Apology for allowing privileged comment

The other day, I allowed a comment from someone named “Rawling” on Renting V. Owning. I had misgivings about Rawling from the start because his comment began:

“Didnt know you had it that bad in LA. I live in Vancouver, Canada, which has been rated the most unfordable city in the world – in terms of real estate prices in relation to incomes.”

Right. It’s pretty common knowledge that L.A. is historically and consistently one of the most unaffordable cities in which to live. This meant either the commenter was less informed than I’d expect of someone opting into a discussion of the cost of living in particular cities, was trying to get in a subtle inflammatory dig, or had chosen very bad phrasing [preceding two sentences edited after discussion in comments with Palaver]. I doubted the first, but the third was a possibility, hence my response asking for clarification. The clarification I received suggested ignorance and privilege. Some highlights:

Maybe you need more education to land a better job, maybe LA is not the city for you (why not to move to Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, or Atlanta, where you can still get a nice suburban house for $100k).

In the middle of a recession, you cannot just move to a new town with no connections and expect to get a job based on what you know. People with connections and qualifications aren’t finding jobs. When you’re choosing between a job that doesn’t pay enough for you to own a house or no job at all, the choice is simple. Additionally, a lot of jobs, such as graphic arts, anything to do with the entertainment industry, and secretarial/admin work pay much better in L.A. than just about anywhere. Because this is an entertainment industry town whereas, you know, how many Atlanta employers are competing to hire good animators? (I suspect admin/secretarial pays so much better in L.A. because, here, men do that work, too, so it’s not thought of as mere “women’s work.”)

Rawling has class privilege to the hilt. But it gets worse. I originally let the second comment through, then responded with a tongue-lashing. Then I rethought it and deleted the exchange.

So Rawling emailed me to explain a few things. He asserted that if I would just cut out the “latte a day habit”, I could easily afford a community college education in California, which would help me get a better job. (I know, right?)

First, the people I’m talking about already have more education than that. Like I said, they’re well-employed, but it’s just not enough. Wages in L.A. are relatively high – only a few careers transfer from L.A. to a city like Atlanta without a significant wage drop that puts you about as far behind on that mortgage pursuit as you were. Second, I don’t have a latte a day habit and probably know more about frugality than this person knows about anything. And this site have some readers who are in true poverty. As I said in my response to the email, this is exactly the sort of insensitive, condescending assumption that caused me to delete Rawling’s second comment.

In my original response to the second comment, I mentioned that some jobs pay better/are only available in L.A., but didn’t name them. Rawling’s response in email was a demand that I provide examples (as I did above in this post). It’s noteworthy that he cited CPA earnings in L.A. versus some of the other cities to prove me wrong. For anyone who doesn’t know, a CPA involves a masters degree. Combined with the remark about community college, Rawlings seems to be suggesting anyone has the spare change to earn a community college degree, then move somewhere with a failing job market and no contacts and easily find a secure job with the same earnings as you’d get in a big, expensive city. But the example he gives of this phenomenon requires a masters degree – and a trade that’s chased after everywhere currency exists. He’d have been smarter to suggest some sort of I.T. position – sometimes you can get the needed certification for those cheaply, and find jobs at $60k in areas where that’s enough to buy a house. But careers like this are scarce – and I don’t know of any that aren’t in “math and science”, which isn’t where everyone’s abilities shine.

The idea that we should go to community college and become CPAs so we can move to cheap places and make a good living is so disingenuous it doesn’t bear response. But I listed a few careers that bear out my point, just for the rest of you.

Additionally, Rawlings explained that, in an attempt to give something back to community, he gives free financial advice over the internet. This is the scariest part of all: someone who thinks the only reason people don’t have plenty of money is they’ve made stupid choices involving latte is giving people financial advice. Rawling is so class-privileged that I picture him gazing out at a world in which he’s been told poor folks exist. He sees the middle class – the homeless being invisible to him – and figures they must be the poor he’s heard about. (After all, plenty of middle classers like to wail about how “poor” they are if they can’t afford the new iPhone the day it comes out.) He examines their habits, finds that, yep, they have “latte a day” habits but complain about being in debt, and thinks, “What foolishness.”

He’d be right if he weren’t completely failing to note the big picture. Middle classers use these remarks as a brag about their wealth. When middle classers whine about their finances, what they are really telling you is, “I can afford that iPhone next month. I can afford to be in massive debt. I don’t have to worry about the landlord turning me out or even foreclosure – I bought six houses while the mortgages were all batshit, so the bank likes me and won’t foreclose even though I stopped paying five of those mortgages because they’re worth less than I paid. I won’t get laid off – I manage to put my kids in the same private school as my boss puts hers, so she’d feel like she was firing family.”

Actual poor people have to worry about all these things: not because they make silly choices about latte, but because we don’t all get the same start in life, nor the same opportunities. Oh, I’m not saying poor people never make silly choices. But rich people make ridiculous choices all the time, and that doesn’t even prevent them becoming president. If everything were a matter of merit and not privilege, rich people would suffer as much for their stupid choices as the poor suffer for theirs, and the poor would benefit from their smart choices as much as rich people benefit from theirs.

