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

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soundoff (2,299 Responses)
  1. Anonymous2

    David Ramsey is interviewed in a Christian video curriculum for single parents called "Single and Parenting." In this video he looks directly into the camera and addresses single mothers (about 25% of whom never got one dime of child support, and many of whom have had no choice but go on public assistance) and says: "You'd be wealthy if you didn't do stupid things with your money."

    Really, Dave? Can we see how that works out on a spreadsheet?

    November 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Well all single mothers are crack heads. That is all he was saying. What is the big deal? If they would by bread and water for their kids they would be wealthy.

      November 30, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  2. Rich

    Well, this certainly explains why so many Jewish people are well off. They follow the Ramsey Christ teachings. Oh, what's that? They don't believe Christ is the savior yet have wealth. The humanity!!

    November 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • ME II

      Obviously God has to make other people rich too. Otherwise it would be obvious and there would be no faith required.

      or God has nothing to do with any of it and likely doesn't even exist.

      November 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Laura

      Didn't Jews used to be poor but they started taking aerobics and listening to audio books?

      November 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
      • Sara

        Indians are the wealthiest ethnic group in the US, so maybe he should be promoting Hinduism.

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

      I would recommend the book "Thou shall Prosper" by Rabbi Daniel Lappen. It is an in depth look at the biblical teachings on traits people should live by and their coorelation to prosperity in the marketplace. Definately enlightening.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:44 am |
  3. Y.C

    I have been free of debt when Ramsey was in diapers which was nothing to do with my religion. Ramsey use religion to sell
    his products and that is a sin.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Laura

      Show me your tax return to prove you are wealthy enough to make that judgement, Y.C. Otherwise, leave the judging to God and Dave.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  4. Observer

    "“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.”"

    And if someone doing all the "right" things in Ramsey's book is still outsourced out of a job, it must have been their fault because if they were really good, it wouldn't have happened, right?

    No True Scotsman fallacy.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  5. Stephen Helbig

    A True Christian perspective ~ "BRAVO" ~ and thank you Rachel Evans

    November 30, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  6. Ungodly Discipline

    This guy is a total douche.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Harina de Maiz

      If you believe this article then you probably believed the article about the gay waitress who wasn't left a tip that ended up being hoax, and you likely voted for Obama, twice.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • Ungodly Discipline

        I don't know about the other stuff, but yes I absolutely voted for Obama twice. I always vote for the candidate who is not either retarded or from Kolob (or both).

        November 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  7. lol??

    Wanna make buckets of money?? One word, PLASTICS!

    November 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline


      November 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • GAW

      Ah the classic line from the Graduate........Or start a program to tell people how to get out of debt. Sell books, DVDs charge for conferences.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • ME II

      "... start a religion." – L. Ron Hubbard (supposedly)

      November 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  8. HeyHey

    He's cheap and he encourages others to be cheap. Go out and buy something, help the economy...

    November 30, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • karenjay

      The Bush theory of how to help the country. Solow thought otherwise.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • Ungodly Discipline

        He is a GOP hero.

        November 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  9. Randall

    Actually you don't need a gym membership to exercise four times a week. I know this is hard for rich educated folks to believe, but every single municipality (and some uncorporated areas!) in America has a "virtual treadmill" made of concrete, asphalt, or dirt available for free, provided by taxpayers for everybody to use any time they want!

    November 30, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Randall

      I admit I didn't bother to read the rest of this article after I read the sentence about poor people being unable to exercise because they can't afford gym memberships. Make one absurd excuse to explain a behavior and I'll assume the rest of this article is equally absurd excuse-making.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • David M.

        Perhaps you should have read the next sentence where she says or have the time or energy to run around a park. Mighty quick to judge now aren't we?

        November 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • Real Life

        I'm with you Randall, and Responding to pride,However I DID read the rest. You were right in your assumption,she too has glossed over some facts. Pointing so hard at Ramsey when the finger pointing is so thick and she hasn't added up facts correctly, when this happens I never believe what that person says. I don't agree with all Ramsey says either but he does make good points. Who on this planet do we agree with everything they say, no one!

        November 30, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • James Tarkin

      Not in sub-zero mid-winter – sorry – try again

      November 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • JR

        Location is yet another excuse. There's free videos on Youtube that show you how to do all kinds of workouts without any equipment in your own home (most local libraries offer free Internet access to cardholders). Plus...jump ropes are ridiculously cheap and can be used for a nice cardiovascular workout. I'm not saying it's easy (although I really don't think it's that difficult if you really want it enough), but it is possible.

        December 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • ME II

      I did like the "virtual treadmill" bit though. lol.

