In a society that’s supposedly equitable, why are some people poor, and other people rich?
Piggy and I discussed a ton of things when we first started talking about starting our personal finance blog. But one thing we didn’t talk about was our target audience. We didn’t have to! We both knew immediately that we wanted to write for our younger selves. Years later, we’re older and more financially stable—but inside we still feel like a pair of broke young folks.
And maybe we always will? As we’ve discussed, money doesn’t immediately cure the financial anxieties you develop when you’re poor.
Our twenties were a decade-long financial panic. It was so stressful trying to figure everything out on our own. So we spent a lot of time talking about how traditional financial advice had failed people like us.
Some advice failed simply for being too old. It relied on outdated growth models. Or ignored a rapidly changing globalized economy. Or discounted the possibilities of living in a world transformed by technology.
These failures were innocent.
Others were not.
Much advice we’ve encountered conflates the virtues of wisdom, self-control, independence, perseverance, diligence, vision, and thrift with the state of being financially solvent. Whether directly stated or merely implied, people who are poor are poor because they are therefore foolish, indulgent, leeching, lazy, idle, short-sighted, and wasteful pieces of shit.
I do not know of a single misconception that has damaged society more. It’s embedded so deeply in American sensibilities I don’t think I could pry it out with the claw-end of a hammer.
I have seen so many powerful people wield it like a scepter, a symbol of their divine right to their disproportionate wealth.
And even sadder, I have seen many more powerless people use it as a cudgel against one another.