My experience with people who preach Rawling’s message tells me he will go right on believing he knows better and it’s the rest of us who are stupid. So I banned him.

I apologize to all of you for letting the first comment through. I don’t think it did any harm, but a person that rolling in unexamined privilege should never have a voice on a site about privilege, even for a moment.

*Here’s the survey he’s referencing – note the problems with the survey’s methodology there and also here. Another survey which includes a more exhaustive collection of factors puts L.A. at #55 worldwide, and Vancouver at #75.

Comments

  1. says

    I agree with you in all except the first point. I’m raising my hand to say I don’t know crap about what housing/renting prices are in LA. I’ve lived most of my life on the east US coast, and a few years in the midwest. I know zip about California. I certainly don’t expect anyone from outside the country to know more than I do. It seems egocentric, even for a big city, to expect people from other places to keep tabs on your economic situation.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    Hmm, there’s no “keeping tabs” involved. It’s just general knowledge. It’s mentioned so often in the media and news that I knew how expensive cities like L.A., NYC, London and Tokyo were years before I ever had any personal reason to care. And I never consumed nearly as much media as the average person.

  3. Stella says

    Ugh. What infuriating condescension.

    Actually it reminds me of this column by the always charming Ben Stein. I came across this a few months ago, and if you haven’t seen it and happen to be looking for more oozing privilege to point out, this is a good one.

  4. says

    I’m sure there are many who are. But “general” knowledge has the same flaw as any generality. It isn’t necessarily universal. I only bring that up because I feel like it’s a form of privilege and US-centrism to assume that personal knowledge is universal. Perhaps it isn’t (privilege, that is).

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    *thinking* Okay, it didn’t strike me as privileged to expect a fellow North American to be aware of which US cities are expensive. After all, I’m also aware that cities like London and Tokyo beat any place in the US for expense, and I have no personal use for that information.

    But you’re right about US-centrism on my part, because the media that informed me about expensive world cities long before I had a personal reason to care was the US media, which is aggressively delivered into any country that will have it. And how it picked and chose which ones to highlight – to shape my perspective – would be based on US interests.

  6. Rawlings says

    I do not know whether to laugh at or sympathize with Ms. Kesler. Anyway, to all those in the dark, Ms. Kesler is presenting a very convenient version of the truth. I challenge her to publish all our exchanges in their full entirety – that way the readers will be able to make an informed assessment of the situation. Why cherry pick the parts of my writings you are gonna copy and paste? Simple. She is trying to build a straw man argument against me.

    The owner of this blog is the very embodiment of what she claims to be fighting – an unjust and undemocratic system that has left a lot of citizens disenfranchised. However, she is at the forefront of censuring any opinions that are at variance with her ideological perspective. Yes, she did not approve of my comments and erased them. She then went on to respond to those comments via email using foul language that even a drunk sailor would be embarrassed to use. She will not tolerate anyone challenging her views of the world.

    Her reasoning is so fraught with logical fallacies. Besides that straw man fallacy I had mentioned earlier, she is also guilty of poisoning the well. She explicitly told me that she would not even consider the merit of my arguments based on the fact that I was privileged. Here are her words, verbatim:
    No, you’re mistaken again. You do not have free speech on blogs. Your comment was so riddled with privilege, I decided it just wasn’t worth posting and deleted it along with my response.
    Also, she loves ad hominem type attacks. In logic this is where you bash the person instead of their argument.

    She is also guilty of making unsupported assumptions. Geez, if this were the MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, PCAT or any other logic exams that penalize unwarranted assumptions, I wonder what her score would look like. She assumes and actually insists on calling me a privileged man who does not know what poverty is all about. Reality check, Ms. Kesler, I am a black South African male. I was born in an apartheid ghetto (something beyond your conceptualization). I think Compton is a ghetto – where I was born should actually be called an apartheid slum. Our homes did not even enjoy the privilege of an individual washroom. There was one washroom per block where all residents of that street would shower (with cold water) and defaecate. I would like the readers to imagine what the state of such a public washroom would be like. Does the author know what it is like to be denied basic education because of your race? Does the author know what it is like to not be allowed to use the sidewalks downtown because of your race? We had to dodge cars in the street since we could not walk on the pavement? When I first came to the western world, seeking greener pastures, I had to endure homelessness, lack of immigration status e.t.c. I am from the school of the hard knocks. Asking a little bit about my background would have been in order before making such vulgar assumptions about me, Ms. Kesler.

    Disclosure: I have to admit that my children are immersed in privilege (though not spoiled). Private schools, little league sports, music lessons, vacations to destinations far and wide, college money trust funds. I will not apologize for their privileges. Any caring parent would give their child a head start. Besides, these are not unearned privileges. I have toiled for every penny that I have. Trust me, there are people who have attained unearned privileges because of the color of their skin.

