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Why I distrust Dave Ramsey, and other “broadcast experts” who peddle snake oil

So, in response to a facebook post from a friend, I commented how I am not a fan od Dave Ramsey, AT. ALL. This appeared to have shocked some people, so I said I’d explain.

My problems with Ramsey are two-fold, one: I hate people that peddle their own brand of what’s essentially populist propaganda on masses that do not have the time to invest in fully understanding what he’s talking about.  If enough people hear the message, it doesn’t matter how wrong he is. If you tell a lie often enough people will believe it. Two: I hate his extraordinary simplification of complex ideas,  sometimes amazingly wrong and bad advise, and stretches of math that simply do not support reality. (Seriously… 12% annual growth over 40 years? )

First let me explain his personal issues, then expound on the whole of talk radio sales people.

Dave Ramsey says things that sound absolutely true and good on the surface.

Here’s his “baby steps”:

Baby Step 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
Baby Step 5 – College funding for children
Baby Step 6 – Pay off home early
Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give!

They all sound super smart! Who could argue with any of them? Me, and thousands upon thousands of economists, scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, bankers, politicians, and legal experts.

First off, all except #2 are actually good ideas, but with major caveats. Emergency fund? Yes. Are you making enough at your part time job to save $1,000? Then it’s not a good idea. If you were a medical student and your mission was to cure AIDS by the end of the year, that sounds like a good mission, but it’s a stupid goal because you don’t know how to even begin.
If you are making an average household 2-income cashflow, these rules are out of your reach, not because of debt, but because of the cost of living.
Let’s say you are above average, and are in the wealth range that DR is catering to: 2 and 4 are not good blanket advise, and he knows it.

Bottom line issues with #2: Debt is NOT a bad thing.
Bottom line issue with #4: There is no one-size-fits all investment strategy. There are better options depending on your own scenario.

Important fact: Debt is NOT a bad thing. In fact, it is the driver of literally most of the financial growth in the world. Literally.

If I have a job, but not a large savings and I need to buy a car, I can save up over time, and buy a car, or I can get a loan. If I save up, the car manufacturer has to wait on me to sell their car, which means they don’t have the money to spend until I do. If they are trrying to buy a house, but can’t buy a house till I buy a car, and I build houses, but can’t build a house because nobody has the money to buy one, we’re both screwed. Debt solves the problem.

Dave Ramsey says educational debt it bad. BS. Some educational debt is bad- diploma mills and online-only education scam artists that don’t earn anything extra are bad, but a 4 year degree in a professional field? Are you kidding? I can make $20,000 a year in retail, or $75,000 as an engineer. If I take out 80K in loans, and end up making $55k more than I would have, it only takes a year and a half into my career to be ahead. There are very few careers where you aren’t making more than you would have been.

If you have ed. debt, paying it all off first and renting, while saving up to buy a home is often ridiculously stupid. (Something he nearly always advises.) Renting costs almost as much as a mortgage in most markets, but with a mortgage, you actually build equity in your home. At the end of a year’s rent, all you get is a rent increase notice and the feeling of “well, at least I had a roof over my head”. If you are single, or non-parents, maybe renting is worth it, but not usually. Student loans are typically very low interest, and some of which is usually subsidized. Worse: he often says pay off your debts, and dump that money into investments. He argues this as investments can grow 12% over 40 years! (Which is utter, utter, bullshit. Oh yeah, dd I mention he happens to sell mutual funds?) Buying a house is a lower rate if investment, but at least you end up with a useful physical asset. When your mutual fund goes belly up, or the next crash leaves it at 10% of what it was, you lose big.

Those are just a few examples out of hundreds I can think of… but the real issue with DR is why he says what he says.

News flash: it has nothing to do with wanting to get you out of debt or make you wealthy. It’s making HIM wealthy.

DR sells books, and has radio broadcasts, and tv appearances. He makes money because *you* pay attention to him, not because he’s right. His mission is to say whatever gets you to buy more books, and listen to more radio ads. His advise is not the product, YOU are. Also, he’s a real estate mogul. He advises people to rent often…which he makes money on!

That’s my big beef with all broadcast salesmen. They aren’t peddling infomation, they’re extracting money from YOU. His advise is a massive conflict of interest that benefits him and him alone, much like the Infowars people and their “Survival Seeds”, and Glenn Beck and his “buy precious metas and Survival Seeds”, and Breitbart and their “Survival Nazi Seeds”. It all makes me angry that people buy into their shit instead of thinking things through.

/End rant.

Status report 2017

I know it’s a little late to be posting a 2017 update, but, y’know, life happens.

I’ve got several things going on under my belt, so the blog hasn’t been a priority. But, that’s what this post is about.

I’ve got a few interests that keep me going: aviation, photography, computers, politics,  all blog concentrations, of course, but there’s also music, Scouting, robotics, writing, working, parenting, and husband-ing. I’m not really stretched thin so much as some things occasionally take a backseat for a while when I focus on others.

