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Home > I smell a ra(n)t coming--a reaction to Rich Dad Poor Dad

I smell a ra(n)t coming--a reaction to Rich Dad Poor Dad

November 16th, 2006 at 12:33 am

Way back when, I read part of Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki at the bookstore. I found it at the library sometime later, and have since finished the whole book.

I've been trying to write a post on it for a while now, but I've had blogger's block the entire time. I just... couldn't figure out how I felt about it.

On the one hand, the book introduced an entirely different way to think, which I've always found that to be valuable, even if I end up disagreeing vehemently in the end.

On the other hand, it just rubbed me the wrong way, and actively pissed me off in many parts.

I wanted to do a "balanced" post on it, discuss the book fairly, but everything I tried to write came out heavy-handed and negative, and I didn't feel comfortable or confident enough to post it.

But then I found John T. Reed's website, and the floodgates broke. This entry came pouring out, and here it is.

Beware, you are now entering Rant Country. Smile You have been forewarned.

To start off, I must point out that my family is pretty much a carbon copy of his "poor dad". And guess what? We're not rich, not by a long shot. So I don't know--maybe poor dad's views and advice are, in fact, antiquated, and causes one to be stuck in an inescapable rut/"Rat Race".

But in order to convince me that this is TRUE, especially since the majority--the VAST majority--of people are NOT rich, he must present logical, evidence-based arguments that this is the case. And I found Kiyosaki to be quite underwhelming in this regard.

First of all, a stylistic nitpick. His prose was god-awful. Having been a lit major for three years, I feel like I have the right to make this claim. Not only was his writing mind-numbingly repetitive and blatantly padded with extraneous phrases that were ultimately meaningless and downright distracting (he ought to either fire his editor, or hire one, seriously), he often takes a righteous, holier-than-thou attitude that I found incredibly distasteful and inappropriate (read: unprofessional). Most of the book felt like a mindless, barely coherent rant with quite a bit of propaganda.

I know this is harsh, but just based on the quality of the writing ALONE, I get warning bells on the intellectual acumen of its author. But enough about style. It's superficial, and I'm willing to overlook it if there's substance behind it.

...But is there?

One of Kiyosaki's main points is that "financial literacy" is more important than "traditional" education. After all, poor dad had a prestigious law degree and a successful "career", but he still struggled financially, while rich dad barely finished eighth grade (or something to that effect), and became one of the richest people in Hawaii.

I'll grant this point--to a degree. It's true that schools don't teach you "financial literacy"--if by "financial literacy" you mean "ability to analyze financial opportunities". That's not what schools are for. School is for learning how to think critically, nurturing intellectual passions, and developing skills for a fulfilling career, not for teaching ways to spot get-rich-quick schemes. Even if it's true (via the evidence-based research by the authors of "The Millionaire Next Door") that higher education is inversely correlated with net worth, it's certainly not because higher education teaches you to become a tool, which is essentially his argument.

To make himself sound more credible, no doubt, Kiyosaki claims to support "education reform". This sounds nice (since who would claim to be against it?), except if you actually READ into what he's saying, he's alarmingly anti-education, and I certainly wouldn't trust him to inform educational policy, since I seriously fear what he would do to the curriculum. His measuring stick for the value of any form of "education" is its ability to put (tax-deductible) profits into one's pocket.

I don't know about anyone else, but I find this to be quite disturbing. Whatever happened to learning something because you love it, not because it makes money? It's apparent that making money is right in line with Kiyosaki's own passions and priorities, but he must concede that at least for some people, it doesn't work that way? Maybe some people aren't willing to quit their full-time jobs so that they can "not work for money" by looking for real estate foreclosures and speculative microcap stock investments all day? Isn't there some sort of middle ground for the average Joe/Jane, who has a fulfilling career, but would still like some more financial security without sticking it to the Man, so to speak? According to Kiyosaki, such people are clueless, fearful, and wasting their potential genius. Uh, thanks. YOU find the cure for Alzheimer's Disease, then!! Sheesh.

