Politics and Personal Finance: What Can One Tell Us About The Other?

I have wondered from time to time if our political persuasions influence our personal finance decisions, and vice versa. I suppose one could consider which develops first. People who grow up poor by necessity have to focus on food and shelter needs, generally not caring about politics unless adults around them link their situation to uncaring politicians. Growing up in better than poor conditions
might lead to an earlier awareness of politics because basic needs are covered, but whether or not that influences good personal finance habits I have no idea.

My Mom was a lifelong Independent and Dad (who once actually lived in a tarpaper shack as a kid) a lifelong Democrat. Both were very careful with their money, paying off the credit card bills in full each month, keeping an emergency fund, and so on. Dad has almost always voted for Democrats, while Mom could be all over the place. Both liked Clinton. I don’t know what political affiliation my maternal grandfather had, but I remember the old retired millionaire banker (who also grew up poor) being appalled at the deficit Reagan was running up at the time. My brother, who is pretty tight with his money, switched parties last year and caucused and voted for Obama.

I have known people from the left that expect the government to address most every human concern that exists as a “right” but would reject most of those same notions as help they would ask for themselves. I have known people from the right that advocate the least amount of government “intrusion” in our lives as possible and then, when their financial situation changes, are the first in line to take advantage of as many government goodies as possible.

So what can one tell us about the other? In my experience, not much. It seems regardless of political persuasion people will save or not, budget or spend freely, rack up those credit cards or leave them hidden in the freezer. We can carefully guard our own resources while not caring about how the government spends our neighbor’s money. We can also take the government to task for all their “earmark” spending while at the same time buying more house than we need and amassing debt for luxury items.

Seems old Walt Whitman was onto something when he wrote, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Agree? Disagree? Questions? Leave a comment!