Is money political?

It has become harder to separate the political from our building and maintaining wealth. Probably because money was always political.

I’ve spent years trying to convince people that money is inherently emotional.

You may think of a financial planner’s report, with its charts and graphs, and think that it’s the most dry and dull document imaginable. It seems so unlikely at first that the report is talking about the same topic that brings up so many fears (and fights).

But whoever understands that money isn’t just numbers on a chart will know how to truly help people.

So money is an emotional topic, not a dry one at all.

But is money political?

I think we can say, at this point, unequivocally, that the answer is yes.

The gaps

On its face, money is just the means of exchange and a store of value. Nothing political about that.

But very quickly, we run into some uncomfortable and thorny issues of a political nature

Such as the gender gap in income. This is the systematic paying of women less than men for the same work.

This is absolute, and not relative. There is less pay given to women even when you account for the time taken off for situations like maternity leave.

And it’s not, as some argue, that women just do different jobs that just “happen” to pay less. Even when women do the exact same jobs, they get paid less.

From the World Economic Forum:

[E]ven taking out the education effect, the occupation effect, the sector effect, the part-time work effect, and the motherhood and fatherhood effects, a gender gap in earnings remains. This gap is evidence of persistent discrimination, stereotyping and implicit biases in earnings and promotion opportunities for women.

This graph comes right from the US Census Bureau (and Business Insider):

And it’s not just women. People of color have similar disproportionate earning differences.

Here’s more Census Bureau data, this time from CNBC:

The system and the structure

Is all this political? You bet your graph it is.

When you have structural biases in society that dramatically affect people’s earning power, that is political.

And if you believe (as I do) that income is one of the biggest indicators of wealth building, and you have a structural bias in place, that means that you have people who are at an implicit disadvantage because of political matters.

READ MORE:  The politics in empathy

Where we spend our money is political.

Who we spend our money on is political.

How we earn our money is political.

How we share our money is political.

I’ve tried to avoid talking too much about politics on this blog, but it becomes really hard to do that when policy directly affects people’s ability to build and maintain wealth.

And that is not acceptable.

What to do

I always believed that we need to work within the system and improve it from within, rather than take an ax to it and start new.

That’s because it’s easier to destroy, and harder to reinvent. And the harder choice is almost always the better one.

I have absolutely no idea how to fix systemic injustice in our society, to women, people of color, and other marginalized groups.

One tactic that I think is very important is to make the invisible visible. Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

If you are part of the dominant culture (as I am), try to hold on to your defensiveness. Everyone has the ability to be part of the solution. We all want justice.

Beyond that, I’m going to do more listening than talking.

As much as I’d like to deny it, everything I’m doing, in terms of helping people gain control of their financial lives and move from anxiety to empowerment, that is a political act.

You can’t separate money from politics. Alas.

Knowing that, now what? You tell me. I’m listening.

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