anything but silent concerning the resources of people; Dave has that right. And he has the principles right about how to escape traps that are orchestrated by true oppressors of the poor. His company is for-profit, and he has made lots of profit – he is "rich people" by his description. But his charitable practices are undeniable as well; things he doesn't HAVE TO do. Socialists don't like that because they can't engineer it. May they never.

    So, Dave Ramsey does well and he does good. He"s not perfect nor is his application of teaching of Christ. Wealth and poverty are not only a material states, for example. And poverty is not the opposite of greed, generosity is. Dave loves people and there is no human judge who can accurately say he loves money more – God looks on the heart.

    November 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  5. James Hogan

    I truly don't understand the beef with Dave Ramsey. He's not proclaiming the false "prosperity gospel". He's claiming that if you make wise choices, manage what you have with wisdom and work hard, you'll do better. Um, yeah, so what's the problem.

    There are about a dozen mistruths and misrepresentations of the scriptural perspective peppered throughout the article.

    From the inference that Ramsey has "contempt for the poor"–Ramsey WAS poor–what he has contempt for is the cycle of poverty; So many people who claim they want to help the poor have contributed to this cycle of giving a man a fish for so long that he forgets how to catch them for himself–to the statement that "God doesn't bless people with money", that's simply biblically untrue. He doesn't bless everybody with money, but He certainly AND intentionally blesses some with it (a prime biblical example would be Solomon, among others). And the bible has many nuggets of wisdom challenging all to hard work and wise spending and investment.

    I'm in the working poor class. But I'm offended that Evans tries to lump a Ramsey in with the charlatans of the name-it-claim-it noise.

    If more people who cared about the poor would try to help them improve their lot instead of keeping them their, many would benefit times over and be freed from the shackles of poverty instead of buried in it.

    November 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • live4grace

      Agreed. Dave Ramsey is doing a LOT more good than bad.

      November 30, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
  6. Rufus T. Firefly

    "If you want to be rich, watch what the rich do, and do that"
    .
    "If you want to be poor, watch what the poor do, and do that"
    .
    It's quite simple.

    November 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • doobzz

      The only thing simple here is your mind.

      It's difficult to implement what you see rich people doing when you don't have the same opportunities, and many poor people don't.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
      • Bruce Leroy

        Please tell me one right in the US that rich people have over poor people. All the laws are the same for both. If you want to make excuses for the poor that is one thing. Personal responsibily will always be the differential in the have vs have nots.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
        • Laura

          Bruce, I guess capitalism makes it possible for everyone to be on top. Thanks for the utopia. Now, ride off on your unicorn.

          November 30, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
        • Indigo

          Right, those Walmart heirs who never worked a day in their lives sure have personal responsibility. Yup, tell us another.

          November 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
        • doobzz

          Not everyone has the same opportunities. Children who grow up in areas with substandard educational systems, fifteen year old textbooks and one 386 per school can't compete with children in shiny new suburban schools with state of the art laptops on every desk.

          November 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
      • live4grace

        There is an opportunity gap and there's a diligence gap. Dave tells people to work 2 jobs if it gets them out of the hole of debt and their downward financial spiral. He did. Others have. And when you work hard, the ends eventually meet.

        November 30, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  7. vinster76

    well, I have followed the post re Dave for about two hours now, and I must say, I have had quite enough of it.....It is EXTREMELTY obvious to me that there are those who are ignorant as to human nature, and to the Word of God. I don't have all the answers, if I did, I would be walking on water. Since I don't, I am humble enough to know that we all have different life experiences. But this much I do know. Throughout American history, there are thousands and thousands of success stories about people who began this life with nothing but the breath in their lungs, but went on to dream big dreams, and create great wealth, and live philanthropically........What I DO KNOW is that most americans will argue over a ham sandwich if given the chance, and add nothing to the discussion in the process....Good night all......

    November 30, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • thenamestation

      And for every success story there are at least 10 stories of poverty, leaving millions of stories of poverty compared to a couple thousand stories of prospering from nothing. Yep, great odds, let's most certainly focus on the minority of Americans in history, because the unsuccessful ones don't count. Obviously.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
      • Sara

        People who don't understand statistics rely on anecdote. It's really a sad statement about the quality of education.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  8. dnokc

    Ms. Evans, It's obvious you haven't listened to Mr. Ramsey. Context is important. To take a few selected statements and blatantly call them untrue, is unfair! Mr. Ramsey has devoted his life to assisting others improve their finances. You attack his Christian back ground, yet he does not ask someones religeous back ground, nor attempt to convert anyone. You are young, and you have more lessons to learn, before condemning others.

