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The world is full of advice for the financially hurting, usually delivered by better-off folk whose bank accounts will benefit from the process. That’s whether they’re touting their own investments to make pop (and then get out, leaving the beneficiaries of their wisdom, otherwise known as the suckers, holding the bad) or simply looking for an audience for that podcast, TV special, or book to bring in revenue.

The advice these shenanigans generate become part of the intellectual miasma that spreads and settles into the cortexes’ folds of too many people. “Stop buying coffee.” “Stop eating avocado toast.” “Stop going out for a beer or glass of wine.”

(What is it with the advisory food obsession?)

The ultimate sadness of this practice is two-fold. The suggestions do nothing for most people. Also, to provide ineffective advice for dollars is about as depressing, pessimistic, meaningless, and cynical a practice as one might find. It is sipping the small hopes and wishes of others until those wells go dry, then moving on to the next feeding field.

What seems strange but apt is that there is a lot of advice the impoverished could give to the better off on how to become poor, or at least financially strained. Suggestions that would actually work. Learn what it’s like to grow up with few clothes, perhaps no holiday presents, the need for everyone to pitch in and work, stretching meals as much as possible, the scary times of trying to put a utility off from shutting down access to water or electric or heat. Skipping all sorts of activities, including sports and entertainment, that require payment to participate. The embarrassment, as people don’t forget and wouldn’t want you to, of public assistance, whether government cheese or something that requires a social worker to manage your case. The fees that accumulate from bank overdrafts, fines from being late with some legal payment you couldn’t afford before because you fell short of society’s various demands. The inability to substitute some disposable income to get things done.

As for the advice, there are so many ways that the wealthy could learn the less. The easiest in theory, though difficult to take up after the face, is to become part of a struggling family. Be born into poverty or a significant lack of money. The better off have no idea how it would change them and their attitudes, turn into longings and regrets of what you missed in your life that was paraded in front of you though media as “normal.” Telling you how abnormal you are.

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Or have a crisis and don’t use the money you actually have to get out of it. Watch the problems mount up and feel the giant hand squeezing the air out of your chest as you frantically search for a solution. Get into a deeper hole in the process, have less money, more pressure, take more time to go to places (because you don’t have a working car) to straighten things out, work harder, and then get blamed for being an inadequate human being.

But then, all this would be a form of slumming, an ugly term that, according to Merriam-Webster, means “to go somewhere or do something that might be considered beneath one’s station” and was first used in 1884.

According to The Victorian Web, the term arose in nineteenth century England after London’s population exploded and slums—which “became notorious for overcrowding, unsanitary and squalid living conditions”—and better-off Victorians “believed that the slums were the outcome of laziness, sin and vice of the lower classes.” Many people who could afford a private cab to arrive and then leave would stop by out of curiosity or as a form of entertainment.

The Benevolent Advice Economy sits on an assumption of superiority, whether sincerely and incorrectly felt or intentionally staged, and the arrogance of assertion that dropping bon mots could ever offer people a way out of the socioeconomic pincers that hold them tight. Perhaps there is advice that could help, but it would need formulation by and delivery from someone who had enough empathy, experience, and honesty to know what could actually help.

It is hard to truly descend from one’s station because that requires understanding what it has stood on and how little self-reliance those who are comfortable have had to exert.

Source: Forbes

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