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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The One Tragedy the Middle Class Can Express With Great Feeling

Posted by on Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 8:58 AM

A heartless investment banker deprives her clients of their savings, and the clients finally have a moment, a reason to air their pain in public:

(Seattle Times) Disgraced investment broker Rhonda Breard was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison Tuesday for embezzling more than $12 million from her clients, many of whom sat angrily through the hearing thinking the court got conned, too...

...Pechman's Seattle courtroom was packed with victims — more than 43 people lost all or most of their life savings in the fraud. Several spoke of their anguish at finding out that the woman they trusted with their futures had spent their savings on jewelry, cars, vacations and mansions.

Shelly Heath described "25 years of financial sacrifices" to build a retirement fund she later found out didn't exist.

Does the middle class have no sense of shame? Why is this Heath lady not at all embarrassed to present her life to a packed court as one that placed so much meaning in the squirreling of a retirement fund? 25 years of doing just this—waiting, saving, checking desire, calculating, dreaming of the future fruits—seems like something that should be kept a secret, kept in the darkest parts of the heart, as it exposes how little you are as a person. All of this pleading, crying, and screaming about lost savings not only shows a lack of shame but that the Heaths of this world ultimately need the Breards of this world ("Not only did you steal everything I had, you were my best friend," Hart said Wednesday), otherwise how would they ever feel anything that's almost real, and express themselves (and see themselves) as the mighty and noble (but doomed) characters in the famous Greek tragedies?

Now the Heaths have a story tell: I lost all of my savings! My whole life lost. See, that is me; that is my tragedy. The audience in the court is moved to tears.


Comments (91) RSS

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I think it's fair to say you've outdone yourself.
Posted by gloomy gus on August 12, 2010 at 9:03 AM · Report this
I'm glad I never had you at PLU. I think I would've gone insane.
Posted by Nic in Greenlake on August 12, 2010 at 9:08 AM · Report this
I only comment on Slog to say negative things about Mudede's posts, and I almost feel shame for this (almost).
Posted by ut! on August 12, 2010 at 9:10 AM · Report this
Jesus, Charles. Every time I think I have the full picture of just how much of an arrogant asshole you are, you up the ante.
Posted by JenV on August 12, 2010 at 9:11 AM · Report this
Joe M 5
What are your plans for old age? Live in the woods?
Posted by Joe M on August 12, 2010 at 9:11 AM · Report this
TortoiseTurtle 6
You're an embarrassment to The Stranger, Charles.
Posted by TortoiseTurtle on August 12, 2010 at 9:14 AM · Report this
Vince 7
Sorry if I have little sympathy for her victims. She played off their greed. And while stealing their retirement is wrong and should be punished, they vote for people who keep the biggest money stealers in power. So, yeah, fuck them.
Posted by Vince on August 12, 2010 at 9:19 AM · Report this
nseattlite 8
W. T. F. ????????
Posted by nseattlite on August 12, 2010 at 9:19 AM · Report this
what the??? i don't understand this post. my mother, who has only a high school degree, has worked and scrimped and saved her entire life to have a decent retirement fund and if someone robbed her of that i would want them dead. it's not just a middle class thing. she is a working class single mother of two who has been discriminated against for being a woman and someone with only a HS diploma. she has been GROSSLY underpaid her entire life and everything she has she has worked HARD for - and you would so blithely brush off someone ROBBING her of her life's savings as some woe is me look at me how sad is me tragedy? FUCK YOU. are you independently wealthy? do you have a retirement fund? is this what you're teaching your child - that people who are robbed of their life's work should be mocked? i pity you and your children. i hope it happens to you. and we'll all be mocking you when it does. what an asshole.
Posted by xina on August 12, 2010 at 9:20 AM · Report this
@5 When your of the class that Charles is that is not something you have to worry about.
Posted by giffy on August 12, 2010 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Is this a twisted argument for the nanny state?
Posted by cliche on August 12, 2010 at 9:24 AM · Report this
This is the quality of thought we get from a Stranger "Genius"?
Posted by Tyler Pierce on August 12, 2010 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 13
Some people delay their dreams in the way Charles is talking about. Some people just want to not be impoverished when they're 85.
Posted by Julie in Eugene on August 12, 2010 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Ummm, just what do you intend on doing when you get old and decrepit, Mr. Mudede? Setting yourself adrift on an ice floe (if there are any left)? Begging? An big inheritance from a rich uncle you never met? While it's true that we should all strive to enjoy our lives in the now, lest the proverbial bus smack us into oblivion tomorrow, a little planning for the future is a good thing. It doesn't make one "small" to try to avoid burdening one's family/offspring with the entire expense of caring for you (assuming they even
Posted by teamcanada on August 12, 2010 at 9:28 AM · Report this
Charles Mudede 15
@11, we need new values. we cannot continue to behave like squirrels in the land of giants.
Posted by Charles Mudede on August 12, 2010 at 9:30 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 16
Charles: Just shoot yourself.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on August 12, 2010 at 9:33 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 17
@Charles What happened to these people is no less of a tragedy than one's home burning down in a fire. Show some empathy.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 12, 2010 at 9:33 AM · Report this
Charles, you suck. Your writing sucks, your blog posts all suck, your fixation on Amanda Knox's bra strap sucks, and while Zoo was one of the funniest movies I've seen in years, that part in the middle where you interview that guy who played the cop was completely pointless. This post in particular makes you seem like a FOX News parody of a human, a self-fancied voice of a counter culture that shits all over people who worked to make some sort of a plan for comfortable old age. I'm sorry that you think saving for retirement and expenses that come later in life is something that should be kept like a dirty secret. So shameful, being prepared. Fuck you, buddy.
Posted by DominoPanik on August 12, 2010 at 9:34 AM · Report this
Vince 19
@17 We are free to fail. If they put the money in an FDIC bank, it would still be there. But no, they wanted big fat returns with a warning it could disappear.
Posted by Vince on August 12, 2010 at 9:37 AM · Report this
Crazy folks saving for their retirement, they should have blown it on malt liquor, pot, $2000 rims for the Escalade and multiple babies and liaisons with assorted gang bangers..... then go to the gub'ment and ask them to pick up the tab for their retirement and offspring.