    I hate to blow my own horn. However, friends, family, and other people I have interacted with have told me that I have this presence and influence about me – and should really consider becoming a motivational speaker. I have helped influence people in terms of their educational attainments and career choices. Though, not too pleased at how Ms. Kesler has misquoted me, I am impressed that I can actually be one of her major topics of discussion. So, I really do have an influence on people. I must say, though, that in real life I am quite the alpha male. Even her insulting email responses showed that I must have really hit a raw nerve. I guess I must have said the truth that she did not want to hear. I am not known for my political correctness nor sugar coating situations – I always tell people what they need to hear and not what they wanna hear.

    Ms. Kesler confirms my suspicions about some of these privileged lefty liberal types. They will never be defenders of minority, female, or disabled people’s rights. I am talking people who drink their own koolaid here. They look at poor people from a position of paternalism. Contrary to her claiming that I come from a privileged background, I would like to highlight that she is the one who comes from a privileged background. How do I know? The fact that she went to university to do a fine arts degree reveals a lot, my dear Watson:

    1)You can not just embark on an artistic degree at university from nowhere. You would have started such endeavors earlier on as a child.In fact, they will not even admit you with out a portfolio. In order to do this as a child you will need at least middle class resources – and even Ms. Kesler will not dispute this fact. I grew up seeing pianos in books and magazines – since I could not afford to own one or go into any environment where I could be exposed to one. I only got to learn how to play a piano when I enrolled my kid in conservatory level piano lessons.

    2)Only a certain type of parent would appreciate the arts. Try telling your assembly labourer dad that you wanna mortgage his house so you can go and take a fine arts degree. I am sure you will not live to tell the tale of his response. The average parent will think such a degree is a waste of money. Your parents would need a certain level of enlightenment and education to allow you to pursue such a labour of love. Readers can figure out what sort of family she comes from.

    The fact that she failed to capitalize on the opportunities offered by her middle class and wasp background might be the reason for her bitterness and foul language. Of course, artistic fields are a winner take all game. Just because you were so used to having your way as your middle class family’s little princess does not mean the world will have to also treat you as a princess and select you out of all those thousands of people trying to make it in the artistic world. Maybe, if you spent less time blogging and more time engaging in income generating work you would not be whining ad nauseum about how the world treats the poor. You would actually be able to use your money and knowledge to really help out the poor. Some of us are actually sponsoring a disadvantaged child by paying for their university tuition. Put your money where your mouth is.

    By the way, Ms. Kesler, you need to learn to read for context and not just content. I gave you the example of a CPA, just as an example. There are numerous other professions I could have quoted. Focus on the gist of the argument. Besides, that example is moot if you have extracted it from the rest of my writings.

    If you do not want people disagreeing with you then please disable the comment section of your blog. I guess you need the traffic that is generated by the comments section. Too bad you can not have your cake and keep it at the same time, lil princess.

  7. Anne says

    Ben Stein is one of the few people I actively loathe. I saved myself the exasperation of reading what he said.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m letting this through so you guys can try to explain to Rawling here about privilege, which he’s still totally not getting.

    I will say: he made up my background here! I haven’t a clue where he got this shit. I lived below the poverty line in my household. I have a genius IQ and got a decent public school education – that’s how I got into college. But I wasn’t able to complete a four year degree because of economical issues. I did have an old, out of tune piano someone gave us, and some lessons that were provided very cheap, but not enough to give me the start required to go to Julliard, which was my dream (and the best use of my talents, which lie strongly in music).

    I had few middle class opportunities, and a great deal of “below middle class” anti-privilege working against me. I realize this inconveniences Rawlings and his bullshit, but gosh, tough. And his shit about me being a middle class family’s little princess is SO far off the mark. But I know where it’s coming from.

    Well, I know I’m the better profiler. I’ve had it confirmed by psychologists. Let’s see what I can do here.

    Rawling is describing himself, of course. That’s what people like him do – project their experience onto others and then lash out in a twisted form of self-loathing. He ultimately loathes himself, and doesn’t realize it, and deeply needs to project that onto others to maintain his delusional false sense, which is superior to everyone else. He was raised the “golden child” and is incapable of self-examination because of the damage that upbringing does. He likes to see it in people who get “too close to the mark” on him. He’s equally comfortable playing the victim or the hand-wringing superior who pities those beneath him. But at heart, he’s always acting. None of it is sincere. He has a different mask for every occasion.

    If anyone other than Rawling wants the full correspondence, I’ll post it in here, no problem. I didn’t pick and choose to avoid anything but length – you see how long-winded our narcissist is. Let me know!

  9. Rawlings says

    I have a genius IQ

    Well, I know I’m the better profiler. I’ve had it confirmed by psychologists.

    Here we go again Ms. Kesler with those reasoning fallacies. This time you are guilty of making an appeal to irrelevant expertise. How does your having a high IQ make you a better psychological profiler? Are you trained in psychology? A big fat know.