      November 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • Sara

        LOL, yeah, this person hasn't lived in cold climates or rough neighborhoods. Imagine asking women to go out for a job in a high crime area? A 60 year old diabetic with a bad knee to shuffle along on the icy road with no sidewalks in sub-zero weather? Sure.

        November 30, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
        • Randall

          Your typo that replaced "jog" with "job was absolutely epic XD

          December 1, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • Sara

      Many of us have medical conditions that make walking and running non-options for exercise. Everything else costs money. If you have it, even a bad knee or fused ankle mean nothing as you enjoy laps in the pool and workouts on the gym equiptment. If you don't, you pretty much end up at home in front of the TV, likely depressed and spiraling downward. I know, because I pay for that gym membership because in years of trying I have never found another good option for people with any sort of medical problem that makes walking difficult. As I work out every day I look around and think about so many in my community who can't afford it, either in time or money.

      November 30, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  10. Amy

    Dave Ramsey gets A LOT wrong. Can't stand this misogynistic blowhard…….

    November 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • lol??

      Some see evolution everywhere. Some see misogynism everywhere. You could sell books. Hurry now, don't miss the bus. Don't fall either and get run over.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  11. Rob Davis

    Dave Ramsey is offering solutions to help you change your station in life. Rachel Evans is not. She is providing excuses why poor people are staying poor. She may seem like she's helping the poor by saying why they can't do the things that Dave Ramsey suggests, but offers no solutions of her own. Dave wants people to succeed, and isn't interested in excuses. Rachel is providing the very opposite of progress by giving excuses why people can't do these things. So what's your solution, Rachel? You don't have one? Think about that long and hard the next time you're on your treadmill listening to your iPod. Poor people everywhere are waiting for your solutions, because you want them to ignore Dave Ramsey's.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • David M.

      Do you ever think that if all the poor people "rose-up" and became wealthy that it would be you asking them if they want fries with their meal?

      November 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • good thoughts but maybe missing the point

      Hi Rob,
      I like what you are bringing up, that we should be focusing on figuring out how to help poor people rather than arguing against others that are. However, I don't think her point is that Ramsey's strategies are necessarily bad, nor does she want people "to ignore Dave Ramsey". She actually affirms that, "Ramsey may be a fine source of information on how to eliminate debt". What she is arguing is that, "his views on poverty are neither informed nor biblical". I see her points though I don't think she is completely right. I think he is taking some of what the Bible says very seriously, and other things not as much (as everyone does). And I think he is very informed about how money works (particularly for certain groups of people) in our country, but uninformed about the many other factors that affect someones economic status. But in the end, he's a financial guy, not a theologian or sociologist, so chew the meat, spit out the bones, I'd say.
      But I disagree that Rachel is offering excuses for poor people. I think she is voicing a Martin Luther King Jr.-esque social commentary about, maybe even challenge to, our country's empowered who are perpetuating systematic injustices. If you don't agree that there are systematic injustices, like say racism, that powerfully effect someones economic status for good or ill, I would suggest to you the same thing Rachel is saying to Dave, you are not informed. And if I'm right, I'm not judging you, it's probably not your fault, it is pretty much impossible for someone that is empowered (or as they say, "privileged") to understand what it is like to walk in someone else's shoes. But I do think we should try, and in that way do our best to mimic the incarnation of Jesus. I think that is what she is getting at, that in the end, what's more important than money is love.
      I welcome your reply if you have the time. This kind of dialogue is helpful for me to grow, both the challenging things that you say, and the challenging things I say though am not living out very well.

      November 30, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
      • compassion...


        December 1, 2013 at 2:30 am |
  12. karenjay

    The "poor" I know-1) chooses welfare over work, 2) addictions, 3) mental illness. The mentally ill need our help. The addicted have help and often chose not to use it. Those who choose welfare, well–how do you help them?

    November 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • David M.

      Well, that is just the poor that YOU know. The poor I know fit your addiction and mental illness category, but also hard-working; poor because of a divorce from an abusive husband; currently in school to better themselves; poor because of unforeseen medical debt that they are struggling to pay off.

      Your experiences with poor folks may fit neatly into your black and white categories, but you don't know even a measurable fraction of the poor in this country and, admittedly, neither do I. I just want to express my experiences with the poor.

      November 30, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Sara

      Wow. You never met a woman with a sick kid whose husband ran out on her? Someone who had to quick work when their father got Alzheimer's? Someone with an intellectual disability who was marginally literate despite years of special education? Get out and meet some real people.

      November 30, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  13. Set

    Our secular society is brainwashing us to be consumers.