Apparently the only way to get Charles' sympathy is to be a parasite like his father was with Mugabe.
Posted by ZANU-PF blood sucker called Mudede on August 12, 2010 at 9:39 AM · Report this
@7 - Greed? What the hell is greedy about investing your money wisely so that you can have a comfortable retirement?! Which, in most cases, using an investment banker to manage your money achieves. Many people with modest savings do this. It's smart!

@15 - If you mean having some practicality and saving for the future is behaving like a squirrel, then behaving like a squirrel is a good value.

Good grief! Have some common sense people!
Posted by been there and back again on August 12, 2010 at 9:41 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 22
@19 the only thing of value in all of this is what charles said of us needing new values.

We do: where society values picking people up that fail. Until we move past the idea that societal Dawinism is ok and that ultra-hardcore Randian libertarianism (or anything related) is the ideology of Utter Douchebaggery, we'll never evolve. We're not fucking animals.

Should they have gone FDIC? Sure. But I'd like to see ANYONE get a comfortable retirement on returns from FDIC investment when you factor in all the factors that come into play. It's fun to throw things like that out when they exist in a nice vacuum.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 12, 2010 at 9:43 AM · Report this
nseattlite 23
@15, you're beginning to sound like WiS.

Normally your weird rants don't bug me, but this one is way too far out there.
Posted by nseattlite on August 12, 2010 at 9:43 AM · Report this
Vince 24
@21 Really? You think they invested wisely? Good luck.
Posted by Vince on August 12, 2010 at 9:44 AM · Report this
piminnowcheez 25
You know, I understand the negative reactions here, and I do feel real sympathy for these people who were robbed and betrayed; my own mother lost most of her assets late in life and I can testify to the pain and fear of having to scramble for a Plan B just as you're entering old age.

But I think this is one of the most thought-provoking posts I've ever read here (not that I really come to Slog for thought-provocation), with this as the essence:

"25 years of doing just this—waiting, saving, checking desire, calculating, dreaming of the future fruits"

Isn't this one of the central conflicts of human life, both between cultures and within ourselves, i.e., how much to live now vs. how much to live in the future, and how much wealth resides in our assets vs. our relationships? How much to honor the present-moment consciousness and possessionless existence of the animals we are, vs. asserting the unique power of our humanity to project ourselves into the future?
Posted by piminnowcheez on August 12, 2010 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Hernandez 26
You know, it is possible to stash away a little something for the future while still living a rich, full life in the present. It's never been an either/or proposition (although I will admit that some have treated in that way).

I'm picturing thirty years from now, when Charles' children have to take care of his decrepit, tired ass. They'll wonder why he was incapable of doing so much as stuffing some cash in an old mattress to help see him through his final days and be less of a burden to his offspring. Then one night he'll be smothered with a pillow. The end.
Posted by Hernandez on August 12, 2010 at 9:47 AM · Report this
onion 27
i think @25 is a plant. some buddy of Mudede trying to save his ass and make him seem relevant just when Mudede hits his pinnacle of assholishness.
Posted by onion on August 12, 2010 at 9:50 AM · Report this
@24- Thank you, but I don't need luck - I invest wisely using an investment banker as well as other forms of savings. Diversity in investments and balancing risk is important. It is not greed, but good planning.
Posted by been there and back again on August 12, 2010 at 9:50 AM · Report this
Charles Mudede 29
@21, We have swapped creative social substance and joy in this society for the misery, measurements, and myths of savings.

secondly, the religion of the middle class is always common sense. the very rich and the very poor are rarely members of this rather dry church.
Posted by Charles Mudede on August 12, 2010 at 9:50 AM · Report this
Well, this exposes how little somebody is as a person.

