More Discourse Analysis

Myth: Leasing a car is what sophisticated people do. You should lease things that go down in value and take the tax advantage.

Truth: Consumer advocates, noted experts, and a good calculator will confirm that the car lease is the most expensive way to operate vehicle. (34)

There is an interesting irony at work here that is pervasive in the self-help genre. What we have is an intense emphasis on asociality – you can’t trust the experts – but you can trust Ramsey. Everyone else is listening to the experts, but Ramsey knows. Another important trope in these books, especially The Total Money Makeover is marketing the practices they recommend as an alternative, eclectic lifestyle. This seems to be how Ramsey validates asociality and increases the reader’s dependency. He consistently indicts American culture for being about “status,” “consumerism,” and “showing-off.” He also makes various anti-intellectual statements against academics who study finance and the economy, and anyone who proclaims to “know something” about money. Everyone is trying to take your money – the world is working against you – but it’s your fault. You must become stronger, fitter, and resist. You must become mentally strong to achieve financial fitness.

Again, this book is not telling the reader how to get out of debt for practical reasons; it is offering the reader a lifestyle. To achieve financial fitness, to win, to find “peace” you have to utilize what Ramsey calls “gazelle-like intensity. (Ramsey, 121)” He writes, “the way out of debt is to outmaneuver your enemy and run for your life” (121, original italics). The reader must stay away from anything that could steer him off track of his goals. He must be aggressively frugal, so frugal that the neighbors and family notice – but they won’t get it. They are still denial. They have not found salvation via The Total Money Makeover.

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