(Financial) Retard of the Month for November


Don’t worry, we’re pretty sure she’ll be wiping herself by 30.


A message for previous, subsequent, and the current (Financial) Retards of the Month:

Stop the charade, and admit it. You want to be poor. Because God knows you’re not making the necessary effort to avoid doing so. And all the introspection and public lamentation in the world isn’t going to make a difference to your financial situation, unless you count the time involved in doing so, which will make things worse. It doesn’t matter how old you are, either. A losing attitude in one’s 20s will extend into one’s 60s and well beyond.

We’d gladly wager that the unemployed, recently bankrupted woman behind Deal(ing) With Money will be just as destitute 4 decades from now, except a) we’d require a huge payoff for having to tie up our money for that long and b) no one except the principal herself, and probably not even her, would dare take the other side of that bet.

(Financial) Retard of the Month. A monthly (no, really) feature in which we showcase a self-styled finance enthusiast who doesn’t have a clue about how money works, assails society instead of taking care of business at home, and shares her inane worldview with anyone who knows her URL.

Our latest honoree is an unnamed woman who’s as generic a personal finance blogger as you’re ever going to see:

  • In debt.
  • Most of the debt is student loans.
  • Studied something impractical in college.
  • Gets uncomfortably personal (the use of the 1st-person pronoun on this site is overwhelming).
  • Writes blog posts in the rote manner of the unimaginative. (“Wait, it’s the end of the post? Time to add a couple of boldface questions, posed to the readers. You see, because that’s how you facilitate dialogue. And by ‘dialogue’ I mean a bunch of other similar people nodding their empty heads in the comments.”)

Granted, we live in a society in which a plurality of TV shows now involve looking into what should be the private vapid lives of losers – the morbidly obese, the chemically dependent, the vacuously ostentatious, the teenagely pregnant. But does that mean that every deficient person’s life now has to be broadcast to the masses?

To recap, our heroine is 28, yet graduated from college 2 years ago. No word on whether, or why, it took her 8 years. She certainly didn’t start late because of any service in the Marines. Being deep into adulthood doesn’t preclude her from using sad-face emoticons non-ironically, either. Our collective suspended adolescence continues unabated.

She didn’t work during college. In fact,

[My mom] is not allowing me to work a job to pay my debts and move out of her house.

Twenty-freaking-eight. (Mom has $66,000 in student loans of her own, too. And hasn’t worked in 32 years, nor paid a power bill in 9. There’s also a sister who has $60,000 in student loans, not to mention a brother with $60,000. This is just too perfect. On second thought, maybe we will tie up our money to cash in on that bet and its all-but-guaranteed payout.)

Unnamed woman “wants to make a living as a freelance writer”, as if that’s something easy to do for a person with no history of commitment or responsibility.

The best part is the obligatory disclaimer, as derivative and redundant as the boldface questions ending each post. Really? You’re “not a financial advisor”? You’re “not a finance professional”? You’re “not qualified to give financial advice”? We had no idea. But thanks for pointing out that we should “find a qualified, trained financial expert” for any “financial issues [we] need addressed.”

Honorees, a question: Do you folks consciously try to suck? Is that the idea?

Despite her stunning lack of qualifications – and we’re not talking about her not being a financial professional, but rather her life in general up to this point – she sure has a lot to say about people who have made something of themselves.

Case in point, “Papa” John Schnatter, the pizza guy. Mr. Schnatter is an American citizen, and thus subject to the blatantly unconstitutional ObamaCare law that not only requires citizens to purchase a service, but orders employers to provide a means for acquiring said service. The Deal With Money woman excoriates him for having determined that adding a cost to his operations will require him to transfer that cost elsewhere. He could raise prices (and thus sell fewer pizzas.) His franchisees could pay workers less, not that pizza chain employee is a particularly lucrative gig in the first place. Or, they could cut those employees’ hours. Mr. Schnatter obviously doesn’t want them to, or he wouldn’t have sold the franchises and indirectly hired these people in the first place, but the RotM has trouble grasping such higher-level concepts. From her incisive analysis:

He states that his company cannot afford to insure workers under Obamacare, and he would have to pass the costs on to customer (sic) by raising the cost of a pizza by $.14.