But you already knew that.

Video, please, of Mudede standing in the middle of the tracks, glowering and shaking his fist at the approaching locomotive's middle class essence.
Posted by RonK, Seattle on August 12, 2010 at 9:58 AM · Report this
TortoiseTurtle 31
@24, this was theft. You see, they're victims of a crime, not bad investments due to a get-rich-quick scheme. How can you miss this? How dense are you?

They weren't motivated by greed. This was their retirement fund. If they'd lost the money speculating on the market, that's one thing. But they lost it to THEFT.

This is a question of trust, not economics, or greedy motivations, or whatever nonsense Charles can dress it in.

Next time you trust someone and they screw you over, I guess it's your fault for trusting them? I hope you can trust your employer to pay you. I hope you can trust your bank not to just take all your money. I hope you can trust your neighbors not to steal all of your belongings while you're away.

Sure they're not legally allowed to do those things, and can face repercussions, but that's also exactly what happened here.

Man, between you and Charles, I don't know who's more retarded. I still have to vote Charles.

Oh, and to you, Charles: Fuck off, you're not smart or insightful. Whenever anyone in your life has told you different, they were either blowing smoke up your ass, or are too stupid to know the difference.
Posted by TortoiseTurtle on August 12, 2010 at 9:59 AM · Report this
Wow CM. While your compassion is clearly lacking I also have to question the intelligence of tying, even a valid point, to this argument and instance. This article is moronic at best.

I'm sure you'll convert many people to your ideas by kicking the victim.

Maybe you can cover a rape trial and tell us how the victim's clothes showed she was asking for it as a way of advocating more modest dress.

Choosing to live different does not automatically deserve jeers when it goes wrong. I thought that was the main ideal of The Stranger!
Posted by Embarrased for you on August 12, 2010 at 10:07 AM · Report this
Fried Worms 33
Charles seems blissfully obtuse to the problem that the rate of savings in America is lower than it ever has been. It's one of the core problems with our nation's macro economy and the micro economy of individuals. People do not save--out of poor choices--or cannot save due to insufficient pay in a time of increasing costs. They have nothing then for emergencies, cannot pay off the debts they collect (often are forced to collect by necessity), and have nothing for their old age or to help their children. Pensions are being stripped along with the decline of unions; 401Ks are plundered and are unreliable due to fraud and greed in the markets; and social security is insufficient, especially when a single month's prescriptions to treat some illness can cost 10,000+, thanks to big pharma. But clearly the problem that old people didn't waste enough money in their youth. And this crook is rightfully let off the hook by Charles. Why would he condemn her? Clearly it’s the fault of the people who wanted to retire and not live in a shack and work as a walmart greeter at age 90. Capitalist dogs!

But that is all beside the true point. The true point being that Charles is an arrogant, morally deficient, insensitive, befuddled asshat who will soon graduate to kicking disabled children and strangling kittens. Both have bourgeois tendencies and ask for everything they get.

Go fuck yourself Charles. In the most painful way possible.
Posted by Fried Worms on August 12, 2010 at 10:08 AM · Report this
npage148 34
So, You'd be ok if someone broke into your house and stole everything you had worth value?
Posted by npage148 on August 12, 2010 at 10:09 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 35
For those of you who aren't setting something aside for the future and think this is funny, I've got some bad news for you: Social Security is going to be broke by the time you retire. Hope you enjoy being old, homeless, toothless and hungry.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on August 12, 2010 at 10:11 AM · Report this
Charles Mudede 36
@31, i think 21's meaning relates to a very a popular saying: "a fool and his money..."

there is, by the way, a good reason why they describe such crimes as "a fleecing." keep that animal in mind, and keep also in mind that our society maintains the myth that hard work pays, all is fair, it's a level playing ground, and so on and so on. there are lots of people who have my color and do not have the luxury of that illusion.
Posted by Charles Mudede on August 12, 2010 at 10:12 AM · Report this
Bear in mind that "controversial" posts such as this just drive up ad-click revenue for the Stranger.
Posted by tiktok on August 12, 2010 at 10:12 AM · Report this
Though however wise one's meager savings, nothing guarantees a strong unexpected gust won’t blow them away anymore than a squirrel won’t fall out of a tree before cashing its stash. The call for spontaneity is always there but doing what one wants & what one must (in order to survive or follow through w/ social normative obligations, or in this case both) are in constant conflict.