    Besides, Ms. Freud, I do not see the relevance of a high IQ if it can not bring success to the holder. With all that high IQ you could not get yourself a merit based scholarship to complete college. If your reasoning process (logical fallacy minefield) is any indication of what high IQ is worth, then I will pass and cling dearly to my average IQ. At least I can always make up for my lack of a superior IQ through wisdom and street savvy.

    Anyway, back to your main posting. FYI I am not completely ignorant when it comes to LA. Living in the most unaffordable city (Vancouver), I did not realize that a city more affordable than mine (LA) could have such housing issues. What is wrong with me expressing my shock? I am justified considering that LA is considerably cheaper than Vancouver. How is that privilege. Did you expect me to know everything? In fact, by using the phrase “that bad” shows I acknowledge the situation in LA is bad. I was just shocked by the degree of badness.

    Now, you took my suggestion about leaving LA out of context. You decided to hone in onto the specifics instead of the principle. My point was that if a city is too unaffordable one should also consider moving to a cheaper city. I offered this as one of other solutions and not as the solution just to simulate people into realistically assessing their present situation to see if it is sustainable and what changes need to be made. Funny enough Ms. Kesler admits in one of her blogs that her goal is to move to a cheaper city and live off her internet earnings (once she starts making a meaningful income from her online activities). If such a move is good for her then what is wrong with me suggesting it to other readers? Perhaps she wants all the credit for such ideas.

    Most of my defense might not make much sense without her posting our exchanges. I will not waste my time trying to address all her concerns without her publishing the whole picture. I will be more than glad to clarify any so called privilege assertions/positions I have been accused of making.

    At the end of the day I was just trying to help out any readers who might find themselves in a financial dilemma where housing might be a central theme. So far Ms. Kesler has done a good job of highlighting how the system disadvantages certain groups. However, I am yet to read any writings where she suggests actual solutions for breaking the poverty cycle. I have personally broken that poverty cycle and helped others do the same. I do not waste time on dogma but offer practical advice. All the sociological high flying theories and lingo are useless if they can not be used to uplift someone from poverty. I can tell you that all these systems like neo liberalism, consumerism e.t.c that are used to keep other under subjugation are just systems. All man made systems have flaws in them and can be beaten. Yes, I have done it several times. I was trying to stir the conversation into a direction where people can discuss how to win and not just whine. Trust me, crying and self pity will not solve zilch.

    Anyway, if my type of input and perspective are not appreciated here then I apologize and will no longer waste my time trying to offer help that is not needed or relevant to your situations. I could be writing on other blogs and forums where real poverty eradication is the goal.

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    And you don’t even bother to apologize for making up a total fantasy and asserting that that was my childhood. Do you fail to grasp how not only rude but bizarre that behavior is? You know nothing about me. And you’re doing it again. I had a merit-based scholarship. Being able to pay for college is not the only kind of economic problem that can prevent one finishing college. Again, you know nothing about anyone but yourself, as would of course be the case with an NPD, since no one else is real or valid, and you only maintain seemingly “normal” relationships to obtain the status of “normal.”

    The profiling point was completely relevant. You attempted to profile me, and failed miserable. My abilities in deducing what sort of upbringing someone had from how they present themselves have been confirmed by psychiatrists echoing my “armchair diagnoses” of various people in a clinical environment. No doubt my assertion about you was closer to the mark than was yours about me, since you’re too lacking in introspective abilities (part of your disorder) to do anything but project fantasy.

    And here’s an example of how badly your average IQ is serving you: moving to a cheaper city with a stream of assured income available is a far different proposition than moving to a cheaper situation with your resume, some certification/degree and hope someone will hand you a job. Jobs cannot be depended on, but an income that flows no matter where you move yourself can. And you can’t even reason that out. Since you’re fond of quoting Sherlock Holmes, what’s it like in your funny little brain? Must be so boring! (From Sherlock, the new BBC series.)

    Now, seriously, this is the last of your bullshit I will allow through. I trust my regular readers are seeing clearly why I normally just ban assholes like you. It’s like an episode of Arrested Development when I don’t, except so not hilarious.

  11. Anne says

    Rawlings, you spout usage of logical fallacies, but I don’t think you really know what they mean. It’s not an ad hominem attack to tell you that your comment is dripping with privilege and wont be posted. The evidence of your privilege is IN YOUR WORDS–IN YOUR ARGUMENT. An ad hominem attack would be, “because so-and-so has a tiny tiny penis, their argument is wrong.”

    I have a hard time understanding where Rawlings is coming from. His stance seems to be “if you can’t prove what you’re talking about will save poor people then shut up and listen to me, because people call me good at motivational speaking and I am a great, awesome expert in everyone’s finances.” And I don’t see how he misses the obvious connection you made between saying psychologists tell you you’re a good profiler and him using the anecdotal evidence that people tell him he should be a motivational speaker as evidence that his financial advice would be so awesome.

    He uses the fallacy he purports to know about in his previous comment.

    He has also failed to do even a LITTLE bit of self reflection to see whether what he was spouting was at all drenched in privilege. Which it was.

