Dave Ramsey published this list and it's gone viral on Facebook; it appears to be several months old but I've been seeing it here and there for the past week in Facebook feeds.
The subtitle to the article is:
'So what do the rich do every day that the poor don’t do?'Which really got me motivated to, point by point, bring Mr. Ramsey down just a notch into the real world. I have not fact-checked any of the claims, nor are my rebuttals going to be based on stats. Please feel free to use any of my feedback next time you hear these talking points on the street. List begins below the squiggle.
1. 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. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.The list starts off with a two-fer, shots at both junk food calories per day and gambling.
1. Junk Food consumption has everything to do with A. price and B. availability. The poorer the areas are, the less like that 1. a full grocery with fresh foods is available within walking and/or reasonable public transportation distance and 2. that the fresh foods can be obtained as cheaply as less-healthy processed foods, and that the 'poor' have adequate facilities at home to prepare the healthy food.
2. Gambling: Gambling is about that instant thrill, the chance to double your money instantly. Poor people have very little thrill in their lives, and working for such poor wages as we offer in the US today, have very little chance of 'doubling' their money simply by working more hours (if those hours are even available). So, because they have little leisure and little hope of making a real dent in their poverty through minimum wage, you can understand why more poor people gamble (I assume Dave is including Lottery play too).
I'm not endorsing any kind of gambling at all for people who are financially insecure...and gambling addictions destroy lives. We can understand that gambling is bad for poor people and encourage them to seek other ways to entertain and solidify themselves, without judging them on their current choices. The same applies for drinking, smoking, etc.
2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do thisThis is so vague that I'm not going to take it on. I'd assume most of the poor have a single goal though, probably either 'eat' or 'live'.
3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.The opportunity to exercise aerobically, even if it's just walking/running, relies on the following:
1. The time, free from work and care of others
2. A safe place to exercise
3. Proper shoes and clothes
So, you'll forgive an abandoned mother of 2 that works 50 hours a week and lives in a poor neighborhood, if she can't find the time to run in her crime-ridden area.
4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.Well, listening to audio books requires a car and the money to afford a commute. Unlikely that a high % of the poor have both.
5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.While their lives are full of stressors, it's likely that the poor have less distinct items to have to recall. The list likely is: work, eat, care, sleep.
6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.Hard to lean on your kids when you're working 3 jobs. They might be distracted from their reading by empty bellies, as well.
7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.This one made me mad. It's very unlikely that poor parents have the time and money to transport their smaller kids back and forth to volunteer activities, and the older poor kids are working, Dave.
8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.Well, you need friends and family that have phones to make those calls. And breaks from work.
9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.This is essentially the same thing as #5, so you probably should've put your gambling jab in this spot instead, Dave.
10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.Again, reading requires free time, focus that a full stomach and less stress allows, and in order to be necessary in this context, an economy that offers more advancement opportunities to poor people.
11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.Ssssshhhh poor people! Don't stand up for yourselves!
12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.Networking requires time, money, and access to people and events that can advance your situation. Which of the latter do poor people typically have?
13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.If minimum wage was $15/hr and jobs were plentiful, I bet that 'stat' would change in a hurry.
14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.Dave tried to rescind this one when it was pointed out that only Rich people are ON reality TV, but it was already on the interwebz.
15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.Again, if those hours meant more to them than $14.50, I suspect it would change this stat in a hurry.
16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.Good morning, kids! Remember today: Be born into a financially stable situation with good role models OR win the evil lottery, and you'll be successful!
17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.So, isn't it highly possible then that these good habits alone are not enough to bring people out of poverty?
18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.IF this is true, one can only assume that poor people are smarter than rich people, because there is no such thing is luck.
19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.'Educational Improvement' requires time and money, a significant amount of each, after graduating public high school. One can understand why a rich and poor person's perspective on this could be so dramatically different.
20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.Poor people apparently don't appreciate sitting around as much as wealthy people do (no offense to book-lovers).
Now, Dave was apparently taken to task by many of his readers for this list, given his extremely defensive doubling-down statement at the bottom of the list. I'm glad he was, and should've been. Often, Dave comes back with the 'oh hey I was broke too one after I blew my real estate fortune' (oh, i'm soooo sorry Dave, you're JUST like someone born into poverty now!) which really shows his detachment with reality.
The most famous work of Dave Ramsey is the 'Baby Steps' workbook, a financial plan to security based on paying off all debt, saving, etc. While that plan is not wrong or bad in and of itself, it doesn't work for everyone, nor does it grasp the very real challenges the poor face each and every day in the real world. If Dave is really a 'man of God', I encourage him to read up on what Pope Francis is up to and how he has lived his life, and see if his own outspoken priorities truly represent walking with Christ.