    November 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • karenjay

      Advertising only effects the uneducated who cannot look at advertising critically. The biggest problem I see is that no one is taught to think critically anymore. Even the media seems to have turned into talking heads. This article–while attempting to be a critical look only gives one side–or propoganda.

      It will be interesting to see if any news agency or media can also teach what it means to look critically at something. Then we will know that we really are educated.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • Set

        Even the highly educated can fall prey to advertising. A lot of advertisements are directed to educated people.

        November 30, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Your theory has a few holes in it. Lets see....Christmas?

      November 30, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  14. Ungodly Discipline

    Dave Ramsey is everything that is wrong with this country.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Set

      His program works well. Even non-religious inst.itutions are seeing what he says is wise in regards to finances.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • Ungodly Discipline

        That is lovely but what does it have to do with gods and perhaps you haven't noticed he is a liar.

        November 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • ME II

        Common sense wrapped up in Biblical bs is still common sense.

        Live below your means, save often.

        Many, though not everyone, would be much better off.

        November 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  15. David

    Let me say that unequivocal that the author is not familiar with Ramsey. There are multiple statements that simply are not true. Connecting Ramsey to those who preach the prosperity gospel is flat out incorrect. He teaches exactly the opposite in fact.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • nateofthenorth

      If he teaches that God wants Christians to be rich, then he teaches the prosperity gospel

      November 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • David

        Well, Ramsey doesn't teach that "God wants Christians to be rich;" he's not connected to the prosperity Gospel movement. I'm telling ya the author has got it wrong.

        November 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  16. RobN

    The main difference between the two is that Ramsey expects people to help themselves and the author seems to think the government should do it. That, and the fact that she is still promoting the idea of food deserts and that entire idea has been statistically disproven. Still makes for a good excuse, though.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • kmdguy

      I am an epidemiologist in community health in the Pacific NW, and I would love to see where you get your "statistics" to back up that food deserts don't exist. Community poverty and nutrition is one of my specialties of research, and I can most assuredly tell you that food deserts absolutely exist in almost every city, and I can show you the data that proves it, because I have spent years researching it. Your statement is grossly and wholly inaccurate.

      November 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  17. SD

    I think a big part of Dave Ramsey's teachings have been left out. Dave says: "Build wealth and give a bunch of it away". My husband and I teach his Financial Peace University class and it is amazing the change in people's mindset once they go through the class. We supply the kit for those who cannot pay for it. Our only requirement is they attend every class (9 weeks) and pay it forward when they are able to. At the end of the class about 90% of the class has reported that their charitable giving has increased. Dave Ramsey also teaches to have an open hand when it comes to money. It's okay to have wealth as long as you use it according to God's principals. This lady has Dave alk wrong. Maybe she should attend a class.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • David

      The author is so incorrect that it makes me think she's on a political payroll.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • David M.

      I think the author clearly understands Dave Ramsey's program. She is giving her opinion and makes some pretty good points. She draws parallels between his quotes and what is believed by the prosperity teachers. You obviously disagree with her, but don't act like she is completely off base.

      By the way is "charitable giving" used to actually help folks or just to churches to build multi-million dollar mega church facilities and pay the head preacher $250,000 (that is the true and actual salary of a large church pastor here in KC).

      November 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • David

        No, she makes inaccurate statements. She's off base. Really, she should listen to his program for a few days. I don't care whether people listen to Ramsey or not but I'm saying as a matter fact what she's written simply isn't true.

        November 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
        • David M.

          I think her rub is not with the program, as she concedes that the advice is often sound. She is talking about Ramsey's personal/quasi-business beliefs. So whether she has been through the program is actually irrelevant since she is not talking about the program or the financial advice.

          November 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
        • ME II

          Examples, please. Saying that the author is way off base, doesn't help if you don't provide specifics.

          November 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
      • ME II

        "The median expected salary for a typical Pastor in the United States is $86,797. " (http://www1.salary.com/Pastor-Salary.html)

        Still pretty high, I think.

        November 30, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Sara

      I don't think her intention is to criticize his work as a whole, only his position on the causes of poverty.

      November 30, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  18. Set

    Crazy like top universities like Harvard or Yale would never hire them on as faculty? Crazy like you wouldn't let one, even if he was educated at the top university and was highly recommended by previous patients, perform surgery on you?