    I truly hope he DOES NOT become a motivational speaker. What a disaster that would be. He doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that not everyone lives in the same circumstances. Actually he reminds me of my stepdad, who went to the airforce academy to escape poverty in a trailer home in Texas, then became a high-earning airline pilot, making a couple hundred thou a year. And with that wealth he developed a great disdain for anyone caught in a situation where, according to him, they were too lazy/stupid to get out of it. I mean, if he could do it, anyone could, right? It’s so f-ing easy!

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    I should also mention: I am not “defending” myself from him as well as I could. I could cite far more smart choices I’ve made, and far more unavoidable difficulties I’ve overcome. The reason I chose not to is this site is not about me. With people like him, if you use yourself as an example to make a point, they demand to know every part of your life story, and find fault with it. If you’ve done what they’re advising and it didn’t work, you did something wrong. If you haven’t done it because research indicated it was a bad idea, then you’re just not trying. Etc. BUT if you don’t use yourself as an example, then you don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t possibly win him over to your perspective, or even reach an “agree to disagree” point, because he’s not interested in self-review (as I demonstrated I am, by acknowledging Palaver’s point about US-centrism in my post, for just the latest example, and editing the post accordingly). That’s not a genuine intellectual argument. It’s a self-aggrandizing lecture.

  13. says

    I see he read the Motivational Speaker chapter on lying about one’s background.

    It’s the ‘Gee, if I, a (insert BS here), can do it, you have no excuse’ line.

    Except when you actually check the person’s background, it’s baloney. At best, it’s an extreme exaggeration that would have most people who knew the speaker growing up shaking their heads and laughing.

    I’ve got a friend who does web design for a company that provides motivational speakers. They actually train them on how to make up / exaggerate their backgrounds for the purpose of ‘shaming’ those they lecture.

    It reminds me of my sister talking about the artist, Jewel. ‘Well, Jewel grew up homeless and lived in a van’. Fact-check: Her grandfather was a senator. They lived in a house without indoor plumbing because her father was a nut. The ‘house’ was an eight-hundred acre farm. She went to an exclusive and expensive boarding school in New York to learn music and singing. She lived in a van by choice, because she didn’t feel like getting a job or going to college. It’s part of her image. But that’s not as good a story, is it?

    Seriously, a black South African would have a working knowledge of the fact that ‘bootstrapping’ ones way out of poverty doesn’t happen. If he was born in South Africa and is old enough to have kids, he was there during Apartheid.

    So I’ll give that he might be South African. He certainly sounds like the white folks from South Africa during that time period.

    So, Mr. Privileged White Boy Liar, here is how you break the cycle: You get rid of privilege.

  14. says

    Well, I have no idea what rents are like anywhere in the US, being German, and I still would think that rent in a major city is usually very high compared to rural areas.

    However, I do know about LA that there is a lot of smog and long traffic jams, which means lots of people going there, which means they don’t live there, ergo they probably don’t live there because of high rent since space is at a premium. And I know that part of why young people like Berlin is because of the Eastern German parts where you still might be able to rent cheaply. So my own cultural knowledge helps.

    I agree about general knowledge, but at the same time I would think that “city = rent is high” can be derived from a number of different sets of knowledge. It’s certainly something I would expect of a US citizen talking about rent prices to think about – at least, if you’re going to complain, google it.

  15. DragonLord says

    As he has what appears to be your full name (sans middle initials) he probably just did a search on google for someone that lives in LA with your name and picked the most likely subject.

  16. Jennifer Kesler says

    Not to make excuses, because I do agree with Palaver’s point that I was at least US-centric and perhaps that alone is indeed privileged, but I’d also like to point out that Vancouver and L.A. are both entertainment industry cities, sharing a lot of people (their stars move to L.A. to break into the more lucrative US market, but many of our TV shows are made up there with US actors, etc.). I’ve known for years that Vancouver is as expensive as Rawling suggests, so I guess I assumed the flow of info would definitely go both ways.

  17. Jennifer Kesler says

    I just did that myself and didn’t find anything that would mislead him to think I was a “middle class princess.” Additionally, I love how his kids are “privileged” AND very, very upper class (I briefly had music lessons, but not one single other thing he mentions them having), but THEY are not “princesses” who’ve had everything handed to them. No, he reserves that assessment for a woman about whom he knows nothing. That makes him a hypocrite from hell, but again, that’s part of his disorder.

    And that’s why his attitude toward the not-so-rich is so dangerous: he is oblivious to the reality that his kids are getting everything handed to him, and will lecture less wealthy people about what easy opportunities they’ve squandered without actually appreciating how much less they have to lose in any financial risk, and how many of the same mistakes his kids are making or will be making as he nods his enthusiastic approval.

