Open Letter to Dave Ramsey About Poverty
Dear Dave Ramsey,
I will first say that this letter comes to you from a fan. I have been listening to your shows for several months and have been taking your personal finance stories to heart and implementing them in my life. You are a genius communicator, especially about things you know well and have experience in. I have noticed that you also often speak about things that you feel passionately about which you have little practical experience or formal education, especially when it comes to race and public policy.
While you know and help many black people, you don’t seem to understand their culture or where they come from. As such, you do acknowledge racism but you don’t see it as a problem created by the public institutions created by a racist public over a long time period. In fact, I feel we have different views on the democracy, such that the wrongs currently being perpetuated, as continuing and that we have ability to change it through our vote. It seems that you primarily see the government as evil, even as the government, as imperfect as it is, benefits you tremendously. You often speak about the wonderful opportunities we have in this country. These opportunities are here because of the government that we as a people create at every election. It is the way it is thanks to the people we elect for the things they promise to do and deliver on a majority of the time.
This blind spot about America for what it is and how it came to be is problematic in the daily addresses: they are very combative and very one sided. They are also problematic for many people who are poor and who come from areas in this country which are poor by design. Poor because certain interests of the banks and corporations, create them that way. You understand very well the power of these interests. You understand that banks which create credit cards employ tools of psychology to trick people into getting credit cards, they also lobby the government to take away laws that would protect your own listeners, like the Dodd-Frank bill, which would ensure Fiduciary rules from Money managers and require credit card companies to describe the terms in clear and obvious terms.
You are a very smart man. Your show is for people with more than average intelligence. The way that I see, is that there a few things left out from your analysis of the Washington Post article. One is out of lack of knowledge of how news organizations work (I have a company in news publishing and had a magazine in High School, so I speak from experience) and the other out of misunderstanding of how Liberals think and spend.
You said that the WaPo is anti-christian. Please provide examples. You said they were wrong on the statistics in the headline. They were not, one of the figures for one of the Christian groups was half of one of the non-christian groups. This was done because the writers do not write the headlines in the news business, the editors do and so it can be tricky as they write the headlines to sell the stories. This is because the newspapers are a business, not a public good and so I hope you can understand why they do that: they have to meet a payroll after all an dI think you can respect that.
The other part of the article article I wanted to point out is that while in YOUR experience you have never heard in church that people are poor because they are lazy, it is certainly the lesson I see in your daily show as people are nearly always debt as a result of lazy decisions or lack of income. You do a wonderful job of teaching those who are able to learn. However, the people you reach are by and large privileged. They are not people who have a hard time of getting a job because of their skin or voting because of their ethnicity, or because they are simply born with slightly lower IQ or with a physical impairment. These are the “circumstances” that liberals fight. These are the things that liberals spend money on. Liberals do not feel that the poor person needs money because they are working hard enough, but the system has to change to allow them to earn as much from that hard work as the system allows you. It seems that your personal opinion is that the system is great and people need to work smarter. As such, it can be understood that some are not smart enough and need charity and help. This is why it makes sense why Christians would give more money directly to the poor instead of organizations like Southern Poverty Law Center to fight for the poor so that they can attain the success you have. If the Christian thinks the person is lazy, they need charity, but if the person thinks the system keeps the person poor then the person doesn’t need money, the system needs to be altered.
Lastly, you asked at the end of the podcast for example of government programs that pulled people out of poverty. Frankly, I was shocked to hear that as there are too many to list and that shows a lack of interest to research things. For instance, America had a huge problem with poor seniors, pensions and Social Security created by FDR helped those people. We had old and people dying of preventable diseases because they couldn’t afford healthcare, Lyndon Johnson helped end that by creating Medicare. We had most of black people unable to vote for representation and as such were far behind in schools and in income. By having the Civil Rights act and the Voter protection act that protected the vote, were able to get out of poverty in huge numbers by ending the segregation and systemic oppression against them. The new deal put millions of people to work during great depression ending huge amount of poverty as did the bills by Obama during the Great Recessions when millions were out of work (including engineers like me). FDR’s GI bill continues to help millions of American Service Men who would not be able to pay for college otherwise and got millions of Americans into middle class by making them white collar workers. We had millions of people become Middle Class through laws creating OSHA and Disability Insurance such that people did not loose life savings and earning potential by getting hurt on the job. There are literally thousands of other examples that I could bring up that you should have known by going through a high school civics/history class but I will let you find that on your own.
So in conclusion, I feel that your anger at the government is short sighted. I, an immigrant (so I know a Marxist government as I came from one and your understanding of Marxist needs more research), see your anger at a country which does so much to help you and takes some taxes from you (as all civilized countries must) so that you can live in a great country. You don’t understand how and why liberals spend money and the difference between what you see as circumstances and what liberals see as circumstances is different. And you said that government has not helped people come out of poverty, and while you helped millions get out of debt, you have done an unmeasurable fraction compared to what our collective government that we vote for and fund has created by using our collective will and efforts.
So please understand that it is with a lot of respect that I say that I hope in the future, you will continue to use your talents as a communicator to help people with what you know best: personal finance and I hope you will see that perhaps your knowledge, as great as it is in personal finance, is not as solid in other areas (which by the way, is normal) and that perhaps your certainty on those issues might be shared in a less public avenue.