Studying, working, saving, is it stupid? The Risky Financial Self-Help of “Why the Rich Get Richer”

Robert Kiyosaki and his book "why the rich get richer".
Robert Kiyosaki and his book “Why the Rich Get Richer”.

The books of self helpIt is known, they are not usually the object of jealous reviews. In a way, it is interpreted that the purpose of these texts is to bet on a sales coup that ends up helping the author more than the readers. The literary strategy they follow is well known. There is a problem of social interest that generates conflicts or difficulties. The author then shares your personal experiences to embrace the reader as an equal. It then makes generally gratuitous claims, occasionally supported by dubious research or deliberately misquoted, to resolve the issues initially raised. If something does not work, the causer is not responsible, since the book clarified from the beginning that it is necessary to “have the attitude” to achieve success, which is not for everyone.

A subgenre of self help corresponds to the tips to get rich. Written by rich people, these pieces demonstrate that the original contradiction they make explicit is not an obstacle to selling millions of copies: if the writer has the formula to make money, for what strange reason does he share it with the rest of the public for a few dollars? Beyond this logical leap, these books became of some interest to the extent that, in the competition to sharpen their aim, they began to abandon general advice based on personality and self-confidence to delve into specific questions of financial education.

As soon as these rich authors begin to dive into the financial business, they delve into a byzantine discussion with the supposed professionals of the subject: the economists. Here are some ideas-hook to prefer laymen over academics: “no one understands academics”; “every economist has a different point of view”; “Theories of economics say you can’t make money quickly and systematically.” They’re not that bad. And they deserve, therefore, some tour of the financial advice of these gurus.

Robert Kiyosaki with Donald Trump.
Robert Kiyosaki with Donald Trump.

the last great best seller of this style was published in 1997. Robert Kiyosaki took out that year Rich father poor father and sold ever since over 30 million copies. At $10 a copy, you can get an idea of ​​the business he created. Before opening the book, one would expect to find on its pages a single sentence that read: write a book like thisbut let’s be fair, the book could not be successful immediately after publication applying this paradoxical strategy. The success of Rich father poor father it was phenomenal, but for some reason 20 years later kiyosaki decided to write a Redo to remind those who didn’t buy the first edition that they should. thus was born why the rich get richerhis most recent book.

Why do the rich… has a fundamental problem, and that is that the author could not write exactly the same text as in Rich Dad…in the style of Jorge Luis Borges’s Pierre Menard, who copies letter by letter the Quixote.

He was then forced to incorporate, in addition to repetitions, deeper insights into financial education and the workings of the economy in general. The 1997 hit had at least the seasonings of a good personal story and minimally tidy prose. Why do the rich… it is instead a rhetorical chaos, which unashamedly uses the techniques of rebel books Teenwith a tangled structure, disjointed sentences, titles and subtitles everywhere, and a constant feeling that something important is about to be said that never shows up.

[”Por qué los ricos se vuelven más ricos” se puede comprar, en formato digital, en Bajalibros, clickeando acá.]

This literary anarchy is so brutal that the piece becomes, without the slightest intention of the author, an essay that borders on the humorous. An example is the interspersing of “summary” questions and answers formulated by a stranger to kiyosakiwho answers each clumsy question that is presented to him with rulings of interplanetary transcendence. The image that comes to mind is that of the mockumentary scenes of the comic series The officewhere the protagonists answer nonsense behind a camera that supposedly records everything that happens in the office. “Q: Do the rich control the world? A: Correct. Don’t forget the golden rule: he who has the gold is the one who makes the rule.”. The next time you want to make this joke, remember that a successful rich man uses it to sell books and increase his fortune.

Added to this are the absurdly interpreted vignettes, the decontextualized quotes, and the graphs, the economic explanations, which deserve a separate section. As we anticipated, Why do the rich… it has to fill space and devotes efforts to universally explain the universal principles of the universal economy. His college down the street then authorizes him to publish a few charts that supposedly confirm his financial theories, and repeat them over and over again to “fix concepts.”