Side note: I think Charles is trolling for reactions today. Whatever.
Posted by sall on August 12, 2010 at 10:14 AM · Report this
Regarding 36. I wondered how long it would take for Charles to play the race card. I think he is just imagining Shelly Heath to be a white middle class woman and getting a kick out of her misfortune since she is clearly one of the privileged that he loathes. Our society is under no illusion that life is fair and that we are on a level playing field. This was a case of fraud and that is a moral argument that has nothing to do with saving money for retirement.
Posted by cliche on August 12, 2010 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Posted by bellgirl on August 12, 2010 at 10:32 AM · Report this

gawker picked up on this
Posted by lf on August 12, 2010 at 10:33 AM · Report this
Charles Mudede 42
@39, i regret the racial reference. it's going to distort my meaning because race is something that's almost not understood in this part of the world. i should have stuck to class.
Posted by Charles Mudede on August 12, 2010 at 10:37 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 43
Changing values won't do anything unless people stop being selfish, and selfishness is unlikely to ever go away.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on August 12, 2010 at 10:42 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 44
OK, Charles: you're obligated to tell us what YOU do for retirement planning, based on your statements here. If you dare, of course. What sorts of investments? Do you expect to be at, below, or above your current level of income post-retirement?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 12, 2010 at 10:43 AM · Report this
Oh, look, more half-baked posuer Marxist/Nihilist nonsense from the Stranger when it enters the realm of politics. Shocking. /yawn

Pass the yams, Gertrude, the dorks are at it again.
Posted by And stay off my grass! on August 12, 2010 at 10:59 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 46

One reason savings rates are so low is because people are handing their money over to mutual funds and investment bankers. The official savings rate doesn't take investments into account.


Putting ALL of your life savings in investments is undeniably dumb. Have you never heard of a stock market crash?
Posted by keshmeshi on August 12, 2010 at 11:05 AM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 47
@26 is totally spot on. Saving money (preparing for the future) does not have to mean that you are denying yourself of living in the present. Yes, some people live their lives this way. But, is it really that hard to conceptualize a balance between saving and "living life in the now"?

My grandfather died only a couple of years after he retired, which probably was a motivating factor for my parents to strike the balance that they have. They live reasonably frugally (buy new cars less frequently than most, do home/car repairs themselves, shop sales, etc.), but retired early and have no problem spending money when it's something big that will lead to improved happiness (buying a 2nd home in Maine where they always wanted to retire, trips out to see us in the PacNW, etc.). I believe/hope I am taking after their good example -- spend money where it counts (vacations, experiences, etc.) and save when it doesn't.
Posted by Julie in Eugene on August 12, 2010 at 11:14 AM · Report this
Banna 48
Hey Charles, congratulations on your most successful troll ever!
Posted by Banna on August 12, 2010 at 11:15 AM · Report this
Josh Bomb 49
thank you charles.
Posted by Josh Bomb on August 12, 2010 at 11:20 AM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 50
@47 - I feel like I should probably state the obvious here that my family is middle class, and that this philosophy is obviously not possible for people who are are just getting by paycheck-to-paycheck.

Also, @46, @28 has a good point. "Investments" can mean anything in terms of risk/return potential. A good adviser will balance the risk based on your needs/desires. A low risk portfolio would be heavy on things like govt. bonds, which tend to be "safer", but have lower returns. We have no idea what the risk profile of the people who lost their money was -- they could have been all in the stock market (or... thought that that's what they were doing), or all in "safer" investments, or some mix (which is usually typical). Just going to an adviser does not mean that you are greedy (as some on this thread have said).
Posted by Julie in Eugene on August 12, 2010 at 11:22 AM · Report this
@38 - Yes there is always that conflict, which is why we need to try for balance. It's not good just to save and hoard for tomorrow and have no fun today, since tomorrow may never come. But at the same time, tomorrow needs to be planned for and saved toward because it most likely will come some day.

@29 - I would NOT claim that we have swapped creative social substance and joy in this society for the misery, measurements, and myths of savings. Instead, I would say, at least in my case, planning and saving for the future has brought some comfort and stress relief so that I have time and energy to pursue much joy. A very good friend of mine did not plan well, got heavily into debt. Guess which one of us spends more time thinking about money?

Am I right in thinking that Charles was born "privileged" when it comes to money, and therefore can afford the luxury of not having to stress his brain with the kind of financial planning most of us have to do?
Posted by been there and back again on August 12, 2010 at 11:26 AM · Report this
AmyC 52
i can get on board with the idea that putting ALL your savings into one investment is stupid (but that's only tangential to charles' argument), and that denying all pleasures and sense of living life now in order to have something great later is foolish (closer to the core of charles' argument), and i get what charles is driving at with the fleecing comment in 36. he has a point that it's absurd for us to expect order in a disordered, chaotic world (sometimes hard work pays and sometimes hard work is just hard work - the universe has no regard for good guys or bad guys). that said, just because we know that the playing field isn't level and that all isn't fair doesn't mean that we don't have an obligation to TRY to improve the situation when we are presented with an obvious and intentional breach of fairness, as in this case. maybe it is a bit pathetic of this woman to cry that her life savings is lost because it's pathetic of her to EXPECT that no harm could ever befall her, but it is absolutely reasonable for her to cry that her life savings is lost because someone committed a crime against her.
Posted by AmyC on August 12, 2010 at 11:28 AM · Report this
@46 - see my post @28.
I am VERY diversified financially.
Posted by been there and back again on August 12, 2010 at 11:29 AM · Report this
Oops, @50 already pointed that out.