    November 30, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Sara

      ?Rachel Evans is a Christian. Where do you see her attacking his Christian background?

      November 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  9. Linda

    Dave Ramsey's teachings not only border on the belief of the humanistic 'prosperity' message, but puts down those who are poor in the process. While it is true that many of us would do well to develop principled and disciplined financial habits, many who are struggling financially have very little to live on and manage due to today's ever increasing economic downshift from well paying jobs to little more than minimum wage jobs – if you can find one (two or three) to support yourself and family.

    Interestingly, 15 or so years ago I was speaking with a long distance friend about my own predicament and he began extolling the virtues of Dave's book. When I told him how much I had to live on, he remarked how I did not have enough to warrant paying attention to Dave's book.

    It seems that whether Christian or not, high profile people are very much out of touch on how the below avg person lives. I greatly dislike such people making condescending/sarcastic or otherwise hurtful remarks about those who struggle every day to survive. True, there are a few who are too lazy to work for a living: but the majority would rather have a better paying full time job to support themselves and their families. The jobs are not there. Or, they require a college education. Or the folks have one kind or another disability that precludes them from getting the job they want. Or they are too old. Or they have been out of a job for too long. Etc.

    As for what God reveals to us in the Bible about all this, He said we are to work a job in order to eat (as opposed to living off of others). He does not promise us riches (of the world). He does tell us to come to him, all those who are heavy laden and He would gives us rest. His yoke is light. That yoke is us totally setting aside our own agenda to have a relationship with God and become his partner in His agenda. It means we love and trust Him enough to let him run the show. After we have submitted to His purpose for our life, he leads and directs our life. That life might be filled with the riches of the world – which God will direct to be shared with those less fortunate. Or not. The richness and blessing that we personally receive from God comes to us in the form of Jesus Christ. In Him we have a peace and joy that no man of the world can possibly understand.

    Some people try to serve both the master of the world and the Divine Master. The Bible says that is not possible. Those who teach or touch on a form of the prosperity message, are trying to serve two masters and teaching others to do so. I applaud those who do teach others how to manage their money in a disciplined manner, but please leave anything to do with material riches/prosperity message out of it. What I tell people who speak with me about money problems is this: if you can not afford to pay cash for it, do not purchase. If it is frivolous and of no spiritual value, reconsider. This includes everything from everyday purchases to cars to housing to health care. The usage of envelopes is a good idea to develop discipline: however, if you are like me and need to keep shifting what little you have around due to not having enough to go around, it can become more trying and stressful. There is no one size fits all in financial planning, as each person's life has its own uniqueness. I can guarantee that if you listen to God, he will direct you in financial dealings and all parts of your life. There is much joy in freedom from debt.

    November 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • doobzz

      "Some people try to serve both the master of the world and the Divine Master."

      And some people don't need a master to live a full and rewarding life.

      November 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Especially an unproven divine master.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Sara

      I have a medical condition that prevents me from standing for long periods of time. If I didn't have the education to work cushy desk jobs I would likely be on unemployment or disability. As it is I am lucky enough to live well, work when I want, and afford an expensive gym membership where, despite my medical problems, I can get a great work-out on fancy expensive equipment and use the pool and yoga classes. But without a lot of luck I know full well I would be another statistic. People who don't realize this either lack very basic imagination skills or, more likely, enjoy the comfort of living with their heads in the sand. I know so many others who due to intellectual disabilities, family circu.mstances or physical or psychiatric disorders just can't make it past basic survival level. In many cases you would have no idea what their issues are simply by meeting these folks on the street. And when they try to enjoy what little of life they can people call them greedy or lazy. I just have no time for the narrow minded, self-serving fools who judge others so readily.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  10. Ellie

    I am a Christ follower (Christian) who happens to be living the upper middle class life because of my husband's extremely successful career. HOWEVER...I find Mr. Ramsey's "Biblical" assertions embarrassing, vile and simply incorrect. Many of our friends have worked very hard and do not have the income we have. We have friends who have been hardworking, loyal employees yet can't find work because of our current economy. Some of these friends are barely making it and are eating cheaply (junk food?) in order to have food on the table. We also have a couple of friends who, unfortunately, don't have the "smarts" to hold jobs that pay lucrative salaries. One of those friends is a hardworking janitor who will never be anything but a janitor. He will never make enough money to have a large savings account. He will have to work until the day he dies because he has no retirement. Even if he lived by Mr. Ramsey's ideas, our friend will be fortunate if he dies with a penny to his name.