Another calculated vice of the author is the permanent self-reference to his character as guru, with phrases that defy all reason: “In 2002 it was published Rich dad’s prophecywho predicted that in 2016 there would be the biggest financial collapse in all of history.” It is not a misprint because the author repeats it a couple of times later. It is extraordinary that kiyosaki feel that you can write this kind of thing without remorse, or without fear that your followers with a vague idea of ​​the events that occurred in real life will stop considering you a serious person.

[Los libro de Robert Kiyosaki se puede comprar, en formato electrónico, en Bajalibros, clickeando acá.]

It might be fun to make fun of Why do the rich… if it weren’t for the fact that it contains a series of statements about the personal, US and world economy that, taken at face value, can mean non-trivial damage to the social fabric. The recommendation of life for the family of the work of kiyosaki is that Studying, working hard, saving, avoiding debt, and investing long-term in the stock market is stupid.

Falsifying data and the very history of the world, the author invites the reader to abandon these behaviors that anyone would identify as civilizational pillars, in exchange for a life of risk, debt and, as we will see shortly, tax avoidance. While the book doesn’t even bother to cite success stories, any economist recognizes that for every story of success and glory there are thousands of resounding failures that will never make the headlines. kiyosaki he profits from the latter without blushing, and if he is as brilliant as he describes himself in his books, he should know.

A highly emphasized aspect of Why do the rich…and what differentiates it from its predecessor is its emphasis on avoiding the treasury through allegedly legal strategies. For that, kiyosaki he goes to his “favorite accountant,” a certain Tom Wheelwright, who from the beginning has helped make him rich by establishing, he says, your own tax rules. Every few pages the book features sidebars taken from another book (which surely wasn’t as successful as expected) with “Tom’s Tax Lessons.” In order not to lose the thread of the book, these reprints do not have any specific lesson, only a population of unconnected phrases that pretend to pass for genius. A phone number and a “call now” to contact him would have been a more honest way to advertise the service.

Robert Kiyosaki.  Keys to success?
Robert Kiyosaki. Keys to success?

Making an effort, financial tips (“real financial education” as the author calls them) could be loosely based on what has happened in the United States in the last decades. The prevalence of low or negative real interest rates over the last forty years possibly meant that some savers did not get as much return as those in debt. And here the last glimpse of coherence.

kiyosaki communicates that the cause of this disaster is the printing of money. We have the exact data: “The official date that the United States began printing money is August 15, 1971 ″, she writes, and it is this (unprecedented?) fact that is destroying the world. The absurdity of the phrase should not hide the idea that the returns of common savers have been reduced in the last half century. What is a misrepresentation treacherous is the claim that long-term stock investing has been a disaster ever since. The real return on this investment in the United States has been no less than 5% per year for the last fifty years, but kiyosaki He talks about the crisis of 2007-2009 as if it were the rule, and warns that you have to stay out of that game because crises are coming that are much bigger than the one in 1929. Anyway…

Why do the rich… it is a show of power. It conveys the feeling that the author can say anything just because he is rich. Some examples: “…with real financial education, almost everyone can be part of the 10% that earn 90% of the money”; “If a monkey could beat the experts who earn astronomical salaries… so can you”; “if an employee asks for a raise, the company will create a robot to replace him”; “…for every dollar a person spends, 80% goes directly or indirectly to some kind of tax.” The only meaning these expressions have is that they come from a millionaire friend of Donald Trump who, like his partner, is authorized to say whatever he pleases simply because he has money.

Unlike the 1997 best seller, Why do the rich… he exudes this privilege excessively, and is not afraid of looking ridiculous by recommending “teaching to fish” to end poverty, among other trivia, selling his high school insights to address serious social problems.

From the perspective of Why do the rich… It’s easy to reply to this review. In the language of Chilavert, it could be replied that I have not gained anything, and that if I am so intelligent to write like that, why am i not rich. The statement is plausible and I know many brilliant people who have not accumulated money. But as a colleague once told me, it is also worth asking why there are rich people who lack intelligence. And perhaps worst of all, that part of his income comes from the mere fact of boasting about his supposed genius.