For example: I haven’t flown in nearly a year, and it’s killing me. My flight physical was delayed while they study my EKG and a sleep study…because, y’know, I’m 40 now. Hopefully that will be remedied soon, with a letter from the FAA. I’ve taken some time off from music, too.  I was a band leader for a Jazz band and Big Band in Raleigh for several years, and stepped into a player role for the last year, since I knew we were moving. I was a player in a couple other bands, too, before that including a Brass Choir (that specialized in chamber music), and a Ska band from many years ago.  (I play brass – mainly trumpet- , guitar, and even bass on occasion.) Scouts has become a back burner, since we’ve moved and we’re waiting for the middle child to complete his Eagle Scout before we move to another troop. (He’s almost finished.) I’m nearly completely burned out on politics, seeing as how everyone has an opinion on things they do NOT understand. It’s just painful dredging through BS opinions to find real political dialogue.

That being said, I’ve been focusing a lot on my photography, computers and writing. I’m nearly halfway through a novel I started writing a few months ago. I’ve got enough material for a whole series, just need to get it sorted out and in text. I’ve been learning new computer languages, applications, and suites. I’ve been neck deep in the Atlassian suite this year, and setting up provisioning suites for a small lab at work.

I’m also trying to teach the kids to code. The boys have started learning Java in their robotics program at school. A lot of the robot competition involves controlling the robot, and programming autonomous activity for the machines, too. It’s just too cool. The 10 year old just started learning HTML tonight. I got her set up on Codecademy, running through building her for web page. We got her fist Hello World page, and now she’s heading for the bowels of CSS. 🙂

So, that’s the update. I actually sat down here because I wanted to write up a schematic for the home network. I got a substantial UPS a couple weeks ago (for free, because it needed a little work), and replaced a blown cap, and VOILÀ!, 2700 watts of backup. That gives me 10 minutes of outage time! That may not sound like much, but if you look at my schematic, you’ll see I’m pulling a LOT of watts. Ha!

 

G’night!

The Pacific Northwest is beautiful.

The trips I’ve made out here have literally been a religious experience for me. Nature is my god, and she is here.  The Water. The Geology. The Flora and Fauna. The Night Sky.  The Open Air.  Any combination. of those. It’s just glorious out here.

Growing up in the Midwest and living in the South, and having visited the Northeast a few times, you get the sense that most everything east of the Mississippi is just variations on a theme. Sure there are subtle differences from one woods to the next,  one field to the next, one hill to the next, and there are significant differences between the woodlands of the upper Midwest and the beaches of the South, or the Wetlands of the Deep South or the mountains of Appalachia.  In most of the Eastern half of the country, though, the most you can see in a days drive is 3, maybe 4, different landscapes.

On this coast, the differences are vast- subtle is overrated. Within 6 hours of Portland I can physically touch at least 3 significantly different types of deserts; dozens of forests whose differences are identifiable in seconds; beaches of cliffs, rock, sand, glass and ash; mountains and volcanoes, dormant and live; hot springs, cold springs and glacial melt rivers; high plateaus; vast meadows and prairies; jagged volcanic gorges, slot canyons, and winding creeks; water formed caves and lava tubes; I can go on! There are just SO MANY different terrains.

It’s been a fun few weeks, as I get to spend most of my weekends out and shooting these places.  The views alone confirm our decision to come here. Pics are forth coming.

Cheers.

Hacked, but just a little…

TL;DR : I got hacked. Fixed it quick. Got cool new toys from the hacker in the process.

So…

One of the pages I hosted for some friends (a Cub Scout pack page that had long since expired…) had an unsecured file. Total oversight, it was an old version of WordPress and it left a password in plain text, for a user that had superuser mysql rights. That account was compromised, and that compromised the entire mysql db, obviously. So, I took down wordpress on this page to allow for cleanup. I am planning on moving this page to AWS in the very near future, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Back in November, someone did a clever scan, and found it.  Clever, becaus ethe site isn’t even running.  The DN had long since expired with the registrar. I guess they got the IP from an old cache page or something.

They were sending out phishing scams for itunes.fr for a few hours. I shut it down, but in the process, found that the hacker had uploaded their hacking toolkit. So, long story short, I got some cool tools that I never would have found on my own to security test. Now I can run them against my servers and feel fairly confident that all my shit is squared away. And maybe have some fun at someone else’s expense 🙂

Blogs and SEO comment spam

I’m sure this is a common occurence, but it’s still a bit annoying. Nobody has been told about this blog, with the exception of a single twitter post, that I added just to test out my google analytics plugin. (It’s working, btw…)

Regardless, insincere comments about how “impressive” my blog is when it’s a grand total of 6 posts and a generic WP template with absolutely zero customization kinda makes me not want to use your services. Ever. I am not signing up for your SEO optimization program or whatever it is you’re selling. If your search methods really did work, your blog would be at the head of google searches, and clearly they aren’t.

Good luck with that. Hey, by the way, I have some foolproof methods for buying lottery tickets and picking football point spreads…wanna find out more? Send $$$ to ….

Intros. Jellyman, offspring…offspring, Jellyman.

Initializing….complete.

First post on the new blog site, and I’m stoked. I have been posting in several forums around the different environments, and decided I really just need a repository for the various ramblings I’ve got. My spectrum covers technology in personal and enterprise computing, portable electronics, communications, photography, aviation and aerospace science, and politics. I know, quite a diverse spread there that seems unrelated, but those topics all have stations in my train of thought. Continue reading Intros. Jellyman, offspring…offspring, Jellyman.