The Have-Nots vs. The Used-to-Haves

Let me begin by saying I am a huge lover of DailyWorth and the amazing, talented women who run it. I'm sure this post about the new Vh1 show "You're Cut Off!" was done in a spirit of fun and wasn't intended to be mean spirited:

"I nevah knew you could spend less than $800 on shoes," says one girl, shaking her head sadly. And you nevah knew that watching dumb rich girls would make you feel so good about your own finances"

It makes me once again shake my head at how much we as a society love to laugh when someone who comes from money gets taken down a peg. We judge them when they discover, often painfully or in some situation of comical ignorance, how the "other half" (actually the other "99.99% of us") lives. Just because the overwhelming majority of Americans know that one can -- quite easily! -- spend less than $800 on shoes, it shouldn't mean that this one individual's discovery is worthy of our scorn.

Why is it funny when a person finds that the financial conditions she's been prepared for have evaporated? (Okay, okay, it's for the sake of a reality television show here, I grant you.) Would you find it funny if all of the sudden you had to go from indoor plumbing to having to fetch your own drinking and cooking water every day? Should people laugh at you when you wistfully talk about how wonderful it was to turn on the kitchen sink or flush a toilet? 

It amazes me that a country that loves to fantasize about the effects of weath simultaneously loves to demean and humiliate the wealthy. Judging those who have more than us blinds us to the privileges we do enjoy. It keeps us all in rigid little boxes about the "right" amount of money to have (hint: it's always just slightly more than we personally have).  

It's wonderful that the young women appearing in "You're Cut Off!" will be learning about financial competence. Despite the narcissistic paradox of participating in a show like this ("Act like a spoiled brat! Excellent! Now cry when I take your money away! Awesome!"), I'm relieved to see that they will be working with a life coach in order to -- hopefully -- come away with this having experienced some actual personal growth.

Asher Finkell