Furthermore, I find his attempt to posit a dichotomy between "education" and "financial literacy" to be absurd. Financial literacy requires education. In my experience, many, if not most, subjects are easy to learn in terms of basics, but difficult to master thoroughly, and I believe the same is true for real estate and stock market investments. Now he may be just being selective about what constitutes "financial literacy" (knowledge useful for making money) and "education" (everything else), but the fact remains that I simply do not believe that such profitable real estate and stock market investments can be accomplished so easily and in a matter of hours. People spend years in those fields, gathering the experience and mastering the nuances. Kiyosaki himself claims that he doesn't invest in anything he doesn't understand. But reading this book is enough to send Joe Shmuck on his way from rags to riches?

To answer my own rhetorical question, NO, I don't think it's enough, and Kiyosaki doesn't think so, either. He gives himself away when he said that his personal examples of making money were "not recommended" and only meant to "inspire". Now if his examples were any good, they would be recommended, so I can only understand this to mean that his examples are, in fact, crap. So he's trying to inspire you with... crap. Wonderful disclaimer there, eh? Of course, a more charitable interpretation would be to say that he's admitting that these deals were closed by professionals, so don't try this at home, which implies that you do need REAL knowledge and training not given in his book to pull something like that off.

The only decent advice I feel he gives is his recommendation to buy "assets" and not "liabilities". But strip away the asset/liability rhetoric, and all that remains is the standard advice to maximize investments and minimize spending. So in the end, I really don't see what this book says that is new and valuable, despite its bestseller status.

Not all that glitters is gold?

6 Responses to “I smell a ra(n)t coming--a reaction to Rich Dad Poor Dad”

  1. homein2007 Says:

    I agree that Kiyosaki's books aren't complex, erudite economic treatises, but they aren't meant to be. My impression is that the value of his books (other than to make him money by selling them) is to get the reader thinking about ideas like investment vs. consumption. Now, you and I, and most of the people reading these blogs, are perhaps already more knowledgeable of the value of saving and investments than the average reader of his books prior to reading them. I was fortunate to grow up with role models who were savers, but a huge number of people out there have no concept of what owning an income-producing asset means. Does he oversimplify a lot? Yes, but I think the end result is still valuable.

  2. Broken Arrow Says:

    Firstly, I say feel free to rant away. Big Grin

    Secondly, what bothers me the most about all this isn't necessarily Robert Kiyosaki or his books per se. In fact, and in all fairness, I've found his writing to be both sanguine and inspiring.

    Rather, it has to do with the cult-like following of people that tend to sing his praises. Similar to the cult-like following that tend to sing praises to Dave Ramsey, people like that doesn't seem to be casting a critical, intellectual eye on things. Not that we need to do so with everything, but when gurus that want you to buy their products offer questionable advices, it should make people wonder and question why.

    Rather, all too often, I find that people will simply say, "Oh, rich dad would have done this or that." and that's it. Sad.

  3. amberfocus Says:

    homein2007: I agree that he gets the ideas of investments vs. consumption pounded into one's head, and that is valuable if you've never been exposed to those concepts before.

    However, what killed it for me was John T. Reed's revelation that there is NO EVIDENCE that Kiyosaki actually carried out many of his illustrative money-making examples, and the fact that a few of them are downright ILLEGAL.

    That makes him a misleading and fraudulent, um, liar?

    Combine that with his denigration of "traditional" vehicles of investment, like mutual funds and houses that are WITHIN ONE'S MEANS, and his "advice" basically boils down to: "Buy speculative microcap investments and real estate foreclosures (at your own risk!! if you believe that they're actually possible!), not mutual funds for your 401(k)--those are for sissy chicken littles!"

    ...Kind of wrong, neh? Maybe even downright damaging.

    In my humble opinion, anyway. Smile
    Broken Arrow: I don't think I've encountered any Kiyosaki groupies, but I'm sure I'll be disturbed if I do. But then again, as an unabashed Jon Stewart groupie, I don't know if I should say anything...


  4. Broken Arrow Says:

    Haha, Jon Stwart is awesome. Nothing wrong with being his groupie... cuz, I am one too. Big Grin

  5. LuckyRobin Says:

    My biggest thought when I finished that book years ago was, "But what if this rich dad was the exception to the rule?" What if he was basing everything on a fluke? I do think there are some serious flaws in this book and it made me not really want to read anything else he wrote because of it. I didn't really care for his writing style myself, felt it was...lacking.

  6. mairgrif Says:

    I find it telling that the self made millionaires surveyed in "the Millionaire Next Door" all have little education, but ALL valued education highly, and aspired for their children to get advanced degrees. If education is not important why would that be?

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