    November 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Starsky

      Easy fella. Put down the knife and step away from the keyboard.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  19. GetFiddle Man

    Dave Ramsey is the epitome of the definition of faith: the purposeful suspension of critical thinking. No criticism of Christianity or of himself is tolerable in the Dave Ramsey world. He mixes good advice for those in debt, with horrible Christian-based right-wing dogma. Ramsey - like Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh - are uncaring and mean-spirited, rich Americans. They shamelessly throw to the public, and their followers, red meat laced with conservative poison served on a plate of Christianity.

    November 30, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • allenwoll

      GF M - Just So !
      What people who claim to be tight with God mostly want is to get get tight with your money !

      November 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Mike

      He certainly doesn't seem Christ-like to me. He seems as petty and immature as those critics he is accusing of the same.

      November 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • aMom

      You completely overlook his generosity. One of the reasons it is good to be wealthy is so that you can give it away–something that is also Biblical and Dave teaches.

      November 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
      • GetFiddle Man

        A lot of people do not care what is printed in the bible. Right-wing religious dishonesty includes claiming ownership of morality, family values and a host of other things that exist quite well without them. Also, cherry-picking some good things and ignoring the rest is convenient for Dave Ramsey worshipers, but giving money to the church and spreading distortions about the less-fortunate in society is not what I call admirable. The author, Rachel Held Evans, explains it quite well.

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

        Then he should stick to that instead of publicizing his disdain for the poor. Consider the life of Christ and ask yourself when Jesus ever said such things. Pull your head out of your behind.

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

        A society that gives all of its citizens a fair chance at opportunity doesn't need to rely on the rich for charity. In my opinion, the only reason to achieve great wealth is to be able to help others, but I think the better idea is to help others have a chance at opportunity, too. Being wealthy so you can give to others is a form of power over those others you claim to want to help. Though I agree with his list of habits to become successful, Dave Ramsey appears to be an arrogant, rich snob.

        December 31, 2013 at 3:32 am |
        • ricegf

          "In my opinion, the only reason to achieve great wealth is to be able to help others, but I think the better idea is to help others have a chance at opportunity, too."

          I like the word "too" in your post – help others with your wealth, but also help others have a chance at opportunity.

          But I think that pretty much sums up Mr. Ramsey's ministry, don't you? He has devoted his life's work to teaching others how to get out of debt, handle money well, and build some wealth so that they too will have the opportunity to "change their family tree" from living paycheck-to-paycheck lives of quiet desperation to living their own life's dream – and then give that wealth and new-found knowledge away like never before.

          I can testify from my own life, and from watching many of the hundreds of students that have taken his Financial Peace University classes that I have led, that his approach works. I'd suggest you look into it a bit more. You may find some tools that will enable you to help others find opportunity as well! 🙂

          December 31, 2013 at 6:49 am |
        • Saraswati

          I think this really gets down to how far you think Ramsey is universalizing this good advice. It helps to simplify and say things like "with these methods, anyone can do it". People like that for a couple of reasons. First, it's inspirational. Unfortunately, the second reason is that it allows people to write others off with blame and a sense that they did this to themselves. It's a fine line to walk. You can help a lot of people by focussing on an exagerrated tale of slef-reliance. At the same time that very storu causes people to overlook athe reality that a lot of people won't make it because of intellectual or emotional disabilities, family responsibilities while caring for parents with dementia or a sick child or many other barriers. The problems aren't always obvious to the naked eye: a child born to a substance adicted mother may fight a life-long battle with impulse control that makes simply holding a minimum wage job a victory.

          The problem is that it's more difficult to feel inspiration to make money when you understand the reality that not everyone can do it. You'll find few with subnormal IQs on the financially stable and successful list.

          The myth that we can all do it is like the story we tell women that "anyone can become an abused spouse". It's a useful myth. But realistically some women are much more likely to fall into this trap. The statistics, however, neither flatter the victims nor inspire them to look for help. So we tell an oversimplified story. The same with leading people to financial success. It is much easier to pretend sometimes that we are all in the same boat.

          December 31, 2013 at 7:18 am |
        • Jeff C

          kellienicholson – if you spent any time listening to Dave (which I recommend you do), you would know he completely agrees with and actively advocates your statement "the only reason to achieve great wealth is to be able to help others". "help others have a chance at opportunity" is 100% what his programs and books are about. Yes; he makes money doing that and has done well for himself, but there's nothing inherently wrong with that unless one is a socialist or being untruthful in the pursuit of that (which Ramsey is not).

          I have listened to him and followed his advice for over 5 years now and have done well for myself doing it, and I have never heard or read him say anything I would take as coming from an "arrogant, rich snob".

          Like the blog's author, you should actually listen and/or read about Ramsey for more than 5 minutes before critiquing.

          December 31, 2013 at 11:02 am |
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