celebrities, condescending twatbags, narcissists

Let’s talk about Dave Ramsey…

Dave Ramsey… that’s a name I’ve heard bandied about in fundie Christian circles. Before this morning, I didn’t know much about him. I’d heard a little about what he does. He’s a Christian financial guru. I probably first heard about him from the Duggar family– Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, specifically– who used to tout their theories on how to stay out of debt and raise a humongous “quiver full” of children who would grow up to be God fearing, tithe paying Christians.

While religion is not supposed to be tied to politics, it often is. Fundie Christians have huge families, in part, so that they can make more voters who have been trained to vote for political candidates that champion their religious beliefs and make laws that favor Christianity. Dave Ramsey appears to be one of those people. He’s made a career out of courting Christians and recruiting them into his financial programs.

I don’t actually know too much about the quality of Dave Ramsey’s financial advice. I have read that some people like his budget plans. However, after reading an article about him this morning, I’m reminded an awful lot of another famous person who was recently in the news… Tom Cruise. Cruise, as we all know, is famously devoted to the Church of Scientology. He’s also quite narcissistic and abusive, as evidenced by his recent verbal tirade that put him in the news a couple of months ago. I’ll get to why Dave Ramsey reminds me of Tom Cruise in a minute.

Dave Ramsey is in the news this morning because he has said that he doesn’t agree with giving people stimulus checks to help them through the pandemic. Dave Ramsey said on Fox News, “If $600 or $1400 changes your life, you were pretty much screwed already.” He continues, saying “That’s not talking down to folks. I’ve been bankrupt. I’ve been broke. I work with people every day who are hurting. I love people. I want people to be lifted up, but this is, again, it is just political rhetoric,”

Probably because of Ramsey’s comment on Fox News, someone in the Duggar Family News group shared an illuminating article about people who have worked for Dave Ramsey’s company, Ramsey Solutions. It’s said that the company is run more like a church than a company, and being employed there means giving up a lot of privacy. Ramsey reportedly has a lot of dictates about his employees’ personal lives. People have been fired, for instance, because of things their spouses post on social media. In fact, according to the article, when a person is considered for a job working for Dave Ramsey, their spouses are also interviewed. Why? Because Dave wants to make sure no one is “married to crazy”. He says being married to crazy means that employees won’t be at their best. According to Ramsey’s Web site:

“When hiring someone, you are employing more than just the person… You’re taking on the whole family. And when they are married to someone who is domineering, unstable or simply full of drama, you’ll end up with a team member who can’t be creative, productive or excellent.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be judged for jobs that my husband takes. It was bad enough being an Army wife, which has really affected my life a lot. When my mom was an Air Force wife, back in the 60s and 70s, she was often judged as much as my dad was, when it came to promotion decisions. I remember hearing that my dad was once passed over for a job because the leadership didn’t think my mom was a good enough hostess. Thankfully, those days are mostly over in the military community. I think that nowadays, maybe the only people whose spouses might be judged are those who are going to be Generals. Ramsey’s running a private company, so I guess if his employees don’t have a problem with him running their private lives, it’s perfectly legal. But it sure doesn’t seem right.

Ramsey is being sued by a former employee after she was fired for having premarital sex, which is against company policy. Ramsey, angry about being sued, yelled at his remaining employees at a company meeting:

“I am sick of dealing with all this stuff,” Ramsey bellowed, according to a recording obtained by Religion News Service. “I’m so tired of being falsely accused of being a jerk when all I’m doing is trying to help people stay in line.”

Right… but who appointed Dave Ramsey as the person who has to “help people stay in line” in their private lives? Reading that quote by Dave Ramsey reminded me a lot of Tom Cruise, both when he screamed at his employees back in December… and back in 2008, when he famously said this:

“Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident it’s not like anyone else. As you drive past you know you have to do something about it because you know you’re the only one who can help,”

It sounds to me like Dave Ramsey and Tom Cruise are similar in their beliefs that they’re the ones who ought to be in charge. However, unlike Cruise, Ramsey isn’t taking the pandemic seriously. He thinks people who would rather work at home to avoid getting sick are “wusses”. While Tom Cruise screamed this to his employees about COVID-19:

“They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherfuckers,”

“I don’t ever want to see it again! Ever!,” he rages. “If I see you do it again, you’re fucking gone.”

