Because some aspects of personal finance overlap with politics, I’m often asked what my political views are, particularly on specific issues. I usually don’t feel comfortable doing that, for several reasons.
First, I usually see benefits on both sides of the issue. Often, my feelings on a specific issue have more to do with me than it has to do with the merits of an issue. I can see how someone who grew up in a different environment or lives in a different environment might see an issue completely differently, and I respect that.
At the same time, I don’t like the absolutism that both sides of the political spectrum seem to fall into. There seems to be a sense that the other side can’t possibly be right on anything and that negotiating with the other side is a sign of weakness. My dislike for that perspective is far stronger than my feelings on any one specific issue.
In other words, I don’t like to discuss my views on specific issues because the political climate right now is in opposition to rationally discussing issues. For many people, there is no discussion – there is either right (what I believe) or wrong (what everyone else believes), and if you can’t argue the issues, you attack the other person’s religion or character or something else about them. There is no healthy conversation to be had there, so I don’t really feel the need to participate in it. I save such discussions for friends and family that I know are willing to actually listen to and consider a lot of viewpoints and won’t attack me for not wholly agreeing with them.
Our nation can only solve its problems and move forward if both sides recognize that there is far more to gain by compromising a bit and looking for solutions that we can all be reasonably happy with than by simply calling the other side names and refusing to even be involved in discussions and negotiation and compromise.
The funny part is, as I re-read what I just wrote, I can see people believing that I’m a big liberal and others believing that I’m a big conservative. I wouldn’t call myself either one.
The simple two-step process “Step one: Open all doors. Learn a little about a lot. Consider as many options as possible, then add more. Step two: Relentlessly dismiss, prune and eliminate. Choose. Ship.” This pretty much sums up my perspective on personal finance, on careers, and on life. (@ seth godin)
From the Rich to the Poor (or, What I Learned in Africa) If you found this article worthwhile, note that my sister-in-law is heavily involved with Jump for Joel, a charity that’s all about solving this very problem. (@ get rich slowly)
Craft the Life You Want: Setting Up Shop or The Importance of Where You Live This is a very thorough article on living near people with similar ambitions and skill sets as yourself as a method of improving your own situation. (@ art of manliness)
How Misplaced Financial Priorities Lead to Lame Excuses Excuses never work. An excuse is a flimsy patch over a problem you need to be solving. (@ len penzo)