@50 - Very good post!
Posted by been there and back again on August 12, 2010 at 11:31 AM · Report this
Why so much desire for a wealthy life when the strength and vigor of youth has abandoned one's bones?

What knows the middle class of swift-footed Achilles? Is it even possible for them to sympathize (if not empathize) with the conscious intent to live a short life rather than a long one--to live an outrageously glorious short life in danger, rather than to live an easy one, surrounded by one's possessions and many sons, forgotten in a generation or so.

And again now this brings me to the Volsungasaga. As Sigurthr stands, glorying in the slaying of Fafnir, Fafnir with his dying breath curses Sigurthr should he go into his place and retrieve his golden hoard. Sigurthr and Fafnir thus go on in this way until Fafnir says: "And that same gold will be your death, as it is with all who possess it." To which Sigurthr replies: "I would ride home, even though it would mean losing this treasure, if I knew I would live forever, but every brave man wants to be wealthy until that final day."

It's a much better thing to be wealthy in the fullness of one's powers, than a miserly miser clutching at his bag of gold cursing his inheritors on his deathbed as they wait eagerly to drop his ass in the river and take all his stuff.

I thought Mr. Mudede was thoughtful in this little essai.
Posted by Central Scrutinizer on August 12, 2010 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Medina 56
Based on the above reactions, Charles overall point is correct. It seems shameful that society subordinates all the wonders of humanity to crass materialism. The commenters here, presumably middle-class, are unafraid to show that they value future security more than living for today. The middle-class is duped by the myth that savings and materialism is the ultimate goal of life.

On the flip side, Charles' Marxist beliefs fail to account for people with base individual desires like Mrs. Beard. People will take more then they are entitled if given the opportunity. Moreover, Marxism encourages people like Mrs. Beard to become leaders of the revolution (see Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.).

So, we are stuck with a system that forces middle-class people to sacrifice part of their humanity to secure future stability. Mock it if it makes you feel better; but so far, no one, not even Charles, has found a better system.

Posted by Medina on August 12, 2010 at 11:45 AM · Report this
Y'all are nuts! Charles is middle class. Everyone who commented in this thread are middle class - or do y'all get a good enough signal on your iPhones down there in the coal mines to chastize a person for planning not to become a burden on her family or become a ward of the state in her old age?

Charles' delight at the suffering of others is truly repugnant.
Posted by SumDood on August 12, 2010 at 12:13 PM · Report this
Morgan 58
You guys all missed the point again. Income gaps between the very rich and everyone else more than tripled in the last three decades.… You can scrimp and save your whole life and have the entire pile wiped out by one stock market crash. The system is designed to deliver compound rewards to those with the most assets and diminishing returns to everyone else. Basically it is barely worth the effort because even if you're not blatantly robbed as these people were, you'll be ripped off in the end no matter what.
Posted by Morgan on August 12, 2010 at 12:14 PM · Report this
@44 I'm sure he plans to retire to Cuba, that model Marxist utopia whose secret police are only there to protect people from drowning in the attempt to escape. Chuck why don't you take your bourgeois black ass there now?
Posted by xxxSTEVExxx on August 12, 2010 at 12:19 PM · Report this
@55 and @56 - If you want to life fast and die young, go right ahead.

I'm currently retired and am very glad I can enjoy life, due partly because I planned wisely.
It's one thing to say,"live for today," when you are young, but sooner or later, if you live long enough, you'll get old. And, believe it not, you can have a LOT of fun when you're old. For instance, there's more time to enjoy the company of good friends. Family and friends play a bigger part in life than ever before. I'd say, overall, material things play a very small part in my happiness. I don't understand the attitude that life isn't worth living once youth is past.

I find the following statement to be pure bullshit:
"It seems shameful that society subordinates all the wonders of humanity to crass materialism."

Society, for the most part, does NOT subordinate all the wonders of humanity to crass materialism. At least, not from where I sit.
Posted by been there and back again on August 12, 2010 at 12:26 PM · Report this
Swell 61
I truly don't get why they keep this twat on staff.
Posted by Swell on August 12, 2010 at 12:30 PM · Report this
merry 62
@ 5 & 37 FTW

And Charles, in addition to the overall shittiness of your entire post, your comment @42 is most amazingly offensive. Us ignoramuses up here in the PNW just don't know nuthin 'bout race and racial issues, huh?

Posted by merry on August 12, 2010 at 12:39 PM · Report this
merry 63
Oh poo.

@ 5, yes your post is a good one but I was trying to award the FTW to #10 (& #37).