“And if anyone on this crew does it, that’s it — and you too and you too. And you, don’t you ever fucking do it again.”

Dave Ramsey says this to his customers and employees:

“You would think that the black plague was coming through the U.S., listening to people whine,” he told his audience. “You guys have lost your mind out there.”

“We have people calling in, they are wanting to cancel stuff for a live event in May — let me tell you how much of your money I am going to give you back if you don’t come for the coronavirus in May,” he said. “ZERO. I am keeping your money. You are a wuss.”

And yet, Dave Ramsey doesn’t let his employees think for themselves. He doesn’t practice what he preaches when it comes to minding one’s own business.

The messages are different, but the disrespectful, snarky, directive tone is very much the same. It’s abusive and mean-spirited. And again, even though Ramsey isn’t giving a paycheck to the spouses of his employees, the spouses are expected to toe the line as much as the employees are. They aren’t supposed to have credit cards, and their social media posts are monitored. One former employee’s wife who suffers from asthma and worries about COVID-19 posted this on Facebook:

“Jon’s company [Ramsey Solutions] wants to bring all 900 employees back asap when a majority can do their work from home… I do *not* understand how people don’t see we are setting ourselves up for a huge second wave. Ugh, people make me so angry.”

“Jon” was soon called by a supervisor, who chastised him for his wife’s Facebook comment. The wife of a co-worker had screenshot the comment and sent it to their boss. And yes, Jon was fired for it. On his way out, he was offered $18,000 in severance pay if he and his wife would sign a nondisclosure agreement and promise not to ever say anything derogatory about the company. To their credit, the couple chose not to sign the agreement. They have had to rely on the generosity of friends and family members to help them survive during the unemployment. Meanwhile, Ramsey’s legal goons are still trying to silence them by sending cease-and-desist letters.

When an anonymous employee sent a letter of complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for Ramsey’s failure to take precautions against COVID-19, Ramsey’s response was to berate his entire staff, calling them “morons”. First, he complained that the pandemic was ruining his golf game, then he reportedly said:

“So whoever you are, you moron, you did absolutely no good, except piss me off,” he told his staff. “You are not welcome here if you are willing to do stuff like that. If you are really scared and you really think that leadership is trying to kill you … please, we love you. Just leave. We really don’t want you here.

After warning his employees not to complain to anyone outside the company about the working conditions, he continued:

“If you really think the people here are evil, bad people and you think that you can effect change by reaching outside of here, you are wrong… And you are not welcome.”

Then, against the advice of his board not to speak about the OSHA investigation, Ramsey went on:

“I love this place and I really don’t want any morons here.” If he found out the person’s identity, he threatened,I will fire you instantaneously for your lack of loyalty, your lack of class, and the fact that you are a moron and you snuck through our hiring process, And then he reiterated that he “loves” his employees and Ramsey Solutions is the “best” place to work in the entire world. It’s also a place where your boss tells you he loves you as he calls you a “moron” and threatens you.

Ramsey supposedly “loves” his employees. But he calls them “morons” and tells them they aren’t welcome if they have a legitimate complaint or concern about workplace safety. Seems strange to me… but also familiar. Because after Tom Cruise screamed at his employees in December, he said something rather similar:

“That’s what I’m thinking about. That’s what I’m doing today. I’m talking to Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros. Movies are going because of us. We shut down, it’s going to cost people their fucking jobs, their homes, their family—that’s what’s happening. All the way down the line. And I care about you guys. But if you’re not going to help me, you’re gone. OK? Do you see that stick? How many meters is that? When people are standing around a fucking computer and hanging out around here, what are you doing?

Now… it’s not that I don’t think Cruise had a right to insist on proper COVID-19 protocol. My issue is with the extremely disrespectful way he addressed his staff. He called them names. He swore at them. He threatened them. That is verbal abuse. Dave Ramsey does the same thing, for the opposite cause. But they’re very much the same in terms of how they deal with people. They treat them very much as if they’re objects who don’t deserve the most basic of respect. That’s what narcissists do, and I speak from experience when I say that being in an environment like that will take its toll. I definitely wouldn’t consider a fear based workplace where people are pressured to shut up and color the “best” workplace in the world. Far from it.

Ramsey’s company also has a policy against gossip. Gossip is defined by Ramsey as “when you discuss a negative with anyone who can’t solve the problem.” He fires people who “gossip”. Below is a famous Ramsey rant about gossip. Just listening to this, and Ramsey’s mocking tone, is kind of triggering for me.

On the surface, this doesn’t sound bad… until you realize that you can’t even vent about this to your spouse or a friend without risking your livelihood. It’s very controlling and abusive.

Many employees supposedly love the culture of Ramsey’s company. People are reportedly helpful and kind… until someone has a criticism. And then, Ramsey reportedly goes on a rampage to find out who is complaining. He even goes as far as to offer “bounties” to those who are willing to snitch. It sounds a little culty and East German-ish.

Ramsey also preaches a lot about Judeo-Christian values. He reportedly goes as far as to fire people for adultery and being pregnant outside of marriage, claiming that people have violated the company’s “righteous living” code. And yet, I see him writing and hear him saying things like “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.” and “I’ve got a right to tell my employees whatever I want to tell them. They freaking work for me.” That doesn’t sound very “Christlike” to me. It sounds controlling and abusive.

Unfortunately, Tennessee, where Ramsey Solutions is based, is an “at will” employment state. So Ramsey is within his legal rights to fire people for almost any reason. He has a lot of fans, too. Like Tom Cruise and Donald Trump, Ramsey has charisma and people are drawn to that, even if that magnetism includes a helping of narcissistic abuse.

Well… before this morning, I didn’t really have much of an opinion about Dave Ramsey one way or another. Maybe his plans do help people get control of their finances. But I don’t find him to be a likable person, and I think I would hate working for him. I sympathize with those who are trying to take action against his policies. He seems to delight in being the “boss” of his employees, telling them what they can and can’t do, even when they’re off the clock. It’s hard to escape such an environment, particularly when there’s a pandemic going on and jobs are scarce. And so, people who are legitimately frightened of getting COVID-19 have to suck it up and drive on, maskless, because wearing a face mask indicates that God isn’t in control. It doesn’t matter that the virus has spread through the company and people, in general, are getting sick and dying of the virus.

If you try to use your own free will to protect yourself, Dave Ramsey doesn’t want you to work for him. Working for him apparently means your ass is his, on or off the clock. No thanks. I’m an adult and can make my own decisions. And… as Bill and I found out, I can even get us out of debt without Dave’s financial plan. So I don’t have to buy what he’s selling.

book reviews

Repost: A review of Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein

This book review appeared on my original blog on November 10, 2018. I am reposting it as is.

Some time ago, I joined Duggar Family News: Life is not all pickles and hairspray, a Facebook group  that is mostly dedicated to discussing the Duggar family, but also delves into other topics of religion and conservative politics.  I don’t participate in that group very often.  Mostly, I just lurk.  Sometimes, I find good book recommendations there. 

I’m not sure if I found Linda Kay Klein’s 2018 book, Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free, in the Duggar group.  I might have found it after downloading a similar book about American evangelicals and the purity movement.  In any case, I just finished reading this very substantial book this morning.  It took me longer than I expected to get through it, although it wasn’t because I didn’t find the subject matter interesting.  It was more that Klein included so much information about young women who grow up going to evangelical churches, submitting to extreme rules and social mores about their sexuality.  To be frank, that kind of upbringing has a way of really messing up people.

Linda Kay Klein, who was raised in an evangelical Christian household, spent years interviewing other women like her.  These were the products of the white, evangelical Christian culture that really came to a head in the 1990s.  When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, I don’t remember ever hearing about events like “purity balls”, where young girls attend fancy dances with their fathers and pledge their sexuality to their dads until they transfer it to their husbands on their wedding days.  I don’t remember purity rings being a thing.  I did know some of my peers were religious, but most of them were the garden variety protestant types.  There were only a few who attended the local Assembly of God church and literally wore their Christianity on their sleeves in the form of religious t-shirts.

When she was in high school, Klein broke up with a boyfriend because she thought God wanted her to, and she feared being labeled a Jezebel.  The youth pastor at Klein’s church was convicted of sexual enticement of a minor– a girl who was just twelve years old.  It was then that Klein began to question her church and its teachings about purity, morality, and shame.  She started to think about her experiences growing up in a culture where girls are taught that it’s their responsibility not to tempt boys.  She spent over ten years interviewing women, compiling their stories, and turning it into a groundbreaking book about the purity movement.

Religion is more polarizing than ever these days.  I know a lot more atheists today than I knew in the 80s.  I also know a lot more religious zealot types.  In her book, Klein explores how growing up in a hyper Christian culture affects young women.  She includes a lot of stories, some of which are pretty graphic and involve frank discussions of sex.  She writes heartbreaking anecdotes of young women who felt deep shame for being sexual and having sexual feelings.  Some of her subjects discovered that they were lesbians or transgendered, and struggled with the aftereffects of that in a very religious culture shrouded in secrecy.  While God should have been a comfort to these young women, the church represented an authority that made them fear for their very souls.

I am not a very religious person myself.  I grew up a mainstream Presbyterian in a church that was pretty low key, religiously speaking.  My dad was in the choir and my mom was the church organist, either at the church I grew up in, or at another church that had hired her.  My sisters were grown by the time I was in middle school, so I often sat by the wife of one of my dad’s choir member friends.  Although my pastors knew me, I never had to answer to them about my purity or anything else.  I hated church, but my church didn’t scar me… except for putting me in contact with a few bullies, that I also knew from school.

Given that I had that upbringing, I’m not personally familiar with the “purity culture”.  I am, however, married to a man who is an ex Mormon.  He and his ex wife joined together and my husband’s daughters were raised Mormon, largely without his influence.  I don’t really know my husband’s daughters and I have spent a number of years actively disliking them, mainly due to the way their religion and their mother’s toxic influence has caused them to behave toward my husband.  It’s because of them that I started to explore Mormonism, another culture that prizes sexual purity, particularly among its young women.  I have met some wonderful ex Mormons and read some hair raising stories about what it’s like to grow up Mormon. 

Klein does include some commentary about Mormonism in her book, mostly in passing.  For instance, she writes about Elizabeth Smart, who was taught as a young LDS girl the importance of saving her virtue for her husband.  Like many young LDS women, Smart was given an object lesson involving a treat that was somehow defiled and then offered to another person.  They message was that no one wants a “licked cupcake” or a “chewed up piece of gum”.  When Smart was repeatedly raped by Brian David Mitchell, the man who kidnapped her and forced her to “marry” him”, she began to think that no one would value her because she was now akin to a chewed up piece of gum.  It was a damaging lesson she had learned in her church.

Besides doing a lot of interviewing, Klein also did a lot of reading.  She mentions Jessica Valenti’s book, The Purity Mytha book I also read about ten years ago.  Valenti’s book was a shorter, less interview heavy, and more caustic and rabidly feminist version of Klein’s book.  I remember appreciating and valuing the message, but not enjoying Valenti’s book very much, mainly due to Valenti’s tone.  However, Valenti’s book was somewhat groundbreaking in 2009 and I think Klein was right to reference it in her own work, which seems to show more of the aftermath of having been raised in the purity culture.

I’m not sure if the purity culture is as popular today as it was ten years ago.  A lot has changed since those days.  In 2009, the Duggar family was respected by a lot of people.  I remember a lot of my friends, themselves lighter weight Christians, really admiring the Duggars and their enormous family.  But then, in 2015, that very wholesome Christian facade split violently when it came out that Josh Duggar, the oldest child in the massive Duggar brood, had molested several of his sisters and a babysitter.  And then, to add insult to injury, it came out that Josh had also cheated on his wife, Anna, multiple times.  However, even if the culture is less popular now (and I don’t know that it is), there is still a generation of young women who grew up in that culture and are dealing with the aftermath.

What I like about Klein’s book is that the overall tone is hopeful and comforting.  Yes, it took me a long time to get through every part of this book, but the writing is engaging, kind, and informative.  I could tell that she was gentle and empathetic with her subjects, some of whom revealed very personal and heartbreaking stories to her.  I think, for some readers, this book could be very healing.  I definitely recommend it to those who are interested in this topic.  I think it would also be good reading for a book club, particularly because Klein includes resources for club discussions.

If I were rating this on a five star scale, I think I’d award five.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon when sales are generated through my site.