Book Review: America, Welcome to the Poorhouse

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I recently read America, Welcome To The Poorhouse by Jane White.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with that slightly caustic title and I’m still not quite sure what to think after having read it.  From the cover jacket:  “America, Welcome to the Poorhouse reveals the political and economic forces that got us into this predicament, strategies to get Congress to enact needed reform, and practical tips you won’t find anywhere else on how to make the most of your money until reform happens.”  So that being said I read on looking especially for the practical tips I wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Table of Contents

Part I: 80% of Americans Can’t Afford to Retire

  • Why You Can’t Retire from a 401(k) Plan: You Won’t Have Ten Times Your Salary in Your Account at Age 65
  • How to Save Wisely Until We Get 401(k) Reform and How to Make Reform Happen

Part II: How the American Dream Turned into a Nightmare

  • The Mortgage Mess: It Ain’t Just Subprime–It’s Half of Americans in Overpriced Homes
  • How Laws Protect Banks, Not Borrowers, and the Reform We Need
  • The Fix: Refinance to a Fixed-Rate Mortgage; Move to an Affordable Region

Part III: College is Unaffordable When the Majority of Americans Need Degrees

  • Why We Need More College Graduates to Compete with China and India
  • How Sallie Mae Lobbied Congress and “Enticed” Colleges to Offer Its Loans
  • The Fix: Grants, Government Loans, and Colleges That Are Free

Part IV: 35 Million Americans are Drowning in Credit Card Debt

  • How Credit Card Debt, Home Equity Loans Get You Over Your Head in Debt
  • The Fix: How to Get Out of Credit Card Debtor’s Prison

Part V: Real Campaign Reform That Puts Citizens, Not the Business Lobby, First

  • How Big Business Owns Both Political Parties
  • The Fix: Replacing Corrupt Politicians with Ones Who Work for Taxpayers
  • Conclusion: The Big Fix: Recruit the Smartest Workers from Around the World, Send Most Kids to College, Measure Household Wealth

My Thoughts on the Book

I’m not going to mince words, this is a politically motivated book thinly veiled as a personal finance guide.  The tiny bit of practical financial advice is something you could easily find on most any of my fellow personal finance bloggers sites, or this one for that matter.  So that leaves you with roughly 90% of text filled with ideas to make the Federal Government take care of your finances for you.  I sit firmly on the side of personal responsibility so it’s a bitter pill to read on and on about why the government and your employer should be doing more for you.  It just paints such a negative picture of the current state of affairs I have a hard time recommending this book to anyone.

I really tuned out when I hit the section titled:  “Solution to the College cost Crisis:  Shift Costs Away from Households onto Rich Taxpayers, the Colleges, and Their Rich Alumni.”  I honestly thought this was a tongue and cheek section heading but alas no she was serious.  So apparently all of our college issues can be solved by the Robin Hood stimulus package.  My overall recommendation, save your money and maybe you can actually retire without the governments help.

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