Dang fragmented attention span.
Posted by merry on August 12, 2010 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Geni 64
@15 - then what SHOULD we behave like? Yes, I agree with part of your assessment - too many people do behave like squirrels, hoarding their caches and then "out of sight, out of mind" - wandering off to the next new shiny things. (Did you know that corvids - magpies, jays and crows - remember where they stash about 80% of stored foods, while squirrels remember about 10%? But I digress. Because I too am wandering off to the next new shiny thing.) But what SHOULD we be doing, Charles? Surely you do not begrudge a comfortable (or at least not impoverished) old age to those of us who have spent our lives working. Surely not.

(And for what it's worth, while I'm middle-class now, I very definitely did not grow up that way - I grew up in the projects.)
Posted by Geni on August 12, 2010 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Medina 65
@60, the following statement about retirement makes my point: "For instance, there's more time to enjoy the company of good friends."

In other words, you sacrificed time with your family ("wonders of humanity") because you had to make a living/save money ("crass materialism"). Ergo, you subordinated a piece of your humanity for materialism.

The point wasn't that being old is bad and youth good. Rather, society compels us to make money working 40 or more hours per week during our youth to assure we have money to support ourselves when we can't work anymore. If you don't, then you are committing the sin of "living for today." What a shame that would be.

Posted by Medina on August 12, 2010 at 12:57 PM · Report this
pissy mcslogbot 66
Charles does indeed have might troll-fu, but what you really have to wonder @ is if he is this much of an obtuse ass in all of his encounters.

i mean really , for him to say this:
"seems like something that should be kept a secret, kept in the darkest parts of the heart, as it exposes how little you are as a person."

is beyond all sense of irony and decency and basic humanity...

what should be kept a secret and truly exposes how little of a person you are, charles, are your musings.
Posted by pissy mcslogbot on August 12, 2010 at 1:04 PM · Report this
@65 - Yes, it would have been a shame if I was dead or totally miserable now because I didn't work and plan when younger.
What you call subordinating a piece of my humanity for crass materialism, I call working to enable myself to have MORE humanity later in life. Hopefully a long, enjoyable life. Is it crass materialism or delayed gratification? Instant gratification or patience? Eat it now or eat it later?

Time to go have fun.
Posted by been there and back again on August 12, 2010 at 1:13 PM · Report this
TVDinner 68
Charles and Vince are really missing a key point here. Well Charles, as usual, is missing more than one key point, but here's the one I wanna point out: Ronda Breard (note the spelling, Charles) WAS an investment banker. She worked for a firm, and her whole job was to advise people on their retirement planning. People didn't get suckered in by a greedy desire to get a ridiculous rate of return. They got suckered in by her charming personality, the competence she exuded, and her many years of experience in the industry. She only went off the rails - as far as it's known - recently.

This could have happened to anyone who gives a shit about their future and tries faithfully to invest in it. It could even have happened to you, Vince. I kinda hope it does, so you learn to be a little less sanctimonious and a lot more sympathetic.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on August 12, 2010 at 1:33 PM · Report this
@ 29 - well, duh. Rich people don't need common sense, because they have enough resources to know that they'll be ok. Very poor people know that barring some kind of miracle, they will be working until the day they die (and thus was the lottery born). The middle class are the only ones with an uncertain outcome. Do it one way, and you might have a decent old age. Do it another, and it's dumpster diving for dinner. So using some common sense is an imperative. Humans are the only animals with enough imagination to picture themselves in old age. It is natural to want to help your future self as well as your present self. That's how we were able to come up with agriculture (might get hungry later!), architecture (might get cold later!), and other tools of corporate oppression. Look, I can get behind the idea that our society is messed up, and that we should all have a more humanistic, co-operative approach to our time here on Earth (see, it's true! Canadians ARE all socialists!). But I live in a country that does more for its elderly citizens than almost any other, and even here you still need to plan ahead. We are living in the society that we have, and even if you are working to change that society, you can't just ignore it.
Posted by teamcanada on August 12, 2010 at 1:42 PM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 70
@65 - Frankly, I think it's pretty ridiculous (and immature) to see the world in such a black and white fashion: working/saving = "crass materialism", not working/saving = "living for today." There is such a thing as balance. I may not spend every single waking second doing exactly what I want to be doing in that second, but I take what's really important to me (spending time with family/friends, traveling, having new experiences) and prioritize my time/money towards those things.

So, for 3-4 years in my 20s I worked at a job I didn't particularly like all that much (though it had its good and bad). I had a damn fun time outside of work while I was working there, but I definitely did not look forward to my job. But, because of that time, I now, in my early 30s, have a job where I work from home, have a ridiculous amount of flexibility in my schedule, as well as control over the types of projects I work on (and I make a fair amount of money doing it). My life is kind of awesome right now. And, if I had followed the "live only for today" mentality during my 20s, I probably wouldn't have the awesome life I have right now... Some things are worth investing for.