  18. Jennifer Kesler says

    I don’t know if he’s telling the truth about his background or not, but I found his particular complaints irrelevant. He talked about terrible experiences of race privilege which I was aware of as far back as the 80s. Those experiences are awful, but what precisely did they have to do with his experience of class privilege? He talked about one community washroom. Was that an effect of poverty, or of race oppression? I think race oppression, because I know Baby Boomer born-US white people who grew up without indoor plumbing. It wasn’t even necessarily a mark of poverty (though the two did often coincide): parents who grew up in the Depression were reluctant to spend money on luxuries, which is how indoor plumbing was seen by some in the 50s and 60s. Surely black South Africans are smart enough to set up outhouses and figure out other ways to bathe, so I’m having trouble seeing the community washroom as evidence that he experienced monetary oppression. He mentions in passing being denied an opportunity for basic education, which certainly would hold one back financially, just as it did under segregation in the US, but that seems to be less important to him than the washroom and other examples. And yes, I do have a conception of apartheid: not only am I familiar with South Africa, but I’ve also studied US segregation in great detail, and lived in the aftermath of it, and listened to stories from people old enough to have suffered through it.

    It’s that sort of thing that makes me doubt his claim. There are ample ways in which black South Africans suffered financially through class privilege, and were artificially kept “behind” their white peers and prevented from becoming self-made successes. Those stories would be great examples for Rawling’s case, and very relevant to this site. But that’s not what he talked about. He picked the things that would sound ickiest to a white man who’s always had plenty of money.

  19. says

    I want in on the fun!

    See, Jennifer, the problem is with your upbringing. Ever since your mother joined the circus whilst five months pregnant, you have been influenced far too strongly by clowns and acrobats. When you attended your high school prom in a pink tutu and neon yellow leggings as well as oversized shoes, it was due to your privilege that you weren’t thrown out of the gymnasium, and maybe it would have been better for you if you had indeed been thrown out after spraying the principal with water from the flower on your chest.

    And then, of course, came college, where you profited from your adopted uncles, the flying Martinos, by being able to scale the school building and, like Wanda the snake woman, enter your teachers’ rooms via a five inch opening in the window frame – you stole the answers to the tests, didn’t you?

    And then there was the time when a boy tried to make his moves on you, and when he didn’t know when to stop, you called Cliff and his tamed tiger to scare him off. And don’t pretend you never used your secret pantomime knowledge to impersonate your superiors, either – you know you did.

    The fact is, you could be so much more successful if you had become a cat burglar like your mother hoped you would. But you just weren’t cut out for the life, and living with a penguin in your bathroom (and, in the summer, in your fridge) is of course a strain on finances.

    Now, *this* is a psychological profile!

  20. Patrick McGraw says

    “I must say, though, that in real life I am quite the alpha male. ”

    I think this quote about sums up his post. It is very important that we be impressed by him and acknowledge his dominance.

    (The whole “alpha” things bugs the crap out of me, because the “alpha/beta/omega wolf pack” structure was debunked ages ago. It was all based on the study of wolves in captivity, which tells us nothing about actual, wild wolf social organizations.)

  21. Jennifer Kesler says

    Plus, I never met an “alpha male” who didn’t either give up trying to dominate or actually submit to me within 5 minutes. They know when they’ve met someone who absolutely will not back down, period, end of story. And they don’t know how to deal with it. So, you know, so much for that system, if it can be tossed aside by anyone who just refuses to take a place they recognize in the power hierarchy.

  22. Anne says

    Don’t forget the pet marmot she had as a child, that signifies she has asthma, and that she enjoys folding her clothes into triangles as a symptom of her undying need for chocolate.

  23. Phyllis says

    I stopped reading Rawlings when he went off on the ‘you banned me and and that’s not democratic and you took away my free speech and you’re mean! /pouty face.

  24. Phyllis says

    And I despise that trope about ‘cut out the lattes and you’ll be a homeowner in a year!’. Uh, don’t have access to $3 lattes, so I don’t have that type of frivolity to cut from my budget. Actually, after no raise in three years, along with three years of furlough days, there are no frivolities in my budget.

  25. DragonLord says

    Just figured I’d add a little maths to the argument.

    1 latté is approx $3.01/cup?
    there are approx 365 days in a year

    3.01 * 365 = 1098.65

    Now at that rate you’d have to save for 19-20 years to get a 10% deposit on a 200K house.

    to earn 20K in 1 year you’d need to be saving about 54.79/day (383.56/week 1534.25/month), now I’m not sure what the average earnings are/month in the US but over here that would be about 80% of the take home on the average wage (28,000/year), this means that 1/2 or more of the population earn less than that amount. That means that there has to be a hell of a lot of slack in your budget before the sentiment behind “stop your latte a day habit and you’ll be able to afford a house in no time” is actually true. (If you want a smaller deposit or to save for longer just divide the values accordingly)

    And so I call poppycock on the financial advice given above.

  26. Jennifer Kesler says

    Actually, what he’s saying is that you could afford a community college (2 year, considered about half as useful as a BA or BS) education on a latte a day. It *might* just cover tuition, but not books – and books are where community colleges make up for the cheap tuition (you pay several times as much for books at Santa Monica Community College as you do at UCLA, a state uni, for example). Then, according to Rawling, armed with that community college education, you can go to a city like Phoenix and land a job that’ll afford you a house in the middle of a recession despite having no contacts.