I suppose it doesn’t matter that this man lives in a 40,000 square foot castle, or gave away 2 million free (sic) pizzas. He just can’t afford to provide employees with affordable health care! He can’t do it!

That’s a logical jump that Mike Powell couldn’t clear, without even addressing the question of why Mr. Schnatter giving food away should subject him to derision. Why is the size of his house relevant, other than that it classifies him as a rich guy who’s keeping the proletariat down?

Mr. Schnatter didn’t wake up one morning and have gold bullion fall out of the sky and hit him on the head. His father died $60,000 in debt, a number that Ms. Deal With Money is three-quarters of the way to. Schnatter fils started building his company when he was 5 years younger than Ms. Deal With Money is now, and unlike her, indeed worked through college. And then raised 3 kids, one with cerebral palsy.

But he could have been born rich and it wouldn’t matter. On at least two levels, it’s juvenile to believe that the relationship between Papa John’s franchisee (or founder) and worker is analogous to that of parent and child. Schnatter is obligated to provide checks that don’t bounce, and a clearly stated list of work requirements. In return, Papa John’s employees have to show up on time and keep the customers happy. The idea that by Schnatter bringing these workers on board, he’s now responsible for getting them to the doctor on time, stands up to no scrutiny. Why must an employer provide anything beyond the standard remuneration of a job – money? Should he set Papa John’s drivers and cooks up with affordable housing and clothing, too? Or should those workers buy such goods in the marketplace, just like everyone else in the world does?

This is part of a new feature on Deal With Money, “Rich People Behaving Badly”. Mr. Schnatter had the misfortune of seeing the inevitable economic harm that would accrue to his business under the new law, and now must live out his days knowing that he incurred the criticism of an idle blogger whose claim to recognition is her staggering negative net worth.

If you think she can’t get any more simplistic in her view of the world:

Health care is something that every person deserves.

That would sound great coming out of the mouth of an indoctrinated kindergartener, but let’s examine it on the surface. What does it even mean? Employers are required to provide a service that has nothing to do with the business of, in this case, selling pizzas? Or is she saying that no matter how much labor and capital go into the provision of health care, that whoever wants some deserves it – and that person’s willingness to pay for the service is irrelevant?

If you allow people to become sick…you are…violating the rules of common decency

Allow people to become sick. Unless Schnatter or a franchisee is running around spraying swine flu virus in employees’ faces, exactly how is anyone “allowing” anyone else to become sick? The argument here is clear, if idiotic – your employer is your mentor, superior, benefactor, wet nurse and mommy.

In The Greatest Personal Finance Book Ever Written we take the opposite, correct point of view. Your employer is your partner in a particular transaction, one that lasts a little longer than most others do. Sure, your employer can still boss you around and cut you loose, but you have the right to walk away too. Unless you have a contract, in which case you both have to honor it. But we’re getting away from the core truth here, which is this: Your employer gets your labor. You get money. Expecting either party to offer up anything beyond that is not only immature but redefines a pretty easily understandable social contract.

See her reactionary, off-topic arguments in the comments, too. “Aren’t healthy employees better than sick ones?” Which is a loaded question that has nothing to do with anything. No one’s preventing Papa John’s employees from finding health care of their own, nor from them taking active steps to be healthy in the first place (not drinking, not smoking, exercising, eating intelligently, etc.)

Furthermore, as if Schnatter and the franchisees haven’t thought this through. “Damn, our workforce has been decimated! We can’t keep the doors open, because everyone has HIV and/or lupus! There goes the stock price! Why didn’t we listen to that unemployed 28-year-old liberal arts major when we had the chance? This could all have been avoided! Stupid, stupid us!”

On the other hand, her political opinions are very layered and nuanced, if unsurprising. Also, make sure you find the places on her blog where she complains about not getting hired for several retail jobs, then explains it away by saying that she’s probably overqualified. This woman is overqualified for nothing. Oh, and she complains about her weight, as if you didn’t see that coming.

Folks, keep at it. Keep baring your soul for the voyeuristic to see, whining about your situation, never growing up, and finding other losers to commiserate with. You won’t get rich, of course, but you might get some notoriety. After all, we’re 31 days away from naming another (Financial) Retard of the Month.