    I have friends who have benefited from Mr. Ramsey's teachings, but that doesn't negate the fact that Mr. Ramsey is twisting what the Bible says. I believe that every good gift comes from God the Father. However, I happen to believe that the wealth many of these Christian preachers/authors have acquired didn't come from the Lord, but rather from the lies they are teaching to too many gullible Christians. And if Christians are buying into the lies, well, they are just as guilty, too!

    November 30, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Sara

      Thank you for putting that so well. I fear, however, that those who don't see these realities choose not to, and such words will reach very few ears. Do these folks really not know people whose intellectual abilities will prevent them from ever holding any but the most basic jobs? How many people are really that sheltered unless they attended only private schools and were raised in a bubble without TV, newspapers or books? Unfortunately it seems most likely that people ignore the realities because it is easier to blame the poor for their condition that to try to do anything to help.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  11. Tom

    Ms. Evans, what is wrong with you ?

    November 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • sjdawson

      What is wrong with you?

      November 30, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  12. Dell Griffith

    After reading many of these posts, and the opinion piece by Ms. Evans, it pretty much boils down to this ... I get the sense of one thing ... Dave Ramsey is a hated man ... hated because he is white, rich, and outspoken, and presumed to be greedy and insensitive ... and because he is a Christ follower. Ms. Evans' story doesn't surprise me. We live in a God-hating, Christ-rejecting country, and any public figure who has the guts to talk about Christ and apply the Bible to our lives is vilified and is fair game for the liberal press. Ms. Evans ignorance of the Bible is evident when she uses absolutes like "nowhere does the Bible guarantee that good habits lead to wealth." Joseph refutes this statement. His people skills, common sense, strong leadership skills, and sound judgment regarding financial matters propelled him from a jailbird in Egypt to second in command to Pharoah and wealth beyond measure. Dave Ramsey uses the Book of Proverbs to show us how our lives would go if everyone conducted themselves with patience and wisdom. But, Ramsey also knows that we live in a sinful and imperfect world and that we must keep our perspective. His message: Handle money wisely and don't let the inequities of this twisted world keep you from earnest, dedicated hard work to pay your way, avoiding the pervasive, casual acceptance of massive debt of our "I want it now" culture.

    November 30, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • sjdawson

      Your example of Joseph does not guarantee anything from a Biblical view. I don't believe that Ramsey is hated because he is white and successful. I wouldn't even go as far as to say he is hated. He posted a series of 20 comparisons between rich and poor. The trouble is that he does not attribute any of his stats. Plus (as an added bonus) the differences have no cause/correlation to each other.

      November 30, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
      • mmhhmm

        amen

        November 30, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I had never heard of Mr. Ramsey before this article. I don't know enough about him to form an opinion. However, even though I'm an atheist, I find Mr. Ramsey's use of religion to sell his product to be cynical at best. At worst, it is hypocritical because Christ was unambiguous about his opinion of personal wealth.

      Your generalizations are hypocritical as well. Did not Christ also something to say about his followers judging others? Why is it that a non-believer has to remind you of these things?

      November 30, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
      • Laura

        You are correct.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
      • Dell Griffith

        I did not judge anyone ... merely reflected what I read in the other posts. But thanks for your perspective.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  13. fzmello

    Medical bills are huge for two main reasons. First, the medical malpractice lottery system enacted by the courts, which made a huge malpractice bureaucracy necessary. Secondly, Other types of bureaucrats have managed to get their selves inserted into the system as well. A enormous army of pencil-pushers that far outnumber the caregivers, and eat up even more money. ACA does exactly nothing to combat this problem. In fact, it exacerbates it. As for the examples Dave Ramsey gives, they are only examples, and thus, are actually only symptoms of a far greater reality: successful people expect more from their selves. Then, they step up to meet these expectations, and achieve. They stay in school. They expect their children to achieve, and stay in school. They don't foster "pie-in-the-sky" dreams; they reinforce the fact that you can only rely on yourself, and therefore you have to achieve for yourself. It's the losers who play the "blame-anybody-but-myself-for-my-failure" game.