    I can’t find a job where this would work. You can get qualified for some IT positions fairly cheaply, but they aren’t going to pay enough for a house in the cities Rawling mentioned – maybe someplace cheaper than those cities. There are also some trades like plumbing, construction and mining where very cheap education gets you very decent wages – but, of course, those are professions where no one wants to hire women, so again, Rawling isn’t looking for real solutions. Just silencing tactics.

  27. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’ll never forget one day in the 90s when I’d just landed a good job and was excitedly anticipating saving up to buy a home (this was right when home prices started going up double percentage points per year while salaries crept up at 3-5%), and Oprah had a feature on the top 10 things to cut out of your spending to save money.

    Not one of them was something I’d ever done in my life, so there was no cutting them out of my budget. Professional manicure, for example? I realized she was only really talking to upper middle class women, not me, so that was the last time I ever watched her show.

    Maybe Rawling did come from poverty, like Oprah. Sometimes former poor people just cannot sell out fast enough, and then they hate other poor people because they remind them of where they come from.

  28. DragonLord says

    Ah, my mistake, however as you say community college still has associated costs to it, one of which is time (ever see someone that’s working – not including commuting time – 14 hours a day trying to find time to study? – I have, they gave up after their body decided that it was going to sleep for 24 hours). It’s still also something you can only think about if you have the spare cash, and even then, you still need more than $3/day (The average cost of community college tuition is only $2,076 per year – from http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Does-a-Community-College-Cost?&id=130238). One thing I can think of that you might be able to afford to do is become a MSC? (microsoft certified …) as they fetch quite good money and the whole course costs from $600, but that’s an IT job in a shrinking market, and you need a computer to start with.

  29. Jennifer Kesler says

    That’s what I was thinking of when I said you might just pull it off with an IT cert. But I’m not sure even Phoenix et al would be cheap enough. Still, not a bad plan for those who, as you said, have a computer plus the time required for the study… plus the math/science skills. Not everyone has natural abilities in math and science, and US schools do a HORRIBLE job teaching math in particular.

    The problem is, Rawling wants to sell this as THE solution for everyone, and it’s a pretty modest solution for a select group of people, at best.

    But the DEEPER problem is that the way to fix the problems in this society is not to help everyone get more wealthy. In a society like this, someone must always do without, and people like Rawling will always rationalize that they somehow deserve it. Meanwhile, others will have far more than they need without having done anything ever to deserve it, and people like Rawling will figure that works, too. It’s ridiculous.

  30. Phyllis says

    It was an exaggeration on my part; although not much of one. Not meant as a literal example.

    However, that kind of advice (cut out lattes, brown bag your lunch, etc) pop up on sites like Yahoo all the time.

  31. Phyllis says

    Not one of them was something I’d ever done in my life, so there was no cutting them out of my budget.

    The point I was trying to make. Thanks for helping clarify.

  32. says

    I love the ‘cut this from your budget’ people.

    Folks, I live on a farm. The canned goods in my pantry are there because I went out to the garden, picked them, packed them, and pressure-sealed them myself. My deep freeze is stocked with chickens I raised and slaughtered myself, and beef from a cow a neighbor raised and slaughtered himself and traded me for some chickens. I drink herbal teas courtesy of a dehydrator. With the exception of the vanilla, everything in my spice cupboard came from my garden or the garden of a friend.

    I raise chickens for eggs and sell the excess eggs to afford food for the chickens. I used to earn a bit of excess packing brown bag lunches for some of my husband’s co-workers, but since I don’t have a catering kitchen (It would cost me the better part of 50K to build one onto the house) I’m no longer allowed to do that, meaning I don’t earn some extra income and they are now paying more for food of lower quality.

    I shop at thrift stores for clothing and use a needle and thread to make the clothes fit properly and look nice. We often heat the house with firewood we chopped ourselves. I do the haircuts for the family. We don’t smoke. Thanks to the beehives and grapevines, we make our own booze.

    Alright, I give. What’s left to cut from the budget? Still can’t afford a house since our credit is so bad. I made the mistake of co-signing for my mother’s house and she’s routinely 30-90 days late on payments. In this market, I’d have to have 50% down and be making 250,000 a year to get an underwriter to overlook that black mark.

    So, we have a landlady. She’s made noises about doing a rent to own deal with us in the past, and we’re hoping she actually will. Unless we luck out there though, we’ll probably never be homeowners. What money we can save is going into education funds for the kid and into retirement funds.

  33. Jennifer Kesler says

    In mentioning co-signing for your mom, you just pegged one of the things people like Rawling never, ever consider as possible answers to “Why didn’t you go to or finish college/keep that good job/stay in that cheap city/make that smart financial decision years ago so you’d be more wealthy today?”

    Family.

    Maybe Rawling doesn’t have family, or doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the family he has. But many of us do have family, and sometimes family members fail to (or can’t) take care of themselves perfectly, but unlike Rawling, we lack the sociopathic ability to say, “Fuck you” to them. So we consciously make decisions we know will hurt us financially in order to help them because it’s this thing a sociopath will never understand: “the right thing to do.”