(I should add that I also had a job in my 20s that I loved -- your argument sort of ignores the fact that some people actually like their jobs. My husband had a job for 2 years writing fiction, on salary, for crying out loud).
Posted by Julie in Eugene on August 12, 2010 at 1:50 PM · Report this
@ 65 --

You're really coming across like someone who just finished their first Philosophy 101 class and like, had their mind totally, like, BLOWN by the state of nature as described by Rousseau, you know, where humans were perfectly happy sitting on their asses all day eating fruit from the trees until society reared it's ugly head and blinded us all with this lie of crass materialism, forcing us to spend our lives in servitude to an uncaring system motivated only by its own greed.

YAWN. Give me a break, dude. I'm curious to hear what it is that you're doing to support yourself that gives you such a cavalier attitude about taking precautions for the future so that you do not become a burden to the people around you. Yes, admittedly people can get caught up in crass materialism and the pursuit of money above all else is something that should be avoided, and in the extreme of, oh, let's say Scrooge McDuck, your argument makes sense, but to say that somebody subordinated a piece of their humanity in the name of crass materialism because they worked a steady job and made sure to put money aside so that they could one day stop working said job and enjoy being an old person seems a little bit naive.

In a community, ANY community, especially an urban one like Seattle, people need to have jobs to keep the entire thing running. Sure it's all fine and dandy to imagine a magical world where we can all just sit around eating what we grow, hanging out with each other and being human, but that has no practical application to real life. The food you buy at the store, the bus you take to get around, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the fucking computer that you are typing your opinions on, guess what, these things are all possible because people worked jobs that provided you with these things in order to make money to support themselves and their families. Ideally though, some of those people would like to stop working those jobs and have some free time before kicking the bucket, thus, retirement savings and planning ahead.

Is the system perfect? No. Do certain jobs make people hate their lives? Absolutely so. But what doesn't help it is people like you telling those with the foresight to try and plan for a rainy day that they've sacrificed their humanity for the sake of "crass materialism," just because they're working to support themselves so that people like you who just want to sit around and be human have a cafe to go to set up their laptops.
Posted by DominoPanik on August 12, 2010 at 2:03 PM · Report this
Most people earn their living through some combination of physical labour and clear thinking. Since the ability to do physical labour and clear thinking diminishes with age, it's necessary for most people to provide ahead for when they won't be able to earn their living.

But Charles is an exception, in that he's found a way to earn his living through bullshit and assholery. He's not likely to lose his ability to be an bullshit-spouting asshole in his advanced age - if anything, he'll get better at it. So I can understand why saving for retirement is not a high priority for him.
Posted by rhymeswithlibrarian on August 12, 2010 at 2:17 PM · Report this
really? no, i mean, really? do you actually think this way?
Posted by new york state of mind on August 12, 2010 at 2:21 PM · Report this
Mike 74

What astonishes me about this post (and some other recent ones, like the Montana Fishburne saga) is the apparent contradiction that a guy who is so into philosophy seems incapable of reaching beyond a dualistic view of events. Either Montana wants to fuck her dad or she totally hates him. Either her dad is a bad dad or the total master of her universe. Either you save money and you live a joyless, soul-dead existence, or you don't and you live a fulfilling life. I think you are a much better thinker than that. Plus I'm pretty psyched that I got to drag out my tiny store of philosophy education for that dualism dig. Nice, yeah?

Charles, I enjoy most of your posts, even if I disagree with some of them. I'm glad there's a non-PC voice on Slog, and I'm glad that you ask questions without regard to how they'll be received. That written, the reason you strike so many people here as tone deaf is because you so often draw one or two extreme conclusions based on rather little evidence. It almost feels tabloid, except that we know from other things that you do that you're a thinking man who is otherwise sensitive to nuance and subtlety. Why is this not the case here?

Also, to turn other people's misfortune into a a self-righteous sermon is the kind of tastelessness usually reserved for major religious dicks. Jerry Falwell was fond of this. All those people died in Katrina because of fags, y'know, and we've got to clean up our act. Doesn't sound to me very far from what you've posted here.

Posted by Mike on August 12, 2010 at 2:45 PM · Report this
Mudede is a racist. His post above assuming all the victims are white and that no black people could have experienced this is the height of buffoonery. now it has a national audience thanks to Gawker!
Posted by He likes to fuck white chicks, he just doesn't respect them on August 12, 2010 at 5:18 PM · Report this
Yes, it's the victims' fault for trying to secure a comfortable old age. For shame! Real human beings don't save for tomorrow, don't plan for retirement- they just keel over from sheer guilt over having scraped together enough to buy a house in the first place. Those whiners deserved to lose their money. I'm happy that many of them are now destitute, and might be forced to go on welfare. I'm glad many of the retirees will now have to take on entry-level jobs, pushing out younger workers, in order to make ends meet.

