Joining in the Lie



Aug 8, 2020
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I read a quote by Ayn Rand a few days ago. It goes like this:

"We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality."

Now there's something to think about.

I'm continuing on with Dave Ramsey's book titled, The Total Money Makeover and I've made it to the Joining in the Lie section. In the beginning of this section, Dave discusses an interesting topic that's all too apropos for today's world. We've all heard it said that if you tell a lie long enough, loudly enough, and often enough, it'll eventually become accepted as the truth. I actually learned something like this a long time ago back in college, except my professor wasn't referring to lying - he was referring to branding for products and companies. Basically, the gist is that early on, a person or consumer will view a statement with skepticism and apprehension. Eventually though, after hearing the message long enough and often enough, that same person or consumer will allow their guard to fall and will come to embrace whatever message is being pushed. Why do you think a large portion of one of the most important assets of communication (newspapers) was purchased by JP Morgan back in the early 1900s? Mr. Morgan knew and understood the power of messaging and propaganda. Take a look at these headlines:

J. P. Morgan's Takeover Of The American Press In 1915

JP Morgan Interests Buy 25 of America's Leading Newspapers

I hardly think JP Morgan was investing in a new line of business just because he thought he could make some money engaging in that business. No, he was much more likely attempting to control the messaging most Americans absorbed. This game continues today. Take a look at what people call "the news" on any cable channel. I honestly doubt you'll see any real news. Practically every bit of "news" anyone pays any attention to in the world today is being influenced by actors you'd never suspect. Did you know that in American media alone, there's heavy investment by Chinese interests and interests from the Middle East? Most people don't know that. So while they tune in for their favorite foreign propaganda, their brains are being washed thoroughly. Why do you think we have a nation of people at each other's throats right now? This sort of behavior was virtually absent just 10 years ago. But I digress... Let's get back to money.

When I was a kid, I watched Saturday morning cartoons, just like every other kid I knew. I watched Bugs Bunny and He-Man. The Smurfs and Mighty Mouse. During my entertainment, while eating my favorite cereal, which was probably Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, I also watched many a commercial. One of my favorites was an advertisement for a sneaker called "Wildcats." I must have seen this commercial 35 times every Saturday morning. And after seeing it for a few weeks, I salivated every time I thought of owning a pair of those sneakers. I loved them, even though I had never laid my eyes on a physical pair. To this day, I've never seen a pair of real Wildcat sneakers, yet, to this day, I still think about them. That's the power of messaging. Over and over an over again. If there's enough money pushing the message, the masses can be trained to believe anything.

Do you know who's got a lot of money to push messaging? Banks and other types of financial institutions, such as credit card and investment companies. The messaging for these companies is everywhere. It's on TV, the internet, and in print. When you get a job and that job offers you a retirement package, the messaging is planted in any type of communication you receive. I heard a commercial on the radio this past winter that was put out by a local bank. The bank was offering loans to help people pay for Christmas gifts they couldn't afford. No joke. I actually heard that. Small banks offer credit cards and home heating loans. Vacation and motorcycle loans. They offer loans for things people didn't even think they needed or wanted. Talk about being predatory. And we thought only the big banks were predatory - nope, it's the small ones too.

The problem is, much of the money related messaging we hear and read is detrimental to our financial health. For instance, when was the last time you asked your company or your company's retirement plan administrator what the fees for the mutual fund they've invested you into were? What? Never? That's incredible. Here's a challenge for you. I'd like you to try to find out what percentage the administrator and the fund manager are getting for having your money invested with them. I bet you can't find that information out. I dare you - go off and try. Good luck to you. The truth of the matter is that someone out there has led you to believe that having a portion of your paycheck diverted into their account was a good thing. Now, you might say, "Yeah, but my company matches whatever I pay, so it's not a big deal. I'm still making money." Really? Here's another challenge. On Monday, go knock on your Human Resources person's door and ask them if they could just hand you the money they match so you can invest it, along with your own share, in a much lower cost retirement fund. You'll be laughed out of the office. Why? Because the entire retirement scheme is a big scam. It's sucking money away from ordinary people like you and me and putting it into the pockets of all those big, bad, rich bankers we rail on every day. What if the fees you pay are 5%? Would that be too much? How about 10%? Would you even know? Nope. You wouldn't ever know because you're being lied to. Just like you're lied to about politics and everything else.

Have you ever wondered why unions want control over every aspect of your employment? Think about that for a moment. Why do they care? Because they're full of good-hearted people? Yeah, right. If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to you. No, it's because they're paid union dues and manage the retirement accounts of a good portion of their members. Wall Street absolutely loves unions. Their business models fit nicely hand in hand.

After telling a friend a long time ago that I had paid off my mortgage, he gave a "humph" in response. He responded, "Some people say that holding a mortgage is a good thing." I never found out why. Why is holding a mortgage a good thing? Why is paying interest to someone you don't know for no reason a good thing? To this day, I still don't understand that logic. The problem was, my friend was a fair bit older than I was. He came from a different generation; one that was told different lies than the ones I had heard. He was sold on the idea that mortgages were healthy and American. They were part of the American dream and they helped with his credit score. That his neighbor had a mortgage. His father had one. His father, who was a good family man. He was sold a bunch of bunk through his early years and probably still holds on to that messaging today. Fascinating.

One of the most insidious parts of propaganda and messaging is that it has the potential to infect others. When someone hears a message long enough, they begin to rationalize it, understand it, appreciate it, and eventually, evangelize it. Have you heard about little kids learning about politics in today's schools? Yeah, me too. That's dangerous. Have you ever seen those religious fanatics who stand on street corners telling you that you're going to hell? Me too. Have you ever fought with a good friend about politics? Where in the world did that come from? It never used to be like that. Back in my day, no one really cared about politics. Well, not enough to fight with a friend over.

The truth is, the longer and more frequently we hear or see a message, the more we think we're experts on the topic. We attempt to educate others to our way of thinking and we become radicalized in a way. It's disgusting and dangerous and as it pertains to personal finances, can bankrupt us.

This post is part of a series: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
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Joining in the Lie was posted on 06-05-2021 by Phoenix1 in the Finance Forum forum.

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