    “Family” is actually one of the most common reasons I’ve come across for why someone isn’t better off financially than they are. And I’m not talking about foolishly having kids you can’t afford or marrying someone who wrecks your finances – I’m talking about the family you were born into, whose existence in your life you never had the slightest choice about. Sometimes they need you, and because you are human, you can’t turn your back on them to make your own finances better. (ETA: it’s perfectly fine to turn your back on family if they’re abusive. In fact, I encourage it. But sociopaths don’t understand why, say, a sibling dying of cancer due to lack of funds should affect them.)

    People like Rawling don’t understand that, and consider NOT turning your back on family just one more silly mistake you’ve made, like that imaginary latte a day habit.

  34. sbg says

    This! It’s like telling people not drinking soda will help you lose up to 15 pounds in a year. It’s assuming you are doing something that can be cut out. I can’t stop drinking soda … because I don’t drink soda, and I am not going to lose a single pound.

    It’s ridiculous to assume that someone in a low-paying job is only there because they haven’t been trying hard enough. We could all be billionaires if we really wanted!

    Right. It’s simple. As long as you know magic.

  35. Eilonnwy says

    No one cares about your life. Your life is your experience and no one else’s. Your post amounts to “Grab your bootstraps!” which is dripping with privilege.

    Also, your alpha male comment is disgusting and reeking of sexism. You’re not as awesome as you think you are, believe me you haven’t the first clue of what us women really think of you.

    Kesler was spot on in her assessment of you.

  36. Casey says

    I used to like him on Win Ben Stein’s Money, but a year or so ago when I found out about him believing in Creationism I just said “FUCK THAT”.

  37. Casey says

    “We could all be billionaires if we really wanted!
    Right. It’s simple. As long as you know magic.”

    Reminds me of that song that goes I wanna be a billionaire/so fucking bad/buy all of the things I never had…now I know I should have just written a song about wanting to be a billionaire, and I’d have at least become a millionaire! ;):P

  38. Julie says

    Stuff like that from Oprah is why I ignored her from the beginning; that kind of rich privilige just gobsmacks me. I know it’s around, but that’s not who her audience is supposed to be, right?

  39. says

    For the past few years I’ve gotten forwars at this time of year from my Catholic family (they don’t know I’m a science loving atheist) about Ben Stein being all “I’m Jewish and even I think it’s fine to say Merry Christmas and forget all the other religions and btw, atheist are ruining this country which is totes a theocracy, bitches.”

    IT’S AWESOME. In the “FUCK THAT” sort of way ;D

  40. Casey says

    Maybe Rawling’s family is rich, so he doesn’t have to worry about helping them, instead, HE leeches off THEM.
    That’s what I think, at least.

  41. says

    I “love” how he says “get a merit-based scholarship” like it’s the easiest thing ever. It’s cool that you had one, Jennifer, so did I, but not every college offers them, and if they do they might only offer a few. My sister certainly might have deserved one, what with her grades, but the college she had dreamed of going to her entire life didn’t offer them. And if someone needs to go to a particular college for a particular program and that college doesn’t offer merit-based scholarships, then they’re out of luck–either come up with the cash on their own or go to some other college for something else. Or find some other solution. Scholarships don’t fall from the sky.

  42. Jennifer Kesler says

    And even when they are available, the vast majority don’t cover full tuition, and even when they do that, it’s extremely rare they include a stipend for living expenses. Additionally, scholarships are FAR more common in some fields than others.

    It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re a film student at UCLA, in your final year you have to make a film in order the graduate. Back then, you were supposed to spend $5k on it. Because, you know, everyone has $5k laying around. I was floored at that. You couldn’t put it into your student loan. You couldn’t get a scholarship to cover it. I asked what the fuck I was supposed to do when I learned of this: “Well, just ask family or something,” came the response. Yep – my own silly fault. I should’ve had the foresight to get born into a rich family instead of one below the poverty line.

  43. says

    You have to for the film BFA at CU Boulder as well, and their recommendation is at least a few thou as well. Mine ended up being right around two thousand, which I was paying off for this past summer right after I graduated.

    I also got merit-based scholarships–despite me not really *needing* them, as I am lucky (privileged) enough to have incredibly generous and decently well-off parents, but I would assume they were about the normal rate and I got one each semester for all three years I was at CU (two before that I was at CSU Fort Collins). They were 250$ each semester, while full time in state tuition was over three grand. So, not even close to covering, and barely enough to make a difference. They were for GPA’s of 4.0 or 3.8 for most semesters. Though I’m not sure if there are differences. I never applied for mine (so it DID kind of “fall out of the sky,” but I highly doubt it’s the norm), it was just for being on the Dean’s list or whatever. I was just notified and they were credited to me.

    I have NO idea how they expect people to just pay for films as students. It’s kind of a culture in which you must already be ahead in order to get ahead. At CU, though, we have grant opportunities that can cover a really good chunk of art projects for students, which is really nice.

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