Chuck, go fuck yourself. Seriously. If you can't empathize with people who are suffering this kind of calamity, you should at least hold your bitter, self-righteous, ignorant tongue. How would you feel if you lost the means to support yourself? Did you consider that?
Posted by thursdaydynamo on August 12, 2010 at 6:08 PM · Report this
KingofQueenAnne 77
Ugh, every time I come across a Mudede post, I feel like I've accidentally walked in on him intellectually masturbating (using his oblique references as lube and his college philosophy textbooks as porn material).
Posted by KingofQueenAnne on August 12, 2010 at 6:39 PM · Report this
KingofQueenAnne 78
And wait a minute, why is it that some lady with a throwaway quote in the Seattle Times is expected to keep her victimhood "kept in the darkest parts of [her] heart," yet Mudede sees no problem with using his position as contributor to a nationally read blog to publicly lambast his daughter's racially insensitive school teacher?

I'm not going to ask Mudede to be decent, but could he at least make more of an effort to be consistent?
Posted by KingofQueenAnne on August 12, 2010 at 6:45 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede comes from a rich family;… like most Marxists. For whatever reason they sneer at people trying to achieve what they were born into. The hypocrisy of this man is stunning.
Posted by xxxSTEVExxx on August 12, 2010 at 6:58 PM · Report this
@79 Figures. Not much changes. I went to Syracuse University with a bunch of privileged trust fund babies in the '90s who were all either Marxists or Punk Rockers. That is until they graduated and had to live life in the real world. Thankfully they had their trust funds to live off of - while the rest of us worked our asses off - underemployed and underpaid, given our degrees. I'm sure his children will grow up with the same attitude of entitlement and judgement against those lowly middle class wannabes. Again I say, what an asshole.
Posted by xina on August 12, 2010 at 8:33 PM · Report this
From reading the comments it seems you really touched a nerve with the Quiet Americans...well done, but will they ever get it?
Posted by GingerTF on August 12, 2010 at 9:12 PM · Report this
Charles - you might like this:…

Interesting discussion of different types of psychological orientations based on time: past-oriented, present-oriented, future-oriented, etc.

Posted by pffft on August 13, 2010 at 12:15 AM · Report this
Are you sure we're the ones who don't understand race, Charles? Most people of color the world over would love to live the American middle-class life you disparage.

"...waiting, saving, checking desire, calculating, dreaming of the future fruits..."

What are the alternatives? Factory work in China? Sewer living in Brazil? Mining in Africa? Do you think those people are free or happy because they don't have any money to save, or retirement to plan for?

It's not as if we would all be dancing in the streets if we didn't have jobs.
Posted by CMC on August 13, 2010 at 1:55 AM · Report this
@79: That explains much. Thank you.

Posted by been there and back again on August 13, 2010 at 7:16 AM · Report this
The only thing I love more than the 2nd amendment is the the 1st one. U-S-A. U-S-A!
Posted by Sherlock Homeboy 3008 on August 13, 2010 at 10:10 AM · Report this

"The middle-class is duped by the myth that savings and materialism is the ultimate goal of life. "

What makes you an authoritative determiner of the goals of the middle class?

I'm pretty sure people are free to determine their own goals and the validity of them.

"...are unafraid to show that they value future security more than living for today....So, we are stuck with a system that forces middle-class people to sacrifice part of their humanity to secure future stability."

Are you done jerking off on your keyboard?
Posted by joemomma on August 13, 2010 at 10:43 AM · Report this
Irena 87
Great post, Charles. As someone who often feels like a spy in the house of the middle class, I can appreciate what you're saying -- how "common sense" and practicality can be taken to levels that are stifling of imagination, creativity, life itself. And as someone who feels conflicted about my own aspirations to the anaesthesia of middle-class security and comfort, it's given me a lot to think about.
Posted by Irena on August 13, 2010 at 11:49 AM · Report this
Mudede is basically saying we're all a bunch of Adolf Eichmanns.
Posted by Approaching 40 in LA on August 13, 2010 at 4:53 PM · Report this
Hey Charles,

You ignorant blowhard.

The article states that she's an "investment BROKER" and you go on to say that she's an "investment BANKER" as if the two are interchangeable.

A BROKER works at a brokerage firm, advising individual clients.
A BANKER works at a bank. Investment BANKERS do not advise little old ladies.

The two are NOT the same. Only a condescending ignoramus who doesn't care to save for retirement would make that mistake.

Now every goddamn reference to your post is calling her a banker. Why don't you save a few bucks and buy yourself a dictionary.
Posted by Fan of Dan on August 13, 2010 at 6:47 PM · Report this
DeaconBlues 90
There was a time when it would have been incredible to me that so many people could have missed the point so widely.
Posted by DeaconBlues on August 14, 2010 at 1:12 PM · Report this
How fucking pumped does Dan Savage get when he reads Mudede's posts for the first time and realize "Oh shit yeah, this is getting ALL KINDS of comments"?
Posted by Nick on August 15, 2010 at 5:48 PM · Report this

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