I attended a showing of Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall for Hope last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Ramsey’s message was optimistic – similar to my post earlier this spring – but listed more specifics and with much greater authority.
Before last week, I was not very familiar with Dave Ramsey, I had seen or heard a tidbit here and there on blogs or the radio and had a general idea of where he is coming from with his personal finance advice, but I never thought he was a political guy. I figured he was like a lot of public figures and tried to avoid politics. I expected him to dwell on the attitude that we need to assume and the decisions we need to make as we face the current financial downturn. He did spend a great deal of time explaining why we did not need to panic and that we needed to get back to simple living, hope and hard work but I was not prepared for the fifteen minutes that he spent dealing with the politics of how our country got to where we are.
But I was ecstatic to hear him pull no punches. Ramsey had a choice between safety and truth and he chose to proclaim truth.
There is a group of personal finance bloggers who avoid discussion of politics altogether – they walk a political tightrope, too afraid to offend anyone on either side of the fence – even as they watch their government destroy our financial institutions, traditions and values. Some don’t have the stomach for political wrangling, others simply want their blogs to be warm and gentle places. I have no problem with that – to each his own. Then there is another group of personal finance bloggers who lean left or even run left. Many of them are my friends and most give great family finance advice, but when it comes to government fiscal policy, they throw all their principles out the window. On one hand they preach that families and individuals need to spend less and reduce consumption. Yet, when the government is involved, they embrace the exact opposite philosophy.
Dave Ramsey, who carries a great deal of weight in the personal finance blogosphere had one word for government intervention in the marketplace:
Here is a direct quote, “Bush and Paulson decided to bailout stupidity and the new administration decided to stimulate stupidity.” Like I said, this was really my first exposure to Dave Ramsey and I was a little surprised at his direct approach, but I loved it. He called government interference a “dumb idea”. He said that “you can have great intentions and still be wrong, be sincere, but still stupid”. He then went on to give a clear, layman’s summary of the difference between the Keynesian model of economics and the ideas of Milton Freidman. Mostly panning the former and embracing the latter.
Mr. Ramsey certainly gave a fair share of blame to excessive consumerism and unethical business practices, even quoting Ghandhi who said that “commerce without morality” will destroy us. However, in a free market we have built-in punishments for those who personally spend money foolishly and businesses who allow greed and cheating to dominate their practice. Unfortunately, our government has chosen (as it usually does) to bailout stupidity, greed and unethical businesses. Those businesses should be allowed to fail, even pushed over the edge.
They should not be given trillions of taxpayer dollars.
My point is this: if Dave Ramsey, one of the foremost personal finance advisors of our generation strongly embraces supply-side economics, then a lot of personal finance bloggers need to reconsider their positions on high taxation, government control of the marketplace, government stimulus and the welfare state.
After listening to Dave’s talk, I was encouraged as an American, inspired as a father and husband, invigorated as an employee.
And as a personal finance blogger? One word: