157 comments

Can We All Stop This Fucking Complaining About our Government?

“Obama knows nothing about economics. He’s driving us into a hole”

“The Politicians are all sold to the highest bidder. It’s all a ruse and I can’t believe the voters think they have any say”

“Our whole economic system is a conspiracy, controlled by just a few elites who hold secret meetings. The US Federal Reserve is in on it. The rest of us are slaves to them and we are all so screwed.”

BULLSHIT!!!

Reading comment like these, I feel like I’m alternately tuning into Fox News while dancing naked at a Tea Party rally, or reading George Orwell’s 1984 while hiding in an underground cave. I’ve got a better solution for people who like to make statements like those above: try a little bit of OPTIMISM!!

I’m a new citizen of this great country. I sat in the big room with the flags and recited my oath with 99 other people from other countries just 410 days ago. Since then, I’ve been on a crash course reading books on US history and the politics of the past and present, as well as that of the rest of the developed world.

Want to know what I learned? The US political system is really not that bad. Want some more evidence? Go and learn a few things about OTHER COUNTRIES. Of course, most people never do this, because they don’t show things like that on the television, but the information is out there waiting for you.

If our government was really that shitty, and the system really so rigged, would we really have such a free, open, and prosperous country when ranked among the over 200 other nations on Earth? True, we’re not the very best, but we are still pretty fucking high up the scale.

Visit a national park and talk to the rangers, and notice their peaceful respect for the land. Those are government employees! Visit the atmospheric research center or NASA and talk to the scientists. They’re brilliant, humble and valuable citizens acting out the will of the people – you and I. If you’re really feeling bold, go commit a crime and get yourself arrested. Observe the treatment you get, and the trial and punishment. Then go commit the same crime in Iran and compare the results.

Learn about Afghanistan and Pakistan, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Why are these places such a living hell? It’s because their governments are FAR MORE CORRUPT! Even Mexico, blessed with immediate proximity and free trade to the world’s biggest economy, is absolutely crippled and dysfunctional compared to the country sitting just on the other US border: Canada.

All of these countries have the same species of being living in them. Their intelligence levels are very similar. The biggest difference: the quality of their governments!

The US government is made up of MOSTLY REASONABLY HONEST, REASONABLY COMPETENT public servants. There are a few assholes and a few power addicts, just as there are in any private company. This is a natural byproduct of the fact that the human race doesn’t function perfectly in large groups (observe the history of tribal and later world wars). But you can get an idea of how well the government functions by looking at their work: the country.

I give the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia very high marks in good government. They’re near the top of the world.

So please stop the fucking complaining and conspiracy theories. These guys are not as bad as you think. Read what the most honest among business leaders are saying about the politicians – these people actually have personal relationships with the president and congress. They’re just like you and me.

I’ve noticed that politics and big business are almost like becoming financially independent and this blog. The majority of the country whines about how the odds are stacked against us and only the already-rich can get ahead because the world is not fair. If you ignore the complaints and conspiracy theories and just get to work, you can get as rich as you want. At this point, everyone will accuse you of lying and make excuses for why your story is not representative of real possibility in the world.

Similarly you (yes YOU!) can become a corporate CEO, you can have meetings with the president, you can BE the president, or you can work in government to try to help out with public policy. At this point, everyone beneath you will accuse you of being corrupt and being paid off by corporations and other bullshit that is true at the margins but very inaccurate when applied to government as a whole. Even if you’re the best and most honest leader the world has ever known.

Life works better with optimism. Put that shit on your mirror and repeat it until you are no longer tempted to write shit like the complaints you see on yesterdays’s post about house and stock prices.. or.. update.. some of the shit you see in today’s comments as well. If you want change, go out and make it yourself. But focusing on what you want to DO, rather than how you don’t like what others have DONE, is the only way to do it.

  • Dragline May 10, 2012, 9:37 am

    But MMM, we’re the WHINERS:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiquICTxSlc

  • Dan May 10, 2012, 9:43 am

    Can’t we complain about government just a little bit? Optimism is great but if we can’t discuss how our government is probably making some mistakes, then there is considerably less pressure nor as much initiative and education about how to keep making our civic systems better.

    • Arbor33 May 10, 2012, 9:50 am

      Yes, I think we should still complain. However, we need to complain to the right people about the right things. Try to communicate with your political officials. If we don’t like the way things are being done we need to try to FIX them, not piss and moan with no constructive intent. The same holds true with everything else in our lives as well.

      • ErikZ May 10, 2012, 1:22 pm

        Yep. I have zero interest in non-productive complaining, or holding demontrations.

        So I joined the Tea Party. Change through working on the low levels of government first.

    • saywhat May 10, 2012, 9:53 am

      Agreed, just because there are far worse places doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement. The bar should be set high for everything in life.

  • Dave May 10, 2012, 9:46 am

    Uhm. Yes and no.

    One problem: The US is like the biggest bully in the playground, with significant momentum. I think foreign countries have quite a lot to complain about in regards to the US.

    Two: Corporate law strangles innovation. Look at Microsoft, Oracle, DMCA, etc, etc. All the wrong solutions to problems-that-are-opportunities.

    We in the West are resting on the backs of millions upon millions of Chinese, Asian workers. The only reason it is possible to retire early is because our (true, minimalist) cost of living is so little compared to the average salary. Everyone can’t work 3 days a week, or for only 20 years, and have as good a standard of living as we currently do.

    And because people’s values are completely mad. I can’t eat an iPad, etc.

    Generally yes, I agree, the UK, US govt’s are “ok” on the whole, but there is a whole lot going on that is nepotism, dodgy, etc. Coverups – just look at the current Canadian govt. Yes, generally, the country runs, but there are corrupt people causing the nations to be seriously more indebted than they might otherwise be.

    But saying that, who knows. Do glasses make you see better, or make everyone’s natural vision decline across the generations? Does retiring early mean you don’t get enough stress and are more susceptible to disease X? Am I going to get hit by a bus tomorrow…?

  • Sarah May 10, 2012, 9:50 am

    Thank you. I’m going with optimism and the absolute knowledge that my time and energy is far more productively spent improving my personal development and financial literacy than hand-wringing about a govt that I’m unlikely to change, even with the most zealous of efforts. Bravo, MMM.

  • Kevin Meyers May 10, 2012, 9:51 am

    Good. Thanks for this. The comments yesterday were ridiculous.

    It’s important for folks to realize how LITTLE impact our national politicians have on their everyday lives. Sure, if you or someone in your family is in the military the president can send you to war, but outside of that, when’s the last time the president did something that impacted your life, other than signing a bill to raise your tax rates marginally? The power of the presidency is vastly overrated and people spend far more time than is rational stressing about it.

    Do you want to get involved in politics? Get involved in your local politics. Help your town fix some potholes, improve the schools, and buy more books for the library. That will likely have far more impact on your day to day life than whether or not Obama supports gay marriage. Or, better yet, forget about politics. Make sure your family is taken care of, and that you’re happy. That’s all that truly matters. If you want to help other people, look for opportunities to volunteer.

    And here’s a truly mustachian idea – STOP READING THE FUCKING NEWS. 90% of the news makes no difference to your life. It will just cause you to get depressed because you’ve read a really sad story about an entire family dying in a car accident, or it will cause you to get in an argument about politics with your dad at Thanksgiving.

    Try it for 30 days. Stop following the news. I bet your life will improve dramatically. If something truly important happens (9/11, alien invasion, etc.), you’re going to hear about it.

  • Kathy P. May 10, 2012, 9:59 am

    I officially offer my heartfelt apologies to MMM and anyone else who took offense at my comment (on the previous post).

  • KMB May 10, 2012, 9:59 am

    This post is spot-on-accurate. Thank you for that incredible rant MMM.

    Honduras is actually trying to import developed-world government to help it eliminate corruption and lift its people out of poverty. Read about this fascinating idea here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/who-wants-to-buy-honduras.html?_r=3&smid=tw-share&pagewanted=all

  • Dan May 10, 2012, 10:01 am

    Sorry to be contrarian guys, but the answer for civic improvement, unlike comments above, is NOT

    (a) stop reading news [which I argue is key to stay aware of governmental policies so you can vote knowledgeably], nor

    (b) focus on local elections and ignore federal politics [um – it’s things like Congressional action and Supreme Court decisions that most drastically effect the economic health of the country, not pothole patching], nor

    (c) only complain to political officials, not to other voters around you [whole point of discussing failures of government with peers is to motivate education and healthy debate to possibly gather voter momentum to actually make a difference; your own vote is meaningless but if you are in a movement that has a voter influence force multiplier, that’s how you can make real change].

    Mustachianism isn’t just about being frugally on a micro level; it’s also about setting up a responsible macro level economic environment as well. Sure, America kicks serious ass and our economy is a force to behold. But that is by no means ever guaranteed to continue; we must be careful stewards both of our own wallets as well as the national purse.

    • GregK May 11, 2012, 7:57 am

      No, Dan. Mustashianism IS about microeconomics. Complain about government somewhere else. These comment sections are gold mines compared to other blogs… until complanypants shit in them like they have on the last two posts.

      You’re welcome to start your own macroeconomic version of MMM if you like. The readers of this blog largely do not want to read it, though. We are too busy improving our own lives, communities and the planet ourselves (read: badassity) to complain (or listen to complaints) about what politicians are or aren’t doing.

      • Mr. Money Mustache May 13, 2012, 9:11 am

        I think you’re both right – think globally, act locally. It’s just the unproductive portion of the complaining I was trying to rail on here.

        How can you tell if your political complaining is unproductive?

        If you are talking about your perceptions of the personality characteristics or skills of the politicians themselves, and you don’t actually know those people personally, you’re probably both wrong and unproductive. The politicians that appear on TV are just the figureheads, the shiny marketing package for the party.

        They don’t have time to talk about what they would actually DO if elected, because they’re too busy trying to sway the emotions of a mostly-uninformed group of swing voters!

        If you are talking about policy details, and doing your best to take a scientific and non-ideological approach to figuring out whether those policies will actually work, you have a chance at being productive.

  • jlcollinsnh May 10, 2012, 10:01 am

    What’s really interesting to me as I’ve traveled the world is how well most people manage to live despite their governments.

    Mexico is a great example. There is corruption, violence and poverty to spare. Yet many, many Mexicans go about their business living happy and productive lives.

    People sit in their homes cringing at the steady diet of horrible news (horrible is what sells) relentlessly streaming from their TV. The world looks more and more to be an ugly and scary place.

    Get out there. Smell the fresh air. Linger in an outdoor cafe. Talk to some of the locals.

    Read: The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorn
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=the%20birthmark&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CG8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.online-literature.com%2Fpoe%2F125%2F&ei=VOWrT5uvFqT46QHJ_ZGVDQ&usg=AFQjCNEcUXg1AiGLwywpg4wXiP24yCPzcw

    Only misery comes from focusing on real or perceived flaws.

    Our country, our planet, is a beautiful and wonderful place. Leave some of your attention free to see it.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 10, 2012, 11:01 am

      EXACTLY, JL! You seem to be one of the few commenters who understand what I’m getting at. I’m not saying we can’t improve, not saying the system is perfect, not saying any of what all the Negative Beaks say I’m saying.

      I’m just saying, stop the fucking complaining. Get involved, place your votes. But anyone who has a truly hopeless and negative perspective of where we are today, has far too short a horizon in looking back through history and realizing what a great place we are in. The beauty and opportunity are all around us, but you’ll never get to enjoy them if you spend your life thinking there’s a system that’s rigged against you.

    • Lindsey May 10, 2012, 12:09 pm

      I agree very much. I just took a grad-level journalism class where I learned about cultivation theory. The main premise is that when we’re exposed to things over and over, we begin to perceive that that’s actually how the world is. When you watch terrible news broadcasts, skinny models in ads, people smoking, etc. you begin to believe that the images portrayed are very similar to how the world actually is, even when those portrayals are far from reality. This can result in many things: depression, eating disorders, smoking, and many other issues.

      • Red Cedar May 10, 2012, 12:52 pm

        I got rid of my TV for just such a reason when the Gulf War started in 2003. Following a serious television-news induced depression after 9-11, I decided no more and cut off my cable before the next round of news-addiction-fuelled-depression could start (I only have had cable about four out of twenty adult years). Have never looked back on letting go of so much negative influence entering my home.

  • BC May 10, 2012, 10:02 am

    As usual, there is much truth to what you say. However, the current administration has made it clear that they feel that it is the governments place and responsibility to take from those who have, for the majority of their lives, worked hard, saved and sacrificed, and redistribute the rewards of this hard work and sacrifice to those who have not earned it, and (imo) do not deserve it. If you take a realistic view of statements, positions and actions taken by the president and the administration on this position (the “redistribution of wealth”), you simply can’t argue their position is anything other than one which punishes success and rewards failure. I was really surprised the first time I read MMM was pro-Obama. With the aggressive promotion of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and personal responsibility that this blog promotes, I just can’t see how that fits in with the objectives of our current administration. Sorry, don’t mean to be off topic, a troll or a hater, that’s just what comes to my mind after reading today’s blog post.

    • Dragline May 10, 2012, 10:17 am

      How is this any different from the rest of recorded history? These issues have been debated, philosophized over and experimented with in many ways going back to Ancient Greece and earlier. And that will continue long after we are gone. See http://windyanabasis.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/the-wisdom-of-solon/ for a description of how some of the ancients dealt with the same issues we have today. Better yet, read Durant’s Lessons of History (quoted therein) for some real perspective.

      This time is not different, no matter how hysterical some might become over the last or next election.

    • mike crosby May 10, 2012, 12:11 pm

      Can’t agree with you more BC.

    • Another Reader May 10, 2012, 12:45 pm

      Anyone old enough to remember the US in the 1950’s or early 1960’s is shocked and disgusted by what passes for government today. Not just the federal government, government at every level is nothing but a pack of lazy, thieving dogs. Bunch of whiners with their hands outstretched, always asking for more.

      Obama is just another tool. No different than the others before or after him, simply promoted beyond his level of incompetence.

      Could not agree more with BC.

      • Boxer May 10, 2012, 7:01 pm

        Yes, I agree, fuck the poor, especially fuck the poor children, fuck the sick, almost forgot the elderly, fuck them too.

        Just get yours…

        But don’t drive on public roads, don’t call the police, fire department, speak or interact with anyone whoever attended a public school, For sure don’t hire them for your business and make money off of their efforts.

        Don’t ever receive a check or in the mail, or do business with FedEx or UPS as they rely on the USPS (and publicly support them).

        Don’t convict any criminals, definitely don’t send them to jails! Those guards work for the government!

        Stay out of hospitals and don’t ever see a doctor, most of them take Medicare!!!

        Ok, probably shouldn’t be using the internet either. Government did that too.

        Where has empathy gone? Or real charity? Or caring for other humans?

        Stop putting people in groups of “them” and see ALL people as “us” and you’ll enjoy life more.

        – I’m an actual business owner, yes a real live employer, or a job creator if you want to co-opt phrase and apply it literally instead of to non-employers.

        Can you say this is overtaxed? Really? Fucking really?
        Tax Rate Marginal
        Federal 28.0%
        California 9.3%

        Tax Rate Effective
        Federal 15.2%
        California 6.3%

    • Dancedancekj May 10, 2012, 2:32 pm

      Ah, but you have only gone so far as to recognize the first step of Mustachianism – that of self sufficiency and personal responsibility. There is the second dimension that has often been hinted at, but is not really the punch to the face of the MMM writing, and that is the helping of others and the world AFTER achieving FI/ER. Things like sustainable practices to decrease one’s consumption, giving generous donations to charities and volunteering one’s time to help in the community are what one can do after achieving FI/ER, and that is, after all, the end goal.
      Instead of griping about the needy and complaining that people are asking for handouts, why not try and change it? Introduce more people to the foundations of Mustachianism, be a leader in improving your community, and make the world a better place.

      • Mr. Money Mustache May 10, 2012, 3:06 pm

        MOST MUSTACHIAN COMMENT AWARD!!!! :-) :-) :-)

        Dancedance, I wish you lived next door, because I’d walk over and give you a high five after almost every comment you write. Thanks for being such a great MMM reader!

        • Another Reader May 10, 2012, 4:39 pm

          MMM should spend a couple of years working for various government agencies at all levels. It would only take a couple of short internships before he runs screaming from the building. Been there, done that, so I know the outcome.

          What made America successful for so long was the MMM philosophy. Work hard, innovate, succeed, give back. Government at all levels has undermined this process as it has grown and taken over our lives.

          I did the idealist thing as a young person. I still give a lot of my time to causes I believe in, as I can afford to do so. I can solve small problems in very local environments by doing this. I cannot control or even influence much beyond that, especially if a government body is involved. What passes for leadership these days is in no way real leadership.

          Im my view, government is like a fast growing, destructive cancer. It absorbs huge amounts of resources and accomplishes little to nothing. The only solution is to starve it.

      • BC May 10, 2012, 4:03 pm

        But, you see Dancedance, there is a large disconnect here. If I work my ass off to achieve FI/ER, and then I CHOOSE of my own free will to do these community enhancing actions you’ve listed above (which I would, by the way,) then that is great, I don’t think anybody is arguing that. But that is not the government. The gov’t knows one way to achieve it’s objectives, and that is force. Whether we are talking income taxes, business regulations, etc, if you don’t comply with how the gov’t says things should be done, first they will send you a letter. If you still don’t comply, then a man in a suit will come to visit you. If you still don’t comply, then you will be on the wrong end of a gun and on your way to jail. The question here is not whether or not we should be taking up charity and/or community service, donating a percentage of our income, etc. Rather, it’s whether we should be able to do these things as free people in ways we deem to be the best and most effective, as opposed to being forced to do them as subjects of the government, whether we like it or not. When you take a “government knows best” position (as our current administration has) you will always end up with the second option.

        • Dancedancekj May 10, 2012, 9:41 pm

          I don’t think you can call government intrinsically evil. Government has to exist, even if for the fact that we live in such an advanced society today that nothing less would work.
          While I do not agree with all policies of the government and agree there are a lot of issues with funding and the system that are horribly inefficient, at the end of the day – it’s still the government. I know that I can’t achieve anything close to it on my own. Even with a couple Mustachians living together in a community, there’s no way to completely separate one’s self from the government. If government was abolished as you seem to prefer, we’d all be fucked for the most part, yourself included.
          It’s not as if the government is really stopping you from anything unreasonable. I’m pretty sure most of the important things in life are achievable at the moment, and until things get absolutely insane they will remain so.

      • JanMN May 10, 2012, 7:02 pm

        Bingo.

    • GE Miller May 14, 2012, 5:32 pm

      What exactly has been re-distributed? The effective tax rate on the highest income earners is at the lowest point it has been in 70 years. Was Reagan a re-distributor, either Bush puppets?

      I’m admittedly on the liberal end of things and I actually think Obama has not been aggressive enough with his tax policy – and I top out in the top tax bracket. He’s been the mildest of Democratic presidents we’ve ever had when it comes to taxation.

      Your complainypants statements are based less on fact and more on a blind hatred towards Obama because:
      a. he’s a democrat
      b. he’s black
      c. you’ve got nothing better to do
      d. all of the above

  • Llama May 10, 2012, 10:09 am

    Haters gonna hate.

  • KathrynHR May 10, 2012, 10:14 am

    Wow, MMM… tell us how you REALLY feel. :-)

    Stereotypes become stereotypes because too many people fit them. Are all politicians corrupt? No. But enough of them have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar (or some other part of their body someplace it ought not be) that the label has validity. So I can’t enter with you into “mostly reasonably honest.”

    I will gladly stand beside you, however, in the crusade to stop all the wanton bitching (always comfortably called “venting” when it occurs) which never solves any portion of any problem. I am generally inclined to respond to a complainypants with, “How would you change it? I mean, if you were King For A Day, what would you do differently?” Most of the time, that shuts them up, since they’re not really interested in solutions.

    • Kathy P. May 10, 2012, 10:57 am

      Lest I be lumped into your last paragraph, as King/Queen for a Day, I would propose two items for the agenda:

      1. Constitutional Amendment that states in no uncertain terms that Corporations are not people and money is not speech

      and

      2. Reinstate Glass-Steagall

      Then we can take it from there.

      • Boxer May 10, 2012, 7:02 pm

        Word.

  • Heather May 10, 2012, 10:18 am

    I have to admit I’ve become more pessimistic about this lately. Power, money and corruption have always been attracted together. But I guess the difference is whether you consider that to be just human nature, to be kept in check as it always has been by other societal forces, or is it a modern conspiracy plot that will cause the world to come crashing down around us tomorrow.

    It is scary how good political marketing has become. And because of that, I sometimes get a helpless feeling that he with the most ad dollars will win regardless of the direction they steer their country. I’m also quite afraid that democracy itself, as a system, might be structurally incapable of making hard choices for a better future. I think there is a lot to worry about, if you feel like worrying.

    Worrying by itself, gives you nothing but ulcers. Action is more useful, and positive action seems to me to be useful than negative action.
    I suspect that building goodness on a local scale might be best course of action. I just haven’t figured out yet where I personally fit into that idea. I don’t usually feel right when I’ve tried to be a protester, because it’s my nature to propose a solution along with my declaration of a problem. I’m not good at yelling.

    So, what has this got to do with MMM? Here’s a tie in: MMM proposes a lower impact lifestyle. That is good for the long term future of the planet, and, it can help people live to together more pleasantly. This is a positive change, from the bottom up. It doesn’t affect the president in power, but it does propose a few real concrete steps in a positive direction.

  • Jeh May 10, 2012, 10:29 am

    “The US political system is really not that bad. Want some more evidence? Go and learn a few things about OTHER COUNTRIES.”

    Otherwise stated as…

    “You think that chronic disease you have sucks so bad? Just wait until you have this OTHER chronic disease! You don’t know how good you have it!”

    Sorry to disagree with you so vehemently MMM, but governments of the world as they exist today deserve to be poked, prodded, lambasted, taken to task, and ultimately done away with whenever and wherever possible. Of course, humans need to grow up first before we can ever totally eradicate the plague of our current form of governments, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be optimistic about it!

    And now that I’ve got my knee-jerk reaction out of my system…

    I can agree that constant bitching and whining isn’t going to get humanity anywhere. What we need are SOLUTIONS to our problems. And in that spirit, I’d love to buy you a book MMM. Look out for an email coming at you soon…

  • Rachel May 10, 2012, 10:29 am

    Bummer. Used to be such a big fan, MMM, but this post is so naive and so obviously written by an upper class white man, it’s kind of sad.

    Yes, compared to some of the other countries in the world, we have a lot to be thankful for. But we also live in a country in which an entire population (gays) have been denied fundamental rights and equality. We live in a country in which the demands of the citizens (label GMOs) are completely diregarded due to the financial power wielded by mega corporations (Monsanto) who freely poison us with frankenfoods and pesticides and are fully supported in doing so by our own government. We live in a country where the future health of a woman’s body is decided by a group of men sitting around in a office. Where the elderly have to choose between buying their medications and eating dinner that night, because of a healthcare system based solely upon one’s ability to afford it. Where the poor are kept poor through a cycle of terrible education, government subsidized obesity/poor health, and class/economic segregation.

    In comparison to some places, should we be grateful to live in the US? Sure. But does that mean we should all sit around on our priveledged asses and stop “complaining” about inequalities and travesties, and stop fighting for a better country and life for everyone? No way. That you could suggest something like that is incredibly disappointing. IN FACT, I would argue that accepting the system as it currently exists is a sign of PESSIMISM (this is as good as it gets, so why work to make it better?). True optimists are the ones out there “complaining,” bringing light to issues of injustice and trying to make the country and world a better place, because we BELIEVE that it can be. So actually, MMM, I am an eternal optimist, and believe that things can and will be better, and I will continue to work hard to achieve that. It is that belief that makes it a great country, that allows the rest of you to do nothing but live off of our efforts. You’re welcome.

    • Les Wes May 10, 2012, 10:51 am

      Well said. Just because someone somewhere is worse off than you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve your own situation. Engaging in this kind of relativism is a form of pessimism.
      MMM must not be very optimistic about our potential or the future to be satisfied with the present.

    • Jeff May 10, 2012, 11:24 am

      Naive because you disagree? Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black… Also I laugh about calling MMM upper class. Your attitude is the exact one he is talking about. Demands of the citizens are not disregarded… it is called voting. Voting takes place and the demands of the majority are met. Welcome to society. American truly is the land of opportunity a person can rise the ranks from nothing. He isn’t saying sit on your ass and take it, he is saying have a more positive school of thought on how to make an impact. Your solution is squeaky wheel gets the grease. Optimists are not complainers, not sure why you are even trying to make that argument. There are things you can do to enhance your beliefs but being a whiner about them isn’t one of them.

      • Rachel May 10, 2012, 12:18 pm

        Jeff, I wish it WAS called voting. Look up the recent situations in CT and VT in which citizens requested of their elected officials that a bill be passed requiring the labeling of GMOs, and in both cases the bills were thrown out directly due to threats from the Monsanto and Big Food to sue the state. There was no opportunity to vote, no representation of the desires of the citizens by their government. Demands were NOT met. These situations happen all the time, mostly under the radar. So yes, if you believe that our democracy functions exactly how you were taught in high school civics, that is naive.

        I do not complain about MY situation. In fact, I have a situation I am very comfortable in, that I have worked very hard for. 10 years ago I was a single teenage mother without a high school diploma. This year I will graduate with my Master’s degree and close on my first home. I did not achieve that by complaining. But I was lucky enough to have a supportive family, a good base education and a healthy body to help me get there. Not everyone is so lucky, so to say that anyone can rise the ranks from nothing in America is also naive. We create a society in which many have no access to even the awarenss of the types of opportunities that are out there, and then we wag our finger in contempt at them for not working hard enough to reach what they never knew existed or believed they could achieve.

        You are correct, being a “whiner” will not help you improve your own situation. But I am not concerned about my own situation. I’m conerenced about the situations of others, who may not be able to speak up for themselves. And, I will continue to speak up for them.

        Also, if I am incorrect in my use of the term “upper class,” I take it back. From the little I know about MMM, he is certainly upper class in comparison to myself. But perhaps upper-middle, or simply “middle” would have been more accurate? Really does not change the point at all.

        • Jeff May 10, 2012, 2:31 pm

          Because it isn’t an important enough issue for people to vote on! If it were an important issue to people, a candidate with that platform would be running and voted on. Fact is, the majority doesn’t care about monsanto over the economy, the war, or jobs. People vote in what is important to them.

          “We create a society in which many have no access to even the awarenss of the types of opportunities that are out there, and then we wag our finger in contempt at them for not working hard enough to reach what they never knew existed or believed they could achieve.”

          You are most likely of the same thought that just because you have a degree you deserve a job. There are tons of financial programs for people and to say many have no access is a complete generalization and untrue. You say yourself you worked your way out of a tough situation. Equal access to opportunity is more in this country than any other.

  • Ross May 10, 2012, 10:43 am

    Love the blog, MMM, but I don’t come here to read about politics

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 10, 2012, 11:53 am

      Wow, thanks for that perfect illustration, Ross!

      Do we complain to Mr. Money Mustache and tell him what not to write about on his own blog? Or do we focus on the positive – the fact that we are all free to write about whatever we want these days – and celebrate it, possibly even using this freedom of speech to advance our own position in life?

      • Rachel May 10, 2012, 12:21 pm

        Then why are you complaining about people writing their feelings in your comments section? Shouldn’t you, by your own standards, be celebrating their right to freedom of speech too? Wouldn’t that be focusing on the positive?

        Seems like you just made your own entire blog post moot…

        • Jeh May 10, 2012, 12:27 pm

          MMM’s response was instructive, not complainypants, unlike the post he responded to.

          • Rachel May 10, 2012, 12:30 pm

            So we should only celebrate the freedom of speech of people who are being “instructive” (by your opinion – I thought it read incredibly “complainypants”)?

            • Jeh May 10, 2012, 12:34 pm

              MMM never suggested to Ross that he wasn’t allowed to speak his mind in the comments.

              • Rachel May 10, 2012, 12:44 pm

                No, not to Ross, but this entire blog post was pretty much about how whomever was complaining about the government in the comments section of a past post should shut up about it.

            • Tracy May 10, 2012, 2:21 pm

              Rachel, just stop talking and leave please. Foxnews has a comment board for people like you. Thanks.

              • Rachel May 10, 2012, 3:08 pm

                Tracy, that’s not very nice. I would never post anything on a FoxNews forum. In fact, I’ve never watched a minute of FoxNews in my life and never intend to! Perhaps you’re confused?

                This is a public forum, I’m just voicing my view, as are many others. Please be respectful!

            • Dancedancekj May 10, 2012, 2:34 pm

              MMM was instructing people to be constructive about their complaints, not just bitch. You should shut up if you’re only complaining and not offering constructive solutions to the issues at hand.

          • andrew May 10, 2012, 12:39 pm

            doublespeak much, Jeh?

            • Jeh May 10, 2012, 1:27 pm

              Yes, yes…quite the paradox, eh?

      • Jeh May 10, 2012, 12:25 pm

        Lol…indeed, MMM. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Diane May 10, 2012, 10:43 am

    What a breath of fresh air! Amen, amen, AMEN!
    How about a follow-up post on things one can do to implement positive change?

  • Guitarist May 10, 2012, 10:46 am

    I think the only issue I have with this post is the tie-in of public employees with elected politicians. Although the rank and file civil servants are sometimes used as a scapegoat for what’s wrong with the country, I believe that there exists a line between them and those who are elected to serve and most people understand that.
    I also think that people should focus and be vocal about who is representing them, but only so far and only if it is actually causing the change you seek. As has been stated, the better thing to do would be to focus on constructive change at a local level. Complaining for the sake of complaining is everyone’s right, but I figure the folks who want to live the mustachian way would realize that it is a waste of time and energy. Either do something to fix the problems you see, or move on.

    But this is your site, and when an article about fluctuating prices in housing and the market leads to a political flame war, you have every right to hit the brakes and stop it before it turns even more sour.

  • Juliana Walters May 10, 2012, 10:47 am

    Thank you for this post. I have to admit that I am pretty hit and miss on your blog. Not because it is not great. But, because I have limited time and way too many places I want to spend it. Anyway, I live in an area of this country where these conspiracy theory attitudes run rampant. This post really articulated the way I feel about politics in this country but unfortunately I am not able to put it into words as well as you do. So, Thank You! I choose optimism!

  • drew May 10, 2012, 10:52 am

    anybody who thinks the government is A-OK has clearly never tried to operate a decent size business. case(s) in point: http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2012/05/10/when-julia-tried-to-start-a-business/

    or, we could highlight our very own CO’s probable loss of Breckenridge Brewery this week due to pointless government regulations. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/breckenridge-brewery-east-coast_n_1500819.html

    or perhaps the federal government’s ability to arbitrarily close businesses that are in compliance with state law – e.g. numerous medical marijuana dispensaries in CO (which, i will add, Obama explicitly said he wouldn’t interfere with – and then did.). http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_20578454/25-colorado-medical-marijuana-dispensaries-close-after-warning

    if you’re not pissed off, you’re not paying attention.

  • RubeRad May 10, 2012, 10:53 am

    the fact that the human race doesn’t function perfectly in large groups

    That right there is the foundation for conservatism: keep government as local as possible, which means minimize government on the federal and even state levels.

    P.S. as a dude with a small-but-growing ‘stache, and a certain minimum amount of badassity, I appreciate the vibe you’ve got going around here with the rough language. But for practical reasons, I would recommend that you keep it out of titles. I understand you want to express how passionate you feel about this, but dropping an f-bomb in the title will get you screened by “safe searches”, or instantly rejected by many potential readers.

    Especially considering in this case, the people that need to hear this message, are mostly likely to ignore the post because of the title. You want to reel them in with the title, and once they are reading, maybe they can weather some dirtie wordies in the text.

  • Erin May 10, 2012, 11:05 am

    I so needed this today. For the past few years I have gotten angrier and angrier about politics and enraged by big business, big banks, and big ol’ Super PACS. This is helping me to release my rage a bit and realize that even if MITTFUCKINGROMNEY becomes president, my life will essentially be the same as it is now. As a woman, the pro-lifers get to me to a point beyond reason, and I was bummed about NC’s vote on gay marriage…but if pro civil rights people are too apathetic to vote, and bible thumpers aren’t, well what do you do?

    After reading this, I would encourage everyone to vote (even if you don’t agree with my politics) because people are out there everyday fighting for us to have a say in our own country, but MMM you are right. I’m going to layoff the politics for awhile and just try and enjoy life. :)

    • Dancedancekj May 10, 2012, 11:19 am

      Yes, I was dismayed to see in NC that Amendment One only had 20% of the eligible voting population involved. 20%!!! Regardless of your thoughts on the issue, that’s depressing. I think it is more important than ever to get people out there and vote given my anecdotal observation of general political apathy.

      • ErikZ May 10, 2012, 1:39 pm

        Or, you could look at those numbers and realize that 80% of the populace couldnt care less about gays getting married.

        Small government is the answer. Imagine *not* having to convince your fellow man that you have the right to get married. Because it’s outside of the governments power to permit or deny.

        • Red Cedar May 10, 2012, 1:49 pm

          But that’s currently the situation. If you wish to a have a union between two people that is *not* state-sanctioned, you can. The government doesn’t stop people from having commitment ceremonies or religious marriages. They do set criteria for state-sanctioned ceremonies because it is what is in their power to determine. No government would simply mean no state sanctioned marriage. But you currently have that right.

          Where the issue mainly comes up – in the US – is that for the purposes of death benefits, insurance, inheritor, child custody issues etc… state-sanctioned marriage is a determining factor. Partly that’s the state/government rules, partly that’s corporations (insurance companies in the US have refused to extend benefits to same-sex common-law couples unlike in Canada where that was the practice for decades before gay marriage was legalized), and partly that’s a social unease with gay marriage (when it comes to child custody in particular) which is still part of the American landscape.

          It has very little to do with government, in any case, unless what you are after is a state-sanctioned marriage for legal/economic reasons.That, of course, implies that the state has to be involved in sanctioning it.

          • Guitarist May 10, 2012, 1:58 pm

            Every time I fill out a form for money that could be left to someone else should I die (IRA, 401(k), Life Insurance, etc.), there is a beneficiary form that I fill out to put in whomever I want to receive those benefits. Is there anything stopping someone from putting down any name they want on that paper? Furthermore, if one writes a will, they can state what they want to have happen with everything of theirs after they die. If I want to name so-and-so a legal guardian for my kids after I die, it is possible.
            I am guessing things like survivor benefits aren’t handled the same way, but for the things I mentioned above, is there something stopping people from giving whatever they leave behind to anybody they choose?

            • Red Cedar May 10, 2012, 2:00 pm

              Nope – except in the case of survivor pension benefits which only can go to spouses and children. There may also be insurance survivor benefits that operate in the same way – but when you have the option to elect who they go to? They can pretty much go to anyone.

    • Clint May 10, 2012, 12:16 pm

      I was just complaining about the NC gay marriage vote in the office today. Shame on me. I find it easier not to complain about a president when the one I voted for manages to win the office. as he did this last time. I hope I remember MMM’s scolding when and if all that changes.

      I guess the reason why this is such a hot and divisive topic here: It’s easy to think that those with the opposing political view just need a good MMM-style punch in the face in order to wake up and change their politics, but the punching comes off more like complaining. One of the goals of this blog seems to be for all us to take the punches, change ourselves … not to whine to others.

      So unless I’m actually offering something constructive, I’ll try to leave the actual punching and ranting to MMM. I’ll take what he has to say and use it.

      Or I’ll just leave it and wait for the next gem here.

    • Tanner May 11, 2012, 12:52 am

      This may be out of place but I’d be interested to hear what people think of these posts by the Ipoet on his blog songs (blong) on this related topic :

      http://www.ipoetblog.com/2012/05/for-and-against-part-deux/

      http://www.ipoetblog.com/2012/05/the-real-problem/

      Background on the Ipoet at TEDx:
      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRp9POZrxHU&w=420&h=315

  • Rachel May 10, 2012, 11:11 am

    “…but if pro civil rights people are too apathetic to vote, and bible thumpers aren’t, well what do you do?”

    Seriously?? This is exactly what that “the US is so great” attitude gets you.

    You do SOMETHING! Speak out! Go talk to “pro-civil rights people” (which fundamentally, by the way, should be everyone). Discuss the issues! Encourage them to vote!

    As a woman, your life (and MINE) could be drastically changed by any number of things, including who the next president is. It should matter to you. You can have an impact. You don’t have to be angry, or miserable about it. But don’t just sit around doing nothing!

    • Erin May 10, 2012, 11:33 am

      You can facebook friend me and see the argument I’m having with my ECU friends (Yep, I went to school in NC) if you think I don’t speak up, I don’t vote or I don’t contribute :)

      I was a poli-sci major in school but I have gotten so angry over the past few years that I have to stop reading political publications/blogs/articles. I have watched rich white men chip away at women’s rights over the past few years, and I write letters, emails and call my congressman. Unfortunately my congressman, Tim Walberg, is a first degree idiot and another white man telling me what to do with my body. I’ll continue the letters, emails and voting, but I don’t have the time to dedicate to much else – he did write me a nice letter back informing me that he’s pro-life.

      And on the NC vote – here is my FB thoughts in a nutshell:

      “If someone believes gay adults should have the same rights as heterosexual adults, then they should vote or their apathy leads to discrimination. If someone doesn’t agree that gay people should be able to get married or they are indifferent to the issue because it has never affected them directly or they simply don’t care, then it is probably neither sad nor a dissapointment. To me, it means some of the people that I went to ECU with don’t have the choice to enter into an institution which straight people have made a mockery of for centuries (good job Henry VIII). If I ever have a child and they end up being gay, I don’t plan on telling them that I sat home and didn’t vote for their equal rights. Michigan banned same sex marriage as well, and it’s not something I’m proud of…however in 2004 when the ban went into affect, I didn’t have Facebook to project my dissapointment.

      If it was on the ballot in Michigan again, I’d be voting…but that’s because I think it’s wrong that 2 consenting adults who love each other can’t make a legal and binding commitment to be with each other for life. I understand that it passed by majority, and I am expressing my disgust that both the majority of people who voted don’t believe that gay people are entitled to equal rights and/or that the people who believe in equal rights didn’t vote.

      At one time or another, ALL states have had (or still have) disciminatory laws. It doesn’t mean they are right.”

      Sorry, I’m taking this whole thing way off topic :/

  • Matt May 10, 2012, 11:15 am

    Can those of us from the state of Illinois get a pass on the cynicism? :)

  • Fangs May 10, 2012, 11:16 am

    Sorry, MMM, you are way off on this. This sounds like a privileged white male (rich as well) having a hissy because some people actually dare state “The USA is not the best.” It’s sexist, classist, and heterosexist as well. I agree most federal employees are good decent people. Most politicians, once you get to state and fed levels, are there for themselves and money and that’s it. You honestly think a millionaire lawyer in DC can understand what a working class or poverty stricken worker is like? You think some poor working stiff can be President or can easily make a fortune? Hell no. You have to have connections, luck, smarts, and much more, including a lot of great breaks. As Stalin said, “It’s hot those who vote who count; it’s those who count the votes.”

  • PamolaPat May 10, 2012, 11:17 am

    I think the way to reconcile the ideals of self-reliance, living responsibly, and thinking about the future, with the idea of social programs which help the poor (redistribute resources) is due to the role that luck plays in life–something which none of today’s right-wing politicians would so much as dare to acknowledge.

    If you are born to responsible parents who teach you the value of hard work, and you go ahead and blow it by racking up debts and thus make yourself poor, of course you only have yourself to blame. But consider that many people are born to deadbeat parents, attend failing schools, and are lied to by crooked lenders, and thus they never had anyone to teach them any of the concepts of mustachianism. And some people are dealt bad hands, such as health conditions which make it very difficult to make their own way in the world, through no mistake of their own. Some people succeed despite setbacks like these, but most don’t.

    That is why many thinking people believe in both Mustachianism AND the idea that our government should dedicate resources to helping the poor improve their quality of life (better health care, better education, better food systems). Assuming one has the moral belief that unlucky people should not merely be eliminated in Darwinian fashion, it becomes a question about the role we want our government to take, and a question about which earnest people may disagree.

  • Steve May 10, 2012, 11:25 am

    There is an undeniable increasing gap between rich and poor. It is increasingly more difficult to move up the economic ladder. I can keep going, but to keep it short there are a ton of political issues that impact the average person.

    That said, what the hell can I do about it? I vote. I’ll call my congress-critter every once and awhile, though it doesn’t seem to do any good. Really, at that level, what kind of change am I really going to make?

    It’s like my granddaddy said, “If you can’t find a girl that meets your standards, it’s time to lower your standards.”

    I can make a difference in my city. I can make a difference in a person’s life. For instance, I contributed enough for 2,000 meals for the NC food bank last year and I also helped to build a house for a family. I also refuse to fight a rich man’s war on foreign soil unless a gun is put to my head.

    • DaftShadow May 11, 2012, 5:53 am

      This blog is predicated on the belief that reaching this point of utter fiscal freedom is do-able based entirely on the mathematics of how well you save… in just 7-10 years, you can become totally financially independent (aka. anyone can become a “rich white man”)

      This is an upwards mobility blog! This is what we’re doing here!

      Others can join us on this path, anytime they want… all they have to do is start paying conscious attention to their spending, stop buying the useless stuff marketers push on them, and start putting the rest into savings!

      Upwards mobility is really that simple: focus on acquiring actual valuable assets, store other assets so they return long-term value , stop buying crap (aka “giving away good money to other people for useless things”), and you will reach upwards. You will reach mobility.

      Govt is not stopping anyone from doing these things: we do it to ourselves.

      • Jeh May 11, 2012, 6:16 am

        I have to admit, one thing that’s always stuck in my craw about the ideas in this and other ER blogs is that old question: what if everybody did it? It seems to me that it actually wouldn’t work if everyone did it, as it requires a pyramid shaped structure to succeed.

        For instance, how can one buy and hold rentals if everyone is buying and holding rentals? Who would be left to do the renting? And how can we all stop buying “consumerist crap” when our entire US economy RUNS on consumption of consumerist crap?

        Just some food for thought.

        • DaftShadow May 11, 2012, 3:04 pm

          You ask a great question. Check here for some possible answers…

          http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/09/what-if-everyone-became-frugal/

          What it comes down to is this: trading goods is still valuable. But if we consume less, then we need less “hours” of work to build everything we consume. Economy slows, but doesn’t stop… Just grows at different pace.

          Anyhow, read that post for more deep thought… Then come back here and we can keep discussing :-D

          • Steve May 15, 2012, 9:54 am

            Not only when we consume less, do we need less ‘hours’ of work. bit technology helps us work more efficiently and increases productivity.

            Now if everyone were willing to act ethically, we’d have reduced our work week to a couple of days. However, that hasn’t happened. Instead we’ve created a consumption engine that demands being fed.

      • Steve May 15, 2012, 9:30 am

        You say that others can join us on this path anytime they like, but that really isn’t the case. If someone doesn’t have the income, they don’t really have the option to retire in 7-10 years. The best they can hope for is to do better than their peers.

        The MMMs in the world are not growing GDP. We are reusing, recycling, and just not consuming. Yet we depend on a growing GDP so that our financial assets increase so that we achieve financial independence.

        Even your rental property is dependent on someone working a job so they can pay their rent. If this person is living at home to pay back college loans for 10 years, they aren’t going to be able to afford a rental.

  • Dragline May 10, 2012, 11:27 am

    Yup — fact of the matter is, the state of our political institutions is not an excuse or reason not to ride your bike, save some dough, say nice things to your spouse, play with your kids, learn some new skills, read a good book (preferably an old one) or any of the other things MMM talks about around here. Read this from Emerson (http://www.emersoncentral.com/selfreliance.htm) if you are stuck in the political world and realize your own inner powers:

    “Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not. The same particle does not rise from the valley to the ridge. Its unity is only phenomenal. The persons who make up a nation to-day, next year die, and their experience with them.

    And so the reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance. Men have looked away from themselves and at things so long, that they have come to esteem the religious, learned, and civil institutions as guards of property, and they deprecate assaults on these, because they feel them to be assaults on property. They measure their esteem of each other by what each has, and not by what each is. But a cultivated man becomes ashamed of his property, out of new respect for his nature. Especially he hates what he has, if he see that it is accidental, — came to him by inheritance, or gift, or crime; then he feels that it is not having; it does not belong to him, has no root in him, and merely lies there, because no revolution or no robber takes it away. But that which a man is does always by necessity acquire, and what the man acquires is living property, which does not wait the beck of rulers, or mobs, or revolutions, or fire, or storm, or bankruptcies, but perpetually renews itself wherever the man breathes. “Thy lot or portion of life,” said the Caliph Ali, “is seeking after thee; therefore be at rest from seeking after it.” Our dependence on these foreign goods leads us to our slavish respect for numbers. The political parties meet in numerous conventions; the greater the concourse, and with each new uproar of announcement, The delegation from Essex! The Democrats from New Hampshire! The Whigs of Maine! the young patriot feels himself stronger than before by a new thousand of eyes and arms. In like manner the reformers summon conventions, and vote and resolve in multitude. Not so, O friends! will the God deign to enter and inhabit you, but by a method precisely the reverse. It is only as a man puts off all foreign support, and stands alone, that I see him to be strong and to prevail. He is weaker by every recruit to his banner. Is not a man better than a town? Ask nothing of men, and in the endless mutation, thou only firm column must presently appear the upholder of all that surrounds thee. He who knows that power is inborn, that he is weak because he has looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly rights himself, stands in the erect position, commands his limbs, works miracles; just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head.

    So use all that is called Fortune. Most men gamble with her, and gain all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as unlawful these winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect, the chancellors of God. In the Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance, and shalt sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations. A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.”

  • Kyle Wilke May 10, 2012, 11:31 am

    Entitlement is a disease and a lie.

  • Dragline May 10, 2012, 11:33 am

    And listen to this timeless classic about politics:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76CpZgOKHOQ&feature=related

  • Jeh May 10, 2012, 11:34 am

    So since I advocated for SOLUTIONS, I thought I’d offer one up. Of course, the ideas in this book are not mine, but in my mind they ARE the solution…the way forward for humanity.

    Here’s a “trailer” for the book, it’s called Sacred Economics, and it comes HIGHLY recommended for anyone who thinks that “all capitalism, all the time” has run its course and that it’s time for humanity to grow up and move on to the next stage in our collective evolution.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EEZkQv25uEs

    Edit: If anyone can instruct me on how to embed the video so it fits the formatting of the page, let me know and I’ll edit my post and fix it.

    • Kathy P. May 10, 2012, 11:44 am

      If you hit the ‘Embed’ button on the YouTube page you’ll get some formatting options including sizing the video box. Then cut and paste the resulting code here – hopefully that will work, since I’ve found I can use basic html code to italicize or embolden my responses.

      • Jeh May 10, 2012, 11:47 am

        Hmm…I tried both embed codes (new and old) that I got from YouTube and neither of them worked…

    • Jeh May 10, 2012, 12:16 pm

      Oh, and I failed to mention that you can read the book for free on the site: http://sacred-economics.com/read-online/

      • Dragline May 10, 2012, 3:35 pm

        I’ve read “Sacred Economics” and it does have some interesting ideas pulled from different directions. It’s so different from the way money is currently used in our society, though, that I can’t see it being any more practical than Plato’s Republic or any number of other utopian scenarios.

        I was very interested in the negative interest money, which has been tried in the real world on a small scale with some interesting and generally positive results. I wonder what would happen if a small state tried it. But note that anything that purports to be “money” must be acceptable by the local authority for tax payments. With that in place, anything can be used as money — like tally sticks, salt or grain or shells historically. Without that practical application, alternative currencies invariably fail. (One of the main deficiencies of BitCoins, by the way.)

        I also felt kind of sorry for the author, though — he seems so tortured and you could tell that the break-up of his marriage weighed upon him.

  • PamolaPat May 10, 2012, 11:42 am

    Speaking of complaining, how about the IRS?

    Talking with friends living abroad in countries like Bulgaria, however, I have learned that the IRS is one of the most highly admired gov’t agencies in the world. Whether of not you like what Congress does with the money they collect, the IRS is an agency the developing world would kill for: it is efficient enough that only a modest amount of money is lost to internal bureaucracy (let alone the bribery and embezzlement which is present even in “modern” nations like Greece), every citizen has to file taxes, and the agency has the legal teeth to incite virtually everyone comply! Pretty much nobody escapes the IRS for very long, whereas in Bulgaria, taxes are essentially optional!

    Even if you hate the tax code, or even government itself, it should be clear that the IRS is a fairly impressive operation.

  • GayleRN May 10, 2012, 11:52 am

    I would be interested to know why you chose to become a naturalized citizen of the US. Obviously there was a lot of thought given to that decision, as opposed to those of us who are here by default. I am assuming your son was born here which might be a factor. And did Mrs. M make the same decision. You don’t have to satisfy my curiosity, but I think it could be interesting.

  • andrew May 10, 2012, 12:09 pm

    Complaining about government is part of the democratic process. And it just so happens that the founders of this country thought so too since they put it in the constitution, first amendment. But voicing grievances with the government at mrmoneymustache.com or any other blog is mostly fruitless.

  • Matt May 10, 2012, 12:09 pm

    I think there are some fundamental problems with the USA government, and overall societal structure—but I don’t know that any other government has these problems licked either. The problems are more along the lines of human nature in general, I think.

    For example: what’s best for me, personally, is not necessarily best for my country as a whole. I consider this a fundamental conflict of interest in any human organization. The more power and influence an individual (or small organization) has, the more profound the effects of the “me versus everyone else” paradox.

    Another: it appears to me that many (most?) people are driven by short-term goals. Again, there is (not always, of course) a conflict between what is good for me now and good for me in the future. You can replace “me” with “my country” in the previous sentence and it still holds true. Look at all the people with massive credit card debt that was used to finance non-essentials as evidence that this is true.

    I consider it a given that the more well-informed, educated, and rationally-thinking a voting population is, the more successful it will be. But with regards to “well-informed” we have another fundamental problem: there seems to be no way to establish a truly “fair and balanced” news organization. Sensationalism (disaster, major market swings, scandal, doom and gloom) sells. And in a capitalist market, you’re forced to keep trying to outsell the next guy. Moderate, rational, detailed discussions on the issues just don’t have the same flair as sound bytes and celebrity gossip.

    Whenever I see the negativity, it seems to arise from these (or other) fundamental issues with all human organizations. Yes, there will always be turds in positions of power, but what allows them to fling their feces so far and on so many people?. I think the best you can do is to try to create social structures that minimize the impact of the faults of human nature. I believe that was the intent of the US Constitution: “Hey, we recognize humans are imperfect, and make mistakes, and groups of humans tend to exhibit those same patterns on a larger scale. How can we construct this government in such a way as to ‘save us from ourselves’ as much as possible?” That’s got to be one of the hardest problems humans have faced!

    So at the same time, I think it’s at least OK to be frustrated when you hear our leaders call an institution “too big to fail”. If such an entity exists, then our system as a whole has failed. I mean, isn’t that the point—to keep everyone equally in check, so a relatively small group of people can’t have such a phenomenal impact on the population at large?

  • Allison May 10, 2012, 12:12 pm

    Thank you for this. After every election, world event, and economic crisis that has occurred in my adult life, I have listened to family members lament that “things will never be the same” or “we are headed for disaster”. Yet, everyday I wake up in a safe neighborhood, take a shower with clean water, eat an abundant breakfast, spend time with my boy, go to work on paved roads, etc. Life in America kinda rocks. If we aren’t happy with the state of our country, we should work to make positive changes. If everyone, everywhere who wants change contributes at a local level, the overall impact could be amazing.

  • Fox May 10, 2012, 12:13 pm

    Your post seems to have a current that derives from American history and the constitution – the idea that the US should be run by ordinary people who are elected to represent their peers. Representation in that model is a social responsibility for people who have proven themselves to be socially responsible. Given that view and the fact you would appear to most Americans to have proven yourself to be socially responsible (in fact, I’d say you consider yourself a socially responsible individual), would you consider standing for election? In a way, simply by being who you are and an American citizen you have an obligation to serve. I’m curious what you think about that, MMM.

  • Brian May 10, 2012, 12:21 pm

    Kind of an ironic post: People expressing negative opinions about this country should shut up or, better yet, express optimism over how great things are in this country…things like our freedom of speech.

    On another level, we have a whiny, complaining rant that is actually about other people complaining. I’ll ask MMM to be optimistic about the free flow of ideas. :)

    • Rachel May 10, 2012, 12:23 pm

      Bravo, Brian!

  • jimbo May 10, 2012, 12:27 pm

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand MMM is finally taken over by “The Internet”… Sad day my friends, sad day.

    • Brian May 10, 2012, 12:35 pm

      Quit complaining.

  • smedleyb May 10, 2012, 12:41 pm

    Sorry MMM, worst article ever.

    I still love you man, and I love this blog, but you went to far with your critique of dissent. IMO, we need more critique, not less. It’s got nothing to do with optimism, my friend.

    • Red Cedar May 10, 2012, 1:05 pm

      I think there’s a big difference between critique and complaint. Nowhere do I see MMM suggesting that one should not be critical and attempt to live the change they would like to see…. complaining about paying taxes etc? That’s not a critique, it’s a long whine – particularly coming from people who pay some of the least taxes in the western world.

    • Wesley May 10, 2012, 7:48 pm

      Once again, I’m with smedley on this. Bashing your readers isn’t cool. MMM, you stirred the pot, and it boiled over on you. That sucks, but it’s your own doing.

      As for Cedar’s reply about the “least taxes”? That’s a fun play on statistics…sure our percentage rates are less, but folks here make a hell of a lot more than most anyplace else. We’re the richest nation on the planet.

      When you work in Mexico or France, 50% of nothing is still nothing. Here, 15% of $100k in US dollars adds up quickly. Beyond that, it’s not so much what they take as what they do with it after they take it…hence the whole debacle and ensuing ass-chewing by MMM.

  • Rodent May 10, 2012, 12:49 pm

    Excellent post MMM. I am not a fan of Obama but neither am I gullible to think that under Romney things will be that different. I’ve had my ups and downs including a job that pays 50% lower due to a layoff in the recession. But you know what? The low interest rates actually propelled our real estate dreams into overdrive and I am very very happy with the way things are going. The only thing that frustrates me is that if I tell someone that we save 70% of our income I just get a deer in the headlights look and total dismissal. I’ve kind of learned to just keep more to myself even though I have this urge to help people!

  • Maus May 10, 2012, 1:01 pm

    MMM. I just want to congratulate you on an excellent troll-baiting post that displays a certain meta-complainypants vibe. I am optimistic that the number of comments will continue to drive your blog into the stratosphere. Well played sir, well played…

    • Kathy P. May 10, 2012, 2:12 pm

      Me thinks troll-baiting is right. Here’s what I found on my FB wall from MMM:

      Mr. Money Mustache There we go. People were getting a little political on yesterday’s comments section. So let’s see what they say about THIS bucket of gasoline on the fire! Heh, heh, heh.

      Me thinks we’ve been had. And it’s not even April 1.

      • Eurteb March 31, 2014, 1:36 pm

        Ha! Thanks Kathy, after an impressive comments list such as this, it’s nice to laugh, well played indeed :-D

    • Christine Wilson May 11, 2012, 9:35 am

      Ha! Agree on this!

      America is a very successful country.. and I’m not American but Canadian. ;) However success is a moving target. As long as you put some action to those words you help your country improve.

  • PaulTecumseh May 10, 2012, 1:10 pm

    You are looking at conspiracy theories the wrong way MMM. You just have to laugh at them and then one-up the craziness with your own conspiracy theory that builds on the original. Listen to a few broadcasts of Coast to Coast and you’ll be more than set to make up your own conspiracy theories.

    I find myself agreeing with large parts of your post and some of the comments that have followed. I think there are quite a few things that are wrong with this country and there are some trends that bother me. What bothers me more is that for a lot of the things that trouble me I don’t have any solutions for them. This has been a good thing because it makes me want to learn more and more about the issues and from there, hopefully, I’ll be able to come to a point where I can say I have a legitimate idea on how to fix things. In the meantime I’m working on not being so reactionary to things I see. Instead, I try to read as much as I can and then ask people who are smarter than me what their opinion is on the issue.

    All in all I completely agree that people need to stop bitching and moaning about everything they think is wrong with this country. We still have it pretty good. We just can’t get complacent. Because, if we do, that’s when the Illuminati-backed Crab People will rise from the depths and overtake us as the dominant species. Or the zombies.

  • Tage May 10, 2012, 1:22 pm

    The quality of comments has bombed with these last two posts…right after MMM talked about the great, helpful comments that usually follow a post. (I agree and read a lot of the comments).

  • Gerard May 10, 2012, 1:46 pm

    I admire people who work for social change and fairness, and occasionally I even manage to do so myself. But so many people adopt the rhetoric of political cynicism to justify not taking responsibility for those aspects of their lives that they can control. You may believe that government stifles entrepreneurs, your taxes are too high, the gnomes of Zurich run everything, the president’s a lizard alien, and/or lobbyists pervert the legislative process. And you may be right. But sitting on your ass (or on the Internet, the world’s ass) and whinging about it is exactly the same as sitting on your ass and not whinging about it. Except louder.
    Oh wait, I think I just did the same thing. This “logic” thing is hard. I’m going to go walk in the sun. Then I might go post something on the forum about dried mushrooms. That’s about all I can manage right now.

  • Caroline Leopold May 10, 2012, 1:54 pm

    Complaining about something remote from ourselves is not action. I don’t condone people bitching about things, especially when they make it harder for other people to get things done. But speaking up out of discontent is an important task that we must all do. The electric company quietly overcharged me by $3,000 over multiple years. Did I send some brownies to the nice electric company with it’s hardworking staff? Fuck no. I complained. Loudly. And I got a refund with interest. That’s not complaining – that’s demanding my justice.

    Assertive people reap the rewards in life so I encourage all to speak up with a specific purpose in mind. When discontent is channelled into productive action, revolutionary things happen. Such as the end of segregation, stopping a bloody war, pulling a lethal drug off the market, or ending the polio epidemic. Also, it can apply to daily life like finally asking for that raise, ending a parasitic relationship, or disputing a credit charge. There’s this idea that older people are cranky complainers. Now that I am old, I understand. I will not put up with any more bullshit than I have to. I also know that power is not ceded without a fight. That a basic life lesson that is learned through getting rolled over time and time again.

  • lurker May 10, 2012, 2:15 pm

    act locally, complain nationally????
    There is nothing wrong with this country that we can’t fix. Problem is whining and complaining ain’t gonna do it. We are far from perfect and corruption at the highest levels can leave you feeling less than optimistic (CEO pay anyone? Politics of extremism?) BUT we have fixed this crap before and we have to roll up our sleeves and do it again. Act locally and bitch nationally and loudly my friends…and I do consider all who bother to post here my friends.

  • Charlies May 10, 2012, 2:33 pm

    What’s pros and cons to become citizen? I am puzzled as my accountant said I might have to pay more tax to become American citizen. Do you feel any difference as a permanent residence and citizen?

  • Olga May 10, 2012, 2:58 pm

    American people are used to discuss a political situation of their country more than other nations. This is a cultural difference, this is a way they live. If they stop complaining, something will be wrong? I agree that they are limited in knowledge which is available just a few clicks from Facebook. They would bless the government if they lived in Greece or in China now. Mr. Money Mustache, the optimism is a gift given to those who are open to it. :-)

    Smile from the heart of Europe.

  • Tim May 10, 2012, 3:13 pm

    Whenever I stumble upon a political debate thread, I’m reminded of a party I once attended. Everything was going great and we decided to order a pizza. My town had this bad-ass parlor that served the biggest pies you’ve ever seen. We pooled our cash, ending up with enough to buy one pizza.

    That’s when things got ugly.

    Everyone wanted something different! We ended up going with what the majority wanted. Like the slices of pizza some of us would soon devour, we were divided. The sting of perceived inequality lead to resentment. Friends became sworn enemies. Lovers turned into haters. In an act of protest, we burnt down the pizza parlor and pissed on the ashes. The more we dwelled on the fact that we didn’t get exactly what we wanted, the more we lost sight of the fact that the party had been pretty awesome.

    • Heath June 4, 2012, 6:39 am

      HAHA! That’s probably the best analogy I’ve ever heard. I’m stealing it for future derailing of political discussions.

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