    November 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Sara

      Malpractice is so high because many people simply could not pay their bills without a lawsuit and this pis.ses off the juries awarding settlements. You have to fix the system before you manage the lawsuit problem.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Indigo

      A huge medical malpractice bureaucracy is necessary because it takes the responsibility off those who caused the malpractice and puts it on the backs of those who suffered it. Why are you not a believer in personal responsibility?

      November 30, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  14. Pam Skeen

    Nothing stated within this article correspondswith any of my real life experiences.
    I have close family members who are poor and engage in bad behavior/bad habits...and I have seen them come into money (result of a lawsuit) and yet the bad behavior continued until all of the money was gone.
    I believe some Liberals (like tha author of this article) their heart is in the right place, but until they set aside their leftist world view and start pushing for some level of accountability among the poor....nothing will get solved.
    America's current welfare system does not help our poor...it hurts our poor.

    November 30, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  15. DiscoverTruth

    All you need is a little mental intensity, work ethic, and the desire to improve.

    November 30, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • sjdawson

      "All you need is a little mental intensity, work ethic, and the desire to improve."
      And the opportunity.

      November 30, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
      • Indigo

        Exactly.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • basedonfact

      This country is full of people who worked hard their whole life and have nothing to show for it and other people who have never broken a sweat but have more than they will ever need

      December 21, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  16. TDRS

    “You can make better choices and have better results.” In my humble opinion, people first need to know what the better choice is and understand why it is a better choice. People need others to show them the better way and why. Just my thoughts on the issue. But I do enjoy his show for sure!

    November 30, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  17. Des

    JW, you gutless coward. Stop dodging the issue. Stop pushing your death cult here. Let's make this simple:

    If the choice were death by blood loss or life by blood transfusion, which choice would you take?

    No more of your shameful dodges. Answer up directly, coward. No more of your slippery dodging and sales pitches for your cult. What is your choice, of the two?

    November 30, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  18. patw

    Why do liberals hate God?

    November 30, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Why do you think liberals hate god?

      November 30, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • kb

      Your question is completely fallacious. It's really conservatives who dislike Jesus; at least, that's what we have to assume from their utter disregard for His teachings.

      November 30, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
      • vinster76

        kb: it is truly astonishing how you are able to discern the spiritual leanings, and moral integrity of conservatives. So many people today like to use the teachings of the Son of God as a javelin or spear of some sort, to point out the faults of others rather than looking at their own lives. Kinda like when Jesus Himself says, "before you remove the speck from your neighbors eye, make sure to take the log out of your own" – my paraphrase.....

        November 30, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
      • Laura

        kb, so true. I'm often amused by Christian conservatives who would as surely turn their backs on Christ as today's poor. I guess Jesus was just lucky not to live in the modern Western world where his poverty and hippie lifestyle would have earned him the contempt of Dave Ramsey. Who knows, since Dave has found such favor with God as evidenced by his fortune, maybe he might even replace Christ at the ole RHOG (right hand of God).
        Wait, it looks like Bill Gates has arrived and has something to say to Dave......

        November 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Why do conservative christians think that they will reach the kingdom of heaven by ignoring the teachings of Christ? Christ was unambiguous about his opinion of the quest for personal wealth. Do you believe that when you say one thing but act the opposite that your god won't notice?

      November 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
      • basedonfact

        I listened to one mega church pastor who came on Alan Colmes' show respond to the quote about it being easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of god by saying that in Jesus' time the gates of the cities were known as eyes of needles and sometimes camels had to be coaxed through them. Talk about cognitive distortion!

        December 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  19. sjdawson

    No one seems to have asked this question. Where did the stats come from that were quoted in Ramsey's list?None seem to be listed.

    November 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  20. sjdawson

    Something that no one has brought up. Argue about the stats all you want...where are the sources? I see a lot of disclaimer by Dave Ramsey saying that he has been misunderstood. However, the article gives a series of statistics that seem to have no sources.

    November 30, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.