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Mar 22

Book Review: Rich Dad, Poor Dad

In order to get my spending under control and control my investments better, I decided to take the time I was on my back with my eyes closed after surgery and listen to audio books about business. Hopefully, I’ll get to the other books later, but this is the book that I had the most visceral reaction to.¬† I chose this book originally, because my best friends mentioned it to me and showed it to me while I was in Phoenix in July. They seemed impressed by it and so without doing any beforehand research I just downloaded it into iTunes for my convalescence.

The thing about¬† books on business is that it’s hard to find audiobooks about business that aren’t simply “inspirational reading.” I am a big fan of brain candy, and you can probably tell by my taste in fictional books, TV, and movies that I usually enjoy it. However, this type of reading is my least favorite, because I associate this type of brain candy with destructive nonsense. Like believing that Pocahontas fell in love with John Smith or that the Founding Fathers didn’t own slaves. Brain candy is fine in fiction, but at least tell me the truth in non-fiction!

The reason I say this is that this book, although it has some great points, is mostly in the category of destructive, fake, brain candy masquerading as non-fiction, and my greatest hope is that after I publish this article, my friends that were so gung-ho about this book really see it for what it is. I think the reason why this book tripped my red alert signal so quickly is the beginning story of the poor dad and the rich dad. It reminded me of Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” another piece of fiction, but to Mandino’s credit, he doesn’t pretend it actually happened. There is no Rich Dad. I didn’t have to look it up to know that, but doing a bit of research did confirm it. The cute story with the counterfeiting money and the cryptic lessons given by an enigmatic master was enough to me to say that this whole story of him, his friend Mike, and Mike’s dad were all made up. Which is fine, if you state that it’s a parable and not an autobiographical tale. These are not lessons from a rich tycoon, they are just what Robert Kiyosaki has dreamed up for his book.

The second reading of the bullshit-meter came about when Robert Kiyosaki (heretofore named RK) mentioned his scheme that “all rich people” create corporations as tax shelters for avoiding paying anything in taxes, thus saving money. He also says that, in the end no rich people really pay taxes, which is demonstrably false. That’s not to say that the tax system disproportionally taxes the middle class, that I will give him. With the tax cuts for the wealthy still in place, people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have come out and stated that the rich could be taxed more (as the Republicans get their panties in a wad about “class warfare” and then strip poor seniors of Medicare benefits). As I was laying there in the dark listening to this, I was outraged. This should be illegal, I kept thinking. And it is. Because anyone following this advice is in for a fantastic audit from the IRS. Hell, if I were an IRS agent, I would be auditing RK every year just because he’s shady enough to promote this idea. And also, this is not what the purpose of a corporation is. So not only is it illegal and disgusting, it’s not even a particularly good idea.

Last, I don’t have a problem with his advice to go to work to learn new skills. Hell, that’s what I’m doing, and I would encourage anyone to grow themselves and get paid while they do it. But I take serious issue to learn things in “multi-level marketing” firms. For those of you who don’t know “multi-level marketing” is not marketing, it’s door to door sales. And I did it for a summer in 2000. I may have blogged about this before (I can’t remember) but the only lesson I learned was that these companies are out to scam you and work you like a slave (literally, you make little to no money) until you break, and then throw you away like garbage. I did not learn real salesmanship, but I did learn about how not to be caught up in an organization set out to brainwash you. No person who touts these organizations will ever get any leeway with me.

There are some other nitpicks that don’t make sense such as his need to redefine what an asset is and his seeming hatred of education, but I don’t want to end on a bad note. The one good thing about this book is that it got me thinking about how my money is working right now, how I am budgeted. It did inspire me to spend more time thinking about how I can get out of the financial situation I am in and come up with creative solutions to my problems. So, if I can find a way to save some money by being creative to the tune of over the $12 cost of the book, then maybe it was worth it. We’ll see.

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